Monday, 28 May 2012

Aversion Therapy Required

I've always thought that Nic seems a really nice girl – a bit dense, maybe (she is married to William, so the prosecution rests m'lud) but things are rapidly getting out of hand and she obviously needs a course of aversion therapy – fast.


Why so? On Wednesday she was coming over all broody and couldn't bring herself to give away Mia's old clothes. We all listened with mounting alarm, as it was obvious where this storyline was going and it unfolded like a slow-motion car crash. Sure enough, when Will returned home, Nic said "I want you and me to have a baby together." Five million listeners screamed "no!" but it was too late, as a delighted Will immediately grabbed her (she didn't say anything about starting right away, Will). "Just one, Will" said Nic, which will make it interesting if she ends up expecting twins, to which he replied "Just one will be perfect".


Ha! With Grundy genes, the one certainty is that 'perfect' is just what it won't be. And what has brought on this sudden desire to breed? Before Nic told him of her unnatural craving, Will was moaning because she hadn't taken the old clothes to the charity shop. "We need the space" he said, in his nasally-whining voice. Suddenly, he's all for another baby – I submit that a baby will take up a damn sight more space than a bag of clothes.


And what of Nic? Not so long ago, when Will was getting all broody, she (along with most of us) was practically retching at the thought. Talk about a U-turn! I reckon Will has been slipping hormones into her coffee. But it's not too late – just stand still Nic, while we attach these electrodes to your nipples; it's for your own good (and ours). We can make you normal again; trust me.


Up at Bridge Farm, Pat and Tony are waxing philosophical about the future. Pat tells Tony that they should give Tom and Helen their head and let them take decisions about the direction that the farm needs to take. If not, Pat is afraid that Tom might leave the family business. Gosh, how we'd all hate that, especially if he left the series.


In the end, Tony accepts that the future lies with his children and he suggests getting a relief milker in to take some of the pressure off Tom, who is pathetically grateful when told. Tony and Pat will be taking things easier in future. Good idea – and why not travel a bit? Australia's nice. And you could save on costs by buying only a one-way ticket.


If they do slope off to Australia (and there's no suggestion that they will, but I can dream, can't I?) may I suggest that they take Amy with them? She used to be a nice, level-headed, pleasant girl but since being dumped by Carl, she has turned into a whining, surly cow. Yes, Usha should have told you he was married, Amy, but it's your fault, not hers – as a vicar's daughter, surely you shouldn't have been shagging him anyway?


Someone who remains nice is Elona, although she cannot come to terms with the fact that hubby Darrell is being paid cash in hand by Matt. Darrell points out that, with his criminal record, he's lucky to have any work at all. Nevertheless, Elona persuades him to ask Matt to go on the payroll proper. Matt says he'll think about it, but when Darrell has gone, Matt proves that criminal – if not great – minds think alike when he tells Lilian that, with his criminal record, Darrell's lucky to have any work at all. Lilian, however, is worried that if they upset Elona, then they will face Peggy's wrath. "We haven't finished this conversation" she warns Matt.


Someone who appeared nice, but obviously has an inner core of steel is Iftikar who, at the cricket coaching session, berates the individual players, after yet another thrashing. Can he instil some team spirit before this week's grudge match with Darrington? Will Rhys learn which way up to hold the bat? Do we care?


At Brookfield, the slurry tank is christened – thankfully without one of Bert Fry's poems – and the tension is slowly building as the programme of intimidation to make David refuse to be a witness at the trial of Adam's attackers continues.


After last week's threatening call, the Brookfield phone is switched to answerphone. Despite this, when the phone rings one day, Ben answers it, but is clubbed to the ground by his hysterical mother, who shouts "Who is this?" down the line. It turns out that it was a very surprised Oliver, who was on his way to help with the silaging. Later on in the week, Ruth and David discuss the situation. "I don't think the children have noticed anything wrong" says David, thus confirming that they are even thicker than I thought.


Other weird happenings – a gate was found open and, having left his tractor for a few minutes, David returned to find a folded-up newspaper on the seat, open at the story of Adam's attack. The security lights aren't working and it looks like they have been attacked with an airgun. "Local kids" says David, as Ruth demands he get the police in. Then the phone rings and a voice says "You'll have to take more care – your security lights; not so secure now, are they? It's getting darker, isn't it?" Watch your back, David.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 21 May 2012

Jubilee Blues

Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell)

While I would be among the first to congratulate Her Majesty on her Diamond Jubilee, there is a downside to the event, which is that it gives Lynda Snell something else to organise. It's bad enough that we have the Christmas extravaganza every year (and the time for that is approaching depressingly quickly), but 2012 gives us the Jubilee Fete, not to mention the Britain in Bloom competition entry, which you-know-who has already monopolised.

Lynda was at her steamrollering best last week, calling on all and sundry with demands that they tidy up their gardens and resorting to emotional blackmail, such as her remark to Tom ("I'm sure you wouldn't want to be the one to spoil it?"). Actually, I felt a pang of sympathy for Tom, who was trying to grab a bite to eat, while his earhole was being bent by Lynda's ceaseless prattling. Instead of smacking her in the mouth (and no jury on earth would have convicted him) he resorted to sarcasm, saying that Lynda might have noticed that his Dad had had a heart attack. That doesn't matter, apparently – as long as he didn't collapse in an untidy heap on the Green.

Illness is no excuse, as Adam found out when Lynda picked on him to tidy the garden. Jennifer had left the two of them alone, which isn't like her and Adam didn't have the strength to throw her out. Lynda, fortified by one of Kenton's experimental cocktails, showed her competitive side when she told Jill "I want to win – there's no point doing it otherwise." Why doesn't everyone else agree and tell her there is no point, then they could all get on with their lives? David put it well when he said "Perhaps every beautiful village requires a Stalinist reign of terror." Lynda would be annoyed to hear that – she probably regards Stalin as a namby-pamby, bleeding heart liberal.

Lynda's megalomania is demonstrated when she suggests getting the Lord Lieutenant to cut the Jubilee cake, although she does concede that Jennifer has a point when she suggests that the LL might be a tad busy with other things on Jubilee Day.

May I make a humble suggestion for a Jubilee celebration, which I am sure would prove popular? My suggestion is for a large Wicker Man, which would be ceremonially burned as an offering to give thanks for the Queen's reign. Of course, it is customary to include a human sacrifice; preferably someone who is prominent and active in the community. Now, who could we pick that fits that bill?

At least Lynda's hare-brained idea for some kind of cultural Olympiad was rejected in favour of sports such as welly-throwing and a human caterpillar race. And a good job too – you just knew that what passes for culture in Ambridge would be Jim and one of his tedious Latin declamations and – horror of horrors – Bert Fry and a specially-composed Jubilee poem. It's enough to turn you republican.

Usha and Alan were drifting further apart, until Usha took the bull by the horns and confronted him in his own church, telling him that he has been really hurtful and that he doesn't even kiss her goodnight any more (What? They're still sleeping together?). Alan doesn't recognise himself from her description at first, then he realises how badly he has been behaving and they make up, with him saying "I promise – we'll sort this out somehow." That might involve having to throw Amy out of the Vicarage.

The mystery of the big cat continues, although the fact that Ed has had his pasture grubbed up twice leads Joe to suggest that it might be a wild boar, or even more than one. On the other hand, it might just be Will being nasty to his brother. Ed laughs off the thought of it being a wild boar, so it's a fair bet that he'll get gored fairly soon.
It's interesting that Will, the gamekeeper, has seen neither hide nor hair of this beast, when seemingly half of Ambridge have either glimpsed the animal itself, or seen evidence of its existence, such as the ruined pasture. Perhaps you should get out more, Will?

Poor Joe was looking forward to being the one to cut the Jubilee Cake, saying that he would bring some 'gravitas' to the occasion. Gravitas? Joe? Gravy stains more like. In the end, 96-year old Mr. Pullen was the chosen one. Will Joe try to nobble him, we wonder?

There are sinister events at Brookfield, when David takes a phone call from a menacing individual who says that "when you are called to be a witness, you say 'no'," adding; "you love your family – if you want them to stay the same way, you'll say 'no'." Lucky this didn't happen when Pip was going through her typical teenager phase when she was involved with Jude, or David might have cheerfully driven her round to the man the next day.

Also at Brookfield, there were what looked like the first stirrings of young love, as we had Josh spending a lot of time on Skype talking to Phoebe, which was a heart-freezing and profoundly depressing reminder that the clock is ticking and it won't be long before Phoebe – and, even worse, presumably the mother from Hell Kate – will once again be back in Ambridge. Perhaps there's room for a couple more in the Wicker Man?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Honesty Isn't The Best Policy

Souad Faress (Usha Franks)

Why is it that the inhabitants of Ambridge seem to find it impossible to practice even a teensy-weensy bit of deception, even if it would benefit everybody? First of all we had David unburdening himself to Elizabeth about encouraging Nigel to go up on the roof, with the result that she has cut off all contact with him and Ruth and now we have Usha telling Amy that she knew Carl was married.

Usha's defence when Amy asked why she hadn't told her earlier was that Usha thought Amy might have known that he was married, effectively telling Amy that Usha thought she might be a tart and adulteress – something that every girl likes to be called.

Why, for God's sake? Amy was in bits and her romance was well and truly over, so why not just keep quiet and offer tea and sympathy? As it turned out, Amy turned on her stepmother and fled the house, saying that she never wanted to see her again. Nice one Usha – had you just kept your trap shut, you could have played the consoling parent and everything would have been fine. And let's be honest, it wouldn't have been that gigantic a lie, would it?

Instead, although Usha's conscience remains unsullied, her stepdaughter hates her and even husband Alan is not a happy bunny, leaving home early on Sunday evening "to be alone and to pray for guidance". Something tells me relationships at the Vicarage are going to be a touch on the cool side for a while. Indeed, when Amy does come home, she is barely civil to Usha, when she condescends to speak to her at all, that is. And Alan's not much more communicative.

Meanwhile, Tom is going slowly demented by the pressures of work – while on the burger van (they took over £1,000 in a day, which isn't too shabby) he fields call after call from Tony and Pat about problems on the farm, largely due to Tony's inability to grasp even the rudiments of technology ("No, Dad, you turn the switch down to make the light come on."). So bad does it get that Brenda threatens to walk out if he answers his phone once more.

At last Tom realises that he cannot run the world on his own and tempts Pip into running the burger van in the future. Pip accepts, much to the unease of Ruth, who is afraid this will affect her college work.

Over at Home Farm, Jennifer takes a game pie over to Adam, who reminds her "I do live with a chef, Mum". Honestly, what with taking pies to Adam and casseroles and the like to Alice, Jennifer seems to have food with her every time she leaves the house – I bet her handbag is Tupperware.

Adam is recovering slowly, but is cheered by the news that the police have arrested the men who attacked him, following David identifying them. However, his convalescence will be slow and he won't be back on the farm for at least six weeks. Even worse, he won't be able to play cricket and the team badly needs him. So fraught are things that Rhys – who doesn't know one end of a cricket bat from another – is drafted into the team. The lack of knowledge is no handicap – "You can throw and run" says Alistair. Funny, I always thought there was more to cricket than that. It speaks volumes for the quality of Rhys's existence that he greets the news of his selection with almost orgasmic delight. For God's sake get a life, man!

Fresh from the success with the dairy, Brian is seemingly intent on becoming a property magnate. He and Jennifer are looking at a barn and Jennifer remarks how the swifts come back year after year. "I wish my children lived nearer" she says, wistfully. That's because they're trying to tell you something I reckon Jen. Brian says the barn would make a good conversion for houses "What about the swifts?" asks an alarmed Jennifer. Don't worry Jen, we can have those killed off in no time!

Harking back to the dairy, Hatty (Borsetshire Against Factory Farming) comes to speak to Ruth and Pat about where they go from here. Appealing the planning decision is a possibility, but if they lose, they would have to pay the costs. Hatty suggests boycotting everything produced by Home Farm but the other two point out that most of the products are Adam's and he's against the mega-dairy. Equally, Ruth points out that increased picketing of the Farmers' Market would place David (wearing his NFU hat) in an awkward position. A hugely-disappointed Hatty says "It seems you haven't the stomach for the fight any longer" and she doesn't even bother to tell them of her plans to raze Home Farm to the ground, or give them the 'Make your own Molotov Cocktail' instruction sheet.

Susan's brother Keith visited the village – his daughter Samantha is getting married and wants Chelsea (Tracy's daughter) as a bridesmaid. Obviously Samantha hasn't got many friends. Keith said that he saw "a big animal" running across the road and Susan tells him about the Ambridge big cat. The latest person to see the beast was Jazzer, who described it as "a large, hairy mutant disappearing into the mist." Personally, I reckon it was a mirror.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A Couple Of Cheaters

Jennifer Daley (Amy Franks)

Let's begin with poor Adam, lying in a coma in hospital and unable to defend himself against the constant talking of Jennifer, who is convinced that the sound of her voice will bring him back to the land of the living. On reflection, I reckon she has a point, as I can see him suddenly awakening and his hands gripping her throat in a desperate attempt to try and shut her up.

It's not only Jennifer, as she has Peggy and Ian talking to Adam and she really lays a heavy guilt trip on Debbie, because she won't drop everything and catch the next plane home from Hungary. "If he could only hear your voice" wails Jennifer, who cannot comprehend that Debbie is actually running Hungary and can't just come back.

In the event, Adam does wake up (presumably his subconscious realised that this is the only way he was going to get any peace) and Jennifer immediately starts worrying that he might suffer some lasting damage (apart from chronic earache), remembering when Brian suffered from epilepsy after being knocked down by a cow. Brian tells her she's being silly and look at him now – running the farm single handed and chairing the BL board. Having said that, Brian seemingly acknowledges that he is only human and tells Jen that they will probably have to get someone in to work on the farm while Adam recovers. Jen will probably worry in case the new person is a convicted murderer, or something – if fretting were to be an Olympic sport, she'd be a shoo-in for the Gold Medal.

If Brian wants someone to help with the paperwork/admin side of the business, he would be well advised to pass over brother-in-law Tony. Tom shows him how to operate the new software system, starting from first principles ("OK Dad, when we've put the plug in the socket, we move the switch down…") and goes off to wrestle with the silage clamp, leaving Tony to sort out the paperwork.

When Tom returns, Tony proudly tells him that he has dealt with it all. Tom is pleased, until he realises that he can't find any record of it and it turns out that Tony hasn't saved it. In a moment of extraordinary self-awareness, Tony says "I did all that work for nothing – I'm just a dinosaur, aren't I? With about as much brain." Come on Tony, don't be unfair – after all, there were some dinosaurs that were capable of walking and chewing grass at the same time, but persevere and you'll get there in the end.

Over at the Vicarage, Usha still cannot find the right moment to talk to Alan or Amy and to tell them that Carl is in fact married and she is seemingly unaware that, the longer she leaves it, the more awkward it will be when (or if) she does come clean and she is likely to face questions like "how long have you known?" and "why didn't you think to mention it?" The rate things are going, Usha will end up telling Carl and Amy's children on her deathbed.

Usha seems to have no problems telling Ruth, who, let's face it, has first-hand experience of adultery - or, more accurately, near-adultery – and Usha wonders whether or not Amy is aware that Carl is married and is going along with it. That's a nice opinion to have of your step-daughter. Let's be honest, if Usha really wanted Amy (and indeed the rest of Borsetshire) to know about Carl, then all she's got to do is drop a word (in strictest confidence, of course) to Susan Carter.

While Usha procrastinates, the Carl/Amy relationship seems to be rapidly moving up through the gears. Carl tells Amy he has to go to Bristol to work for a few days and she persuades him to take her with him. I don't know what his job is, but it seems to involve staying in the best hotels (they had a Jacuzzi in their room – or, more likely, suite), eating the best food ("that was the best meal I've ever had" says Amy, dragging him off to bed) and seemingly spending the minimum of time actually working.

The blissful few days has made up Amy's mind and she suggests that they move in together. Carl is less than enthusiastic, but Amy says "I love you, you love me, so why wait?" Back in Ambridge, Amy rings Alice to tell her that they "have decided to make it permanent" and, when Carl kissed her when he dropped her off, it was "like moving into a new phase." How right she is, as at that moment her mobile rings and it is Carl, dumping her, because "I can't give you the kind of commitment you deserve – I'm sorry, but it's over." At least he didn't say "my wife won't let me give you the kind of commitment you deserve."

We move on from cheater to cheetah (these links don't write themselves, you know) – the day after the Jubilee Fete Committee meeting, Lynda and Jim are out walking with Scruff, who disappears into a copse, where he begins barking furiously. Lynda goes to get him and finds him terrified. She returns to Jim, distraught because she glimpsed a big animal running off and tells Jim it was a big cat "about the size of a cheetah." Jim pooh-poohs her story, calling big cats "a rural myth" and suggests it might have been a fox or, more improbably, a large hedgehog. Presumably not a very big cheetah then? Lynda will have none of it, however and, no doubt thinking of the publicity value, declares triumphantly "Ambridge has got its own big cat – I'm sure of it." We await developments, but my money is on the fact that it was Carl, slinking slowly out of Amy's life.