Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Cowman Cometh

Timothy Watson (Rob Titchener)

We were introduced to a new character last week – Rob Titchener, the new herd manager for the mega-dairy. In real life, people are reserved and newcomers are left well alone for a few years out of politeness. But not Ambridge! Hardly has Rob crossed the threshold of Blossom Hill Cottage (which he's renting from Usha) and we know that he is married (to Jess), has been working on large dairy projects in the USA and Canada and only came back to the UK because Jess's Dad had a stroke.

He's very well spoken and presumably good looking, as Alice says it's a shame he's married (not for her, of course) and, when Rob went into the shop, apparently Sabrina Thwaite was impressed, so by next week we might know his inside leg measurement. He exhibited a slightly weird streak when he expressed the hope that Blossom Hill Cottage had a ghost. Brian gives him a tour of the mega-dairy facility and he's too polite to mention that there don't seem to be many cows.

Brian also introduced Rob to Adam, who crossed himself and hissed 'Satan!' And there was a hint of a possible future conflict when Rob casually mentions that it is going to be difficult for Debbie to run the farm from Hungary. I wouldn't let her hear you say that Rob, or your lifeless body might be found floating in the anaerobic digester.

Ed upholds the Grundy traditions of thoughtlessness and incredibly bad timing when he sounds Mike out about possibly increasing the price he pays Ed for his milk. Mike points out that, with the birth of the baby imminent, he has more important things on his mind and says "we're doing OK – let's not rock the boat." The trouble for Ed is that the boat is not rocking – it's sinking - and he muses about whether or not he ought to sell to one of the 'big boys' instead of to Mike. That will well and truly knacker the milk round.

Mike and Vicky are going to Neil and Susan's for a meal and Mike tells Vicky not to mention anything about Ed. As if! Skate-mouth Vicky is barely over the threshold before she blows the gaff.

Elsewhere, we have Alice moaning about her job. Poor lamb – she's been there a week or so and no-one has offered her a partnership or a seat on the board. Get real, kid – fall to your knees and thank heaven that you've got a job and money coming in.

Not everybody can be a business magnate, which leads us seamlessly round to Tom and his vision of the future. The future is – wait for it – Ready Meals! So impressed is he by the sales that he is considering buying a new unit and scaling up his operation, so that he can supply supermarkets. Brenda tries to keep his feet somewhere near the ground by suggesting that the high sales might just be because of Christmas and doesn't he remember what happened the last time he got involved with a supermarket? Tom's response is that Ready Meals could well be the core business of the farm before long.

Tom shows a touching regard for Tony when he says: "I've got to go with it or I could end up like my Dad - blinkered and in a rut." Brenda points out that, in their day, Tony and Pat were pioneers of organic farming. She also tactfully forbears to mention that it was Tom's overweening ambition and lack of working on the farm that contributed massively to Tony's heart attack. However, it seems that Tony has learned his lesson, as he and Pat discuss going away for a holiday in February. This goes down like a lead balloon with Tom when he realises it will mean more milking for him and, as Brenda neatly put it, "less time for Tom's plan for world domination."

What is it with Ambridge villagers and holidaying at odd times of the year? Admittedly Tony and Pat are planning to go where there's some winter sun, but we had Lilian and Peggy in Whitby and last week we learned that Jim, Berts Fry and Horrobin and Joe Grundy are planning a break in Blackpool. My God – imagine being trapped in a railway compartment with that lot! And with Bert Horrobin absent, who will look after Gary? Gary is like an idiot savant – only without the savant - and he shouldn't really be let out on his own.

Lilian returns home from the ordeal that was Peggy in Whitby, telling Matt that she wants a hot bath and a large G&T. This being Lilian, Matt goes out to find a clean bucket and a small iceberg.

Paul is back from Dubai and the couple share a day of passion. He invites her to stay the night ("too risky" she says) and then suggests that she spends a day at his house in Watford. First Whitby, now Watford – how much excitement is a girl expected to take? The reason for the Watford meeting is that the renovation of the church is now finished and so Paul won't have an excuse to come over to Borsetshire any more. Hussy Lilian tells Matt that she has to go and see an old friend at the weekend – why make things so complicated? All she has to do is to get Paul to tell Darrell to take the floorboards up.

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