Monday, 15 August 2011

A Bit of a Damp Squib

Jasmine Hyde (Leonie Snell)

Sunday arrived and we all held our breath – what would be James and Leonie's big announcement? Lilian had brought along a couple of bottles of bubbly in anticipation and had also dragged along an exceedingly reluctant Matt, who could no doubt think of many better things to do on his birthday.

The announcement was to be made at the Snells' party to celebrate 25 years in Ambridge and, when it came, everybody was stunned. Not by the enormity of it, but by the sheer banality. While Lilian, Lynda et al were expecting news of babies and weddings, James and Leonie revealed that they were going to write a book, along the lines of 'Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady', about a year in the life of a country village. The rather twee (to the point of sick-making) title is to be "A Little Bit of Heaven".

Apparently this is a real money maker of an idea and James and Leonie pointed out that the added advantage would be that they would be around Ambridge so much more often. Sorry? Advantage, did you say? This bombshell (not) news was greeted with the sound of one hand clapping and Leonie was distraught at the general show of indifference.

To save the day, Lynda suggested that they all meet the next day to talk over the idea. James explained that it was a wonderful investment opportunity and, of course, they would need a top of the range digital SLR camera for the photos (and no doubt a suite of offices in Dubai). Robert asked whether they had considered getting permission from those whose homes they would be photographing. "Details, details" said Leonie dismissively – more like "lawsuits, lawsuits". "I'll tell Matt" said Lilian (like he's going to be interested) and she stalled by saying she'll make a modest investment further down the line. "Not too modest, Ma and not too far down the line!" says a jovial James. Honestly, don't you just want to kick him! And Leonie, thinking about it.

Will tracks down the crayfish poacher, who turns out to be Josh, and who was on a nice little earner, selling them to Kenton for £5 a lb. Will puts on his stern voice and says didn't Josh know that he needed the landowner's permission (no) or that he needed a licence? (no). Give the kid a break, Will, you miserable sod – you could take a cut and give the money to Clarrie, who needs it. Instead he tells Josh to clear off and don't do it again.

Clarrie is still moping around and really needs a job now she has resigned from the dairy. Pat tells Tom that she'd take Clarrie back tomorrow if there was the work, but Tom is still in vindictive mood and, if he had his way, Clarrie would be featuring in the next batch of Tom Archer sausages. Pat reminds him that Clarrie must have picked up the infection from somewhere – I really, really hope that it turns out to be from one of Tom's burgers or hot dogs; please God.

Will gives Clarrie some money to be going on with and says that Brian has said that he can offer Eddie some casual work on the estate. Not only that, but Joe has had an idea – if Clarrie helps out at the car boot sales, that will free up Eddie to do more gardening work or sell more flatulent gnomes. "That's so thoughtful of Joe" says Clarrie. No it isn't – thoughtful would be if he topped himself so that they can inherit, although on second thoughts, Joe's estate isn't likely to run to more than enough to buy a tub of Bridge Farm ice cream.

And there's plenty of ice cream to buy (oh, these seamless links!) as nobody is taking a chance and it's sitting on the shelves in the shop and Ambridge Organics. Pat and Tony's cup of woe overflows still further when The Echo learns that a couple of e.coli victims are going to sue and the Buyer at Underwoods is quoted as saying that the public has lost faith in the Bridge Farm brand. Why not call it something else? "Not e.coli" sounds like a winner. The final straw comes when the Environmental Health say that they might be starting proceedings against Bridge Farm. Pat and Tony will know on Tuesday, when the EH has summoned them for an interview.

Pip is getting more and more nervous as results day approaches. She eventually gets to talk to Adam about her ideas to market Hasset Hills lamb and is upset when he says that he agrees with David that staying in the co-operative is a good idea. However, he suggests that some things need changing and why doesn't Pip work from inside the co-op to change it? The idea of being a fifth-column mole appeals to Pip and she cheers up.

Jim is getting his feet worryingly close to being under Christine's table as he helps her replace a fence panel (persuading her to buy half the Garden Centre in the process). Christine invites him to tea. Thin end of the wedge, I reckon.

Finally, an 'if only' moment: Shula goes to see Pat to proffer sympathy and Pat makes her a cuppa, saying: "help yourself to milk". I would have given a large sum to hear Shula reply "Er, I'd rather not, if you don't mind, Auntie Pat…"

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