Judy Bennett (Shula Hebden Lloyd)
Fun and games at the Hunt when Rob spots a hunt saboteur with a camera. Rob confronts the sab, who says he has every right to protest, while Rob is spouting on about ‘live and let live’, which is a bit ironic, as the hounds have just killed a fox. The argument becomes heated, Rob punches the sab, who then pushes Rob over, saying “You’ve not heard the last of this.” Helen is concerned about Rob, who says that the sab attacked him for no apparent reason and “Shula saw it, didn’t you?” to which she answers an uncertain ‘yes’. Helen is pleased, saying: “I can’t think of a more reliable witness.”
However, the following day, the sab has made a complaint to the police and Rob and Shula are invited to the police station to give their version of events. Oliver, who has heard Rob’s version, goes with Shula for moral support. PC Burns has already interviewed Rob ‘under caution’ and PCB turns his attention to Shula. Mr Murphy (the sab) said that Rob struck him first - did Shula see Rob strike him at any stage? We do not hear Shula’s answer, but PCB later thanks both her and Rob for coming along. Rob says it all depends on whose version of events they choose to believe and an anxious Oliver asks Shula “You did tell him the truth, didn’t you?” to which she answers “Yes” and says she wants to go home.
So, what has upright, church-going Shula told PCB? Has she toed the party line for the good of the Hunt, or has her conscience forced her to grass Rob up? If the latter, things could be a bit frosty between Shula and her cousin and Rob won’t be over the moon either. My money’s on Shula being incapable of telling a fib, but we’ll have to wait and see.
It wasn’t a good week for Rob, as Tina at Ambridge Organics has quit and Helen has taken on the task of rescuing the business - a task that she finds herself relishing. Rob isn’t best pleased when Helen turns up late for the 1940s Valentine’s dance and if she devotes more time to the shop, he may have to unleash his control freak persona once more. He spent the time when waiting for Helen by talking to Adam, who tells him that he and Ian want to get married. Rob gets a few digs in about how nice it is to spend time with the one you love and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before he lets slip that he knows all about Adam and Charlie’s New Year snog.
Kate demonstrated a level of self-deception that was truly breathtaking - I can’t help thinking that the actress who plays her must think ’what a load of drivel - I can’t believe they want me to say these things.’ Be that as it may, Kate goes to see Roy at his home and immediately starts telling him off about his lifestyle, eating habits etc. “You’re damaging Phoebe by your unmanageability” the pretentious cow says, telling Roy to keep away from his daughter. He retorts that Phoebe will do what she wants. “She left you, Roy” says Kate and he snaps back “At least I never left her”, reminding Kate that he has always been there to pick up the pieces when necessary. He also says that he knows why Kate came back to the village, telling her “You trashed your life in South Africa, just as you did in Ambridge.”
Kate gets on her high horse, saying: “I will not allow you to talk to me like that - you’re projecting; putting your mistakes on to me, blaming me for your weakness.” (See earlier comment about pretension). Roy is scathing, telling her “You’re nearly 40 and living with Mum and Dad”. Kate is really upset at being called nearly 40 (she’s 38 on 30th September, as if you could care less) and tells Roy: “I relied on you to look after our daughter and you’ve completely failed. You betrayed my trust.” Roy (and me too) cannot believe she could say that and tells her that she shouldn’t be allowed to use words like trust, plus she’s selfish and a terrible mother. Finally, he does what I would have done about half an hour earlier and throws her out of his house. The difference is that I would have ejected her through the window, not the door.
Back at Home Farm, Kate tries to engage Jennifer’s sympathy, with a marked lack of success. Kate says that Roy said some hateful things “He called me selfish - can you believe it?” Jennifer says “Well…” but Kate shows her her arm, where Roy grabbed her (pity it wasn’t her neck), but Jennifer says she cannot see any mark. In fact, Jennifer tells her daughter that she and Roy ought to buck up their ideas, as this constant enmity isn’t helping Phoebe in the slightest and her welfare should be their number one priority. Go on Jen, bang their heads together; I would.
Ed tells Oliver that he has decided to sell off his cows and will try and make ends meet by getting contracting work, so he will have to stop renting Grange Farm. Oliver suggests that Ed might like to investigate getting into beef cattle (I wouldn’t ask Tony about whether or not it’s a good idea) as he (Oliver) would have to find another tenant, should Ed quit. Oliver is really too good to be true, as he also asks Ed if he has found a venue for his wedding reception yet and if not, he can always use one of the barns; decorating it as he likes and he’s sure that Caroline will let him have some tables and chairs from Grey Gables. In fact, Oliver is so nice that I’m surprised that he hasn’t built a new house for Ed, or named him as his sole heir.
Not surprisingly, Ed is over the moon about all this and he tells Joe, who is ecstatic at the news. Ed believes that he could really make something of himself with the beef cattle and, while I have a certain amount of sympathy for Ed (mainly born out of the fact that he has Will for a brother) I can’t help looking back at his track record in business over the years and thinking that his new, optimistic attitude is definitely the triumph of hope over experience
Finally, Neil, in his new, not-a-doormat role, goes to see Tom about exactly who is in charge of the pigs, only to find that Tom is apologising for not consulting Neil about decisions and, from now on, things will be different. Neil tells Susan in advance what he’s going to do and it makes her go week at the knees. She rings him afterwards to see how things went and Neil gives a slightly embellished version of how he laid the law down to Tom. “Oh Neil, were you very masterly?” she asks, breathlessly, telling him that she’s got all the ingredients for a chilli and “It will be ready and waiting for you when you get home.” I presume we are still talking about the chilli here?