Alison Dowling (Elizabeth Pargetter)
Elizabeth is in a dilemma – should she go with a limited refurbishment and a few rooms, or should she go with the bank's more grandiose scheme, which sounds like the conference business equivalent of the mega-dairy?
Only one thing to do in such a situation – run it past an expert in this line of business. Or then again you could do what Elizabeth actually does, which is to get in touch with brother David and ask for his views. Spot on; if I were contemplating an investment in expanding a conference facility and additional guest rooms, then I'd ask a farmer for his opinion. As it turns out, David's sage advice is to conduct some market research with a company that's done a similar thing in the past. The professorship at the Harvard Business School awaits, Dave.
If Elizabeth wants advice, then why not ask Roy? After all, she poached him from Grey Gables because of his expertise in this very sector and it could be argued that he has a vested interest in making Lower Loxley as profitable as possible, being as he works there. Mind you, Elizabeth couldn't even remember to cancel Freddie's extra-curricular maths lesson with Iftikar on the day of Freddie's (and Lily's) 13th birthday, so why should we be surprised?
Iftikar takes the wasted journey very well and asks Lizzie if he can have a look round the Deck the Halls, passing up the offer of joining the twins' party. Lizzie acts as his guide and there is much talk about the difficulty of bringing up kids on your own. In passing, we learn that Iftikar's father died when Ifty was 14.
Someone else with money troubles is Ed Grundy. David tells Rooooth that he is worried about the state of Ed's finances and that "his whole business could be at risk." David thinks that Neil should have a word with his son-in-law. At first Neil demurs, but later on in the week he suggests to Ed that they look at the books together. Ed declines (presumably wondering what the word 'books' means) but later on Ed changes his mind and accepts Neil's offer, saying "it's a bit scary". Come on Ed, it's only bits of paper, although I don't envy Neil's task.
Ed's ears must have been aflame, as seemingly everyone wants to talk about him; Oliver and Caroline discuss the imminent move to the in-laws' and Caroline says that if Ed is in trouble "we ought to know – you might be able to help him." What does she mean "if he's in trouble"? Of course he's in bloody trouble, that's why he's moving out, you stupid woman.
Kenton tells Jill that Lynda's extravaganza is on course to be a disaster and what is needed is something to make it more fun. Fun? Fun! You're not there to enjoy it, Kenton. Anyway, the Lord of Misrule is up to something and I don't think the event is going to go according to Lynda's plans. And from what we've heard so far, a damn good thing too.
Emma and Ed break the news to George that they are going to live with Susan and Neil. "It will be an adventure" says Emma, though not wholly convincingly. Of course, there is the worry that, when he learns of the new arrangement, which is bound to happen now George knows, Will will moan about it. Surely not? So Emma puts Nic in the picture. Nic is sympathetic and, when Will does kick off, Nic slaps him down, saying "I know what it's like to have money worries - why are you always looking for someone to blame?" Because he's a charmless, whining, whinging, ungracious, selfish, ill-mannered, surly, little git, Nic, that's why. And that's on one of his better days, if I'm truthful.
Over at the Dower House, things are moving on apace – listeners had an early Christmas present when we learned that James is having the plaster off and going back to London on Thursday. James is not the only one having it off, as Lilian accompanies him back to London and immediately arranges with Paul to come over to her hotel for a spot of adultery. Last week I did suggest that Lilian was cooling on the whole Paul thing, but I was woefully wide of the mark, as the passion is still there, with her calling him 'darling' and he telling Lil that he loves her. Driving her back to Hollerton (where she picks up a cab for home) Paul asks Lil if she has any regrets. "No, it's been wonderful" the strumpet replies.
All this was made worse by the fact that Matt is still trying so very hard to put things right with Lilian, promising her shopping trips and, when she returns from London, even feeding her with quiche and salad. Just as we thought that Matt's conversion into a New Man was total, he revealed that they were bought, not made with his own fair hands. Matt is delighted that James has gone (when told early in the week that James was going home, Matt echoed the thoughts of millions when he said "if you want the honest truth, Thursday can't come soon enough") and he is full of plans for his and Lilian's future. "Tiger has missed his pusscat" he says, nauseatingly and adds that, now James has gone they can settle down and have a good Christmas – "just the two of us." Er, I'd make that three, Matt if I were you.