Michael Lumsden (Alistair Lloyd)
First of all, apologies for the lateness of this week’s blog, as I have been on holiday. On that note, I promised to say ‘hello’ to Jeff - an Archers fan who was on our dinner table. Hello Jeff; hope you like the blog and thank you for the stories you told.
So what happened last week? There seemed to me to be an underlying current of insensitivity running through the week’s stories, as we will see. First of all Alistair and Shula drove Dan to Sandhurst and they were put in a room to wait for him to emerge after the lobotomy or whatever, on which were displayed wall to wall the names of soldiers killed in action, which did nothing to allay Shula’s fears. She was even less happy when he appeared and told them that he had been put in the ’Somme’ company. I suppose it could have been worse; it could have been the ’Suicide Squad’ or ’One-way Mission’ platoon. On the way home, Alistair berates Shula for texting her son a mere two hours after saying goodbye to him, saying “You’ve got to let go”, whereupon she bursts into tears. Nice one Alistair.
There was joy unconfined and dancing on the Green as people celebrated the fact that Tom had gone missing - actually, to be truthful, it was the May Day celebrations, but Tom’s absence was the major story of the week and I for one can live with that for a few months more yet. Unlike Pat, who is convinced that Tom is laying in a ditch somewhere and she tells PC Burns that she’d like to see him.
Pat also forces Roy to meet her at Tom’s cottage (Roy has the keys), where she searches frantically for a clue to her son’s whereabouts. She finds his laptop and is disappointed when Roy doesn’t know Tom’s password. Come on woman; a moment’s thought would make it obvious that it’s either ‘Ready Meals’ or ‘Sausages’.
As the week progresses, so Pat gets more and more desperate and despondent. Then Tony rushes in, saying “Quick! Come and look!” Has Tom returned? Has he been living with his pigs? No - Tony’s news is that one of his cows has successfully calved and, while Tony bangs on about “New life at Bridge Farm again”, Pat can’t help thinking of her son in a ditch, or at the bottom of a cliff somewhere.
Mr Sensitivity Tony does it again later on - Pat is talking to Helen when Tony bursts in “Fantastic news!” he yells. What - has Tom returned? Er, not exactly - the great news is that the cow that died a few weeks ago didn’t have TB. While this is presumably little consolation to the deceased bovine, it does mean that the movement restrictions on the farm will be lifted. A triumphant Tony says that he is ‘completely vindicated’ and when Tom returns, he’ll tell him in no uncertain terms how wrong he was. Hopefully he’ll let him get his coat off first and, if Pat’s worst fears were to be realised and Tom never returned, then Tony would presumably perform an “I told you so” jig on his son’s grave. “Things are going right for us at last” Tony crows, until his wife’s comment “Not everything” reminds him that he still has a son who has been awol for a week.
Pat then has to put up with more insensitivity from Jennifer, who has had her kitchen cupboards removed and, with work now started on her new, super-duper kitchen (well, a wall has been knocked down and the floor broken up with a pneumatic drill), Jen tells Pat that the last few days have been ‘a nightmare’ and, by the way, would Pat like her old kitchen fittings? With commendable restraint, Pat points out that she has other things on her mind and Jen is distraught when she realises her faux pas. In an attempt to get back in favour, Jennifer talks about how youngsters can be a trial and, when an adolescent Kate disappeared for a few days, Jen and Brian were called down to Cornwall, to identify a body that had been found on the beach. It turned out not to be Kate, but this story does nothing to ease Pat’s troubled mind. Rest assured - Tom does get in touch with Pat and says he needs more time. Tony sensitively (not) says: “Is the idiot boy going to let his business go down the tubes on top of everything else?”
At Home Farm, Adam hasn’t slept for something like six weeks and he is helped out in his tilth preparation by David, who puts in some time on the tractor. Despite a punctured tyre, the cultivation is completed and Charlie Thomas turns up unannounced. Using his Genghis Khan-type man management skills to the full, he announces that the tilth isn’t fine enough and the field will need going over again. Even better, he goes to Adam’s cottage and wakes him up to tell him so. I tell you - the man is living on borrowed time.
PC Burns is getting more involved in village life - apart from getting his ear bent by Pat about Tom, he was roped in to present the prizes at the May Day cake competition. Fallon’s banana bread won a prize - no suspicious circumstances, as the winners were selected by Ian - and he gave her a peck on the cheek. “How could you take advantage of me?” Fallon asks indignantly, meanwhile flogging PC Burns the knocked-off plant stand for £25. Lynda asks Fallon what she’s got against PC Burns and she ought to be careful, as she doesn’t think that he’ll be available and on the market for very long.
The Lower Loxley festival (imaginatively christened ‘Loxfest’) looks like a goer and Roy suggests a stage for local talent. He asks Jolene if the Midnight Walkers would like to reform for the gig and she says that they’d all be up for it “Except for Danny, who’s dead” and they had better start rehearsing. I have two comments on this: first of all, does being dead matter that much when it’s Country and Western? And secondly, I never realised that C&W acts actually bothered to rehearse.