Pal Aron (Iftikar Shah)
Jim's series of articles for Borsetshire Life is a neat way of helping us to get to know more details of a character's past – take last week, for instance, when Jim interviewed Ifty. Who would have thought that Ifty had emulated Robin Hood by stealing crisps and suchlike from the family retail business and then giving them to homeless people? The main difference between Ifty and the famous outlaw was that Ifty then put the money for the purloined goods into the till.
We also learned that Ifty's mother put his profile on a website, hoping he would find a nice girl. Jim intrudes on Ifty's privacy by asking "you've not felt the urge to settle down and start a family?" Mind your own business, you nosey sod. Anyone would think Ifty is about to draw his pension. It seems that his part is growing, as Ifty talks to Rhys and suggests a double date with him and Kirsty and Rhys and Fallon
It was the week of the Christmas lights switch-on and we found Kenton suffering from pangs of self doubt. Would it all go off all right? Would people switch on in the correct order? Who cares – it's not bloody Regent Street, for heaven's sake. In case you missed it, everything did go OK, so stop fretting.
One person who won't be having a very happy Christmas is Keith Horrobin, who got sent down for four years, thus keeping up a fine Horrobin tradition. Rooooth tells David that Emma is feeling bad because she now has two jailbird uncles – what about her jailbird mother, Rooooth, or have you forgotten that Susan also did time?
The alien abduction of Matt Crawford still continues to go unnoticed – I haven't seen such a change in character and behaviour since Ebenezer Scrooge woke up to find it was Christmas Day – and Matt is all over Joyce like a cheap suit, promising her all mod cons at the new flat, including grab rails and special, non-slip flooring. The words 'horse', 'stable door' and 'bolted' spring to mind and presumably Joyce feels the same, telling Matt that all his consideration has come too late and, if he'd taken the same trouble with the house, then Arthur would still be there to enjoy it. She didn't actually say "you killed my husband", but the thought was there. Matt had the grace to feel embarrassed as he left.
His change of character is evident when he drags Lilian off for an afternoon's shopping and tries to persuade her to buy an expensive coat, but she says she is not in the mood for shopping. Even more astonishing, Matt gives James a bottle of good cognac – and it isn't even poisoned. James, along with every other listener, wonders why Matt would do such a thing and Leonie once more demonstrates her rather tenuous grasp on reality when she tells him: "It has just taken him a while to realise what a nice person you are." Pur-leese!
We had an inkling of why Ed Grundy's business may not be doing so well, when David suggests that he combine his purchases of fertiliser and concentrates with Brookfield's order, as more bulk means a lower price. Ed can't get his head round this and protests that he's not looking for charity and "I don't want to be sponging off you." With a sigh, David explains the economics once more (Ed is currently paying 20% more than Brookfield) but he'd be better off banging Ed's head on the table and forcing him to sign a business agreement. Or putting an X at the bottom, more likely.
Someone else with potential money worries is Elizabeth; while the bank thinks her plans for converting the dairy are good, they say that they are thinking too small and should go for many more rooms to take advantage of the conference overnight market. If they go ahead, it means they will be paying back around £70 k a year, which is probably what Brian Aldridge spends on wine.
Later in the week, James and Leonie go to dinner at Lynda and Robert's – I don't know who I felt sorriest for – and when they have gone back to the Dower House, Robert and Lynda talks about how nice it is to see them back together again. Robert adds: "Let's hope it lasts." "And let's hope it's far away from Ambridge!" we all added.
James thinks that Lilian is looking a bit strained. And no wonder, with Matt being mega-nice and considerate and the complication of her deepening relationship with Paul. Actually, I get the impression that the shine has gone off the relationship as far as Lilian is concerned. Paul rings her a couple of times – firstly to tell her how much he's missing her ("My love – I wish I could be with you") and secondly to tell her that he can get away any night next week and they can spend the night together. This seems to be going a bit too fast for Lilian and she prevaricates, telling him that things there are "complicated" and "difficult". Paul, however, does not seem to realise that he has been cast aside like a spent match and is insistent, saying "Lilian, Lilian – come on", which probably reminds her of the afternoon of illicit love they shared last week. I can't help but think that, should Paul suddenly turn up and protest his undying love for Lilian, that would really be a stern test of the Matt Crawford change of character.
Finally - a brief note in passing; Tom says that he has got Rich's Christmas present – what's the betting that it's a Ready Meal?