Tuesday, 26 April 2011

It's For Your Own Good, Jolene

Buffy Davis (Jolene Perks)

Jolene's attempt at giving up the weed took a bit of a blow when temptress Lilian gave her a packet of fags, with the rather convoluted logic that, if Jolene has ciggies available when she feels the craving, then she won't want to smoke. Is Lilian descended from the Garden of Eden serpent, we ask ourselves?

Later on in the week, Jolene goes into the village shop to ask for ciggies and Lynda refuses to serve her, on Kenton's orders. This seems a novel approach to business – stocking a product and only selling it to selected customers, but perhaps things are so good at the shop that they can afford to turn away business. I'm surprised that Kenton hasn't tied Jolene hand and foot and parked her in the pub cellar while she goes Cold Turkey.

Jolene's temper is not improved by Jamie's behaviour – out on the lash until 5am, missing his shifts at the Bull (shifts that he was desperate to have, don't forget) and not sleeping at the pub or at Kathy's for two nights. What an opportunity missed! Jolene and Kathy could both have had the locks changed while he was AWOL – that would have sorted the moody little sod out. Failing that, playing brass band music at high volume outside his door when he's trying to catch up on his sleep would have been fun. Jolene is not impressed and makes him promise to toe the line (ha!). She should have asked him for his £10 keep.

Meanwhile, Jolene is packing for Monte Carlo – a small bag of clothes and no doubt a suitcase each of fags, nicotine patches and extra-strong mints, while Kenton is just taking the handcuffs along.

From the Weed to weeds – if you aren't a gardener, then Tuesday's episode wasn't for you, as we had the recording of Gardeners' Question Time. Joe tried to stop Vicky asking her question about propagating mistletoe by locking her out of the hall and saying that the door had stuck. A resourceful Vicky climbed in through the kitchen window and asked her question, which revealed that Joe's mistletoe propagation service was a load of tosh.

How come Joe isn't regularly tarred and feathered and left on the village green? He's always trying something on and it never works. Why didn't all the people who had paid good money for his dubious services frogmarch him down to the village pond and chuck him in? That would have shown the GQT team how seriously the people of Ambridge take their gardening and perhaps made Joe lay off the scams for a while.

Joe was at it again at the Book Club, having seen the wrong DVD and not having read the book, while steadily working his way through Jim Lloyd's wine rack and hoovering up the food. Down to the duckpond again, says I! In fact, it could become a daily or weekly ritual and one of which I would heartily approve.

After the GQT recording, Vicky has another foot-in-gob moment when she mentions to Lynda that Roy will be leaving Grey Gables. Lynda immediately updates her CV and stalks Caroline to let her know of her interest in taking over from Roy. Tough luck, Lynda! Caroline has decided to do it herself because thinking of the challenges gave her a buzz. Not good news for Oliver, who had been hoping that the buzz would come from travelling the world together now he's retired. "I'm not ready for retirement yet" says a newly-energised Caroline, tactfully not adding "unlike you, you old git".

Peggy seems to have come round to Elona's point of view that having a cup of tea with Ted is not just one step away from adultery. She even agrees to go along to the talk he's putting together for his U3A meeting. Good for you, Peggy – get in there!

A storyline that fails to have me riveted is "the mystery of the falling milk yields". Yes – milk yields at Brookfield are way down on what they should be and David is at a loss to explain it. So worried is he that he isn't really listening to his mother banging on about being inspired after the GQT session.

Jill then goes to talk to Shula. For a mother, she has a low opinion of her children sometimes; particularly Kenton, as she wonders to Shula whether Jolene's current stress might be Kenton-related. Let's see – Jolene is having to deal with a teenager who doesn't come in till the early hours of the morning (or sometimes stays away all night) and, when he does deign to make an appearance, he looks like death warmed up and munches aspirins like sweeties. On top of this, she hasn't had her usual quota of nicotine for a number of days and is having Kathy be nice to her – I would submit that that's more than enough stress to be going on with.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Like Father, Like Son

Rui Thacker (George Grundy)

Last week I pointed out what a miserable git William is and it seems as though it is genetic, as George is definitely unhappy about his new sister, who is called Keira Susan, by the way. George wants her to be taken back to the Hospital and asks Will if he can come and live with him. Dear God! Just how bad would things have to be for you to want to live full time with Will, with his whiny voice and gigantic chip on his shoulder? I'm still gobsmacked whenever I realise that Nic is still with him, but I have decided that she has got to be a masochist.

"You'll like her better when she's bigger" Will tells George (unlikely, with you constantly dripping poison in his ear) to which George replies "Did you like Uncle Ed more when he got bigger?" Good question, George! Clarrie stops Will going round to sort things out by saying that she'll have a word with Ed. Ed isn't impressed that Clarrie is listening to Will's side of the story, but Clarrie suggests that perhaps they are neglecting George a little and should treat him more like a grown up. Good idea – get him to start cleaning cars by hand.

Roy dropped his bombshell to Caroline about leaving Grey Gables. She took it quite well, apart from saying "Damn and Blast!" when he'd left the room. Her suggestion to Oliver that she take on more of Roy's duties went down like a pair of lead knickers – just as Ollie was looking forward to spending more time together, Caroline will possibly be working later. They agree to a six-month trial period.

Elizabeth and Shula both went to see Caroline (I thought she was supposed to be busy?) and it was all very civilised and polite when Lizzie explained why she'd poached Roy, although I bet Caroline's teeth were firmly gritted.

Less polite was Jill, who was in fact quite crabby. When Lizzie says she is feeling guilty about tapping Roy up, Jill says "pity he couldn't make it for Easter." Sod you Caroline! Jill then goes on to moan about how everyone wants to bake a cake to give to the GQT team and she, as nominal head of the catering committee, is being ignored. She then criticises Kenton for taking Jolene away for Easter, saying that it was typically thoughtless of him. Lizzie defends her brother, however, telling Jill that Kenton timed it deliberately because Easter was when Jolene and Sid used to do so much. That's another thing – how the hell can Kenton afford to travel at peak season and to go to Monte Carlo? The bar management business must pay better than I thought.

Kenton persuades Jolene to give up smoking and she lasts almost two days before bumming a few drags off a customer; it's going to be a long, hard slog, I feel and she should realise that all the peppermints in the world won't disguise the fact if she should succumb again.

Talk of Jolene brings us inevitably, albeit reluctantly, to the subject of Jamie. Kathy gives her permission for him to work at the Bull on condition that a) he pays Jolene £10 a week towards his keep and b) if Kathy gets any more reports about him bunking off school, she will rescind her permission. Jamie is as ungrateful as ever and his mood isn't improved when Jolene tells him he hasn't moved into the Bull permanently and he'd be better off at home. He says "no", but maybe he'll come to realise that at least Kathy wouldn't take a tenner a week off him.

Kathy also apologises to Jolene for the things she said when they last met and the atmosphere between them is, if not cordial, then at least in a state of armed neutrality. As the week drags on, Jamie makes no attempt to contact Kathy and Fallon tells her that she (Fallon) will keep Kathy informed and she knows what he's going through. "I didn't speak to my Dad for three years" says Fallon. As her Dad is Wayne, I expected her to add "and they were the happiest three years of my life" but she didn't.

From the younger generation to the old – Peggy goes to the Laurels to visit Jack and runs into Ted, who asks her to have tea and cakes with him, but she's not keen. Elona, the Eastern European care assistant, talks to Ted about it and he says that he must be the problem, as Peggy doesn't want to talk to him as before. However, it seems that Elona has a cunning plan, as she says to Ted "Don't give up trying Ted – not yet." Are we to see a rekindling of tender feelings – a renewed wrinkly romance? Who knows; you know what they say - there might be snow on the roof…

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Mothers To The Fore

Dan Ciotkowski (Jamie Perks)

Mothers were much in evidence in last week's episodes. Jamie spent the night at the Bull and, on Sunday morning, Jolene reminds him that it's Mother's Day. He is horrified because he hasn't bought her anything, but she was thinking of Kathy, which is more than Jamie was. He's only been away one night and he's forgotten her already.

Actually, he does go home, but only to pick up some stuff and have the obligatory row with Kathy. "The only person you think about is yourself" he yells at her, before storming out (again). Kathy bursts into tears. Happy Mother's Day Kathy!

Kathy does have some friends, though. Well, to be more exact, she has Pat, and she tells Pat all her troubles. Pat wonders why she hadn't told her before. Because you were mooning over bloody Henry all the time woman, that's why. Kathy shows a rare flash of self-awareness when, banging on yet again about how Jamie is throwing his life away (if only!) she says "I know I sound like a broken record…" How perceptive!

Anyway, Jolene wonders to Kenton whether she has done the right thing by letting Jamie stay and turns down Kenton's offer to talk to him. Pity really, as Jamie would probably have left Ambridge. She also lays down some ground rules for Jamie (like "come home occasionally") and reminds him that it's not a hotel. Jamie wants to work at the Bull, but Jolene says that he will need his mother's permission. Jamie asks Kathy who, in a superb moment of calculated cruelty, says that she will think about it over the weekend. Suck on that Jamie! Bet you wish now you'd bought that Mother's Day card!

Clarrie spent Mother's Day at Will and Nic's, while Eddie and Joe's latest attempt to get out of the Lenten cheese sandwich lunch saw them having a three-course meal, with cheese and coffee, at Jim's. Their delight at having a decent lunch is spoiled somewhat when Jim presents them with a bill for £10 each. They accuse Clarrie of taking part in a mean trick, but they are distracted when Clarrie tells them that Jolene and Kenton are an item (Kathy told her). Poor Eddie has always fancied Jolene and is distraught – "What does she see in him?" he wails. Offhand? He's funny, reasonably bright, doesn't keep trying stupid scams, doesn't smell of cows and compost, doesn't make his own alcohol and knows how to use a tea towel. I could go on, but that will do for starters.

An absent mother is Jennifer, who, we are told, is enjoying herself in Johannesburg. Which is more than stand-in mother Brian is doing with Ruari. "He never stops" Brian tells Lilian. He's almost at the end of his tether and he's only got Ruari for a week before he packs him off to his Irish relatives. In desperation, Brian asks Lilian to pick Ruari up, but she tells him to do one, so he ends up asking Will to pick him up and take him to George's birthday party.

There is a new character at the party, as Emma has had her second child – a girl. At the birth, the midwife suggests that Ed take Emma's mind off the pain by telling them about his day. Five minutes later, Emma and midwife are comatose and the baby has decided to stay where it is.

Eventually Emma gives birth to a baby girl and Ed immediately goes into mega-soppy mode – it's bloody Henry all over again. "It's the best day of my life" Ed tells Emma. Grandmothers Susan and Clarrie are equally smitten but they haven't been told the new arrival's name and the week ends with none of us knowing. God, the suspense – I haven't been this wound up since Bert Fry's ploughing competition!

The baby comes home on George's birthday and William demonstrates exactly what a charmless nurk he is by telling Nic that Ed arranged things deliberately so that the baby was born close to George's birthday. Being as ungracious as only he knows how, Will further complains because a lot of George's presents are at Ed and Emma's and he tells Nic that "Emma had better ring from hospital before George goes to school". Nic (who is way too good for Will) points out that Emma has probably got other things on her mind right now and probably wonders if she is living in an episode of "Grumpy Old Men", or in this case "Grumpy Young Gamekeeper".

With the best will (no pun intended) in the world, William is a misanthropic, 100% miserable git – and that's on a good day. It seems that George might be a chip off the old block, as he is very unhappy that Mia won the Musical Chairs at his party. "It's my party – I should win" he says petulantly, while shoving her. When you're older, George, have a talk with Jamie about how unfair life is.

Ed and Emma try to get George to be a bit nicer, but Will – who I suspect will not be asked to be Godfather to the new baby – immediately reads something sinister into this, saying that this is the shape of things to come and the new baby will take precedence. Moans Will: "If those two are going to make George feel left out, I'll have something to say about it." Good Lord! Surely not?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

You Try And Do A Friend A Favour…

Sara Coward (Caroline Sterling)

And what do you get? You get shafted, that's what. Consider; Caroline has lent Elizabeth Roy for a couple of weeks and he is proving invaluable, while the staffing at Grey Gables is going to Hell in a handcart. How does Lizzie repay this kindness? By offering Roy a job, that's how – and if you wouldn't mind just standing still, Caroline, while she plants this dagger in your back…

Roy has feelings of loyalty towards Caroline, but Hayley thinks it's a great idea and this polarisation of opinion is reflected when Shula and David discuss it. Shula is horrified that Lizzie could treat Caroline so badly (the word 'Judas' wasn't actually used, but it was touch and go) while David is all for it and, when Shula asks "but is it ethical?" he goes off on one.

Mind you, David is a bit miffed because he still can't let go of the idea that he is being helpful to Elizabeth by turning up like a spare part. "Is there anything I can do?" he asks Roy when he fetches up at Lower Loxley yet again, mooning around like a lovesick calf. "No" says SuperRoy, refraining to add "so why don't you sod off back to Brookfield and look after your own business?"

At Brookfield, four cows have been sent for slaughter and Ruth is at the end of her tether, because her new cleaner is specifying special polish and brings in her own equipment. Ruth longs for the days when Emma used to rearrange the dirt in little piles and her idea of dusting was to walk into a room and vaguely wave a cloth about for a few seconds.

We had the inquest on Nigel and the verdict was "accidental death", although I'm surprised the Coroner didn't add "overacting" because of the duration of Nigel's final scream. In what sounded like the triumph of hope over experience, Ruth told David that "this has to be an end to it – it's over." Ha! She wishes! Although to be fair, David did wait until the next day before going over to Lower Loxley again.

Kenton and Jolene's relationship moved on to the next level (or should that be 'the next horizontal'?) as he said that, when Jolene was ready 'to move things on' just say so. As he is leaving, Jolene says "I'm ready" and you can imagine Kenton swinging round, clearing the sideboard of ornaments and leaving the smell of a melted zip in the air. It must have been worth it, as two days later, Kenton has booked them a three-night stay in Monte Carlo.

Unfortunately, every silver lining has its cloud and the snake in this particular Eden goes by the name of Kathy. Jamie has gone along to the Bull, as Kathy is working late, and Jolene invites him to stay for tea. Kathy comes home early and rings him. When she finds out where he is, she says "stay there, I'm coming to get you" and storms into the pub, telling Jamie to go and sit in the car while she has words with Jolene. All Kathy's frustrations pour out as she accuses Jolene of tempting Jamie away as well as throwing herself at Kenton. Jamie, she says, will never come back to the Bull as "I don't want my son around someone with the morals of an alley cat."

Alley cat she might be, Kathy, but Kenton never took you to Monte Carlo, did he?

It seems that Jamie prefers alley cats too, as he tells Kathy he's going back to the Bull that very night and he's staying there. In what might be termed a 'full and frank exchange of views', Jamie tells his mother "Dad preferred being with Jolene, Kenton prefers being with Jolene and so do I." Come on Jamie, no need to hold back – tell it like it is. Jamie storms out and the week ends with Kathy leaving a tearful message on Jamie's voicemail, asking for forgiveness and begging him to ring her. Had it been anyone else – with some obvious exceptions, such as Kate – it would have been quite touching, but I'm sorry Kathy; you just don't know when to stop pushing and you deserve all you get.

On a lighter note, the Grundy's plans to cook Sunday lunch descended into farce as Clarrie came home early. Kathy and Jamie (this was before the split) watched them running around outside with plates of food and dirty pans and Jamie gave us a glimpse of the relentless tedium of his life and the emptiness of his soul, when he said "The Grundys are the best thing about living in Ambridge." We only have three Sundays left in Lent for this story to limp along and next week we are promised that Jim will come up with a plan in which Joe and Eddie get their comeuppance.

It appears that Ambridge can say 'goodbye' to two flighty residents, as Lynda has found two Peregrine Falcon's eggs on the path and is very afraid that they have moved on. They'll never get a speaking part now.

Better news – after the visit of the Duchess of Cornwall, there looks set to be another landmark visit, as Gardeners' Question Time might be visiting Ambridge! Jim has been instrumental insetting this up, but I'm worried about his capability, as the man obviously doesn't know what day it is. Consider; on Monday, Jim tells Lynda that his choice for the Book Club is Ovid's Metamorphoses. On Friday, he reveals that it was an April Fool's joke. Er, Jim, the date on Monday was 28th March. What are we to expect next – on Christmas Day will he pour petrol over the pudding instead of brandy, lighting it with a cry of "April Fool!"?