Rachel Atkins (Vicky Tucker)
Firstly an apology – last week I said that the not-so-fantastic four (Jim, Bert, Bert and Joe) were going to Blackpool, whereas their destination was in fact Liverpool. Apologies to the shopkeepers of Blackpool, who were boarding up their premises unnecessarily, and to the inhabitants of Liverpool, who must have got a nasty shock.
The biggest news in Ambridge last week was of course the arrival of Bethany Claire (6lb 5oz), which was the cue for the vast majority of people in Ambridge to lapse into soppy, baby-admiring mode. None more so than Mike, although he has got an excuse, as she is his daughter. Mike, Vicky, Lynda, Amy and Brenda all say that she's the most beautiful baby in the world and Mike tells Neil "I couldn't be happier." There are slight concerns, as young Bethany isn't suckling very well, but Amy puts Vicky's mind at rest.
Actually, Brenda's enthusiasm is worrying – the last thing we want is for her to start getting broody and encouraging Tom to think about starting a family. Having said that, I reckon Tom would be too busy to think about that, never mind having the energy. Once again there are discussions between Tom, Tony and Pat. With memories of Tony's heart attack apparently obliterated, Tom wants Tony to consider doing some morning milkings. Tony considers it and says "no", so Tom asks if he could do some afternoons? Yes Tony, and if you take this broom and insert it, you can sweep the yard while you're at it.
Tom's excuse, apart from being an arrogant, self-centred git, is that, when he took on John's business, he wanted to do John proud and, if he had more time to devote to Ready Meals (fanfare, drum rolls, wild excitement) the business could move to another level. It appears that 'doing John proud' is more important than helping your father into an early grave. Still, as long as Tom is being kept busy 24/7, he won't breed, so that's no bad thing.
Someone else who's keeping busy is Pip, whose life appears to consist of burning the candle at both ends and in the middle – when not out partying, she's devoting time to Spencer and crashing out for a couple of days when exhaustion overcomes her. Rooooth and David are worried when they learn that she is writing an essay that should have been handed in before Christmas, but the skiing holiday took precedence. Let's pray that Pip isn't reverting to the bad old days when she was going out with Jude.
Rob Titchener is still getting to know the inhabitants of Ambridge and, when he goes into the shop, he makes the mistake of talking to Susan. Rob tells her that he is going to dinner at the Aldridge's and Susan triumphantly says "the Aldridges are family". Memo to Rob – don't mention this to Jennifer, or you could end up wearing the dinner instead of eating it. During Rob and Susan's chat about family, Rob says "so you're a Horrobin then?" and wonders why Susan bursts into tears and throws herself under a train.
Brian reveals the extent of Rob's social gaffe when he describes the Horrobins as 'Ambridge's answer to the Krays' and tells Rob that two of the brothers are in prison. Surprisingly, he doesn't say that Susan has also been inside.
Later on in the week, Rob is in the pub, talking to Neil and Jazzer, with Jazzer trying to get him to buy him a pint. Rob remarks that the cows won't be arriving until August but he'll be busy till then as there are lots of people to be recruited. "What about me?" pipes up Jazzer, to which Neil says "What do you know about cows?" Then again, what did Jazzer know about pigs before he started working with them, apart from the fact that their lifestyles and hygiene levels were so similar? If Jazzer becomes a cowboy and deserts the pigs, that would be another blow for Tom, who has already tried to persuade Jazzer to do more work (for more pay, naturally).
Paul and Lilian are still at it like knives – at the start of the week he takes her breakfast in bed (at his house in Watford) and tells her that he was going to show her what Watford has to offer. This turns out to be lunch at a local restaurant. Later on in the week, they have a liaison (polite word for it) at a London hotel and he treats her to afternoon tea and a show in the evening. What with this kind of treatment from Paul and Matt falling over himself to try to make her happy, Lilian has never had it so good.
The only cloud on the horizon is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to think of excuses for Lilian to spend days away from Ambridge. However, there may be a solution handy, as Lilian remarks that James's accident and subsequent recuperation has proved the perfect excuse for her to get away. If I were you James, I'd be very, very careful when crossing the road and, when you do get the replacement car, I'd check the brake pipes before you drive off.