Tom Graham (Tom Archer)
The scarecrow competition reached its unbearable climax on Sunday when Lewis judged the entries. The tension between the Grundy brothers was at fever pitch when Lewis – nailing his colours firmly to the fence – announced a dead heat between Ed's and Will's Billy Goats Gruff entries.
Actually, it was a neat solution, as George won both prizes (although there were chocolates for Jake and Mia as well), and it prevented further internecine strife between the Grundy siblings. In fact, everyone agreed that it was a good solution and both sides had their photo taken together. "I can't remember the last time William and Edward appeared in the same photograph" said Eddie to Neil, later on.
Meanwhile, the enterprise that was Bridge Farm appears to be going to hell in a handcart. E-coli was the main topic of conversation at the fete, with people shunning Tom's burgers and hot dogs, much to his disgust. Clarrie tells Eddie that she has to give two consecutive clear samples (and that's an image that I'm finding hard to shift from my brain) before she can think of going back to work.
But will she have a job to go back to? Susan, who has been packing veg boxes and helping out at Ambridge Organics, tells Neil that there were hardly any customers. Pat, meanwhile, is throwing wobblies because she can't get the dairy steam cleaned for a week or so and alternating between anger and sympathy for the stricken children still in hospital. Her mood is not improved when she visits Underwoods, to find their shelves stocked with a rival's product.
The local Press are laying siege to Bridge Farm and driving Tony mad (how about cleaning the yard with a high pressure hose, Tony?). Still, he should be grateful it's only The Echo and not the Nationals. David, wearing his NFU hat, suggests that Tony rings the union press office and think about issuing a statement. He's not convinced, but drafts one and the family agrees to release it.
We had a horticultural interlude on Wednesday, with Lynda admiring Jill's garden and both saying how much they learned from the recent GQT visit. The boredom was relieved by the news that Flat Leaf Parsley won't be able to make the Snell's upcoming party, as her hubby has just taken a job in The Netherlands. Yes, Holland is rather the other side of the world, isn't it? At least we will be spared Lynda going all gooey over Oscar.
Chris and Alice have been married a year! Can it really be 12 months since Jennifer's nose was so spectacularly put out of joint? Anyway, Chris has to present his business plan to the bank – he's torn between the Bob Geldof approach ("Give us yer f***ing money!") and that of Bonnie and Clyde ("This is a shotgun, please place the money in the bag") and is not confident of securing a loan. Never mind, Alice has a bottle of champagne ready to toast their anniversary and no doubt will offer other consolations. As it turned out, Chris didn't do too badly and the bank suggested a revised scheme for half the money whereby he rents Ronnie's premises, rather than buy them outright.
At Casa Nueva, Nic says how much she loves being in the country and hopes the kids will feel the same. Will is delighted and invites them all to accompany him in the evening, when he's going to shoot a fox. The family that slays together stays together, obviously.
And so we return to Bridge Farm, where Tony has managed to find a company that will come and steam clean the dairy within a few days. Pat can't get the girl in hospital out of her mind and reckons there's a good chance that they could be sued. But wait! Tom has an idea and runs it past Brenda in the pub. She agrees and Tom persuades Helen to back him up when talking to Pat and Tony.
The idea? Simple – Clarrie has to be fired and her name dragged through the papers. Better still, if she could carry a bell and walk the streets of Ambridge (preferably in rags and chains) yelling "unclean!" that would be even better. Then, after she has done penance at the church and birched herself for 20 minutes, she will be taken to the village green, where she will be put inside this giant wicker figure (made out of the scarecrow entries, presumably) and ceremonially burnt, while screaming "it's the least I deserve!". "This will show we're taking it seriously" says Tom. After all, what are friends for if not to be sacrificed?
Pat and Tony however decide that they do not want to be village outcasts by hanging their friend (who's been working in the dairy for 16 years) out to dry. In the middle of the argument, Clarrie rings up to say that she is at last clear of e-coli and asks about her job. Pat is non-committal, saying that the dairy has yet to get the all-clear from Environmental Health and she will let Clarrie know.
Clarrie is disappointed, but not as much as if she could hear Tom's latest plans, which involve pins, fingernails and being broken on the wheel. Do you know, I think I liked him better when he wasn't speaking.