It never rains but it pours - in Ambridge at least, as most of last week’s episodes dealt with the weather and the downpour of biblical proportions. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, or in this case, men and women, as seemingly everyone behaved heroically. However, the award for the most heroic of heroines has to go to Freda Fry, who tried to get home in her car and drove it into the river. Trapped inside the car, Freda was in danger of a watery death until she was rescued at the last minute by the heroic Rev. Alan Franks.
Consider - Freda must have been terrified when trapped in the car, contemplating her imminent doom, then dragged out of the car and taken to St. Stephens and safety. Fear, gratitude and relief; Freda must have gone through a bewildering variety of emotions in a very short time, yet she never uttered a word and maintained a dignified silence throughout, not even thanking Alan. Even Lucky, the turkey rescued from the floods by Ed and Eddie, was heard to give a gobble or two, but Freda remained mute, which I submit is the sign of a true heroine.
Let’s consider a few of the other, more garrulous, heroes and heroines. PC Burns told everyone in The Bull that their village was slowly turning into a lake and, illustrating the truth of the old adage that every cloud has a silver lining, at least the floods and pouring rain meant an early end to the karaoke night. Having warned everybody, PCB and David then scoured the area to try and find people trapped in their homes and take them to Grey Gables, which Oliver and Caroline had opened as a sort of refugee camp for the homeless. Joe Grundy described David and PCB as “the heroes of the hour” but David is anxious to get back to Brookfield, where he has left Pip on her own, and to find Jill, who was one of those taking refuge in the church. Fortunately, Shula and Elizabeth manage to convince him that venturing out in pitch blackness, not knowing where the floods are or how deep is the water, is probably the worst idea he has had since saying to Nigel on New Year‘s Eve a few years back “I’ve got this great idea - if we go up on the roof tonight, we can get that Happy New Year banner down”.
When David does get back to Brookfield, he finds that Pip, with help from Tom, has saved the milking parlour from total destruction by uninstalling the milk pump (I didn’t understand it either). As father and daughter survey the watery landscape (giving the name Lakey hill a whole new meaning) he apologises to her for not listening to her and how proud he is of her. He is also sorry that he disappointed her about the move, to which Pip says that she never really wanted to leave Brookfield (another name made more apt as a result of the rain and flooding). Now come on; Pip was as miserable as sin when she realised that there would be no move northwards and she couldn’t have a shiny, new tractor. Earlier in the week, David berates her for giving him the silent treatment and she accuses him of ignoring everyone else’s wishes and just wanting everything to stay the same, so the volte face is something of a surprise, to say the least.
What are we to expect next - Rooooth coming back from Prudhoe and saying that Heather told her to get lost, or Rooooth telling her mum that if she has to choose between her and Ambridge, then she’ll shut the door on her way out?
The list of heroes continues - Adam was helping Charlie clear a culvert when Charlie decided that the only thing to do is to get into the water and clear it out by hand (see comments earlier about David, roof and banner). Adam shouts “Don’t be an idiot!” but it’s too late, as Charlie’s foot gets caught and the water closes over him. Adam battles to free him and eventually drags him clear, but Charlie isn’t breathing and a frantic Adam administers CPR, although Charlie would probably have preferred the kiss of life. Eventually, Charlie splutters and retches (insert your own joke about Charlie gagging for it) and Adam tells him that he won’t leave him.
Next day, when Charlie has been moved to Home Farm and fitted with a makeshift splint, waiting to be taken to hospital, Adam and Brian go to check on the sheep, which had been moved to a field ‘which never floods’. Wrong! They find eight dead lambs and 19 or 20 dead ewes and Adam beats himself up for not checking on them yesterday. As Adam skipped the lambs to help Charlie at the culvert, this attitude seems a little strange as, unless Charlie is capable of holding his breath underwater for an hour or two, Adam saved his life. Or maybe Charlie’s life is less valuable than those of 28 sheep?
And still the heroes come - Clarrie rescued Joe’s ferrets and he is nicking chicken from the sandwiches provided at Grey Gables to feed them. Rob, PCB and David take a boat out to rescue those still stranded, including Shula, Alistair and Christine. Rob is very angry, asking where are the emergency services (presumably he means the Coastguard)? His mood is not helped when Christine appears afraid to let herself out of the window into the boat and he suggests that they don’t have all night and only just stops himself from dragging her out by her hair. As it is, he sustains a head injury in the rescue (“blood everywhere” says Eddie) and is another one to be added to the hospital list.
Grey Gables is bursting at the seams and Roy has an anxious few moments when he learns that Phoebe wasn’t at Home Farm, as he thought, but was at The Bull for the karaoke night. He asks everyone if they have seen her, but nobody has. But don’t worry - she turns up and, according to David, she leapt into Roy’s arms when father and daughter were reunited, so maybe there will be a rapprochement.
There’s nothing like adversity to draw people together, but the ‘we’re all in this together’ spirit seems to have passed Lynda Snell by. She has been unable to find Scruff, who won’t come when called (this dog’s no fool) and has obviously taken the opportunity to make a break for it, presumably having had feng shui up to his doggie eyeballs. David makes some comment about her not having to bother about her shift at Grey Gables that night and she turns on him, saying that it’s OK for him - he’s running away from Ambridge. David almost lets it slip that he’s staying put, but stops himself in time. Later on, Elizabeth finds him crying and he says that Lynda is right - he has deserted the village and he’s not even capable of defending his own farm and family. Instead of slapping him and telling him to pull himself together, Liz makes sympathetic noises.
Elizabeth is one of the crowd at Grey Gables - and according to Roy, it really is a crowd, with people finding a bit of floor space and a pillow. Not Elizabeth, however, as she would appear to have a room to herself - at least one would like to think so, as Roy protests that she is soaked to the skin and he gets her some dry clothes. She asks him to turn around while she towels and changes, so I assume there are just the two of them there. Roy takes the opportunity to tell her that Hayley wants a divorce and Elizabeth sounds genuinely sorry for him. Going back to her asking Roy to avert his eyes, how times change - it wasn’t all that long ago that, fuelled by strong cider, she was ripping his clothes off and ravishing him inside his own tent at the music festival.