Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Rob's In Demand

Timothy Watson (Rob Titchener)

It was a busy week for Rob Titchener, with Jazzer saying that he was going to approach him about a milking job, which could be interesting, as you could write all that Jazzer knows about cows on the back of a postage stamp, in very large letters. Pip too asked him if he knew of any relief milking jobs and he gave her an agency's phone number.

Rob also listened in when Tom was telling Brian about the latest developments in the world of Ready Meals, plus he had sorted through applicants for the Assistant Farm Managers' posts and come up with a couple of likely contenders. On Thursday Rob was walking on Lakey Hill, getting some fresh air before a day of meetings, and came across Helen and Henry, trying to fly a kite. He has a go and is successful.

While talking to Helen, Rob mentions that it's his day off tomorrow and what can he do if the weather's bad? Helen says she is going to a food festival and he's welcome to come along. He does so and keeps Henry amused playing football while Helen goes to food demonstrations. It seems that things are moving along nicely between Helen and Rob, but why didn't he go to see his wife on his day off? Does Jesse really exist? If so, what will become of Rob and Helen's friendship? We'll have to wait and see, although going on Helen's relationships' past performance, he'll probably top himself.

We had evidence that Tony is fully recovered from his heart attack, as he was back in vintage Tony moaning mode when Rob told him how impressed both he and Brian had been when Tom outlined his Ready Meals plans. Tony is outraged that Tom should talk to his uncle and loses no time in telling him so and that he (Tony) feels he's being sidelined. Later on, Tony is moaning to Helen and his paranoia is given full rein as he says that Brian is sensing 'a regime change' at Bridge Farm and if he thinks there's any sort of opportunity for him, he'll be in "like a rat up a drainpipe". Tony also predicts that serpent-tongued Brian will tempt Tom away and make sure any organic principles go by the wayside. Welcome back to the old Tony, for whom the glass is not only always half empty, but the tea is cold, the milk curdled or the wine corked, depending on what beverage it contains.

It was the week of Paul's funeral and we had an exercise in mental torture and sadism from Matt. At the crematorium, he brushes aside Lilian's suggestion that she shouldn't attend, as she's not family and Lilian breaks down when 'Tears in Heaven' is played. After the service, Grace invites them back for refreshments and Lilian is desperate not to go. Matt, however, keeps her on tenterhooks before eventually saying that they really should get back home. On the way home, Lilian says that she was surprised that Celia didn't attend the funeral, whereupon Matt says that Grace told him last week that Celia wouldn't be there. "Didn't I say?" Matt asks innocently, the little tinker!

Lilian has another crying session at home and, later on in the week she is in a panic when she realises that there is lots of her stuff in the flat Paul and she shared. Jolene deserts the pub (again) and drives her to Felpersham and they remove her belongings, including the painting Paul bought for her, which Jolene will keep for the foreseeable future as Matt might notice a new painting on the wall. Lilian thinks she cannot go on holiday with Matt, but Jolene says she has to. She also says "Matt loves you and, be honest, if you were going to leave him, wouldn't you have done it weeks ago?"

Lilian goes home and is nagged by Matt because she hasn't started packing and he can't find her passport. Lilian just can't be bothered to do anything and just mopes around, sighing like Jamie on Mogadon, while Matt packs for her. Eventually they leave for the airport for what promises not to be a happy holiday.

Speaking of Jamie, he joins Ed and Jazzer on a shearing job and, contrary to expectations whenever Jazzer is involved, it goes very well and the lads seem to have a nice little business starting. Mind you, I reckon Jazzer will cock it all up by getting too familiar with one of the ewes, or something equally silly.

Jazzer's role as Clarrie's spy in the flower arranging affair becomes even more ridiculous, just when you thought it couldn't possibly – while troughing his way through Sunday lunch at the Grundy's, he invents ever-more-fanciful detail's of Christine's plans for her arrangement, including ribbons, lights and sparkly material. Clarrie is about to dispense with his espionage services when he says (desperate to keep getting free meals) that he has saved the best till last and that Christine is including a water feature because "[The Virgin] Mary's father was a trawler man." Clarrie immediately revises her plans and, from what we can glean from her comments to Nic and Eddie, I reckon that St Stephen's will have to have an extension added to accommodate her masterpiece. As for Jazzer, he may well be getting fed, but there will be a day of reckoning when everyone's arrangements go on view – as far as I'm concerned, it can't come quickly enough.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

All White On The Night

Lesley Saweard (Christine Barford)

I know there have been mutterings in the media about how some of the storylines in the Archers have been getting a bit Eastender-ish lately, but, at the opposite extreme, we have the story about the possible colour clash of flower festival arrangements between Clarrie and Nic on the one hand and Christine on the other.

Talk about over the top! Clarrie rings Nic, saying "we've hit a problem" and, when they meet, Clarrie tells Nic that Christine will be using white lilies in her arrangement, the same as Nic and Clarrie. "It will be a disaster!" wails Clarrie. Get a sense of proportion, woman – a disaster is people dying in an earthquake, not two matching vases. Nic says "why don't we introduce some colour in our display?" and is immediately thrown to the ground and kicked senseless. Doesn't she realise that St Brigid (yes, I'd never heard of her either) is the patron saint of milkmaids, so what other colour could they possibly use?

The already-preposterous story takes another twist when Clarrie enrols Jazzer as her mole to spy on Jennifer and find out details. Sadly, Jazzer is as much use at this as a one-legged man at a bum-kicking party and keeps feeding Clarrie fanciful stories about fairy lights and suchlike, while eating her out of house and home. Be honest, do we really give a toss?

Grace (Paul's daughter) phones Matt to invite him and Lilian to the funeral, presumably with the instruction to get there early, as the queue of those wanting to dance on his grave promises to be a lengthy one. Matt thinks they should go but Lilian says 'no'. Good old Matt overrules her, saying that he's no good at chitchat and besides, she was invited. We learn more details of Paul's death – how he had high blood pressure but wouldn't go to the doctor and how sad it was that he died alone.

Lilian pours her heart out to her new best friend Jolene, who is fast becoming a virtual stranger in her bar, so much time is she spending mopping Lilian's tears. Lilian reveals that Celia saw her with Paul once and asked if she were the new girlfriend? "It's all going to come out – maybe that's my punishment, to lose them both" sobs Lil. Earlier in the week, Lilian was on the phone to Jolene and wondered whether or not it was the stress of her relationship with Paul (which was going through a sticky patch) that contributed towards his heart attack. Then again, it could have been the physical pressure of constant shagging, I suppose.

Jolene to the rescue! She comes up with a plan, whereby Lilian should go to the crematorium and, at the last minute, to tell Matt that she cannot go in "because I feel like an intruder." "I know it's not great…" says Jolene. Not great? Not great? It's the worst plan since Napoleon said "Come on lads, we can take Moscow and be home for Christmas." It's a plan that even Baldrick would have been ashamed to claim for his own. Can't you just see Matt saying "OK Pusscat – you go and have a walk and I'll come and find you when it's all over"? No, me neither.

At Brookfield, Open Farm Sunday came and went with young tycoon Josh making £102.50 by selling cakes (with the help of Jill, who undoubtedly made them), plus Ambridge's youngest Capitalist sold 14 boxes of eggs.

Elsewhere there was a rapprochement between Jim and Jennifer, with her even giving him a scone. Brian is amazed at their new-found friendship, to which Jen replies "You can't hold a grudge forever." Ha! That's not what you were saying last week, woman! Emma found something else to moan about, because George is really getting into the God-bothering lark, saying his prayers and going to Junior Church. "Nic's trying to show me up" says a sulky Emma – no need love; you do that just fine by yourself. Ed says that it will probably do him good and it's better than when he was going around wanting to be a burglar. He also tells Emma to stop whingeing and do something about it if she's that bothered. Well said Ed, trouble is you are about ten years too late in saying it. Anyway, Emma asks Clarrie if she can help her with the flower arranging. Clarrie agrees, telling Emma that Nic will be there too. Oh good.

An intriguing storyline was that of Rob Titchener, who wandered into Ambridge Organics to source ingredients for the meal that he was throwing for Adam and Ian. He gets talking to Helen and impulsively invites her to join them for the meal. They get on well and, when Helen is left alone with Adam, she admits that Rob is very attractive. "I thought so" says Adam, leaving us wondering whether that was "I thought you were attracted to him" or "I thought he was attractive as well". I assume it was the former interpretation, although having an affair with the head of the mega-dairy would be a notch up from a night of sleaze with a fruit picker. As for Helen and Rob – will there be developments? Helen has already passed the first test – a whole evening together and she never once mentioned Greg's suicide or the fact that Henry's father came from (came in?) a bottle.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A Pretty Neat Solution

I must admit that I had been growing curious about how the Lilian/Paul/Matt situation was going to resolve itself – would there be a fight between Matt and Paul? Would Lilian finally find out just what a control freak Paul was and leave him? In the end, the solution was a lot simpler than that, with Paul dying of a heart attack in a Cardiff hotel, which explains why he wasn't returning Lilian's calls.


Lilian learns of the (for her) tragedy when Darrell mentions it in the pub and she immediately goes to pieces and, sobbing uncontrollably, she is led upstairs by Jolene. Overcome with grief, Lilian tells Jolene that she and Paul were lovers and she says that she is going to keep the secret from Matt forever – "How am I going to live with that?" Well Lil, you've done a pretty good job so far – well, actually you haven't, as Matt knows all about it. Lucky it was Jolene in the bar and not Susan, as all of Borsetshire would be aware of Lilian's infidelity before you could say 'Kleenex'. You can tell how affected Lilian is, as later she even refuses Matt's offer of a G&T – if he wasn't suspicious before, that should get him going.


Paul's daughter rings Matt to tell him about Paul and he is full of concern – not for Paul, but because he wonders if Paul's death is down to Matt's pet thug, Mikey and he rings him. Mikey swears that Paul was OK when he left him, apart from being a bit nervous, and he points out, reasonably enough, that Paul was OK enough to get in his car and drive to Wales.


So there we have it - will things get back to normal between Pusscat and Tiger? Will they go to the funeral? Will Matt ever let Lilian know that he was aware of what was going on? Will Paul's spectre poison their relationship? We'll have to wait and see.


Rob Titchener is getting about a bit – after his victory in the single wicket, Brian packs him off to Germany to buy all the cows they have. Sadly, this isn't enough and he has collared Hungary's entire livestock market too. Why not buy the Bridge farm herd? Can you imagine Tony's feelings if his beloved cows were sent to live in Brian's mega-dairy shed?


Rob tells Jennifer that his wife Jess isn't having much luck in getting a job in the Ambridge area and Jenny mentions to Brian how sad it must be for him to have to go home to an empty house every night. Brian isn't impressed, presumably thinking that, for £60 k a year, he shouldn't be going home, but instead working 24/7. As it is, Rob gets an invite to dinner sometime with Adam and Ian, so he's not totally alone all the time.


In the middle of the week, Rob exhibits a lack of diplomacy that would have been worthy of Tom Archer, when he approaches David to see if the mega-dairy could put up an information board at Brookfield on Open Farm Sunday. David tactfully declines but Josh is amazed at his audacity and says it was a good job Mum wasn't there. Too right – had Rob asked Rooooth, he would have spent the rest of his life carrying his goolies in a paper bag.


Jim is still being mischievous with Jennifer, who cannot bear to even be in the same room as him, following his profile of Brian. One day in the shop, Jim and Lynda are talking and Lynda sees Jennifer approaching, but she changes her mind. "Pity," says Jim, "as I've got plenty of copies of Borsetshire Life in stock." "This really isn't worthy of you, Jim" Lynda admonishes. Mind your own business woman – I approve of anything that upsets Jennifer. Just get on with worrying about the Highland Games/Fete; a storyline that has all the depressing familiarity of the annual Christmas extravaganza pantomime – and we'll have the full horror of that before much longer, I'm sorry to say.


Elona and Peggy said an emotional farewell on Friday, with Peggy giving her a pearl necklace. Elona is overcome and the two talk about Darrell; Elona says she feels sorry for him, but it won't work. She also reveals that she's taking the girls to Open Farm Sunday as a last treat in their time at Ambridge. Wow! Open Farm Sunday! Just what two teenage girls would have asked for as a treat.


Jennifer (who, Peggy tells Jill, can be 'very organising') is still distraught that Peggy has no-one fixed up to come in and clean for her. Not only that, but Jen tries to get Lilian to persuade Peggy to have an agency cleaner. If you're that worried, woman, don the pinny and Marigolds and go and see your Mum. Peggy has interviewed Emma for the job, but Keira (who Emma would have to bring with her) is reaching for Peggy's china ornaments and tormenting the two elderly cats. On Friday Peggy rings Jen to say that she has found a solution – Emma will do the cleaning and Tracy will look after Keira while she does it – job done! Of course, this means that, when Keira goes to school, she will be the only one there who smokes, chases boys while effing and blinding and who has a drink problem – but hey! At least Peggy's house will be clean and that'll be one less thing for Jennifer to worry about.

Monday, 3 June 2013

You Just Can't Get Decent Help These Days

Matthew Watson (Mikey)

Perhaps an alternative title could be "if you pay peanuts…" I can only assume that Matt is paying Mikey less than that, as he is more like a muppet than a mobster. Consider – all he has to do is put the frighteners on Paul, but he rings Matt and says that Paul hasn't been home and does Matt know where he is? Can you imagine Reggie or Ronnie Kray asking around for the whereabouts of their next victim?

Mikey does get his act together later in the week, after an abortive confrontation in a car park, where he has Paul pinned up against the ticket machine but he is thwarted by super hero Tom Archer. Tom wants Paul to call the police, but he says he's OK. Mikey finally does get his hands on Paul and says he has a message for him – "stay away from Lilian Bellamy – are you listening?" If not, Mikey tells him their next meeting will be "more intense" and he gets Paul to repeat the message, to ensure that he has got it. Paul does so, but he must have the memory of a goldfish, as he immediately rings Lilian and leaves a message, telling her he needs to see her and he'll be at the flat Monday morning. "Be there" he orders. Mikey isn't going to like it, Paul.

Lilian has been having a tough week – Jennifer wants her to help choose an agency worker to help Peggy out, but Lilian isn't interested. She and Paul have had words – he's upset that she isn't answering his calls and she says what do you expect when you drive off and leave me in the middle of nowhere? Lilian wonders whether it's worthwhile carrying on the carrying on, but Paul says he loves her so much. I fear for his kneecaps.

Going back to Jennifer for a moment, she has whittled down the possible agency carers to a short list and recommends one particular agency to Peggy. Sadly, after all Jenny's hard work, Peggy says she doesn't want an agency carer and she'd rather manage on her own. Well done Peggy – you stay independent! Mind you, she does spoil it somewhat by then asking Jennifer if she can give her a lift to the shop.

It was the single wicket this week and sibling solidarity was definitely missing – Pip was gloating because she beat Josh and Will was delighted when Rob Titchener beat Ed in the final. Actually it wasn't a bad week for some of the Grundy family – Joe especially, who took an old milk churn off Tony's hands ("to save you going to the tip") and gets Tony to buy him a pint. Imagine Tony's feelings when the man from Rodways tells him later in the week that these churns fetch up to £40 in their farm sales. Which is worse – losing out of £40 or being taken for a sucker by Joe Grundy?

The reason that Rodways are at Bridge Farm is to finalise details of the herd sale, a notice of which appears in The Echo. Lynda notices this and immediately gets the wrong end of the stick when she tells Jim that it's the thin end of the wedge and they've never really bounced back from the e-coli, have they? Jim tells her she's talking rubbish, but she's not convinced. Someone else who is out of the loop is Jennifer, who is dumbstruck when Jill asks her what she thinks about the forthcoming sale, as this is the first she's heard of it. Well, she has been spending a lot of time getting the caravans ready for the pickers. Adam tells her that there are more female pickers this year, so that will restrict his choice should he feel the urge to molest a worker again this year.

I feel we should have Kirsty sectioned under the Mental Health Act, as she tells Tom that she is interested in hearing about his presentation to the supermarket. Tom's ego is slowly getting back up to its former Olympian heights but he has obviously learnt his lesson, as he breaks off in mid stream, saying that "here I go again." This is when Kirsty says she is interested, the fool. Mind you, Tom did buy Kirsty drinks because of her support, but all I can say is that there isn't enough champagne in the world that would make me say that.

Divisions are widening over the fete/Highland Games. Lynda is adamant that it is not a Highland Games and she has signed up a load of dancers who will perform traditional Scottish dances. She is really unhappy and her distress intensifies when Jazzer suggests getting someone Scottish to open it and do they want him to approach a Clan Chief? Presumably the clan we are talking about here is the MacPissartists or similar. Lynda is horrified and becomes apoplectic when Jazzer accuses her of racism and anti-Scots sentiments.

Eventually Jazzer takes it back, but then he gives Lynda another attack of the vapours when he says that he intends to play his pipes at the fete and on the village green on the day. This leads to a conversation between Rooooth and Tom later on, when she asks him if he has ever heard Jazzer play the pipes? It's not often I agree with Tom, but I think he gets it spot on when Rooooth asks "Is he any good?" and he replies "With bagpipes, who can tell?"