Monday, 2 April 2012

Family Meetings

Luke Hudson (Rich (John) Philips)

Sunday was the big day – Eamonn brought Rich down to Bridge Farm to meet his grandparents, uncle and aunt. The poor little sod was bombarded with offers of food and drink but he handled it well, asking to see photos of his dad and, worryingly, saying he'd like to see the pigs.

Even more worryingly, he seemed to get on well with Tom and asked him if he could help get a pig into a trailer? Tom says he'd get his jacket dirty, which is unusually considerate of him. Rich learns that his dad was not only into pigs, but ran a mobile disco to boot. "He sounds like a real cool guy" was Rich's verdict. Not like you then, Tom.

All too soon (for Pat and Tony, at least, if not for us) it's time to go. Rich asks if he can have a picture of John and Eamonn tells him to give his grandmother a hug. Off they go, leaving Pat and Tony in a warm glow, but slightly sad that Rich has gone.

A few days later, Rich sends Pat and Tony an e-mail, thanking them and saying he'd be happy to come back. Tony wonders whether or not they should tell the rest of the family – Peggy, Lilian and Jennifer – about Rich. "After all, he's part of their family too" he says. They ask Tom, who has no objections (apparently Helen's views don't matter) so they call a family meeting for a couple of days hence.

This causes a certain amount of worry in the Archer clan, as Peggy and Lilian put two and two together and come up with the totally erroneous conclusion that Tony's recovery isn't going according to plan and he has bad news to tell them. As it turns out, everyone is delighted to hear about Rich and Jennifer says "it's wonderful news". Mind you, Peggy wasn't exactly doing handsprings, but that could just be old age, or disapproval of John's morals.

When the rest of the family have left, Pat and Tony go outside and turn the cows out onto the grass. Tony was touched by Jennifer's reaction and everything seems to be going swimmingly – the bank has extended the mortgage holiday, Tom has his loan for the polytunnels and Rich has met his grandparents. As Pat and Tony survey the farm, one of them says that "this place has got a future and, on a night like this, it's great to be alive." This sounds suspiciously like tempting fate to me and I wonder if we are in for a tragedy of some sort?

Just when you thought that we had heard the last of James and Leonie, it turns out that they will be coming to Ambridge by helicopter next week and will be taking photographs of the village for an "Ambridge from the air" part of their book. Lynda and Robert wonder what they can do to make it more interesting for the diabolic duo – a cricket match is one suggestion, but it's too early and would have to be faked and no-one really cares that much.

Robert wonders if James and Leonie will need to get permission from those they photograph, but Lynda dismisses this. Later on in the week, we learn that Derek Fletcher is incandescent at the thought of the spies in the sky – we can only hope that Derek is stocking up on surface to air missiles. In passing, we learn that the first green burial has taken place and that Robert and Lynda have booked their plots. Don't let them go to waste Mr & Mrs Snell – use them quickly!

Brian is having a hard time. Annabelle doesn't like the pig option and Brian agrees, feeling that abandoning the mega dairy looks like backing down. He admits that he might be struggling at Thursday's BL board meeting and needs to do some serious lobbying. It doesn't start well, as Brian asks Martin for half an hour of his time. "There's no point" was Martin's discouraging response and he suggests dropping the idea altogether. "If I've lost the confidence of the board what's the point of going on?" Brian asks. Good question.

At the board meeting, Brian fights his corner well, saying "if we give up now, we'll be known as the company that buckles at the first sign of opposition" and "it's about the company's philosophy – are we quitters or fighters?" In the end, he manages to get quitter Martin on side and Barbara too and the decision is made to take the mega-dairy plans to the Council. Mind you, Brian's not out of the woods yet – as he says; "I'm so identified with this project that if anything goes wrong, my neck is right on the chopping block." I'm sharpening my axe, just in case.

Finally, we have a complete change of character, as Jamie rings up Lynda (who is sending Robert up ladders to clear out the gutters and remove moss from the roof, ready for the helicopter fly-past) to tell her that he thinks the Peregrines have laid two eggs. She joins him at the church, making a mental note that James and Leonie will have to keep the helicopter away from the church. The change of character is that of Jamie – now he appears to be a keen and committed ornithologist, but it wasn't so long ago that he was trashing the bird hide and trying to set it alight.

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