Charles Collingwood (Brian Aldridge)
Lots of people were celebrating various things last week – Brian's 70th birthday bash was very posh, with presents such as a superb bottle of brandy (thank you Annabelle). Brian was obsessed with people not knowing his real age (70) even though Jennifer said that the 'XO' on the bottle stood for 'extra old'. Oh, how we laughed! Brian's efforts came to nothing when Phoebe came in with a cake, baked by herself, with a gigantic figure '70' on it and enough candles to illuminate a small town. Still, Brian should care, as Jennifer's present was a beach holiday in Mauritius.
Actually, I did wonder if the episode at Brian's party was sponsored by the Hungarian Tourist Board as, when David told Brian that he was taking Rooooth away to Budapest for their Silver Wedding, Brian became ecstatic about the delights of that fair city. Incidentally, David is also going to commission a special piece of silver jewellery when in Hungary – not bad when we are being told that farmers are having a hard time.
As well as Brian and David celebrating, Clarrie and Eddie went out for a meal, courtesy of Joe, who gave them £50 of his compo money. Eddie told Clarrie that the holly and mistletoe at Grange Farm is exceptional this year, but she puts the kibosh on that by telling Eddie that he cannot collect from Grange Farm "as I don' t want to be beholden to Oliver and Caroline." So, you'll be giving Oliver the cider back and not collecting apples this year then Eddie? Eddie demonstrated a hitherto-unknown depth of insight and self-knowledge when he proposed a toast to 'the best wife in the world', adding "I don' t know how you've put up with me for so long." I was wondering the same thing myself.
The story about Jill's eyesight took another turn when she drove to Brookfield and knocked Josh off his bike because she didn't see him. At last she agreed to have her eyes tested and has given up driving until then, which means more running about for her children.
Shula and Alistair are still at odds over Darrell and things get worse when Daniel stays over at Jamie's one night because he feels uncomfortable with Darrell being in the house. Alistair lays it on the line, telling Shula it's time to decide who's more important, Darrell or Daniel? Not much of a choice, really, is it? I think Shula will be upsetting more people, as she's trying to raise sponsorship for a three-hour peal of bells. Three hours? Remind me to be out of Ambridge when that happens.
Going back to Darrell, it seems that things are looking up when Eddie tells him about a friend who is doing some work in Felpersham and they need a joiner and would Darrell be interested? Would he! When talking to Shula about it later, he says that he could have kissed Eddie at the time – it would have to be a bloody good wage to tempt me to do that. However, all may not be as it seems, as Eddie tells Darrell that he'll be working for cash in hand. This concerns Shula and she mentions it to Darrell. "We can work round that” he says, optimistically and you just know that it's all going to end in tears.
Something else that ended in tears was the 'pal's night out' with Tom and Kirsty and Patrick and Helen. Helen got stuck into the wine big time and opened her heart to Kirsty about Rob. Helen tells us that the whole experience with Rob was amazing and that the sex was fantastic (too much information) and she misses him so very much. Helen then goes to the ladies for a really good cry. Fortunately for Patrick he is spared all this as he and Tom are losing money on the quiz machine. All in all I think all four have had better nights out.
The panto – I beg its pardon, the 'play with music' – is starting to get on my nerves, as usual. Lynda notices the lack of rapport between Robin Hood and Maid Marian (it was the knife in his back that gave her the clue) and she organises a ludicrous improv evening where Rob and Kirsty have to pretend to be newly-weds. Things don't get better when Kirsty makes pointed remarks about wedding vows and the atmosphere gets so bad that even Lynda realises that her scheme isn't working. Personally, I hope either Rob or Kirsty walks away from the production, leaving it dead in the water. Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen.
A sure sign of the approach of Christmas is growing tension and animosity between the Grundy siblings. We almost had a punch-up when Ed discovered Will herding up his birds, using a dog off the lead. Ed is paranoid about neospora and tears Will off a strip. Will responds by telling his brother that it's not his (Will's) fault if Ed can't run a business properly and it's only a matter of time before it collapses. Alistair, who has turned up to look at a sick cow, tells Ed that it is highly unlikely that the virus was spread by a dog, but Ed isn't listening, which when you think about it is the default mode of both boys. Ah well, Merry Christmas!