Richard Attlee (Kenton Archer)
As we move ever closer to Ambridge's Elizabethan Christmas extravaganza, I'm a bit worried that Kenton may not be able to live up to his own high billing as the Lord of Misrule. He's certainly giving it the mother of all build-ups – on Sunday we were told of a defaced poster, on which had been written, "Anything can happen and probably will."
Later on in the week he is talking to mother Jill and hints at great things. Intrigued, Jill asks what he has in mind "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" was Kenton's response, followed by "hang on to your hat, Mum – you ain't seen nothing yet." Personally, I'm agog, although my enthusiasm was dimmed somewhat when he was looking for a substitute for a pig's bladder on a stick. Jill comes up with the idea of a balloon, only ten seconds after five million listeners. I'm a bit worried, as, following the colossal build-up, I was hoping for something more, but we'll see.
Christmas is the season of goodwill, peace on earth and love to all – unless your name is Will Grundy, that is. Last week, Will plumbed new depths with his mean-spirited moaning; something which, quite frankly, I would have thought impossible. The subject of his whinging? Brother Ed, of course. Will has given his Dad some work on the estate and Eddie makes the mistake of mentioning that he will be helping Ed, Emma and George to move into Ambridge View later in the week.
This is Will's cue to go off on one, saying that Ed has spoilt his business and it's on the road to ruin. Furthermore, if Ed had inherited the money that Will did, it would have been wasted on drugs and drink. As Eddie's own business went tits up a few years ago, he takes Will's self-righteous preaching as a personal insult and, when Will starts going on about how he's only worried about the effect on George (Susan and Neil aren't that bad, surely?), Eddie finally snaps and tells Will some long-overdue home truths, saying: "you have everything going for you – with all that, can't you spare a little compassion for your brother? If you've nothing useful to say, better say nothing." That last sentence should be cast in bronze and hung on the walls of the writers' office to ponder when writing Will's dialogue.
Mind you, Ed is in no danger of winning 'Businessman of the Year', as Neil discovers when he casts his eyes over Ed's financial records – or, to be more accurate, the gaping void where Ed's financial records should be. Neil realises that this is going to be a long, hard slog when he suggests that he looks at Ed's accounting system and is told "you've seen it." The trouble is, as Neil tells Susan later, is that, while Ed is a good stockman, he's never been trained in record keeping and things like cash flow. Why has it taken so long for someone to realise this? How come Oliver never noticed that all the paperwork from Ed was written on the back of a fag packet? Still, you can't knock Ed's determination – after a moment of self-flagellation when he asks Emma "are you thinking that your life has been a disaster since you met me?" (She says 'no', in case you were wondering) he promises her "we'll be back in our own place soon, I promise you." Emma, demonstrating once more the triumph of hope over experience, says "I know we will."
The story of the romance between Lilian and Paul continues to gather momentum – Lilian snuck off to Cheltenham to spend the day sh***ing with Paul. If you didn't think that I'm talking about 'shopping', then I'm ashamed of you. Paul buys Lilian an expensive, purple dress (I would have thought that scarlet would have been more appropriate, myself) and she buys him some cufflinks. There are signs that the situation is getting a bit complex and difficult, when Paul offers to drive Lilian to Hollerton station.
However, the best-laid plans and all that, as Matt phones Lilian and says he'll pick her up from the station. The solution? Paul will drive her to Felpersham (the stop before) and she can get on the train there. The trouble is that Vicky and Mike have also been shopping in Cheltenham and are on the train. Lilian tells them she has been to Cheltenham too, prompting Mike to wonder out loud why she got on at Felpersham. Lilian concocts some implausible story and, when they arrive at Felpersham and Matt offers Vicky and Mike a lift home, the conversation is fraught with potential pitfalls. As the poet says, Lilian, "Oh what a tangled web we weave…" Matt, who is still working on his sainthood, loves the dress and tells Lilian that he has booked a break in New York and she can wear it there.
Finally, we had a mystery solved, when Joe tells everyone in the pub who'll listen (much to Eddie's mortification) that his missing false teeth were found inside a turkey that Clarrie was plucking and drawing – I suppose it makes a change from sage and onion or sausage meat.