Monday, 30 March 2015

Testing Times

Timothy Watson (Rob Titchener)

Let’s start with Rob, who is under a lot of pressure, as the maintenance people (CMS) want to take money directly from his wages - he’s become morose and withdrawn (not a great deal of change there, then) and Pat thinks that Helen is worried. But let’s cut to the chase - on Friday Rob is driving Helen (in her car) to pick up his vehicle, damaged in the floods, and he tells her about the CMS. “I owe you an apology” he says, adding that he was sure he could ignore it but now he realises that the only way to shut Jess up is to take the paternity test. Should the test (assuming he goes through with it and Helen doesn’t say “No, no - I trust you”) prove positive, I look forward to his next move.

Testing times too for Kenton, Jolene and Fallon - Kenton and Fallon are planting hanging baskets in an effort to show that The Bull is up and running and will bounce back bigger and better than ever, when Jolene turns up in full-blown Cassandra mode, moaning about what they spent on flowers etc. Honestly, if they lit a candle nicked from the church, Jolene would bleat about how much a match costs. Undaunted, Kenton and Fallon wax lyrical about the future role of The Bull in village life and Kenton says “I may not be able to trust my own brother, but with the three of us as a team, who can stop us?” Well, if one of the team is a wet blanket, that’s not going to help much.

The short answer to Kenton’s question is ‘those from whom you need funding’ as he goes to see Lilian and tells her how sorry he is that he can’t buy her out of her share of the pub but he’s got these grand plans to revamp the place and perhaps she’d like to invest a few quid? Sadly for him Lilian (who was maybe hoping to borrow some money off Kenton) tells him that she’s totally borassic and he’ll have to look elsewhere.

In his ‘Brookfield’s-going-to-be-sold-and-I’ll-be-able-to-do-wonderful-things’ fantasy, Kenton was going to buy Lilian out, set up Fallon in her teashop, refurbish The Bull and have the holiday of a lifetime in Australia. Unfortunately, only the last of these happened and Kenton maxxed out his credit card before being told that there would be no money coming in.

Nothing knocks Fallon back and she went to see the bank about funding for her “Ambridge Tea Service” business idea. The following day Harrison Burns is helping her clean up garden furniture for the Easter Day eggstravaganza (OK, I know it’s a cliché, but what the hell?) of an Easter Egg hunt but - and here’s the clever bit - it’s so muddy that the hens wouldn’t lay on the ground, so the title of the event - ‘Heads Up’ - gives a clue to where the eggs will be hidden. Of course, the resident Wet Blanket is moaning about the cost of the Easter Eggs and I’m only surprised that she doesn’t add “And haven’t you any idea of the cost of cleaning fluid and towels?”

However, there is hope for Fallon, when PCB tells her that he knew the bank would turn her down and had she considered crowd funding and peer loans? To start her off, he gives her a cheque for “A few hundred quid” and makes it clear that this isn’t a handout, but an investment in her and her vision and he will be expecting repayment with a lot of interest. “I’m not letting my heart rule my head” he says, and we can presumably assume that no other organ has a say in the decision.

And now to the Wednesday night meeting in the church, with Councillors present to answer questions concerning the recent floods. Alan is chairing the meeting and Lynda praised the emergency services - when they eventually turned up - but the situation was exacerbated by the “uncontrolled development” there has been on the flood plain in recent years and the water cycle has been disrupted with new springs appearing and ponds drying out. Should there be another anaerobic digester at Berrow Farm, she adds, things would get worse as more land is turned to farming maize.

The mood of the meeting is just this side of hostile when Susan speaks. She starts off well, when she says that the new flood defences in Borchester may well have contributed to the flood by slowing down the flow of the Am. She then reveals her death wish by saying that, as the emergency services couldn’t get through, perhaps a new road into Ambridge (Route B) is a good idea?

Adam speaks next - his latest obsession is treating the land with respect and he waxes lyrical on the subject. David then tries to speak, only to be interrupted by Susan, who pins even more targets over her heart when she says that she “doesn’t want Councillors to be influenced by somebody who doesn’t even want to live here”. Alan points out that David is still a resident and lets him speak. David tells the meeting that he’s going nowhere and he has come to his senses and “the land isn’t really ours; we are stewards” and that they have a responsibility to neighbours and to the future. Perhaps he and Adam could found a commune somewhere?

Before the meeting took place, Ed was having a difficult time as people kept remarking that he was clearing ditches and what was he finding? Having been sworn to secrecy by Charlie, Ed cannot reveal the truth, which is that the ditches were showing signs of not being cleared for yonks. Except that he does tell Emma, with strict instructions that she mustn’t breathe a word. Going on previous Ambridge experience, this is where it goes tits up for Ed as Emma blows the gaff and he can kiss goodbye to further Estate work.

Wicked Witch Hazel made an unwelcome return to the village to count the cost of the flood damage to her empire. She was seen going into the village shop with ‘a man in an expensive suit’ (so he had to be the insurer/loss adjuster). Susan asked what was happening, to be told in no uncertain terms that she would be informed when, and if, anything was decided. Witch Hazel also called on Peggy, looking for documents giving Jack (and now her) the right to attend BL game shoots. Peggy says she knows nothing of any such documents and the social temperature drops. Hazel then complains that she “went to visit Daddy’s grave” and the wording on the headstone wasn’t what she expected. As Peggy had changed the inscription, this came as no surprise to her, but the temperature dropped even further.

Witch Hazel left, saying: “There are several things I have to do in Ambridge Peggy, but none of them concerns you. Goodbye”. The door shuts and Peggy says “Goodbye - and good riddance.” I suspect Hazel will be back ere long.

And now we come to the story of Bert and Freda. The church service was apparently first class, with Jolene giving an amusing insight into Freda’s time at The Bull and Jill’s eulogy moving the congregation. The Wake afterwards (at Brookfield) went well, although Kenton wouldn’t talk to David, and Bert described it as ‘a nice afternoon’, but we know what he meant.

Fortunately we were spared Bert’s specially-written poem, in which he compared Freda to a rose (shades of Elton John/Princess Diana?) but it gave Jill the idea to plant a rose in Freda’s memory. But where to plant? Brookfield wasn’t her home and the bungalow would stir up future memories, so it has to be The Bull. Later in the week, Fallon was telling PCB how Kenton had spent at least an hour going over exactly where the shrub should be planted and it shows that Kenton’s heart is in the right place (try telling that to David). And now, dear readers, we have an example - as given in some earlier episodes of this blog - of why you shouldn’t take the odd phrase out of context, as Fallon told PCB: “Bert’s keen about having it against the back wall”. Absolutely no further comment.


  1. Absolutely brilliant, as usual! I have listened to pretty much every episode of the Archers since the early 70s and I am thinking that reading this blog every week would save a lot of time and might be just as interesting. Keep it up, please. I'd really miss it.

  2. feel that the Rob story is going to run and's the only
    thing that's keeping us going. I'll come back again in August!

  3. Beautifully done as always. Thank you!

  4. Yes, please keep it up!

    I reckon Rob is bluffing - maybe he thinks he can get away with sending someone else to take the test? The child must be his, mustn't it?