Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell)
I have decided that, next year, I am going to ask for donations to a special fund to send Lynda Snell (and Robert, if he’s stupid enough to agree) away for the months of November and December. Every year I moan and rant about her Christmas specials and every year it gets worse. This year she is imbuing ‘Blithe Spirit’ with pretentious hidden meanings, the nuances of which are apparent to her alone, and quite frankly, it’s getting on my nerves.
There was hope when Helen pulled out of the cast, but assistant director Alice persuaded Auntie Lilian to step in, presumably by waving gin bottles at her, and so the production was saved. Or was it? Lilian is determined to see the play as a comedy and is constantly shouted at by Lynda to invest the role with some tragedy, or gravitas, or get in touch with her existential angst or some equally meaningless claptrap. “Walk out Lilian!” I kept shouting at the radio, but she was still there at the end of the week.
If we cannot raise enough money to send Lynda away, there may be another solution. On Tuesday, we had Jim and Carol infiltrating the drinks do to try and find out what plans the evil Justin Eliot has for Ambridge. In this they are successful and Jim insists on going to see Lynda, despite the lateness of the hour. Route B is only the start, he tells her – the plan is to have a distribution hub of massive warehouses in Ambridge and “If this goes ahead, Ambridge will be unrecognisable”. Jim is all for going to the Press straight away, but Lynda and Carol suggest waiting until after the Festive Season to maximise the impact.
Quickly donning her Joan of Arc costume, Lynda says shrilly “If they want to turn this part of Borsetshire into a semi-industrial wasteland, it will be over my dead body!” Do you see the other solution now? If so, meet up on the green and bring your hard hats – bulldozers, cranes and concrete mixers will be provided as operation Semi-Industrial Wasteland gets into gear.
I described Justin Eliot as ‘evil’, but Carol found him ‘charming’ and the farmers who turned up at his shoot on Wednesday managed to force themselves to eat his food and drink his wine/beer/spirits without doing too much harm to their consciences – even David, who agonised whether or not to turn up, but who did so in the end. He even managed to overcome his revulsion of Justin to the extent that he accepted the lavish hamper as a ‘thank you’ for coming. Justin asked if he could bring his architect round to Brookfield some time, as he is apparently going to live there himself and there are one or two changes he’d like to make. David, who in the eyes of the village has already trousered Justin’s 30 pieces of silver, agreed.
Whether it’s a case of Chinese Whispers or not, the story has changed dramatically by Friday, when Jennifer tells Jill that she had no idea how radical were Justin’s plans for Brookfield and wouldn’t it be terrible if he demolished Brookfield to build a new country house? A startled Jill has no idea what she’s talking about but goes home immediately to rave at David and Rooooth. “We can’t let him!” she sobs. This is like someone selling their house and then getting on to the new owner for changing the colour, or digging up the roses and at least David shows some common sense when he tells his mum “Now we’ve agreed to the sale, he can do what he likes.”
There was a hint of a thaw in relations between PC Burns and Fallon when he congratulates her on the super job she has done in getting Ambridge’s Christmas market together. From all the compliments and superlatives flying around, it would seem that Jennifer and Brian wasted their money by going to Prague’s Christmas Market. As PCB goes away, Carol says “He seems like a very pleasant young man” and Fallon, half whispering, says “Yes, he is.” Hang on in there Harrison – she’s weakening.
PCB also had his ear bent by Eddie, who chided him for not attending their “History of the turkey” event. PCB goes along to the next performance and we learn that he will be helping out at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day – what a nice person. Eddie tries to flog him a turkey and some holly and mistletoe and, instead of arresting him for unlicensed trading, or some breach of Health and Safety regulations, or being in charge of an annoying parent or some other breach of the law, PCB actually buys one of the damn birds. Speaking to Carol afterwards, Eddie reckons that the whole exercise has been very profitable, thus demonstrating the truth of the axiom attributed to P. T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute”.
Elsewhere, Adam received a phone call from Charlie, begging him to bring his digger over and help clear up a landslip. After a few well-placed barbed jibes, Adam agrees to help. Charlie gives him coffee and sandwiches and a lecture on how arable is the province of the big boys and Adam should explore more niche areas. This gets Adam’s back up ever so slightly and, as he is leaving, Charlie asks if he will be going to the Christmas party at Grey Gables? “It’s a very busy time of the year” Adam says as he goes. Perhaps the Fallon/PCB relationship is not the only one to be developing? We’ll see.
At the Nativity Play, George is outstanding as a Wise Man and Keira excelled as a snowflake. Clarrie is full of Grandmotherly pride and, when Emma invites them over to hers for Christmas Day, she can hardly contain herself, saying “We’re gonna make this the best Christmas ever!” Her enthusiasm isn’t even diminished one iota when Emma adds that she will be inviting Neil and Susan.
Not everyone is looking forward to a happy Christmas – Roy rings Hayley up, wanting to know when he can have Abbie over the holiday? The short answer is that he cannot – Hayley is concerned that going back to Ambridge would upset Abbie and why doesn’t Roy come over to Birmingham to see her? The fact that Grandparents Mike and Vicky might want to see Abbie doesn’t seem to have occurred to Hayley and Roy is miserable. But we know the truth, don’t we? It’s not the thought of Birmingham that’s getting at Roy, it’s the realisation that, all too soon, Kate will be back. You’re not the only one who’s upset, Roy.