Charles Collingwood (Brian Aldridge)
Poor Brian Aldridge - things keep going from bad to worse for him. Consider; the poor sod has Lilian living in his house, which means keeping an eye on the wine cellar 24/7, and daughter Kate just across the way in her cottage, trying to get him to invest in her grand plan for a hippy retreat and generally making a nuisance of herself.
Then there’s Adam who, in Brian’s opinion, has gone mad and seems hell bent on making the farm uneconomic and unviable to run. Brian gets Debbie back from Hungary to knock some sense into him but she hands over her arable responsibility to Adam, effectively putting him in control of Home Farm. An unhappy Brian reminds Adam that he still owns the land and what he says, goes. A couple of weeks ago, Adam threatened to leave Home Farm, but Brian is gambling on the fact that he has nowhere to go to.
Last week, Debbie twisted the knife a little further by telling Adam that he doesn’t realise just how good he is and telling him and Brian that, if Adam were to leave Home Farm, her company in Hungary would snap him up at once. Brian is aghast when he realises she is serious. While Debbie has him on the ropes, she urges him to give Adam his head, saying ominously “Mum would never forgive you if you don’t - and neither would I.” Brian knows when he’s beaten and says, rather ungraciously, “He’s earned the right to fail, I suppose.” Pity Adam wasn’t there to hear this ringing endorsement.
For someone who was only in the UK for a while, Debbie managed to fit a lot in. Kate moans to her that no-one takes her seriously (true) and everyone thinks she’s a complete failure (right again), citing the fact that Brian won’t look at her plans for a Retreat. Debbie urges her to sharpen up her business plan and e-mail it to her - while she (Debbie) has no children to invest in, “I do have a very talented sister and I could perhaps invest in her.” I immediately assumed Debbie was talking about Alice, but when I realised she meant Kate, I was hoping that she would suggest siting the Retreat in Hungary. There’s still a chance, I suppose.
The above conversation came about when Kate told Debbie how lucky she is not to have children. Deb disagrees, saying that she always feels envious when she sees Kate with Phoebe (she must have good eyesight, as Phoebe can’t bear to spend more than ten seconds with her mother). Kate says that there’s still time for Debbie to have children, but Deb says “no - that ship has sailed” and reveals that her inability to be a mother caused a recent relationship to break down.
Having turned the rest of the family’s lives upside down, Debbie has words with Adam on the way to the airport and lets him know that she suspects that he has feelings for Charlie. Adam denies this but his sister is not convinced, although she does back off.
The beginning of the week saw the Ambridge fete, held at Lower Loxley. It is a roaring success and Elizabeth tells Shula that it was a pity that Kenton didn’t sell his hampers there, as he would have made a fortune. Well Lizzie, you gave him the chance, so it’s his own fault. At the fete, Kirsty runs into Tom and the conversation is a bit stilted. Kirsty invites Tom to join her and her boyfriend Gareth as “he’s heard so much about you.” I bet he has. Tom mentions that Helen and Rob are getting married, to which Kirsty observes “let’s hope she makes a better job of getting through the service than you did.” Forgive and forget, eh Kirsty?
The Fairbrother lads seem to be putting down roots at Hollowtree, despite David telling everyone that they are only there as a temporary fix. Josh reveals that they are planning to add quails to their geese business to provide a year-round income and he thinks that quails’ eggs would be a natural fit with his hens’ eggs business. David counsels caution (“they could be the other side of Borsetshire later on in the year”) but Josh says that they really like it where they are. Put the bailiffs on standby, David.
One of the attractions - for Toby Fairbrother, at least - would appear to be Pip. She helps him out and, as a reward for that and for persuading David to rent them the land, he says he’ll order a takeaway curry. There is much flirting and he says that it will be a shame when she goes off to Brazil - they kiss. Watch out Pip - carry on like that and, with Toby’s reputation, you might not be going to Brazil after all.
I think David would be secretly pleased if Pip didn’t go - he tells Josh that Pip will be hard to replace (although the Archers producers didn’t seem to have too much trouble) as he’s working his socks off. Stop her having curries with Toby then and get her back to work. As it is, David has become the new sighmeister of Ambridge, taking the title from Jamie. As an aside, what has happened to Jamie - or Kathy, come to that?
Mind you, Rooooth could give her husband a run for his money in the sighing stakes. She is back up in Prudhoe and, as she tells Usha (who is up north on business for the day), she is feeling guilty because she has had her mother’s house valued behind her back. Even worse, after Heather’s latest fall, all the medical experts have told Rooooth that her mother is incapable of living on her own and even a warden-controlled environment would not be suitable. Nobody has mentioned this to Heather, who is under the impression that, when the current period of interim care is over, she will be heading home. Sorry Heather, not ’home’ but to ’a home’, as Rooooth has already checked out four care homes - something else that adds to her feelings of guilt and anguish. I don’t wish Heather any harm, but I hope that something happens soon to bring this particular story to a conclusion as it’s getting on my nerves.
It looks as though Phoebe and Alex are getting on ok, or so Phoebe tells Jennifer when they are making a cake together. Phoebe says that it doesn’t help when other people (yes Kate, she does mean you) are telling them what to do all the time, so she and Alex have decided to do what they think is right and sod everybody else, although she phrased it more elegantly.
It seems that Ambridge is slowly overcoming the effects of the flood - Kenton has had an architect draw up plans for a refurbished and remodelled Bull, at which he is excited. How can he afford an architect? He and Jolene are having a difference of opinion about getting a new cook - Kenton wants to put an advert in The Echo, while Jolene wants to go through an agency and do it properly. If not, she told Kenton, they might as well just hire Wayne. Don’t even think it Jolene - not even in jest.
Susan is another with plans, as she wants to totally refit the shop and has obviously been reading “Marketing for idiots” as she spouts a load of pretentious guff about colour schemes and customer flow and suchlike. Susan tells Pat and Tom of her plans to have a special section for local produce and they nod wisely and conveniently forget to tell her that they have plans to open their own shop at Bridge Farm, selling their own products.
Jim, who is also having to listen to all Susan‘s grandiose plans, questions her idea to have the milk at the back of the shop as it means a long walk if that’s all you want. Susan argues that this will make them walk pass all the brands on offer and they might be tempted by the variety on offer. Reaching into her book of retailing clichés, she urges Jim to remember that “the eye line is the buy line” For God’s sake, woman, get a grip; it’s a village shop, not Harvey Nichols.