Lucy Morris (Phoebe Aldridge)
Bad news for Roy and Haley, but a very early Christmas present for the rest of us, when it turned out that Phoebe will be spending a further six weeks in South Africa, going away for a holiday. I had hopes that she wouldn't want to come back at all, but when Roy put the question to her, she said "don't be stupid". You can't have everything, I suppose.
Hayley is spitting feathers and starts crying, as all her plans for a family holiday have gone nads up. Over at Brookfield, Josh is disappointed that Phoebe isn't coming home and goes around saying what a miserable summer he's got to look forward to. When Hayley speaks to Jennifer, Jen says "it must have been a shock", to which Hayley replies that Abby sobbed her heart out at the news: "she's been crossing off the days on a calendar." Me too, Abby, but for different reasons.
There is one slight worry – Roy said that, when he talked to Kate (or, more accurately, listened to Kate), she sounded 'detached'. The worry (for me) is that things at home might not be going too well and that Kate may return to the UK permanently. True she has two children in South Africa, but she has got form when it comes to abandoning children and fleeing the country. Perhaps it would be better if Phoebe stayed with her? After all, Josh will get over it and five million listeners would be very happy.
Darrell seems to be suffering attacks of honesty – the latest episode comes when he confides in Matt that he has heard that Bernie (who supplies wardrobes and similar stuff) may not be quite straight. Matt, who one presumes must be struggling to keep a straight face himself, professes himself amazed. However, he soon reverts to type and spells out to Darrell in no uncertain terms that if he starts rocking boats, the work might well dry up. Matt's advice to Darrell is "count your blessings, keep your head down and get on with the job." That's you told, Darrell!
Brian seems to have got the development bug and has been granted the first option on Valley Farm, should he want it. Wife Jennifer is worried about the swifts that live there – and so she should be, as a man who is planning to keep 1,500 cows in a shed (albeit in a state of luxury – or so he says) isn't going to be too concerned about a few migratory birds, is he?
A story that I am keeping a wary eye on is the rivalry between Lynda, with her performance art project for the fete and Kenton, with his ideas for silly games. I'm wary because I don't want to hear too much of Lynda's ideas and I'm afraid that we are going to hear the new piece of theatre in all its glory – and I couldn't stand that.
Of course, the big story of the week was the fire at the barn at Brookfield. It was the day of the Horrobin's pre-wedding drink-in and everyone is getting noisily smashed – even Eddie and Neil. I should make an apology here, as last week I said Keith was Clive's brother-in-law, whereas he is of course his brother.
Back at Brookfield, everyone is in bed, except Josh, who is out tending to a pregnant cow in the barn in the early hours. We hear the sound of a liquid (petrol) being poured, the scrape of a match and the whoosh! of flames, as Josh carries on prattling to the cow (who's name is Gina, by the way).
Emma, who is up with Keira (teething pains) notices that the dogs are barking madly and eventually sees that the barn is well alight. She wakes up Ed and rushes off to get George, but shock! horror! he's not in his bed! The episode ends with Em, Ed, Rooooth and David trying to fight the fire "We've got to stop it spreading to the chemical store!" screams David – sounds like a good idea to me, but Ed is worried about George and the episode ends with everyone calling "Josh!" or "George!" and then there's the sound of an explosion.
Next day, we learn that Josh had taken George to see Gina and had taken her down to the paddock when he realised the fire was taking hold. Josh takes Rooooth and George down to see her, as she is having trouble with her calving. Rooooth soon gets it sorted and the calf – a heifer – is born. Josh says that he'd like to call it Georgina (after George) and George says "this is the best night of my life". Surveying the ashes of her erstwhile barn, Rooooth shows commendable self restraint in not clocking him one.
The thick plottens next day, when Emma, who had caught a glimpse of the fleeing arsonist on the night of the fire, notices at the wedding that Keith is walking with a limp. Also, Keith is distraught when he hears that Emma and George were in danger from the fire and keeps saying 'sorry'. For her part, Emma becomes even more thoughtful when she learns that Keith left the pre-wedding drinks party early. Once a Horrobin…? Brother Clive would be proud of you, Keith.