Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Just Let It Go, Pat

Patricia Gallimore (Pat Archer)

It's not often I agree with Tony, but when Pat confides her suspicion that Rich might be John's son, he advises her to forget all about it, saying "for your own peace of mind, let it go."

Wise words, Tony and, when Pat returns to planet Earth, let's hope she'll realise. After all, suppose Rich is John's, so what? What will Pat do? Tell her? Tell Eamonn, who presumably thinks he's the father? Tell Tom and Helen that their share in the business has just been reduced to accommodate a new nephew?

Pat is obviously delusional, as she confides in Susan, telling her not to tell anybody. Ha! How likely is that? Susan promptly tells husband Neil, but if she stops at that, it will be a first. Pat seems determined that people will find out, as she mentions it to Kathy as well – why not stand up in the Bull and announce it? Kathy urges her to forget it and it seems that Pat was seeing sense, but then she asked Susan for Sharon's phone number and the silly cow gives it to her. It will all end in tears Pat, mark my words – even Helen, besotted as she is with Henry, has noticed her mother is a tad distracted and away with the fairies most of the time.

Susan could be forgiven for her slip up because she has a lot on her mind, what with looking after her useless dad and brother. Just as it seems things can't get any worse, they do, as sister Tracy turns up with the two kids from hell, saying that she has left her husband and has nowhere else to go. I really hope she sods off soon, as she's getting on my nerves already. Personally, I don't reckon she'll stay that long, as Susan is forcing her to make herself useful and this is obviously alien to her nature.

Another person packing bags is Jim, who has decided that it is time he went home and left Chris alone, now that it appears that Clive has left Ambridge. Is he leaving prematurely? Only time will tell.

Once again we had to suffer a 'Stir Up Sunday' scenario – does everybody in Ambridge make their own Christmas Puddings? This year it was Clarrie, Nic and the kids and I think someone should tell the BBC that talking about what ingredients you are currently adding and saying things like "give it a stir Georgie…make a wish…now it's your turn Jake…" does not make for good radio. Stir up Sunday? Stir up apathy, more like.

Clarrie and Eddie celebrated 30 years of wedded – well, probably not bliss – with a surprise party down the pub. Joe, who has apparently been there since lunchtime, is as refreshed as the newt and, when Clarrie sees the crowd and is told that there's champagne behind the bar, is overcome. Perhaps she thought it was all those she had poisoned, seeking revenge?

Preparations for the wedding of Nic and Will are galloping ahead, with Will having the good sense to turn down James's offer to take the photographs. In a rare flash of insight, Will delivers his verdict on James, saying "I think he's a prat".

When Will is cornered by Lynda and badgered to come along to her cabaret/food extravaganza, he reasonably points out that there's not much in it for the kids, and besides, he thinks it might clash with his Stag Night. Tell you what – if this gives people an excuse not to go to Lynda's do, it could be the best-attended Stag Night in recorded history.

Lynda got the sharp edge of Jim's tongue when they meet at Jim's as he is picking up his post. Lynda makes one or two remarks and Jim asks "Did you want anything Lynda, or are you just being nosey?" Almost as diplomatic as Will there, Jim. Lynda asks Jim if he could sing instead of declaiming poetry. "Perhaps you'd like me to accompany myself on the lyre?" he retorts, waspishly, but sarcasm is wasted on Lynda, as she takes him literally.

Bad news at Brookfield, as the hoped-for milk contract came to nothing. Now there's a surprise. Another great bit of radio when David and Pip discuss the merits of various animals, as they pick which one is going to be slaughtered to provide beef this Christmas. 557.5 kgs of Christmas dinner, in case you were wondering.

David becomes the bearer of good news, when he tells Brian that not all the farmers who he has contacted are against the mega-dairy project. And Brian could do with some good news, as the knives are out for him in the BL boardroom, with suggestions that he is losing it and accusations that he only had a half-formed plan because of the differences between him and Adam, or, as Brian terms it, "Adam's intransigence." Yes, it's terrible when a stubborn person comes up against another one. Anyway, Brian is feeling both angry and threatened and not full of the holiday spirit – and he has the scheduled opening if the market a few days away.

All in all, then, perhaps this wasn't the best time for Jennifer to tell him that he has absolutely no suitable clothes for the Maldives and she thinks he should join her on a shopping expedition. I reckon that Jennifer had a lucky escape and was just a hair's breadth away from being beaten to death with Adam's corpse… 

Monday, 21 November 2011

It's Farming Dave, But Not As We Know It

Tim Bentinck (David Archer)

Poor David nearly got his head bitten off by Ruth when he passed on Brian's offer for Brookfield to grow feed for the proposed mega-dairy cows. "It's not farming," she screamed, "it's an industrial business!" No doubt when she does the milking at Brookfield, she dons a milkmaid's outfit and carries two buckets on a pole across her shoulders?

She's a bit hyper because she managed to get to talk to a supermarket milk buyer about pitching for a contract. "This could be the breakthrough we've been waiting for" she told David, "we've got a fantastic product – how can they turn us down?" Well, you could charge too much and let's not forget, at the end of the day, the 'fantastic product' is – well – it's milk.

Earlier in the week, Peggy's 87th birthday lunch went well, in that nobody stuck any cutlery in anybody else. It was encouraging that James and Leonie had had a blazing row and were barely talking to each other – perhaps they'll split up and that damn book will be forgotten. Peggy, bless her, didn't notice that half the family wasn't speaking to the other half and said how nice it was that everybody was getting on so well.

My spirits soared when Lynda was in despair over the quality of her Christmas extravaganza – surely even she would see sense and cancel it? No such luck, as Caroline came up with the idea of turning it into a cabaret, with the acts performing between courses. The only drawback seems to be that everybody in the village will be roped in to cook dishes from around the world. Tom was less than impressed when Lynda told him she had found a recipe for Norwegian Christmas sausage or similar and it wouldn't take him long to knock up…

Later in the week Lynda tells Caroline that she has saved the Christmas show – it will be a long time, if ever, before I forgive her for that.

Elizabeth has obviously had the insurance payout on Nigel, as she agrees with Shula's suggestion of buying Freddie a pony for his birthday and Lily pitches for a school trip to France as her present. In conversation with her sister, Lizzie mentions that it will soon be time for 'Deck the Halls'. God! Surely not – it seems only yesterday that we had Nigel wittering on about how magical it all was.

It was cider-making time and Jim and David turned up at the Grundy's to help. In true Grundy style, Joe didn't do anything (except tell the others to chop the apples smaller and to bang on about 'when I were a lad…'). David and Jim resisted the urge to put him in the apple chopper and were soon left on their own when Eddie mysteriously vanished.

He returned, elated because he had found a 'real pearl necklace' on the web, just in time for his and Clarrie's 30th wedding anniversary, which is the Pearl Anniversary. You might have set a dangerous precedent here Eddie and presumably you will be killing Clarrie before your 40th (Ruby), 45th (Sapphire) and 50th (Gold)? One might also ask what's the point of buying her a necklace when he never takes her anywhere so she can show it off? The poor little sod can't even wear it to work, as she's got no job. I can see it being worn for Will and Nic's wedding and then being replaced in the box and pushed to the back of the dressing table draw.

Susan is working herself into the ground, cooking and cleaning for Dad Bert and idiot brother Gary. Neil isn't happy, telling Susan that she's doing too much – presumably before handing over his pig-muck encrusted overalls to be washed and ironed and sitting down with knife and fork in hand, awaiting a cooked meal. He's worried that Bert and Gary will become dependent on Susan, as that is his job.

Back at Bridge Farm (or will it be renamed Ambridge Organics?) the relaunch has run into a problem or two, as it seems the word 'Organics' isn't flavour of the month with consumers and so the recommendation is to have the word in a smaller font, somewhere on page 43 of the brochure and definitely on the rear of the packaging, probably in Swahili.

Another time, this might have seriously upset Pat, but now she's preoccupied and distant. The reason? She confides in Kathy that she has been thinking about Kylie's younger half brother Rich, who is 13. It was around this many years ago that Sharon (Kylie's mum) briefly returned to Ambridge and had a fling with John; Pat and Tony's late son. Could John be Rich's father? Kathy says so what – let it go after all this time as no good will come of it because Eamonn (Sharon's husband) thinks he's the father.

Wise words, Kathy, but it might be nice to show that John was a real chip off the Archer block – although seemingly taking more after his non-genetically related Uncle Brian than Dad Tony.

Monday, 14 November 2011

At Least One Person Is Happy…

Eri Shuka (Elona)

It seems to me that Elona and her daughters are the only happy people in Ambridge, as they move into their new home on the Green. Helpfully, Peggy turns up for a chat while Elona is in the middle of unpacking and asks whether or not she should take Jack to the church service on Remembrance Day. Why is she even asking – there's no way that dementia-suffering Jack is going to sit quietly for an hour among a crowd of people, is there?

Peggy's forthcoming 87th birthday big family lunch is causing a certain amount of grief and angst among the Archer clan, as Tony says that, if he has to sit next to Jennifer, he can't be responsible for his actions. Pat has had enough of his whining and snaps back "or you'll do what – throw your soup on the floor?" Well said Pat; Henry's obviously not the only baby in the family. On the subject of family rifts, the fact that, presumably David and Elizabeth will be at the lunch hasn't even been mentioned. Go on – sit them together!

Brian is spitting feathers and says he will not sit next to Lilian at Peggy's lunch. The reason is that he blames Lilian for telling BL board member Andrew Eagleton that Adam is opposed to the mega-dairy scheme. Andrew ambushes Brian at the meeting and says that, if all the partners aren't in agreement, then there's no point in investing in the project and discussions are postponed till January.

Brian is incensed, but not as upset as Debbie, who had flown in specially to give a report to the Board and who has been working on the scheme for months. Brian told her that he had sorted it with Adam – a little economical with the truth there, Brian – and, on the way to the airport, Debbie tells him to sort it out, as without Adam, there will be no project. What with all these trips, popping over from Hungary for the day, I reckon any potential profits from the scheme have been long spent.

Who else isn't happy? The Bridge Farm family meeting does not go smoothly, when Helen refuses point blank to work under the 'Tom Archer' brand name. Tom immediately goes off on one and threatens to move his business away. Good – Hungary sounds a nice place. It is all getting a tad heated when Tony says that the Bridge Farm name will have to go and they have to re-brand, plus they have an established brand already. "Too right!" crows an exultant Tom, but Tony is talking about 'Ambridge Organics' and not 'Tom (megalomaniac) Archer'. The meeting ends with Pat feeling a bit more optimistic, although she says "it's the end of an era".

Later on in the week, the family meet again, this time with Brenda also in attendance in her marketing guru capacity, and everything is sweetness and light. To make matters worse, Tony later tells Jennifer how nice it is to have the whole family pulling together to save the business – something which makes her feel even more upset about the Brian/Debbie/Adam row.

Of course the big event of last week was Ivy Horrobin's funeral, with the cremation and church service followed by a wake down at The Bull. Tony says that having all the Horrobins in a pub with alcohol "will be like sticking a bunch of ferrets in a sack". As predictions go, it wasn't the most difficult to come up with, was it?

One member of the family is Clive's daughter, Kylie, who is staying the night with Susan and Neil. Susan got in touch with Kylie via her mother, Sharon, and Kylie comes down from university especially for the funeral. She seems so nice and normal that you have to question whether or not she is really a Horrobin. Mind you, the fact that Clive hasn't been in touch for 22 years might have helped.

At the wake in the pub, Clive (fuelled in no small part by alcohol) decides that it's time to redress the situation and introduces himself to Kylie, saying that he'd like to become part of her life. Not unnaturally, she asks why now, after having had no contact whatsoever for 22 years? Be fair Kylie – perhaps they didn't want him to have sharp objects like pencils when he was inside.

Clive offers Kylie Ivy's wedding and engagement rings, which he says she left to him. This is the final straw for Susan and a blazing row develops, in which she accuses Clive of stealing the rings and of sending his mum to an early grave. This, on top of Kylie's rejection, sends Clive ballistic and he rants and raves, threatening Susan (and seemingly everybody else) and saying that he doesn't want to see Ambridge or the rest of the Horrobin family ever again. This seems more than OK with everybody else and Clive lurches off, still ranting. The next day, Kylie asks Susan to make it clear to the rest of the family that she never wants to see Clive again. She might have added "or the rest of you" but she seems too nice a girl.

Perhaps Susan might now have time to reflect on whether or not she was wise, accusing her brother of theft and causing Ivy's death. Let's think – Clive has a history of violence, including arson and armed robbery, and is known to be vindictive, as his campaign of revenge against George Barford a few years ago amply illustrated. I can't help thinking that, in the long, dark watches of the night, Susan will be wondering whether or not she really has seen the last of Clive…

Monday, 7 November 2011

Willie One-Mate

Philip Molloy (Will Grundy)

Will surprised us all this week, by revealing that he does, in defiance of all logic, actually have a friend. He asked Roy if he would be his Best Man (again) and Roy enthusiastically agreed. Just as well really, as if he'd said 'no', Will would have been in trouble. I was hoping that he might have to ask brother Edward – now that would have been a Best Man's speech worth listening to.

It hasn't been a bad week for Willie One-Mate, as the first shoot of the season went very well and Brian said what a good keeper he was. Other members of the shooting party showed their appreciation in rather more concrete ways, including Matt, who gave Will a £50 tip. Who said crime doesn't pay?

Arrangements for the wedding continue apace, with Nic revealing that Caroline and Oliver will let them have the room for nothing and ditto the champagne reception. Last week I wondered whether there was an ulterior motive for choosing Grey Gables – the Prosecution rests, m'lud.

Nic and Clarrie natter on about the music for the wedding and it is revealed that George will be the ring bearer. Perhaps we should call him Frodo from now on – he's about the right size for a Hobbit? Let's hope that George doesn't nick the ring. Clarrie asked Nic if she would be happy if Clarrie made the wedding cake? I was hoping against hope that Nic would reply "yes – but only if you wash your hands thoroughly" but she didn't.

It was only two weeks ago that I suggested that bumping off Ivy Horrobin would be a way of getting wayward son Clive out of the way and, hey presto! Ivy is now history. For someone who never said anything, everyone reckoned she was a nice woman. However, the second part of the plan (i.e. getting rid of Clive) isn't working, as he's still hanging around. In fact, Susan tells Neil that at least Clive is giving her some help and support, which is more than can be said for her other siblings.

When speaking to Alan about the order of service, Susan said that she wanted 'joyful' hymns at the celebration of Ivy's life. She then chose 'Amazing Grace' and 'Abide With Me'. Why not go the whole hog and have the coffin carried in to the strains of the 'Dead March' from 'Saul'? That should lighten the atmosphere.

Talking of atmospheres, Brian and Adam are still at loggerheads over the Mega-Dairy plan. Adam wants to put forward his case and figures, but Brian tells him that a) he's a minority partner b) Brian and Debbie want to put the plan before the BL Board and c) would Adam mind sodding off so Brian can get his lunch? Peggy, who is at Home Farm for a free lunch, shows that she is still all there when she asks Jennifer "Do I detect a slight atmosphere?" Go on Peggy; admit it – it was the knife sticking out of Adam's back that gave it away, wasn't it?

We had a bit of farming talk this week with David and Ruth saying that the grazing paddocks haven't produced the results they expected and Ed telling Oliver that he's worried about the forthcoming TB tests on the herd. Oliver believes the way forward is to vaccinate the badgers. He says it will have to be a voluntary scheme, which brings to mind the rather surreal image of badgers queuing up to receive their shots. Oliver also says he'll run the idea past David, as the NFU Rep. Ha! David's preferred solution would be to vaccinate the badgers with his 12-Bore.

Tom was back to his unbearable worst when some food writer for Borsetshire Life tweeted to her 8,000 followers about the piggy football video. When Tom checks his website, he finds that it has received 23,000 hits. This makes him even more big-headed and he crows "piggy football is going viral!" Get Stephen Fry to tweet it – that would be impressive.

Tom isn't so pleased when he learns that Brenda is to be excluded from the forthcoming meeting about the future of Bridge Farm and she isn't too happy either. She tells Tom of Helen's idea to use the 'Henry' brand name and he shows how open he is to discussion and reasoned debate by saying "no way – it isn't going to happen". Presumably not unless the name is 'Henry – nephew of Tom Archer'. I have had a preview of the agenda for the meeting. It reads: 1. Why Tom is right. 2. Why your opinions don't matter. 3. Let's watch the piggy football video and 4. See item 1.

Finally this week we had a mystery – some of Ed's stock got out on the road and had to be rounded up. It turned out a gate had been left open, but as the gate was so hard to move, it must have been done deliberately. Who can the culprit be? Clive? After all, everything that now goes wrong in the village, from littering to murder, is going to be blamed on him. Maybe Adam is losing it and striking a blow against the dairy industry? Or perhaps George/Frodo has graduated from being a burglar and is now trying his hand at a bit of rustling? The suspense is becoming unbearable.