Sunday, 31 August 2014

…And Throw Away The Key

James Cartwright (Harrison Burns)

I have always said that anyone who deals drugs to children should be locked up indefinitely, assuming of course that theres no death penalty available. When I say always, I mean since about 7.15pm last Sunday. At Loxfest, Daniel found Freddie high on drugs and he did a bit of investigating, finally tracking down the dealer, who turned out to be Wayne.

Daniel told Wayne that he had left his money in his tent and arranged to meet in 10 minutes but, when Dan returned, he had PC Burns with him, who promptly read Wayne his rights and arrested him. It was at this moment that my hard line stance on dealing drugs kicked in. Way to go Harrison! Cant you rough him up a bit and do him for resisting arrest? Just a thought.

PCB isnt making things easy for himself on the romance with Fallon front, is he? Just when we thought that he was getting his feet under the table, he goes and arrests his would-be girlfriends Dad. Something like that has the potential to be a very big elephant in a small room, always assuming that PCB gets another date with Fallon, that is. She told him that she would be busy for the foreseeable future, but would ring him sometime. And she probably will be busy, as half of Ambridge (well, Eddie and Emma) have been roped in to help the upcycling business.

The situation between Elizabeth and Roy is becoming ever-more complicated. The Pet Shop Boys were a triumph and Liz says to Roy that none of this would have happened without you and they kiss. Roy mentions that he is staying overnight and nudge, nudge. In fact, there is considerably more than nudging later on - dont Lizzies children notice that she doesnt sleep in her bed?

The day after, both Liz and Roy say that things are different this time and they love each other. Work goes on, however and Shula (who has turned up to help the clear up) spots Roy in his orange jacket. He must be exhausted says Shula. I should say so!

Things arent that easy, however, as Roy tells Liz that I cant do this (pretending to carry on a normal working relationship). Liz takes him to one side and kisses him and, having got him thoroughly worked up by telling him that she loves him, she adds that they could never be together as he couldn’t leave Haley and the children and she could never be responsible for causing such misery and they wouldn‘t be happy. “Roy, please hug me one more time” she tells him.

Roy is really having difficulty in accepting the situation and, in what I at least thought was a comical line, he tells Lizzie “I can’t keep my mind on the job.” I know it’s not romantic, but can’t they accept that they will never be together and just indulge in the occasional bonk when things get on top of them, so to speak? As it is, we could be heading for fireworks as Lizzie gives Freddie an envelope to deliver to Roy, but Roy’s not at home and he gives it to Hayley. The envelope comes open and Hayley sees that it contains a heart-shaped locket, which is going to take some explaining, especially as Freddie said that Liz said it was vital that Roy got the envelope.

Call me picky, but if Elizabeth wanted to give Roy a locket a) why not wait till he comes back to work b) why entrust a delicate mission to Freddie, who is behaving lately like an understudy for Tim-Nice-But-Dim (or, more likely, just turning into a clone of his father) and c) why not write ‘confidential’ on the envelope and make sure it is sellotaped securely? Rocket science it ain’t.

Charlie continues to annoy everyone - even though the planning for the 2nd anaerobic digester has been rejected, he says that this was expected and Justin Eliot doesn’t give up easily. He even suggests to David and Rooooth that, if Route B is adopted, it could be a good thing for Brookfield, as BL would give them a contract to grow crops for the AD instead of dairy farming. He was lucky that David didn’t have his shotgun handy. Actually, later on in the week, Ed missed a golden opportunity to rid the village of Charlie as the latter’s car had broken down and Ed offered him a tow. Just think, one slight wrong turn and “sorry m’lud, I didn’t realise that the car had slipped into the Am and, when I did, I accidentally ran him over with the tractor.” It could have worked.

We learned that Leonie and James’ boy is to be called Mowgli, which plumbs depths of silliness and pretension, even for them. I think he will be referred to as ‘Baloo’ in this blog, as it seems more fitting.

Suspense when Rob takes a call from Jess. “If it’s about the divorce, call my lawyer” he snarls. “It’s not about the divorce - it’s something you really need to know” she replied, enigmatically. We are all agog.

Money, they say, goes to money and we learned that John Tregorran not only left Jennifer some of his books and sent her a strange letter, in which he accuses wife Carol of playing games and acting strangely, but he’s also left Jennifer £50 K. Jen thinks she cannot possibly accept it, due to all the rumours about an affair in the past, but Brian is more pragmatic, saying “Who’s going to know?” Really Brian, this is Ambridge we are talking about and you should know better. Personally, I reckon he’s thinking “£50 K - that should go some way at least towards paying for the damn kitchen.”

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Daggers To The Heart

Clive Wood (Wayne Tucson)

You listen to the Archers for weeks, following the storylines and, when you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, the writers slip a nasty twist into the story; presumably to keep us on our toes. Last week they were particularly sadistic as Leonie went into labour and, just when you thought he had vanished for ever, we had the return of Wayne. Talk about a pair of daggers to the heart - not even Torquemada was that cruel. On the subject of Leonie, I don’t know what the world record is for length of labour, but I sincerely hope she breaks it.

In fact, as Lynda has rushed off to be at her side (as if being in labour wasn’t painful enough) I wonder if she can stretch it out till past Christmas - if we are going to be subjected to stories about James and Leonie’s new sprog, the least the writers could do is to let us off having to listen to the run up to Lynda’s Yuletide extravaganza for one year, surely?

Jolene was having doubts about the Midnight Walkers’ appearance at Loxfest and Wayne didn’t help much by telling her (although not in so many words) that the rehearsals weren’t up to much. He reminded her that, when they were playing together, the music was driven by their passion - fortunately, Jolene managed to avoid throwing up at the memories. The problem seems to be PC Burns - there’s just no spark between them (I knew that appearing on stage in uniform was a mistake). But wait! The day that the Walkers are due to take the stage, Fallon gives PCB a good luck kiss and the man is transformed, with the Walkers putting together a killing set that goes down a storm. You can go home now Wayne; you’re no longer needed - not that you ever were.

Loxfest seemed destined to become a millstone round Elizabeth’s neck, as things went from bad to worse when she was the subject of a hostile interview on Radio Borsetshire, which majored on the desirability of having a headline act (Quaintance Smith) whose lead singer (Troy Sturn) is facing allegations of beating up his girlfriend - what sort of example does that set? Admittedly Elizabeth doesn’t say “Well, everybody should have a hobby” but she doesn’t handle it well. Even worse, she appears to be pinning the blame for all the Loxfest mishaps on Roy, as it was his idea in the first place.

Things change the day before Loxfest opens, as Roy is nowhere to be found for a while. In fact he has been up on the roof, taking photographs and Liz panics when she learns this. Roy has also cut himself quite badly and Elizabeth takes off his shirt and administers antiseptic. She then gives him one of Nigel’s old shirts to put on - I had this image of a garment with ruffles down the front and billowy sleeves with ruffed cuffs; a sort of cross between Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and Jason King (for our older readers). Anyway, they talk and decide to cancel Quaintance Smith, despite the financial hit that they will have to take. Roy begs her to keep the faith, as Marcus might be able to sign a new headline act (this is the day before Loxfest opens, don’t forget).

As it turns out, Marcus excels himself, as he manages to book The Pet Shop Boys for Saturday night! You certainly see more Cds from TPSBs than Quaintance Smith in music stores, so why did they not book TPSBs in the first place? Roy describes it as ‘a miracle’ and Liz says “What would I do without you?” (changed her tune). They hug each other - perhaps Roy should try and get his feet firmly under the table and ask her for some of Nigel’s underwear?

David was in “Is it all worth it?” mode about Route B last week and his mood did not improve when Lynda said she had some troubling news - someone had donated £10 K to the fund that is trying to ensure that Route C isn’t chosen. “All we need is for 1000 people to give £10 each” Lynda says brightly, but David will not be cheered up - “All our hopes are resting on a butterfly” he said, mournfully.

I have great sympathy with Ed Grundy, as he has spent 18 months living at Neil and Susan’s, which is the mental equivalent of waterboarding. Mind you, he doesn’t listen, as Emma takes him to task for coming in with muddy boots. He’s been offered work at Brookfield by Adam and he tells Emma that they might be able to save and get a place of their own. Bloody hell, Adam, how much are you paying him?

The work involves late nights and, as luck would have it, some of the cows are calving. Dad Eddie is helping out and, on Tuesday, after a particularly long day, he offers Ed their sofa to sleep on. “They won’t even know that you’re not there” Eddie tells his son. Wrong! When Ed goes round to Susan’s the following day, she has a right go at him because she had cooked him a meal. Ed pointed out that he had a calf to deliver and only had three hours’ sleep and makes himself a coffee, causing Susan to bang on about clearing up behind him and meals don‘t just cook themselves you know and the occasional ‘thank you‘ wouldn‘t come amiss. In full strop mode now, Susan throws a wobbly because of the state of her hair. To be fair, she doesn’t blame Ed for this (“It’s because of the hairnets I have to wear at work”) but he has to listen to her blathering on. Tell you what Roy, next time you have a late one, give Susan a ring about 3am to tell her that you won’t be back that night, but a cooked breakfast about 6.30 would be good.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Bad Hair Day

Charlotte Martin (Susan Carter)

Sometimes it’s a pity that the Archers doesn’t come with pictures and last week was one such occasion, when Susan had her hair done at a very posh hairdresser’s. The stylists’s name was Jjeanette or Jjanine, or similar - it had two ‘Js’ in it anyway. Susan surprised Neil when he was engrossed with the pigs and, when he caught sight of her, you could hear his jaw drop. However, Neil has been married long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut and he made all the right noises, spoiling it slightly when he said: “That colour - it will wash out eventually, won’t it?”

Susan didn’t latch on to the note of doubt, telling Mike and Vicky that “Neil’s very taken with it.” I think the word ‘aback’ is missing from that sentence. Mike and Vicky also made diplomatic comments, but when Susan had gone into the dairy, Mike said: “Blimey - don’t they have mirrors in those places?” and made Vicky promise never to go near that hairdressers.

At the party to celebrate Jennifer’s new kitchen, as many people were talking about Susan’s hair as about the kitchen. Jen in fact was mightily put out, as she told Carol Tregorran and Peggy that Sabrina Thwaite hadn’t paid attention to her lecture on magnetic induction, as she was staring at Susan’s hair. Carol said she thought it was terrific and well done Susan for taking a risk. She is definitely in a minority of one (or two, if you count Susan), as other comments were less complimentary; Peggy said that Matt reckons she had it done for a bet, while Matt himself described the style as “Lady Gaga with her fingers in the socket.”

Apart from Susan’s hair, the kitchen soiree was as pretentious as we all knew it would be, with exotic-sounding canap├ęs, which Jennifer kept forcing on people and Brian, resplendent in jazzy waistcoat, mixing cocktails. Matt wasn’t impressed, telling Robert Snell that he was looking around “trying to find something drinkable.” Jennifer thought the whole evening was a runaway success, telling Peggy that people just couldn’t keep out of the kitchen. “That’s because you keep ushering them back in” Peggy replied, though the sarcasm was wasted on her daughter, who was revelling in her role of grand hostess.

Away from the party, there was a bit of a shock for Mike, who is working all hours. He told Vicky that he was considering retirement - only considering, mind - but she then outlined her plans for not wanting Bethany to be the first Downs baby at the local school and she will need specialist help when she starts school, so why doesn’t Mike retire, Vicky can go back to work full time and why don’t they move to somewhere bigger, with better facilities, like Birmingham? The tone of Mike‘s one-word response (“Birmingham?”) indicated that he wasn’t keen on the idea.

The open day to view the anaerobic digester didn’t quite go according to Charlie Thomas’s plans when Jim and Pat raised awkward questions about traffic density and the viability of the digestate as a fertiliser. Afterwards, an angry Rob accused Jim of laying traps for him, saying: “Why did you bother coming if you were only going to cause trouble?” Er, I rather think that was the object of the exercise, Rob.

Things aren’t going smoothly over at Lower Loxley - Roy is contacted by the Echo about his reaction to the accusations of girlfriend-beating made against the lead singer of Quaintance Smith. Roy’s attempt to say that nothing has yet been proven and the singer hasn’t been charged anyway are represented as complacency on behalf of the Loxfest organisers and he is distraught at the damage this could do to the festival. As it is, an all-female group has pulled out of the line-up.

As if Roy hasn’t got enough to worry about, he caught Ben and Freddie (who, at 14, seems suddenly to have morphed into stroppy Kevin the teenager) smoking. The boys are terrified that he will tell their parents and Roy says he won’t, but only because they have enough on their plates. He sent Ben to help Reg at the Rare Breeds as a punishment and then tears Freddie off a strip (again), telling him to act more responsibly and think about his mother a bit more.

There are hints that all is not well between Shula and Alistair, as she keeps going on about how he’s rarely there for meals etc and she’s spending a lot of time alone. We await developments. I hope he’s not started gambling again - does he still go to Gamblers Anonymous?

Moving on, what is your image of Cupid - an arrow-wielding cherub with wings, perhaps? Or how about a Glaswegian milkman with a can of lager? Early in the week, PC Burns and Jazzer talk and PCB tells him that he has decided to give up on Fallon, as he can’t seem to reach her. Jazz seemed interested and I thought ‘he’s going to make his move on Fallon, the poor girl’. Midweek, Jazz enlists PCB’s reluctant help in moving some furniture and insists that he owes PCB a pint. Even more reluctantly, PCB agrees to meet Jazz on Friday in the Black Pike for a drink. When PCB gets there, there’s no sign of Jazzer, but Fallon is there, also due to meet Jazz. He doesn’t appear and both Fallon and PCB (who have been having a deep heart-to heart) get a text from Jazz, saying he can’t make it and “enjoy yourselves”. PCB suggests that he and Fallon make a proper night of it, as they seem to be getting on OK, so well done Jazzer, you noble old softie you.

Finally, another ‘well done’ to Carol Tregorran, who persuaded Peggy to ignore Witch Hazel’s ideas for Jack’s headstone and to replace her trite rhyme with the verse from St. Matthew that Peggy wanted. Showing a flash of the old spirit that we thought had been extinguished, Peggy agreed. So that’s one in the eye for Hazel, a pat on the back for Carol and welcome back to the old Peggy.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A Novel Defence

Thomas Lester (Ben Archer)

There was drama at the meeting to discuss the proposed new road, with the presenter, Mr. Stevens, being given a hard time by the anti-Route B faction. Charlie Thomas is there, but he leaves early. As he does so, a half brick narrowly misses him and hits the door. Shaken, Charlie says he’ll find out who did it.

Well, it certainly didn’t take long, as the next day PC Burns interrogates Ben Archer at Brookfield; Ben cracks and names Freddie as the culprit, then immediately worries that Fred will find out that he’s grassed him up. Rooooth says she’s ashamed of him and “you can’t throw bricks at people - someone could have got hurt.” Ben’s defence was an unusual one; “it was only half a brick”. That’s OK then - perhaps this tactic could be adopted by felons elsewhere - “Yes I shot him Your Honour, but it was only a .22”

Anyway, Rooooth drags Ben down the pub, where Charlie is telling an unhappy Rob that he wants him to speak up at the forthcoming Open Day about the advantages of the proposed new anaerobic digester. Rob doesn’t believe in the second AD, but Charlie makes veiled threats about how those higher up wouldn’t be happy to think that Rob wasn’t being supportive. PCB and Rooooth enter, leading Ben in chains and manacles. Ben apologises to Charlie, who tells him that if he wants to protest, he should take a leaf out of Rooooth’s book and do it legally. Sadly, Rooooth doesn’t smack him over the head with a bottle, but she apologises too. “It’s over - it’s forgotten” Charlie says magnanimously.

Now we come to Ed Grundy, who I am coming to believe shouldn’t really be let out on his own, as his grip on reality gets ever-more tenuous. Consider - he damaged the combine harvester last week and this week he asked Adam if there was any work going? Adam tells him that, as far as Charlie is concerned, Hell would freeze over before he saw Ed on the payroll again.

At the pub, Ed tells Kenton and Rooooth that he feels he should talk to Charlie and they both advise against it. So what does he do? You guessed it - he apologises to Charlie. It becomes obvious that Charlie’s magnanimity only stretches so far as, instead of saying “It’s over - it’s forgotten”, he heaps abuse and sarcasm on Ed, saying that he cannot believe that Ed would seriously believe that Charlie would ever give him work ever again. The situation becomes heated and a fight nearly ensues when Charlie calls Ed “a yokel”. Ed retorts that just because Charlie has a fancy degree, it doesn’t make him a farmer. Charlie rants and raves and Rob tells him to “listen to yourself” and “sit down and shut up.” If Charlie wants to get the locals onside about the AD, suggests Rob, calling them yokels in the pub isn’t exactly going to help. I wonder whether Charlie is in for a shock, as, towards the end of the week, Jim, Shula and Pat are talking about the new AD, with Jim saying that the waste would be trucked past his window. “Could you get one of your nephews to throw a brick?” he asks Shula and the week ends with Jim musing “Is there another way to throw him off balance? I wonder.” Watch this space.

Back to the brick-throwing; PCB has taken Freddie to the police station and he is adamant that he will not apologise, telling Elizabeth that Nigel would have been laying down in front of the bulldozers by now, which would be a bit tricky, as there aren’t any. Liz despairs of her stroppy son and confides her fears to Roy. Roy confronts Freddie later and gives him a dressing down, asking whether he thinks Nigel would have wanted him to make his mother cry? Elizabeth is working all hours to make Lower Loxley a success, says Roy, and she’s doing it all for Freddie and Lily.

Freddie agrees to apologise - pity; I’d like to have seen him banged up, or deported - and Liz is grateful to Roy, saying that Freddie really needs a father figure. Quick as a flash, Roy volunteers his services as he can’t stop thinking about Elizabeth. She says ‘no’ and Roy says “what if I left Hayley?” That’s a bit sudden - what could Liz offer over Hayley, apart from a country estate and a stately home? Anyway, Elizabeth says “no” and you can’t help hoping that Roy will take the hint before long.

PC Burns didn’t spend all week terrorising young thugs, as he has found what he believes is the ideal vehicle for Fallon and her business and they go to see it. It has only had three owners and is a joy to drive, so what a pity Fallon cannot afford it. No worries - the owner drops the price by £200. I’m surprised that Fallon didn’t manage to flog him a truckload of upcycled tat into the bargain.

Elsewhere, Susan dropped in to see Jennifer (“casual like”) and Jen thinks she’s come about her old kitchen units. Take them down the tip, woman! No, Susan is angling for her invitation to the kitchen unveiling and Jennifer revealed that Ed had the invitation ages ago, so that’s him marked down for death. Susan says she’ll have to check her diary to see if she’s free that day. What’s the betting?

Let’s go back to Ed and Emma. He’s in one of his “God I’m a failure” moods, telling Emma that they’ve been living with Susan and Neil for 18 months and he can’t even provide a decent home for his family. Emma reveals the paucity of her ambition when she says she loves him and “Our life together is all I’ve ever wanted.”

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Let’s Hope They Don’t Take The Cost From Ed’s Wages

Barry Farrimond (Ed Grundy)

Good old Ed Grundy - just when things are at their blackest, he manages to make it worse, and not just for him. On Thursday, Adam tells him that there won’t be any work that evening as Adam has two pickers taken ill and he’s afraid it might be viral. No worries - Ed says he could drive the combine. Adam thinks it’s a bit risky, but Ed assures him that he has practised on a simulator, so Adam gives him the go-ahead after sitting in with him for a few minutes.

Emma joins Ed in the cab and things are going swimmingly until the alarm goes off - Ed has forgotten to adjust the cut for a patch of heavier crop and the combine has seized. “You’d better get out of here” Ed tells Emma.

Next day Adam is working on the blockage when - inevitably - Charlie turns up. He’s not best pleased, to put it mildly and berates Adam for letting Ed operate the combine. His displeasure increases when he learns that, by the time the engineer has cleared the blockage, they will have lost 36 hours of combine time. “Why did you leave a half million pound machine in charge of a small time dairy farmer?” Charlie asks.

God knows I find Charlie arrogant, rude and tactless - and this is on one of his better days - but he has got a point. After all is a few hours’ simulator training really enough? When I was younger, I had a Scalextric set, but I bet Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t let me take his Mercedes for a spin round Silverstone.

It gets worse, as Charlie says that this will have an adverse effect when the Estate contract comes up for renewal and that Justin Eliot will be disappointed at Adam’s lack of professionalism. “Is that some kind of threat?” asks Adam. “Believe me Adam, I don’t make threats - I make promises” is charming Charlie’s response.

Meanwhile, Ed is at home, beating himself up for his carelessness and he tells Emma that Adam probably won’t pay him and should he go over to Home Farm to explain? I wouldn’t if I were you Ed - if Charlie is there he’ll probably present you with a bill, or have you horsewhipped. At any rate, I wouldn’t ask Adam if he’s got any combine work going in the near future.

Meanwhile, Susan is slowly being driven mental by everyone banging on about Jennifer’s forthcoming soiree as she still hasn’t received her invitation. To make matters worse, Eddie and Clarrie have been invited. In the shop, Shula tells Elizabeth that she’ll have to buy a new dress and Susan practically throws her out. Then Lynda comes in and mentions the party, whereupon Susan loses it and says “Why is everybody going on about this party?” Little does Susan know that Ed has had her invitation in his overalls pocket for a few days and Emma goes to wash them and empties the pockets, remarking that “There’s some paper in them” but she doesn’t look at it. If it should happen that the party goes ahead without Susan and she finds out that Ed had the invite, then the trouble he is in over the combine will be as nothing compared to Susan’s wrath.

PC Burns rehearses with Jolene and it’s very good. Jolene asks him how are things going on with Fallon and he says they are good, although he is worried that they are getting into the friends zone and he really wants it to be more. Don’t give up, Harrison; after all, she did let you buy her a coffee at Lower Loxley. Meanwhile, Fallon appears to have metamorphosed into Tom Archer, telling PCB that Alice is building her a website, plus she wants to open an old-fashioned teashop and showroom for her up-cycled products.

For his part, PCB suggests that she should get rid of the camper van and buy something a bit more in keeping with her business image - like a Morris 1000 van for example and he’ll look for one online for her. Fallon says this is very thoughtful and he replies “I’m not just a Plod - underneath this uniform is a beating heart”

And so to the situation between Roy and Elizabeth. Things are still tense and Roy keeps banging on about how much he has to do. Liz thinks she’s got a solution and hires a (temporary) Assistant Manager to ease his (and her) load. Is the miserable sod satisfied? Of course not and, when Liz says that it doesn’t reflect on his performance, he ungraciously says “It’s your decision - I’ll just have to live with it, won’t I?” Yes Roy, you will. Later on Hayley lets it slip that she spoke to Liz about the stress Roy was under, he goes ballistic and tells her “Never do anything like that ever again!”

Great news about Route B - Josh and Phoebe shot a video, showing what would be lost if it were to go ahead. It’s very good and Lynda especially is excited when she sees it. Later in the week, we learn why, as she spotted a very rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly in the film of Starley’s Copse. Bloody hell, the woman must have eyes like a hawk! Anyway, she gets it confirmed and this could scupper the whole project or, as Lynda put it “This could spell the end of the road - for the road.” Don’t count your chickens - Justin Eliot has a lot at stake in Route B being accepted and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see the shadowy figure of Charlie crawling round Starley’s Copse in the near future, clutching a note from Justin saying “you know what you have to do”, plus a butterfly net and a can of fly spray.