Monday, 27 May 2013

How (Not) To Handle A Woman…

 Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Bellamy)

Paul moved into mega-weird mode this week when he turned up at the Dower House in a state of distress, telling Lilian "I need to talk to you" in an hysterical voice. Lil is terrified that someone might see him (Matt is off golfing) so she gets into his car and Paul drives off like a maniac, nearly having an accident and passing horses at about 70mph.

Lilian gets him to pull over into a layby, where he reveals it's Celia's wedding today and he's upset. Quite reasonably, Lilian asks why he's so upset and it can't matter to him unless he is still in love with Celia. This propels Paul to the next stage of nuttiness and he shouts at Lilian "I love you!" and you can almost see the foaming at the mouth. He also says that it's time to get off the fence and make a commitment to him and, when Lilian says that she can't leave Matt, the would-be wooer rants "Of course you can! You're just like Celia – too stupid to see it. It's just a business arrangement for Matt – he's with you for the money and sex!" Lilian objects to his insinuation that she's a prostitute and gets out of the car, whereupon Paul drives off, leaving her in the middle of nowhere and having to get a taxi home, which leads to awkward questions from Peggy when Lil turns up home in a cab.

Now, I was always taught that men gain Brownie Points singly and lose them by the dozen, but I submit that Paul's Brownie Points have all gone up in smoke in one mad moment and implying that your girlfriend is a whore and dumping her in a layby is something that a few red roses and a winning smile will not be enough to smooth her ruffled feathers.

However, nemesis may not be far behind as, on Monday, Lil leaves a note for Matt, saying that she's gone out for a ride with Alice. Her horse picks up a spike and she rings Matt to say she'll be late back. Matt thinks he's being taken for a patsy and puts the phone down, so he is a bit nonplussed when Lilian returns with Alice and the story is proved to be true. Matt has made a phone call or two and, on Friday, he notices that Lilian is in a bit of a state and asks if she's got something on her mind – something that he could help with, perhaps? A tearful Lilian says "no" and Matt goes outside to make a phone call, saying to the person on the other end: "Do you remember what I spoke about [Monday]? Well, it's on. I don't want Armageddon – just enough to warn him off. He needs to learn a lesson." I just hope that Paul has got private health insurance, or a critical injury policy.

Away from the Dower House intrigue, what else has been happening? Elona and Darrell are living apart in the same house and Elona has been offered a new job – we had a touching moment when Elona handed in her notice to Peggy and less touching when she told Darrell that they have to give one month's notice on No.3 The Green. Thinking about it, we know Darrell needs money, plus he has already dipped a toe into the dark side, so wouldn't it make sense for Matt to pay him to work Paul over? God knows he's got the tools.

Nic found church less daunting than she thought – they haven't used thumbscrews for ages, love – and Tom made his pitch to Bellinghams. They didn't immediately have orgasms and beg him to sign, but Tom was encouraged when the Chef came up to him after the tasting and asked about the blend of herbs and spices used. Of course, it might be because he is worried that he might accidentally use the same recipe, but Tom is getting back to his default "glass half full" mindset.

The love life of Tom's sister, Helen, took a bit of a knock when she eventually managed to get Jonno on the phone and pressurised him into meeting her for lunch. He declines and says that he feels they shouldn't see each other any more, feeding her a load of drivel about a former girlfriend coming back on the scene. Hel isn't fooled and, later in the pub, she tells Emma "I was practically stalking him today" and "I should never have told him how Henry was conceived." Too right – well, not on the third date. At least she didn't show him the test tube.

The Borsetshire Life interview with Brian appeared in print and it shows him in an ambiguous light. He goes to see Editor Glen Whitehouse, who demolishes all his arguments, although the village residents are all laughing at Brian. Jennifer bought up all the shop copies, but a mischievous Jim ordered more from the wholesaler.

David gives in to Pip over the loan (after Rooooth stuck her oar in), saying that they will help with the insurance, which will obviously rise. "Will it?" Pip asks incredulously, thus demonstrating a lack of practical knowledge of the wider world unusual even for a 20 year-old.

Finally, we had a barbed comment from Lynda as she prepared to host the meeting of the Highland Games Committee. She is miffed that her plans for a Jane Austen fete were rejected and Jazzer says "That's democracy", to which she replies "Yes, we must accept the will of the people, no matter how misguided." Somehow, I don't think her heart's in this year's event, but I'm sure she'll bounce back to play a leading role – sadly.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Lesser Of Two Evils

Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell)

So now we know – instead of the Regency-themed fete that Lynda wanted (and how much fun that sounded) Ambridge will stage its own Highland Games, including throwing the hammer and tossing the caber. It was the suggestion of chief tosser Jazzer, aided and abetted by Kenton, and it made my heart rejoice to see Lynda not getting her own way for once.

Perhaps this is the thin end of the wedge and we will see people later in the year saying to her "Actually Lynda, I think we've had enough of Christmas extravaganzas/pantos – why don't you give it a rest for a few years?" Oh, if only!

It was an eventful week for many Ambridge residents, beginning with Clarrie's 'Ambridge by the sea' birthday party. "It's my best birthday ever" trills Clarrie, looking at a paddling pool full of water and a patch of sand. Just then the doorbell rings and it's sister Rosie, which begs the question – if Rosie can get to Ambridge from Great Yarmouth, how come the Grundys couldn't make it to the seaside?

We also had some riveting radio when Clarrie and Nic were arranging flowers in church. Clarrie persuaded Nic to come to church one Sunday, telling her it's an hour that she can have totally to herself. On that basis, if I were Nic and married to William, I'd enter a convent.

At Brookfield, Rooooth appears to be metamorphosing into Jamie, as her every utterance is accompanied by industrial-strength sighs. If I hear her say "Ooooh, David" in a heartbroken voice once more, followed by a mega-sigh, I won't be responsible for my actions. The catalyst this week was Pip, who found out about the loan to Josh for his egg business and immediately accused her parents of double standards for not lending her the £800 she needs for her new car.

I must admit I cheered when David had a right go at her, applauding Josh's enterprise at age 15 and reminding Pip that some children of her age (20) were totally independent "and don't rely on the Bank of Mum and Dad". He tells Pip to learn to live within her means and she storms upstairs. Cue mega-sigh from Rooooth and the comment "you were pretty hard on her, David." No he wasn't, woman! Hard would have been throwing her in the slurry pit, or banging her head against the wall – it's about time the little madam realised that the world doesn't revolve round her and David is unrepentant. However, he shows that he knows exactly what his wife and daughter are like when, as he is going back out on the farm, he says to Rooooth "Don't let her guilt-trip you into anything."

It was a bad week for Tom – Jazzer left him in the lurch when they were supposed to be moving the pigs and Tom forgot to switch the electric fence back on. The pigs made their break for freedom and Tom had to round them all up. To make matters worse, as he joined Roy in The Bull, Jazzer comes in and berates him for his carelessness and accuses him of concentrating on Ready Meals and the Supermarket deal. "If one of my employees talked to me like that…" Roy begins, but Tom says Jazzer was right, plus he (Tom) had been thinking about Brenda. "She's not going to come back to me, is she Roy?" Tom says, despondently. Roy says "no", probably thinking 'for the two hundredth time' and Tom says "So that's it – it really is all over." At last! The penny has finally dropped!

There was more penny-dropping over at the Dower House, when Darrell asked Matt for some work, saying that the boss of the church restoration on which he worked would give him a reference and that Lilian knows how good his work is, as she popped in there. Darrell leaves and there is this 'clunk' as Matt says to himself "Paul – of course."

The Paul/Lilian/Matt story is working up nicely to a climax. Lilian meets Celia, who is tearing Paul off a strip. Celia says to Lilian "If you're his new girlfriend, I hope you know what you're letting yourself in for." "What a witch" is Lil's comment after Celia has left. Paul comes over all needy and says "Don't leave me, Lilian; stay the weekend." Lilian points out that this is impossible (she told Matt she was going to see James for the day) and Paul resorts to emotional blackmail, saying: "Sometimes I think you don't care at all." Lilian agrees to stay a bit longer than planned and pops outside to ring Matt to tell him that James wants her to stay a bit longer. Matt replies "That's fine – I might be back a bit later myself, so that's all right then."

Matt is obviously working to some cunning plan - the day that Paul and Lilian met up, Matt took her tea in bed and, the day after the penny-dropping revelation, he tells Brenda that he and Lilian are going away for two weeks in June. Later that day Matt tells Lilian that they need to spend more quality time together and reveals that he has booked them two weeks in Istanbul in June. Lilian is taken aback – and she wasn't the only one, as we asked 'So what is Tiger up to?' My money's on a storyline where he has pre-sold Lilian into the white slave trade; revenge and a tidy profit – how Matt-like is that?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Matt's On The Case

Kim Durham (Matt Crawford)

I fear it cannot be long before Lilian's clandestine dalliance with Paul will be out in the open, as we now have Sherlock Crawford checking up on her 24/7. First of all we had Matt checking Lilian's phone while it was on charge - I hope to God she deletes the hundreds of voicemails from Paul – then he was checking her diary.

Whether or not she does, Matt's suspicions are aroused and he follows Lilian to an evening exhibition of designers. Lilian is annoyed at being checked up on and even more so the following day, when Matt turns up unexpectedly as Lilian is being shown a patio by Eddie Grundy that he has done for Mrs Nicholls. "It looked like you were checking up on me" she snaps – not much gets past her, does it?

However, Lilian finds the time to meet with Paul, who says that he has had an awful week and proceeds to lie through his teeth about how ex-wife Celia is trying to control the children's minds. Lilian is all sympathy and I can't help but think that, when she finds out exactly what Paul's character is like (and, this being The Archers, she's bound to sooner or later), she won't be a happy camper. I look forward to the day.

I can only suppose that Matt doesn't voice his suspicions to Lilian because he needs her to be the token boss of AmSide until he's allowed to be a Director again. After that, I'd watch out Lilian.

Elsewhere on the romantic front, we had Helen going out for a meal with Jonathan and risking him trying to slit his wrists with a fish knife as she told him all about her life. Jonno is interested in what had become of Henry's father and Helen tells him she just wanted a baby. Jon assumes that Henry must be the result of a one-night stand, but Helen tells him about the donor fertilisation.

To say that he is taken aback is a wild understatement and he grows distinctly cooler towards Helen, even refusing to go in for a cup of coffee. Perhaps he's worried that Helen might suddenly whip out a test tube and say "I'd like Henry to have a sibling" but it is an interesting insight into Jonno's moral values. It seems that a one-off shag is perfectly acceptable behaviour, whereas donor insemination is somehow unhealthy or unnatural. I wonder if good old Jonno will be around much longer – and Helen spent good money on a haircut.

The logistics of Clarrie's surprise birthday party continue to become ever more complicated, as they plan to bring the seaside to her. Why, for God's sake? Drive her down to the station and get on a train to the coast – it's not that difficult, honestly.

I fear that there will soon be internecine strife within the Archer family at Brookside. Josh is still keen to buy into the eggs business and is pleased when Neil offers him a 30% share for £1,200. Josh has saved up £700 and prepares an all-singing, all-dancing business plan to convince his parents to lend him the rest of the money. He has it all worked out – how he will repay it with interest within two years, using the extra profits generated by his plan to put the hens out to pasture. David and Rooooth are suitably impressed and, when Josh leaves them alone to discuss it, David says "we appear to have given birth to the next Alan Sugar."

So, that's one way to raise funds – present a logical, well-ordered and well-thought out business plan to attract potential investors. Then there's what we might call the Pip Solution, as she bursts in after Josh has gone and tells her parents that she needs to borrow the Land Rover tomorrow. When they decline, she then says "I need you at least to lend me the money - £800." David says "No – if you can't afford the car you will have to find a cheaper one and that's that."

Pip is not best pleased and how do you reckon she will react if they lend Josh the £500 (or maybe more, as Rooooth said "I don't like the thought of him putting all of his savings into the business)? It's a toss-up between her saying "Yes, I can see the logic behind giving Josh the money and not me – I'd have done the same in your position. I must re-think my expectations", and going apeshit. I know which my money is on and I can see Josh getting mugged if he's not careful. The sooner Pip goes off to her work placement in Yorkshire, the better, although heaven only knows how she's going to get there.

Finally this week we had the unusual step of people trying to massage Tom's ego – unusual because this is something he excelled at himself in the past. Peggy is pleased that the Bridge Farm herd is to be sold (although we are sweating over a single possible TB reactor – there's always one that spoils it for everyone, isn't there?) and she tells Tom that he reminds her of Brian. My immediate thought was "you vindictive cow" then I realised that she meant it as a compliment. The same day, Tom is talking to Kirsty (who, if she isn't careful could have a full time job as Tom's sounding board) and, when he is less than upbeat about the future, she asks "What happened to the old, arrogant Tom Archer who wanted to take over the world?" Talk about a back-handed compliment! Sadly I reckon he's still lurking in there somewhere, Kirsty and I'd run away now if I were you.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

I Bet That Took The Shine Off Darrell's Evening

Eri Shuka (Elona Makepeace)

Thursday was the night of the 'thank you' dinner/farm supper at Home Farm for Neil and Susan and Darrell and Elona. It was a 'come as you are' evening (makes it easier for the guests to do the washing up) and presumably Brian has made sure the good wine is safely tucked away. Jennifer tells Elona that she and Brian have meant to have them both over for ages and adds how talented Darrell is, not to mention brave.

It would appear that Elona disagrees, as on the way home she tells her husband that all she gets from him are worries and stress and "You and me are finished – I can't live like this any more; I want a divorce." I supposed it could have been worse – she could have told him before the meal and that would certainly have ruined his appetite.

Elsewhere, Eddie is unusually caring when he asks Clarrie what she wants for her 59th birthday (12th May). This could have been a dangerous move – what if she had said "a fur coat" or "a new husband"? Clarrie, however, has no illusions and says that she'd really like to go to the coast. She then backtracks, saying that it's too far to go for one day. Knowing Eddie, he'll probably give her a bucket of salt water and some plastic seaweed.

Now, I could be wrong, but I always thought that, wherever you are in Britain, you're never more than 75 miles from the sea and, unless you are going to walk it, that's not really much of a trip, even in the Grundys' broken down jalopy. Or here's an even more radical solution – why not stay overnight – Joe can look after the ferrets for a day. Talking of Joe, have you noticed that he hasn't been featuring much recently? Good thing too.

On the "Oh what a tangled web…" front, Paul and Lilian are apparently heading into trouble. Matt has a round of golf with Andrew Eagleton, who casually mentions that he saw Lilian at Felpersham Races the other week "with a builder chap." This is news to Matt and, when he gets home he mentions it to Lilian, who tells him that she went with her friend Fiona. Matt doesn't mention that this seems an odd name for a builder chap and Lilian induces nausea in five million listeners when she simpers "You're not cross with me, are you Tiger? I've been a naughty pusscat." Too bloody right, but fortunately Tiger doesn't yet know exactly how naughty.

But he is obviously becoming suspicious, as Brenda finds him checking Lilian's work diary in case she has been having medical treatment on the side. He also asks Brenda how has Lilian been with her? Bren admits Lil has been a "bit touchy", which is a masterpiece of understatement. Matt reckons Lilian has been overworking and "we'd better watch out for her – she needs looking after."

This isn't going to make things easier for Paul and Lilian and, anyway, Paul is having troubles of his own: when he is on the phone to Lil, his doorbell rings and it's his son Charlie, who tears his Dad off a strip because Paul doesn't want his children to go to their mother's wedding. Paul demands respect from his children, but Charlie says "after the way you've treated us, you're not entitled to anything."
An incensed Paul tells Charlie that he will not inherit any of Paul's money, or his business. Paul tells his control freak father to swivel and that he doesn't want his money. Charlie storms out, with Paul demanding he come back. Father's Day is 16th June, Charlie, in case you are interested.

Paul immediately rings Lilian's phone and leaves a message, ordering her to meet him in Felpersham next Thursday, saying "No excuses this time – just be there!" What a sweet man! It might be a little tricky for Lilian, Paul.

At Bridge Farm, Pat, Tony and children talk about who should be told about the sale of the dairy herd. Pip and Trevor (who will both be losing their jobs) are told, much to Pip's dismay, as she was hoping for more milking work so that she could buy her new Porsche, or Roller or whatever prestige marque is taking her fancy this week.

Pat also tells Susan and Clarrie and, in what is obviously the triumph of hope over experience, she urges everybody to keep the news to themselves. Ha! This is Susan we're talking about Pat! As it is, Pip immediately gets on the phone to Spencer, telling him that she won't have any work, because they are getting rid of the cows. Nice one Pip! Later on Clarrie rings Pat to say that Lynda has heard that, not only are they selling the herd, but the whole farm and will be retiring. Pat is a tad unhappy and wonders who could be spreading these rumours. "It can't be Susan" says Clarrie. Oh yeah? I know who my money's on.

Finally, the Award for extreme self-sacrifice goes to Kirsty; Tom goes to pitch his Ready Meals to Bellingham's but, when he comes back, of course there's no Brenda to hear all about it. Kirsty, who is either a saint or very, very drunk, says that he can tell her about the meeting. Noble, noble girl!