Sunday, 22 April 2012

Children – Who'd Have 'Em?

Graham Blockey (Robert Snell)

I bet if you took Robert Snell back in time to just before Leonie was conceived and stood there with a vasectomy knife, he'd grab your hand off to get the knots put in. The whingeing, self-centred bitch turns up unexpectedly on Sunday, with no luggage, having left James and demands a room. Unfortunately for her, all the guest rooms are taken, so she ends up on a camp bed in the study. Lynda is agog to know what actually happened, but all Leonie does is slag off James and wails "why do I end up with such losers?" Soulmates, perhaps?

As the week progresses, Leonie causes more and more trouble, being told repeatedly to turn the TV down (is she deaf as well as miserable?) and, every time that Robert tries to lay down a few ground rules (like not using the guests' bathrooms and for Christ's sake put the shower curtain inside the bath and stop dropping milk bottles on the kitchen floor) she goes all maudlin and accuses him of not wanting her there. Robert tells Lynda that Leonie said "you don't want me staying here, do you?" "Well, we don't," was Lynda's reasonable response, sadly to Robert and not Leonie.

Towards the end of the week, Leonie persuades her Dad to find a van and take her to London to pick up her stuff (which will be stored at Ambridge Hall), while Leonie goes to stay with her friend Maxine in London. Leonie would like to go the following day and, while Robert is dubious, Lynda is all for it and practically tells Robert to camp outside the van rental place.

There was a bit of friction between Lynda and Lilian about who actually left whom and who was to blame, but they both realise that the children are both complete flakes and deserve each other, really.

At Bridge Farm, Tony's recovery takes a bit of a setback when he is still in bed at 10am on Sunday and he agrees that perhaps he had tried to do too much too soon. Tom reduces the number of times that Tony will do the milking. We had more riveting radio when Peggy takes Tom a cup of tea and, in response to the question "what are you up to?" he takes her through the instruction manual for the new software. Tom, she really doesn't care that much and, in the unlikely event that she does care, I certainly don't.

Amy's plans to keep Carl under wraps go tits up when they run into Usha at a café or a shop or somewhere. Amy is mortified, but Carl is charm personified and invites Usha to join them, which she does. When questioned later by Alan, Usha tells him "Amy's found herself a good 'un."

While on the subject of children, we had Adam behaving with surprising sensitivity – when asked by Lynda if he is going to the mega-dairy planning meeting, he says "No – I've alienated half my family already." Only half?

Tuesday is the day of the Planning meeting and, as the time approaches, it is obvious that the decision is finely balanced and could go either way. The audience is made up mostly of anti-dairy people and Rooooth and Pat are delighted to meet Hatty Marshall, a fully paid-up member of the bunny-huggers club and who will speak against the project.

In the end, she goes a bit mad (in my opinion at least) by appealing to the planners to "think of the future of farming and think of the future of our planet." For God's sake woman, we're talking about a dairy project in a corner of Borsetshire, not the meltdown of a global chain of nuclear power stations – get a sense of proportion.

Hatty's impassioned plea is greeted enthusiastically by Rooooth, Pat et al, then the Chief Planning Officer puts the mockers on it by reminding everyone that his report recommends acceptance. The knife is twisted further when the Chairman sums up and says there's no valid reason to refuse planning and, if it should be rejected, BL would have ample grounds for an appeal that would, in all probability, succeed. The motion is for the decision on planning to be delegated to the Chief Planning Officer, which would effectively give the go-ahead for the mega-dairy. In the end, the motion is passed 7-6 and a confident Brian gives an interview to Radio Borsetshire, much to the disgust of Rooooth and Pat.

So is that it? No; wait a minute! The Environment Agency have still not submitted their report on the project and everything hinges on what they are going to say, assuming they bother to get their act together sometime soon. The fat lady hasn't yet sung and the man in black hasn't yet blown his whistle – Brian's smugness could yet be premature and all his ambitions thwarted by fears of a flood of slurry – or the discovery of a previously-overlooked family of newts.

Finally, Lily has returned from France, speaking the language like a native and winding up Freddie by telling him (falsely) that she ate horse in France. Sounds a neat solution to the Topper situation to me.

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