Patricia Gallimore (Pat Archer)
I refer, of course, to the sublime moment when Helen told Pat about her plans to move in with Rob and Pat was – sadly only momentarily – struck speechless. It happened because Pat just couldn't stop herself interfering, asking unsubtle questions and dropping heavy hints about 'your bit of news.' She agreed when Tony told her to give it a rest, but she just couldn't stop herself. Eventually, Helen lost patience (about two days later than me) and spelled out her news in brutally blunt terms. Pat's subsequent silence was most welcome. Pity the shock didn't strike her dumb.
Of course, once the news was out, we had days of hand-wringing and "what is she playing at?" with Pat wandering all over the place like a lost soul. She even berated Tony for thinking about vegetables at such a time. Oh yes, that will be a great help – stop all the work on the farm, why don't you? And board up the dairy while you're at it. It's the bloody Rich scenario all over again.
Friday was Pat's birthday (61, but you didn't hear it from me) and Helen has volunteered to do the cooking. She also managed to get Pat to agree to have Rob at the meal and a strained evening ensues, with Kirsty and Tom making up the numbers. The conversation flows like treacle and, when clearing away the dishes, Rob admits to Helen that things don't seem to be going too well. Really, he should think himself lucky that he hasn't got a carving knife sticking out of his back, or been fed toadstools.
Rob leaves and Helen tells her mother that all her prejudices came out that evening and, before going to bed, she tells her "I've never been happier." Pat tells Tony: "It's hopeless – she's besotted with him." Well spotted Pat, the clue was in the phrase 'I've never been happier' wasn't it? A few words of advice Pat – mind your own bloody business and let Helen live her own life. I really hope that Rob doesn't do the dirty on Helen, as I couldn't bear the weeks of the inevitable 'I told you so' that would surely follow.
The early New Year prize for breathtaking self-delusion goes to Susan Carter. She has really got the blues badly and her depression is deepened by worries about the future of the shop, now Jack Woolley is dead. I mean, God alone knows that the woman could whinge and moan for Great Britain on a normal day, but her recent performance makes you wonder where you put the extra-large tub of aspirins or whether a pyjama cord could support your weight.
"When did you last surprise me?" she demands of husband Neil. If I were him, I'd have taken her down to the Am and thrown her in, yelling "Surprise!" Instead he says "It had better be the Taj Mahal then." And this is where the self-delusion comes in, as Susan immediately thinks he is going to whisk her off to India. How long have they been married? This is Neil we're talking about – I'm not sure that he even has a passport. It turns out that he was talking about the local curry house, which came as a surprise to nobody, except Susan, it seems.
Despite this crushing disappointment, she's at it again later in the week, when Emma finds her looking at Neil's laptop and she sees that he has been viewing sites about Brazil, notably about the Carnival in Rio and she is convinced that he has a surprise planned for Easter. Neil comes back from a Parish Council meeting and tells Susan that the plan for Lent and Easter this year is to perform Passion Plays (please, God, don't let Lynda get involved) and Ambridge has been allocated Good Friday. When he says that he might go for a place in the cast, Susan comes over all girlish and coy and says "You know you've got something better lined up, Neil – Brazil!" A mystified Neil tells her that he was checking details of the World Cup for Chris and Alice and, once again, Susan's illusions are shattered. You could well be in the spare room for a while Neil.
Just to add to Susan's woes, puppy Holly continues her campaign of destruction and disruption. George wants to take her outside to play and Ed agrees. He throws the ball and it lands in the pond, where Holly leaps in to get it. Ed rescues the dog, but George is convinced that he did it on purpose and that he hates Holly. So convinced is he that he tells Emma he wants to take Holly when he goes to Will's at the weekend. Ed is worried that he won't get over it and says that Will has been winding George up, portraying Ed as someone who has a problem with dogs. Let's think; this is a man who had plastered warning signs to dog owners all over the farm, a man who foams at the mouth whenever he sees a dog running loose and, not least, a man who shot his son's puppy – I don't think Will has had to work too hard on Ed's image, do you?
My heart soared when Lynda hinted to Robert that, what with Leonie's baby and work, she might not even do a show next year. Yes! Result! Crack open the bubbly and ring those church bells! Then it all goes pear-shaped when Lynda reads the review of her latest extravaganza in The Echo. The reviewer has committed the cardinal sin of calling it 'a panto' and obviously missed the subtle nuances of the production. He also hints that perhaps Lynda is past her best. An incensed Lynda tells Robert that "if he thinks I'm finished, I'll show him this year!" No!!! That noise you can hear is me weeping softly in the background. Does anyone know how you can get a champagne cork back in the bottle?