Monday, 23 May 2011

That's You Off the Christmas Card List, David

Alison Dowling (Elizabeth Pargetter)

Before we look at the latest rift between the Archer siblings, let's get Will's desire for another child out of the way. Clarrie tries to get Nic to open up to her, but Nic keeps fending off her questions. However, in true Grundy style, Clarrie goes on and on and on about it until Nic tells her that she doesn't want another baby, presumably out of sheer desperation to get Clarrie to shut up.

This being Ambridge, Clarrie cannot keep the news to herself, so she tells Eddie, who immediately takes Will's side, saying that "It doesn't seem fair" and "It's hard on the lad". Tell you what Eddie, get Will to carry the baby for nine months, go through childbirth and spend the next few years at home, looking after it and then Nic might agree. Clarrie realises she has blundered, saying "I wish I'd kept my big mouth shut", thus echoing the frequent thoughts of millions of listeners. No doubt it is only a matter of time before Eddie does something unsubtle, like getting the AI man to visit Nic.

Elsewhere, Kate casually let slip the fact that she and Phoebe think it would be a great idea if Phoebe went to live with her in South Africa. While I agree (and the sooner the better), I can understand Hayley and Roy being less than chuffed. "I want this nipped in the bud before it goes further" warns Hayley. Roy agrees to have a word with Kate – like that will do any good!

It's not often that I feel sympathy with Jamie but you'd have to be carved from stone not to cringe on his behalf when Mum Kathy caught him walking with Natalie, his girlfriend. If truth be told, Kathy was probably stalking Jamie to check he went to school. Talk about embarrassing mother! I bet Kathy tries to make Jamie wear gloves on a string – no wonder he has now gone back to mega-sighing mode. Kathy's latest idea is that Jamie gives up working at the Bull, just for the duration of the exams, and he agrees to ask Jolene about it. Kathy, bless her, even believes him.

Talking of Jolene, Kenton buys her a pamper session at Grey Gables as a reward for going without ciggies for a month. With the money she must have saved, surely she should be treating him? At Grey Gables, Oliver is a bit of a spare part, waiting around for Caroline to find him a window in her busy schedule. At least it gives him the chance to hone his crossword-solving skills, although we never did find out if he managed to solve 10 down.

And so we come to the big story of the week, where David learns that honesty isn't always the best policy. The week started well enough for David; his previous moping around mood was put behind him and he was saying things like "a day like today – who wouldn't have a spring in their step?" The grass is coming along well and David says that he feels different – "as if we've turned a corner", so you knew that we were being prepared for when it all goes tits up. In case we were in any doubt, Ruth and David decide to go out and celebrate on Friday. "Let's really push the boat out" says David, upon hearing yet more good news about the milk yield rising.

So it was with a song in his heart and feeling on top of the world that David went over to Lower Loxley to aerate the grassland. Even this is going great and Elizabeth takes her brother out a drink of elderflower and lemonade. The pair of them stand there admiring the view and reminiscing about Nigel. So mellow is David by this time that he calls into the Bull on the way home for a pint, much to Kenton and Jolene's delight, as he hasn't been there for ages.

The aerating continues on Thursday and Elizabeth produces a full-blown picnic for her brother. No sausage-on-a-stick or pork pies here, oh no; Waldorf salad and raspberry roulade. Lizzie tells David that it was only the fact that she knew that David would be there every day that got her through the period after Nigel's death. "You were more than my brother – you were my strongest ally" she said, and "you don't know how wonderful you are".

Now this is David's cue to smile modestly, pat little sister on the head and ask if there's any more roulade going. Instead, he tells Elizabeth that it was his idea to take down the banner on the fatal night and not Nigel's. Quite why he does this is not clear – perhaps he was expecting Lizzie to say "ah well, accidents do happen – no use crying over spilt milk (or brains)."

If so, he was disappointed, as Lizzie said things like "Nigel died so you could save time?" "You are responsible for my husband's death – the reason Lily and Freddie haven't got a father and here I am thanking you!" Eventually she tells her strongest ally never to come near Lower Loxley ever again. No Deck the Halls for you this year then, David.

On Friday, Ruth tells Jill (who had been playing gooseberry with Ted and Peggy in the former's enamelling shed) about the rift. Ruth is distraught, shouting at David "You're not responsible!" (for Nigel's death, presumably - or maybe not). Jill rings Elizabeth, who says she can't talk now and hangs up. "She'll come round, I'm sure she will" says super-optimist Jill. Doesn't look like it from where I'm standing.

David meanwhile has sunk into a slough of despond, not eating, working himself to a standstill and living on guilt. Ruth says "You've suffered enough – you have to forgive yourself." David replies: "I can't. Elizabeth will never forgive me, so how am I supposed to live with that?" Look on the bright side, David; that's three fewer Christmas and birthday presents for you to buy – or four, if you count Nigel.

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