Monday, 6 July 2015

By The Pricking Of My Thumbs…

Eleanor Bron (Carol Tregorran)

Does anyone else reckon that Carol Tregorran is a witch? We have had vague hints and references over the past few months about her potions and herbal remedies and, last week, we saw what could be her witchery in action.

Jill, amongst others, is worried that Bert seems to have lost his motivation to do any gardening and is generally moping around, feeling sorry for himself. She mentions this to Carol, who wonders if there’s anything that can be done. On Thursday Carol is chatting to Bert in her garden and offers him some seed cake with his cuppa. Bert confesses that he hasn’t noticed the time passing and, when she encourages him to think about getting his own garden in order, he tells her that he is in two minds. However, when talking to David later on, Bert says that, although most of his garden has been destroyed in the flood, the roses are OK and, if they are making an effort, why not him?

Bert also asks David if Jill has a recipe for seed cake as “it’s a marvellous thing for making you think.” Perhaps he’d be better off asking Carol for her recipe - I reckon that there was a lot more than seeds in that cake and let’s hope that Bert doesn’t experience seed cake flashbacks.

The week began with Phoebe’s 17th birthday party at Roy’s place and she is appreciative at the work he has put in to try and make the place clean and respectable. Phoebe’s boyfriend Alex is there and she introduces him to Hayley, who she describes as “my mum”. Kate butts in and is as embarrassing as only she knows how, telling Alex he must call her Kate and generally drinking a lot and trying to act like a teenager. A mortified Phoebe begs Hayley to rescue Alex and she calls him over for some food. When Kate wanders off, Phoebe says “thank heaven she’s gone” and apologises to Alex for her mother’s behaviour. He says that he liked all Phoebe’s family but admits that Kate was a bit OTT - typical British understatement there. But never mind - he and Phoebe have their own party planned for Friday and she says she can’t wait. But more of this later.

Kate picks Adam’s brain about how she should approach Brian to pitch her idea for her Holistic Therapy Centre and he advises her to be well prepared, have all the facts and figures to hand and, whatever his reaction, not to become defensive. Brian starts the week in a pretty foul mood, and it gets progressively worse when Lynda praises him for planting the Herbal Ley and tells him that it will attract wildlife, tourists and bird watchers. He is horrified when she praises him even more for his passionate description of the Herbal Ley as somewhere to graze the sheep and coyly says that, had he shown some of that attitude when she first moved into Ambridge, “our relationship could have been quite different.” We were within an ace of finding out whether a Herbal Ley is improved by a liberal sprinkling of vomit, as Brian is appalled at the idea.

Later on he is on the phone to Debbie, begging her to try and talk some sense into Adam about his plans for later lambing and his mood is not improved when she seems quite relaxed about it, pointing out that Adam is the one responsible for livestock. A distraught Brian is practically on his knees, imploring her to talk to Adam, saying “please do this one thing for me.”

It is against this inauspicious background that Kate tackles her parents about her grand scheme, saying that she wants to talk to them. Brian’s response (“dare I ask why?”) does not bode well, but Kate presses on with presenting her business plan, adding in passing that “Lilian helped me with it”, which does nothing to reassure Brian. To Kate it is all very obvious - all she needs is some land, a barn and some start up cash to buy a few yurts, so how about it? Even Jennifer, who usually tries to see the best in Kate, says it seems “a little unfocussed”. Brian is more forthright, calling it “another of your fantasies - where’s the proper research?” and adding that the margin projections are “wildly optimistic.”

Kate asks why is he always so negative, but Jennifer backs him up, saying that something like she is proposing needs a lot of serious work and “you haven’t got he best track record for sticking at things.” Brian goes even further, saying: “You haven’t got a clue about business and you have zero staying power.” Now in full flow, he tells Kate that for years he has thrown good money after bad and she’s never seen anything through. “This time it’s no, no, no!” he rants. Kate storms out and Brian apologises to Jennifer, but she says that she cannot disagree with what he said. I think that’s a ’no’ then Kate.

Elsewhere, the Fairbrother boys lose no time in turning the land at Hollowtree into their goose farm, helped by Pip, who is always hanging around. Jill is concerned that the goose project will mean that Pip and David are spending less time on their own farm work, but David is not worried about it, as it’s nothing to do with Brookfield. Jill asks sharply whether he has spoken to Rooooth about it but he points out that she has enough to worry about with Heather still being in hospital and Rooooth being stuck up in Prudhoe.

When it comes to the Fairbrothers, Toby appears to have read the same books on business as Kate. On Monday he is away talking to suppliers and trying to find a gas heater. When he turns up, it is in a pick-up (complete with Dukes of Hazzard horn), for which he has traded in his car. On Wednesday, he drives off to Norfolk to buy 100 goslings and returns with 250, much to brother Rex’s exasperation. Look on the bright side Rex - at least he came back with goslings; it might have been camels.

Kenton is feeling even less well-disposed towards his brother and younger sister as The Echo carries a quote from David about the Flood Report on page 1 (and he was interviewed on Radio Borsetshire) and the fact that Elizabeth is allowing the Ambridge fete to be held at Lower Loxley is also prominently featured. In contrast, a story about the hampers that The Bull is offering to customers who want to watch the tennis on the big screen appears halfway down page 13. Surely even Kenton, with his paranoia and twisted sense of injustice, can see that a story about the Council producing an erroneous and slapdash report on a subject that has far-reaching consequences for the entire village and its surroundings deserves greater prominence than a story where a local pub sticks a packet of crisps and a pork pie in a box?

A few weeks ago, we suggested that the reputation of Grey Gables was being undermined by the behaviour of certain of its guests - the Grundys to be exact. Jim takes Chris there to dinner and Roy admits that they have had a few bad reviews recently, including one that talked about ‘permanent guests in the dining room in their pyjamas’. Jim offers to post a positive review - it would be more productive Roy, if you were to make sure Joe Grundy disappears permanently one night - preferably taking Eddie with him.

Charlie isn’t happy to learn that Stefan (the grass about Rob and the blocked culvert) won’t be coming back to Berrow Farm and takes Rob to task for not trying to persuade him to return - as if! Rob asks where this leaves the culvert investigation and Charlie concedes that it looks as if it’s dead in the water. However, this is Ambridge, where a bad deed hardly ever goes unpunished, so we’ll wait and see.

Pat and Tony are back from their holiday and they have made a momentous decision - they will retire and leave the future direction of Bridge Farm to Tom and Helen. As Tom said to Helen: “If this is what happens when they go on holiday, why didn’t we send them years ago?”

Finally, it’s back to Phoebe’s second party on Friday night. Brian, Jennifer and (miraculously) even Kate, give Phoebe, Alex and their friends the run of the house. After the friends have gone, Kate is feeling a bit down and she rings Phoebe, asking her to ring back. She doesn’t, so Kate wanders over to Home Farm, surprised that Phoebe appears to have gone to bed so early. She knocks on Phoebe’s bedroom door and finds her daughter in bed with a naked Alex (playing nude Twister, possibly). “Kate -” begins a startled Alex. To which she replies “Don’t you ‘Kate’ me - get your clothes on and get out - now!” That’s probably the only time that, confronted by a naked man, those words have ever passed Kate’s lips.

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