Monday, 5 March 2012

Accidental Hero

Colin Skipp (Tony Archer)

I am really getting cheesed off with Rooooth – what part of "the cows are making us bankrupt" does she not understand? On Sunday David finds her in floods of tears, viewing the electricity bill on screen and wailing "how much longer can we go on like this?" OK, all together: "So get rid of the bloody cows!"

David, instead of clubbing her to the ground, is all supportive and loving. In the past, Rooooth has said that "if I have to give up the cows, I might as well give up farming". I submit, m'lud that, if the farm is repossessed, the chances of her keeping the cows are slender in the extreme, but David forbears to mention this.

However, every man has his breaking point and, towards the end of the week, David lays it on the line to Rooooth, telling her that every hour she spends with the cows is losing them money and, if she wants to keep the cows, then she has to come up with a plan. So far, the only plan she has had is to wring her hands and say how much she loves the cows. Get a grip, woman!

Wouldn't it be tragic if they got rid of the cows to concentrate on lambs and the flock contracted the Schmallenberg virus? Mind you, the virus isn't a totally bad thing, as it means that Pip's celebrity lamb project has been kicked into the long grass, thus probably saving us hours of riveting radio as she describes her website – it could have been the footballing pigs all over again.

Elsewhere in Ambridge, it has been a week of making up and healing rifts, as Brian practically forces Adam to shake hands and agree to differ on the mega-dairy, which he does with bad grace. Meanwhile, Tony's heart attack (of which more later) makes Jennifer realise how petty her feud with Tony has been and the siblings make up and agree to start again in a touching scene at his hospital bedside.

Tony's plight also leads to a rapprochement with Clarrie, as the Bridge Farm crew realise that they are going to need help. Helen asks Clarrie if she'd consider coming back to work in the dairy and she agrees like a shot. Just make sure you wash your hands, Clarrie. If Clarrie is to be working alongside Susan, that should be a stern test of the "no gossiping" Lenten pledge.

There was a minor rift when Alice threw a moody because her friends were all going to Austria skiing and she couldn't go. She walked away from Chris in a huff, but when he later gave her some catkins, they were all lovey-dovey once more, as usual.

One rift that has not been healed is that between Elizabeth and David – while everyone else has been saying that Tony's potentially fatal attack puts everything else into perspective, presumably Lizzie is still sticking the pins into the wax doll with the "husband killer" sign round its neck. While on the subject of the Pargetters, there is a worrying trend in that Lily and Freddie are getting bigger speaking parts. It was Lily's turn this week, when Neil gave her her first bell-ringing lesson. Sadly, the bell doesn't fall on top of her and Neil pronounces her 'a natural'. A natural what? I hear you ask.

And so to the big story of the week – Tony's heart attack. Last week I asked whether Tom was trying to drive his father into an early grave and this week he moved into overdrive, wanting to talk about growing peppers when Tony had about a million things to do. Tony tells Tom to bugger off and Tom storms into the farmhouse, ranting about his Dad. Having worked himself up into a frenzy, Tom resolves to have it out with Tony right away and bursts into the milking parlour, where Tony has collapsed with a heart attack.

Tom calls an ambulance and resists the opportunity to say "while you're lying there Dad, about these peppers…" Actually, Tom is consumed with guilt and tells Pat and Helen that it is all his fault for the way he has been pushing Tony for the past few weeks. Instead of, quite justifiably, laying a really heavy guilt trip on him, they tell him not to be so silly. At least Tom will have to pull his weight in the milking department now – no more swanning off to Shropshire or wherever, to discuss the benefits of pork lasagne.

Actually, Tom is given help as David offers to do some of the milking and Brian helps out preparing and delivering veg boxes. This gives Tom the opportunity to visit his Dad in hospital. Instead of saying "look what you've done to me you ungrateful git" Tony thanks Tom for saving his life (hence the 'accidental hero' of the title this week). "You came out to see me; you realised I was looking ill" says Tony. This is Tom's chance to 'fess up and say "No I didn't – I came out to carry on giving you a hard time about the peppers", but instead the duplicitous little worm says "Lucky I came out to the parlour when I did."

Anyway, the good news is that Tony has suffered no lasting damage to his heart and has had a stent fitted, but will now have to take it easy. Tom is relieved and a little embarrassed at his Dad's gratitude – and so he should be. However, as Tom sat by his father's sickbed, I reckon that the entrepreneur in him was a bit disappointed that things worked out as they did – after all, a funeral would have been an ideal opportunity for a tasting focus group for the ready meals…

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