Joanna van Kampen (Fallon Rogers)
Poor Fallon hasn't had a lot of luck in her life, has she? It got off to a bad start by having Wayne for a father (and he's been blessedly absent for weeks now – keep your fingers crossed that it continues), although things did admittedly look up for Fallon when Wayne walked out on Jolene and her.
Last week, she suffered again when Harry, in an uncharacteristically insensitive moment, asked her if she could suggest somewhere classy (but not too expensive) where he could take Zofia and give her a really special night out. Fallon still harbours feelings for Harry and she got quite stroppy with Kirsty when the latter suggested they take on Harry and Zofia at boule. Talking with Kirsty later, Fallon says that she's missed her chance with him – I'm not so sure, although Harry does seem besotted with his Polish fruit picker.
The competition on the scarecrow front is hotting up and, as I predicted, Ambridge will soon be awash with Billy Goats Gruff. Emma is obsessed with winning and ropes poor Neil in to make the troll for George, saying that she really wants to win the prize. "No pressure then" said Neil.
But there is pressure elsewhere in the Carter household, as Susan feels the strain of having to prepare the food for the christening party. Clarrie has said she will help and Nic offered to cook something. Susan, however, is obviously modelling herself on control freak Jennifer, as she turns down Nic's offer, with just a hint of hysteria. All's well, though, as Clarrie persuades her to let Nic cook the hot dogs. Honestly, what with stressing about the food and moaning to Neil about wasting time with the scarecrow, Susan will have a breakdown.
She also seems to be developing delusions of grandeur – Emma (looking on the bright side as always) wonders what will happen if it rains on the day. "It's not going to rain," shrieks a demented Susan, adding "Nothing's going to go wrong! It will be the perfect christening party!" That sounds like tempting Fate – and with people like Eddie and his brother Alf being invited (not to mention Joe) – the potential for disaster is monumental.
Of course, Susan is also worried about the state of son Christopher's finances. Having extricated himself from the loan shark by taking out a loan to buy the new van, he wants to buy out boss Ronnie's farrier business. Should he take out a second loan? He consults Dad Neil, who advises caution (now there's a surprise). Susan continues fretting, but Neil says helpfully "They'll manage." Susan wishes that they could help Chris and Alice but Neil scotches that idea. Susan (who doesn't know about the loan shark, thank God) thinks that it is Alice's expectations that is causing the trouble and that Jennifer doesn't approve. In the next breath, Susan muses that perhaps Brian and Jennifer ought to invest in Chris's future business and put up the money. It doesn't seem likely, as when Brian and Jennifer discuss Alice and Chris, Brian takes what might be described as 'the Neil approach' by saying "They'll be OK". Of course, Brian is preoccupied because he's the latest entrant in the scarecrow competition and has roped Adam in to make one for Ruari. Honestly – is there no-one in Ambridge who isn't stuffing sacks with straw and bending chicken wire?
Going back to Susan, one thing she is spot on about is that Jennifer doesn't approve and Jen loses no time in telling Brian that this is what she was afraid of when Alice rushed into marriage "and now she's finding out what it's like; existing on a low income". Brian points out that Chris has a good job in a good trade and they are living in a rent-free cottage, so there's no need for Alice to go on the streets just yet.
For her part, Alice feels guilty for getting Chris into the loan mess in the first place and for not bringing in a wage to help. Chris says there's no way she is giving up her post-graduate studies and they will manage somehow.
When Alice says that she will be buying some frozen pizzas, Jennifer reverts to über-snob mode and says "Pizzas?" in the same tone that you or I might use when talking about dog's mess on the pavement. Jen's blood pressure goes into orbit when Alice, asks to borrow The Echo and casually mentions that she's looking for jobs to bring in some money. "A job?" says Jennifer in her 'pizza?' voice and proceeds to give Alice a lecture about having a proper career.
This being Jennifer, she goes on and on about it until an obviously pissed-off Alice says "I've only just got back from Uni – stop trying to plan my career for me." Jennifer is affronted and, in a hurt voice says "All right darling – I'll stop interfering". Can we have that in writing, please Jennifer?