Jennifer Daley (Amy Franks)
So, Amy has finally come to her senses after seeing Carl at his place of work. And wasn't he pleased to see her? Er – not exactly, as his opening comment was "What the hell do you think you're playing at Amy?"
Despite this frosty reception, Amy's self delusion remained unabated, as she told Carl that she realised that he had to find the right time to tell his wife that he was leaving her. Carl was stupefied, saying: "Why in your wildest dreams would you imagine that I'd leave Rochelle for you?" "Because I love you" Amy replied, to which Carl's response was "You really are that naïve – go home Amy." I half expected Amy to say "So that's a no then?" but the message finally got through, as she eventually said "You bastard!"
Even so, when talking to Alice a couple of days later, Amy confides that she thinks that Carl's marriage is a sham and she feels ashamed that she would have stayed with Carl, had he agreed to leave his wife. Will somebody please beat this woman senseless? Actually, if I were Alice, I'd watch out, as Amy seems to have developed a liking for married men, telling Alice: "Chris is lovely – you're so lucky to have him." Time to send Amy back to the Vicarage, methinks.
And she'd be welcome there, as Amy goes to Usha's 50th birthday party and there is a touching reconciliation as she and Usha hug. "I've been so stupid" Amy says. Never spoken a truer word, my girl, plus you could add 'hurtful', 'nasty', 'spiteful' – but hey, let's stop there, as there are other stories to cover.
It has been a bad year for organised village activities – a bad year for we listeners, that is, as there have been so many of them. The latest enterprise is the Village Fete/Olympics, which seems to take more organising than the real Olympics. Kenton, who is supposedly in charge of organising the sports, comes up with the idea of Dragon Boat racing and – my favourite – a tug of war over the Am. I envisage this as being held with both teams perched on high clifftops, above a foaming, raging torrent. On one side we could have all the characters we don't like (I would even bring Kate and Phoebe back from South Africa) and on the other, Bert Fry and his Massey Ferguson tractor.
At Brookfield, Open Farm Sunday goes with a bang – sadly, the bang is a firework, which stampedes the bullocks towards the crowds. George is in danger, but Ed heroically rescues him. Later, David discovers that the fence has been neatly cut and Pip starts sobbing, asking "How could anyone be so cruel?" and "How dare they ruin our Open Farm Sunday?" That's the trouble with these criminals – no respect for the countryside. I bet they go around farms leaving gates open and chasing sheep with mint sauce.
Anyway, the tension inside Brookfield is ratcheted up another notch or two and David decides to tell Jill the whole story. Ruth and Jill then confront David, saying how proud they are of his courage, and then spoiling it by asking him to change his mind and not testify. This jelly-backboned attitude upsets David, who is determined to do the right thing (and let's face it, he can't back down now, can he – what sort of example would the BBC be setting to its listeners?).
The tension rises even more when Pip gets a call on her mobile – it's the gang, saying "I've got a message for your father". Pip is, understandably, distraught and Ruth goes even more frantic, saying: "I'm not letting the kids out of my sight". That could make their schooldays interesting as Ruth lurks at the back of the class. Or I suppose she could rope them together, chain-gang style and make them shuffle along behind her. David doesn't help when he points out that the trial could be weeks away yet, which prompts invertebrate Ruth to demand that he goes to the police and tell them he isn't going got testify.
One solution could be to pack them off to New Zealand with Uncle Kenton and Jolene. Kenton is upset because he cannot find a cheap flight; he tells Matt, who tells Jill, who then writes Kenton out a cheque. He protests that it's too much but Jill says "Family is what's important, not money." This means that Kenton will get to see Mariel – the daughter who he last saw a few decades ago and who, when he turns up, will probably think "Who is this strange person?"
The concept of family being more important than money is one which I suspect would be alien to Matt. At last we found out why Matt was being so nice to Darrell, as he instructs his newly-promoted site manager to await the delivery of a load of kitchen units the next day and to give the driver this nice, fat envelope and not to expect a receipt, know what I mean?
For someone who has been inside, Darrell is a bit naïve and, when the deed is done, he phones Matt with a few questions, such as how come the van had no signwriting on it? Matt tells him that he doesn't pay Darrell to wonder about things – just to do what he says. Poor Darrell is caught between a rock and a hard place – just don't tell Elona, Darrell, or she will upset the applecart and at least you do have a job, even if your business card does read "Site Manager and Fence".