Rhys Bevan (Toby Fairbrother)
There was a slight disagreement last week between the Fairbrother brothers concerning Pip. Toby invites her to help walk the goslings out to their pasture the next day and, in passing, invites her to a Game Fair in Yorkshire at the weekend. “What, with you?” Pip asks. “Of course” says TF. To which Pip replies, rather witheringly, “Not particularly.” Pip adds that she is not interested in game and Toby says that’s OK - the hospitality is legendary.
Things escalate when Pip tells TF that “there’s no way I’m getting involved with you.” “Who said anything about getting involved?” is Toby’s response and Pip says “So you think I’m just going to fall into bed with you, do you?” Toby protests that his name has been blackened but Pip remarks that he’s doing a good job of doing that himself - what about Kate? “That was just a drunken fling” Toby replies, which was not the cleverest thing to say under the circumstances, and Pip tells him “I don’t do drunken flings.” Toby maintains that he is just offering Pip “a fun weekend away from all this drudgery” and begs her to consider it.
You have to admire Toby’s persistence. After walking the goslings (with brother Rex) he asks Pip what time he should pick her up? “I haven’t decided yet” is her answer. Toby tells Rex that he has invited her and Rex is alarmed - he has visions of Toby casting Pip aside like a spent match once he has had his evil way, with serious repercussions for their set-up at Brookfield when David finds out. Toby tells him not to worry as “all I want to do is show her a really good time.” Rex: “I’m sure you do - that’s what’s worrying me.”
‘Please Pip, don’t do it’ I shouted at the radio, and it looks like my prayers might have been answered, as on Friday, Rooooth returns early from Prudhoe and announces that Heather is doing so well in the interim care home, that she doesn’t have to go back till Sunday. Pip promptly says that, in which case, she’d rather stay and spend time with her mother than go to the Game Fair. Suck that, Toby!
The reason Pip wants time with Rooooth is that her mother says that she may be up north till October and, of course, Pip is starting her new job in August. This leaves David in a bit of a quandary as to what to do about the work on the farm; his daughter will be in Brazil, his wife up in Prudhoe and Eddie unavailable as he is doing his Capability Brown impersonation on a couple of gardens. Even Ed will be tied up. Actually, Eddie is fast turning into Mr Unreliable, as on Tuesday, he cries off milking at Brookfield because he ripped a nail off on a gate. Come on man - you’ve got another nine, you lightweight.
Perhaps David’s reluctance to hire in a contract milker stems from bitter experience - the last time they had hired help (Eddie doesn’t count) it was herdsman Sam Batton and Rooooth came within a gnat’s foreskin of having an affair, before he left, frustrated and unhappy. The answer? Get a female milker in, David and let Rooooth do the worrying. Actually, what the Archer family does decide is that Rooooth should do the interviewing and Pip will help her write the job description. That way, David will probably not notice requirements like ‘must have a nine-inch long tongue and the ability to breathe through his ears’.
Again, we wonder if there is something amiss at The Stables (see earlier post 'Instability at the Stables'?) as Alistair cries off a formal regimental dinner with Dan. No worry - Shula can go. Or rather, she can’t, as females aren’t allowed. She moans that the Army is pandering to hidebound prejudices and hackneyed stereotypes - too right Shula; next they’ll be encouraging the men to play with guns and drive tanks. Where will it all end?
Over at Home Farm, Adam sends his mother into a tizzy when he tells her that, if Brian gives him a hard time over the new arrangement, Debbie has told him that the offer of a job in Hungary is still good. A distraught Jen wails “I couldn’t bear to lose another child to Hungary!” Apart from making Hungary sound like a fatal disease (‘I’m sorry, Mrs Aldridge, but you’ve lost another child to TB, or, as we call it, ‘Hungary’ ‘) I’d like to point out that Adam is 48 and probably a bit old for short trousers, white socks and sandals.
As an aside, the best-laid plans of scriptwriters came unravelled when Charlie invited Adam to a hospitality box at the third Test Match at Edgbaston and also invited Ian, knowing that he hates cricket. So he might, but Ian is all for free hospitality - not only to see how other people do it, but to stuff his face and wind the odd drink down his neck. Charlie is a bit put out by his acceptance, and a promising cameo was wrecked when England thrashed Australia in three days, presumably meaning that the corporate jolly is off, unless they sit in the box, necking the booze and gazing at an empty cricket pitch.
You might have thought that the issue of who runs Home Farm was settled, but if so, you underestimate Brian Aldridge. Alarmed by what he (seemingly genuinely) perceives to be a foolhardy strategy by Adam, Brian seeks advice from Mr. Kimberly; the lawyer who helped arrange Peggy’s finances. Brian says that he needs to find a way of protecting the farm for his children - notably Ruairi, on whom he is pinning his hopes of taking over, although Ruairi has shown no interest in agriculture thus far - without alienating Adam.
Mr. Kimberly says “So you want to keep a firm hand on the tiller, while maintaining family harmony?” “Precisely” answers Brian, although he probably meant ‘beating Adam into submission while giving me total control.’ Mr Kimberly comes up with a solution and, as yet, we were not made privy to it, although Brian says “So, I’ll be asking Adam to put his money where his mouth is? I like it” Mr. K recommends doing it for a fixed term - if Adam’s scheme is then shown to be losing money, the agreement can be terminated. Mr K also says that he can offer no guarantees on the family harmony front.
And how right he was not to - Brian speaks to Adam and tells him he’s proposing a shared farm agreement - Adam gets no salary, but instead gets 40% of any profits (guess who gets the other 60%?). Brian says that he has to spread the risk and “if you want to take a gamble, do it with your money as well as mine”. Fair enough - Brian owns 100% of the land and Adam does 100% of the work. Adam is not over the moon at this, but it’s a ‘take it or leave it’ ultimatum. The next day, Jennifer tells Tony about the suggestion and her mood is not helped by Tony saying how happy he has been since handing the Bridge Farm business over to Tom and Helen and “there’s nothing like a near-death experience for making you realise what’s important in life.” Sounds a bit drastic to me. Jennifer isn’t happy, saying “If Brian drives Adam away, I will never forgive him.”
Earlier in the week, Charlie asks for a private word with Brian - he says that he’s been looking at the figures for Berrow Farm and there appears to be an anomaly that he can’t find. “If the board gets hold of this, it’s my head on the block” Charlie tells Brian, while swearing him to secrecy. We also learn, as the two talk, that Brian ‘avoids opera like the plague’ - another activity to cross off (see earlier posting 'Help Brian to fill the void'). Suffice it to say that, later on in the week, Charlie has trawled through the computer data and he tells Brian that it looks like someone has been fiddling the fertility figures. Who’s responsible for the computer system? Brian asks. The answer is Rob Titchener and Charlie is at a loss to know what to do.
Meanwhile, Rob and Helen have been holidaying on the Isle of Wight, leaving Henry with Pat and Tony. They return on Friday and Jennifer (who is still at Bridge Farm after talking to Tony) says “My goodness - doesn’t Helen look radiant?” Helen and Rob cannot stay and take Henry home, where they tell him they have special news for him - while they were away they got married. “So I’m officially your Daddy” Rob tells him. Now, am I the only one to wonder that, if Rob has really been faking the Berrow Farm fertility data, could he not also have fiddled the paternity test on Jess’s child?