Sara Coward (Caroline Sterling)
Either Caroline is on the verge of beatification or she is so stupid that she shouldn’t really be in business. I mean, if you were running an upmarket hotel/restaurant/conference centre, would you put up with the Grundys wandering around, lowering standards and generally doing their best to lower the tone? Me neither.
We have already had the saga of the ferret and, on Sunday, Eddie tells Joe that it’s his friend Baggy’s birthday and why don’t they get a few friends round, buy in some booze and food and have a party in Joe’s room? What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, actually, as Baggy brings his Boombox along and the volume increases to the extent that another guest complains. Caroline turns up and orders all the guests out, but tells the Grundys that she’ll say no more about it. Saint or stupid?
Consider – they have brought their own food and drink into a hotel (having got past Lynda by spinning some yarn about someone trying to break into a car) seriously pissed off another guest (who, unlike them, is paying to stay there) and, as we learn later, the minibar is crammed with left-over party food, to the extent that the chambermaid complains. Not content with getting what is, in effect, a final warning from Caroline, Eddie approaches Vince – a guest who is at Grey Gables as part of an Estate Agents’ convention – with the offer to supply him and his friends with booze and food at a far lower cost than Grey Gables charges. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
Vince must have the IQ of a retarded nematode, as he believes that Eddie is an eccentric millionaire entrepreneur and retired Country singing star. Vince isn’t totally stupid though, as he realises that he has bought three rounds of drinks and isn’t it Eddie’s turn? This is when the light bulb goes off in Eddie’s head (assuming there’s room for such a thing) and he comes up with the idea of supplying the hooky food and booze. Throw him out now Caroline, before he totally trashes your reputation and your guests decide to leave and trade up to the local doss house.
It was a momentous week for the Brookfield Archers, as Pip had her second interview for the Technical Manager’s job at Agri Websters. I don’t know what it is about these girls in Ambridge, but when Alice went for her job interview in Canada, they offered her the job seemingly minutes after she left the interview room and now Pip was offered the job (by phone, no less) almost before she made it back to Brookfield. David is proud but, as he tells Jill, he will miss her – not least because he could do with someone to help with all the work.
Eddie has taken up a job renovating some pub or other, which will keep him away from Brookfield for a few weeks, Pip and Josh were busy studying and now Pip might be off to Brazil, or somewhere equally hard to get back from in order to do the milking. There’s always Rooooth, but she receives news that Heather is in hospital and she hot-foots it north to Prudhoe. If that wasn’t enough, Open Farm Sunday is coming up, with all the work that entails. Things get worse, as the week ends with Pip taking a call – Heather (who had had a mini-stroke) is back in hospital, having now suffered a major stroke.
Things look a bit iffy for OFS (especially when David learns that Adam has promised his combine to Berrow Farm) but the good news is that the Fairbrother brothers have offered to come along and help. I reckon it will be one-on-one guiding, as Berrow Farm has taken a full-page ad in The Echo and has seemingly signed up the Red Arrows, the band of the Coldstream Guards, the entire Formula 1 racing teams and has relocated Windsor Castle to Berrow Farm for the day. Brookfield, by comparison, has a couple of posters, hand-drawn by Jill as her contribution to the ever-increasing workload on David. Don’t make too many sandwiches, Jill.
Over at The Bull, Jolene has a twinge of conscience when Charlie comes over to check that all is well with the bar they will be running on OFS. Should she and Kenton tell David that they are running the bar, she wonders, rather than have him find out from someone else? Kenton is implacable, telling Jolene “As far as David’s feelings are concerned, I couldn’t give a flying” (we waited with bated breath) “fig.”
Charlie seems determined to get everyone involved in OFS and even approaches Susan to have a stall for the village shop on the day. He wants her to talk about “The producer/retailer symbiosis – I’m sure you agree that’s crucial?” “That goes without saying” Susan simpers, as she succumbs to his blandishments and promise of a party afterwards “for our friends”. It certainly goes without saying when she tries to tell Jolene about it, saying that Charlie wanted her “To talk about the producer/retailer sym…sym…shop.” Susan is quite put out when Jolene says that The Bull is running the bar for the post-OFS party and, far from the discreet, select gathering that Susan was imagining, it seems like almost the whole village will be there.
The break-in at Woodbine Cottage has hit Christine hard. PC Burns tells her that other houses have been broken into (quick – check that Clive Horrobin is still in chokey) and suggests a number of security measures. Christine replies that all she values has already been taken and, later on, she confesses to Jill that she’s dreading the thought of moving and Woodbine has never felt like home since George died. A couple of days later, Peggy is at The Laurels, having had a bit of lunch with Ted and his dementia-stricken wife, when she is surprised to see Christine.
What is she doing there? Christine confides that she was looking around, with a view to moving in. Peggy takes her back to hers for a slice of Madeira cake and a cup of tea. “This might even be serious enough for a sherry” says Peggy. Sherlock Holmes had his tobacco (“This looks like a two-pipe problem, Watson”) but for Peggy, it’s evidently alcohol. The Laurels, Peggy argues, is not the place for Christine – does she want to sit in an armchair all day, dozing? Christine suggests that at least there’d be company. But Peggy reminds her that half the inmates are away with the fairies for most of the time. The Chris that she knew, says Peggy, would never have contemplated such a move. A sad Christine wonders whether the Chris that Peggy knew still exists.
And so to the Young Farmers’ Treasure Hunt. All week, Pip has been gently flirting with Toby Fairbrother but, on the day of the Hunt, Toby is nabbed by Kate and Pip‘s partner is Rex. Pip and Rex are doing quite well, with Rex impressed by her local knowledge. Kate, on the other hand, is woeful and suggests to Toby that they duck out and go back to Home Farm, where there is a BBQ and drink and “Did I mention we had a pool?” There is much suggestive talk about how Kate’s yoga keeps her supple. “I can get my body into all sorts of positions” she says, as we reach for the sick bag.” I wouldn’t mind seeing that” (Toby). “I’m sure it could be arranged” (Kate) and we realise that one sick bag won’t be enough. I wouldn’t say that Kate was easy, but her nickname is ‘Open Goal’ and she wears a mattress strapped to her back in case she meets anyone she knows while she’s out.
As the treasure hunters return, the party gets rowdier and rowdier and Toby jumps into the pool in his boxers, chasing Kate. He has some Raddle powder and the water turns purple. Adam orders everybody out and remarks that Brian will go spare when he gets back. Rex says sorry, but Adam says it’s Toby who should be apologising. Toby tells Pip “Your cousin’s a good laugh”, to which Pip replies “She’s got a lot of baggage – I think she might be over-compensating.” A lot of baggage? I should say so – I’ve been in airports where there wasn’t that much. Sounds like Toby and Kate are made for each other – hopefully they will decide to run away together. Far, far away. The sooner the better – go now and Toby won’t have to face Brian’s wrath. Quick! Off you go!
Meanwhile, Rex is gently warning Pip off Toby, saying that he loves his brother, but he’s “the sort of man that your mother warned you about.” Pip asks why he’s telling her this and, for her part, she says how embarrassing Kate is and why can’t she act her age? She is Pip, she is – her mental age that is.