Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bert’s Obsession Reaches its Climax

Eric Allen (Bert Fry)

It’s the day of the flower and produce show and Christine wakes Peggy with the news that her latest batch of biscuits are prize-winning perfect. All Peggy wants to do is stay in bed snuggled up with her cat Bill who starts purring appreciatively, when their peace is broken yet again by Christine. This time she’s blaming Bill for breaking through the cling-film and scattering her biscuits all over the floor. Bill makes a quick exit through the cat-flap but there is no mention of him having eaten any. I can only think that the ever-faithful Bill was saving Peggy from eating whatever concoction Christine had knocked up this time. However Peggy persuades her to make another batch.

Bert’s still obsessing about Carol’s marrows. It doesn’t help when he starts, with some considerable effort, to twist the biggest one at the stem causing Carol to sound very appreciative. We leave him alone to polish it but later on we hear Susan also admiring Carol’s engorged cucurbit after it wins a first in the show.

Peggy’s still bathing in the glory of defeating Hazel over the village shop – she even gets an apology from Susan for the things she said about the shop. Susan’s so contrite that she gives Peggy her second placed ginger biscuits – poor Peggy. Where’s Bill when you need him.

Rob’s at his emollient best, reassuring Helen about how well Henry’s settling in at school. However the menacing streak is only just under the surface when he says that he’s sure Henry won’t have any more accidents and that he’ll feel more secure “when he’s mine by adoption”. His barely suppressed anger starts to rise when Helen rebuffs his idea of a weekly ‘date night’ when they can spend more time alone – probably the last thing she wants right now – and suggests going out as a family instead. She not happy either when she finds out that Rob’s now planning a livestock pen outside the café. He starts brainwashing her again when he convinces her that he did mention it before, blaming overwork for not remembering, before putting on the pressure about date nights again and talks of recapturing the ‘post Honeymoon glow’.

Helen later confides with her mother, over the ripening milk, about Rob wanting to adopt Henry and she does her best to convince Helen that it’s a good idea. Are Pat and Rob in cahoots? It certainly doesn’t appear to be the answer Helen’s looking for as she rushes out of the door – or is there another reason for her hasty exit?

Later we learn that Rob has found a quick way to gain control over Henry – a step-parent parental responsibility order. Helen’s obviously not keen, and when the food arrives rushes off again – presumably to be sick.

David’s still wringing his hands with guilt about pushing his mother out and moving Heather in. He’s talking with Elizabeth and Jill about Heather’s house going on the market and Rooooth clearing it of rubbish when Jill can’t resist another well-aimed dig, when she says “a house can hold so many memories”. Ouch.

Carol’s very nervous and confused sounding friend Hester is visiting and they’re having a get together in Grey Gables with Jill, Christine and Peggy. This provides an opportunity to reminisce about the past and weave in memories of Grace, but when Carol briefly leaves the room Hester blurts out that Carol killed her husband John. When Carol returns the rest are left wondering whether it could be true or whether Hester’s just confused, while the conversation politely turns to puddings.

Peggy tells Jennifer what Hester said and this re-awakens her suspicions about Carol, engineering a visit to Carol’s house on the pretence of giving Peggy a lift. Lilian’s desperate to escape the retreat she’s detoxing in with Kate and was going to use the excuse of having to pick up Peggy as a reason to leave, but Pat manages to reach her before her ‘ear candling’ to put her off an early return. When Jennifer arrives she soon turns the conversation to John’s demise, and Hester talks about John being frightened of death, wishing she had Carol’s courage. Just as Hester is about to reveal all, she is cut off by Carol.

Toby meets with Ian to talk goose. He must have an extraordinary sales technique, as not only does Ian want to order the geese, he wants an exclusive contract. It’s not even as if they’ve built up a reputation – they’re just a couple of opportunistic brothers raising geese on some land they’ve blagged.

At the village hall committee meeting Neil is still firmly in the Justin Eliot fan club now that he’s offered to pay for the new village hall. Eddie however cheerleads for the anti camp and questions start to be raised. Jim backs him up, and when Eddie produces a signed photo of Anneka Rice, he invokes the ‘Challenge Anneka’ spirit and suggests to the meeting they do it themselves – as they had done when Anneka visited the village in 1993. Eddie shouts down Neil’s reservations when he reminds him that he built his own house. Eddie says that he can get all the building materials at a discount to avoid getting ripped off (he must have thought of a way to do that himself), and finally delivers a rousing speech that persuades the committee to reject Eliot’s money.

Lilian’s arrival back in Ambridge is announced by ice tinkling in a gin and tonic. Jennifer goes on about Carol again but Lilian doesn’t care, being more interested in her improvised gin and fags retox programme. During the final episode of the week Jennifer invents another excuse to see Hester on the basis of a promised jar of home-made strawberry conserve, and seizes the opportunity to drive her to the station. Did Jenny sabotage Carol’s car by sticking the nail in the tyre? Jennifer waits with Hester for her train and presses her further, and we are left believing that this final meeting was inconclusive. Perhaps stirred by memories of John, Jennifer visits his grave and chances upon Carol. There follows a very touching scene where Carol finally says: “I only did whatever anyone who loved him would have done”.

So Jennifer got her confession and it looks like we got Carol all wrong after all.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Call Me A Cynic, But I Reckon Hazel’s Up To Something

Annette Badland (Hazel Woolley)

We all know that Hazel isn't the nicest person in the world - we haven't dubbed her 'Witch Hazel' for nothing - so she was acting seriously out of character at the end of the week. Peggy is trying to talk to her about leaving the shop as it is, but Hazel keeps blanking her. In fact, she let's Peggy know that she'll be in Ambridge on Friday, but she'll be much too busy to meet Peggy.


For her part, Peggy tells Christine that "It's a challenge, but I won't be beaten" and she will go and see Mr Kimberley, her lawyer, to see if there's anything that he can do to thwart Hazel and maybe send her a solicitor's letter. Peggy does see Mr. Kimberley, but later admits to Christine that she isn't very confident that he will be able to do anything.


Oh ye of little faith, Peggy! Mr. Kimberley is obviously quite persuasive, or perhaps it is because on Friday Hazel and Peggy meet when Peggy spots Hazel's car in the village and Peggy lays into her step-daughter-in-law, saying that she would be depriving the village of an asset and how can she bear to look at herself in the mirror? Hazel's reply? "You're wasting your breath." But later the same day, Hazel turns up at Peggy's and tells her that she has spoken to her lawyer and he said that she was perfectly entitled to do as she pleases with the shop. However, Hazel says that she realises that Jack was a compassionate man and so she is prepared to allow the shop to continue. 


I just cannot believe that Hazel is capable of such generosity, hence the title of this week's piece. Was she lying about her lawyer's advice, or has she got some dastardly plan in mind? Peggy says that Jack would be proud of her and then shows her cruel streak by offering Hazel one of Christine's ginger biscuits, which are, by general agreement of those who have tasted them, pretty horrible.


As the Flower and Produce show approaches, Bert is becoming obsessed with Mrs Tregorran's marrows - referring to them every other day. Actually, Bert was much in evidence this week, as Pip suggested that he could decorate her room, ready for when Heather moves in. David thinks that this is a good idea and broaches it to Bert, saying that they will pay him. Bert proves that he is a thoroughly nice chap by replying "I'll do it as a favour, or not at all." Well, I suppose he is getting free board and lodging at Brookfield while the bungalow is sorted out.


Bert showed his militant side when he learns of the suggestion to demolish the Village Hall and rebuild it. "You can't pull it down, it's a historic landmark" says Bert. Surely that's the whole point - they can rebuild it with all mod cons, like indoor toilets and electric lights. Even worse, in many people's eyes, is that Justin Eliot has said that he is willing to pay for the rebuilding, as long as his name is on the hall. 


This gift horse is being looked firmly in the mouth by many. Clarrie reveals that it was at the Village Hall where she first kissed Eddie - bearing in mind what has happened since in her life, I'm surprised she hasn't gone down and torched the place. From the reaction of some in the village, you could be excused for thinking that Justin has horns, cloven hooves and leathery wings. But not all are against his offer - Kenton says that they shouldn't turn it down "Just because a few sentimental old codgers have an attachment to what is in effect a ruin." Oliver asks Kenton what he'd do if Justin offered to pay for the refurbishment of The Bull? "I'd take it like a shot" Kenton replies, no doubt cursing that he never thought of asking him. Not only would that have been two fingers up to brother David, but I'm sure people would have got used to drinking in 'The Justin Eliot'instead of The Bull. Oliver points out that some people might regard Justin's money as 'tainted', to which Kenton's pragmatic reply is "It's free money - it doesn't mean you have to like him." That's rich - Kenton would have sold his soul and crawled naked over broken glass rather than take David's money to save the pub.


I wish Rob would get a job - on Tuesday he was being taught by Helen how to make Borsetshire Blue cheese. When she asks why he wants to know, as BB is her personal thing, Rob replies that he wants to be prepared in case he has to shoulder more of the burden. Watch out Helen - he's planning for when you are pregnant, which one suspects will be sooner, rather than later, if he has his (wicked) way. In fact, could it have happened already? Various people have remarked to Helen that she looks pale, and her answer is that she's tired. She even refuses wine at the family meal to discuss the future of the shop.


Rob didn't go to the aforesaid meal, telling Helen that Henry needs routine and stability. Helen put forward Rob's view that the suggested stock profile for the new shop was in danger of being 'elitist'. This was greeted with disbelief and scorn by the rest of the family, with Tony saying "It's not really Rob's area of expertise, is it?" Quite right Tony: Rob's expertise lies in being manipulative, diverting flood water and looking after mega-sheds full of cows. Oh, and in falsifying records and data.


Tom appears to have woken up to Rob's baleful influence, as he points out that their plans are for a farm shop, not a convenience store, He put it rather pompously when he said "What Rob is proposing is a quite unnecessary compromise of our vision." Pat agrees, saying that it's important that Tom and Helen stick to their vision. "OK," says Helen, "I'll tell Rob that's he's been outvoted."No-one pointed out that, as we have mentioned in the last two or three postings, it's sod all to do with Rob.


Rob didn't seem too upset, although he pointedly said that he thought Pat and Tony had retired. However, the control freakery returned on Wednesday, when Helen attended the WI 100th anniversary celebration meal in the church. Her phone rings and it's Rob - Henry has fallen over and grazed his knee and torn his trousers. He's upset and, when she suggests that she comes home, he says "would you mind? "When she gets home, it is evident that Henry isn't really upset and Helen isn't best pleased. Rob  changes the subject, saying that he wants them to be a proper family "Especially when we start planning for a new baby". He adds that Henry isn't the most self-confident child and it would make Henry feel better if Rob were to adopt him "Then he really would be mine too." Watch out Helen - he'll have you handcuffed to the kitchen sink next. 


Pip did Rex a favour (Toby seems to have temporarily vanished - and a good thing too) by arranging a visit to talk geese with Elizabeth. Pip goes with him and it seems that things go well - so much so that Rex buys Pip a blueberry muffin to celebrate. Their delight is tempered when Rex gets a text from Reedle's - they have decided that they will only trial the Fairbrother's geese in only one restaurant, rather than the two they originally agreed. Pip is very upbeat, saying that Elizabeth is bound to order a good quantity and it's the South Borsetshire food fair next week and he's bound to get lots of orders. Hmm. Anyone want a goose for Christmas?


Finally, we have a warning about how an imminent holiday can seriously warp your judgement, as Oliver and Caroline are throwing a 'going away' party before they decamp to Tuscany for a couple of months. Inexplicably, they invite the Grundys to celebrate Joe's 94th birthday. Surely madness after all the grief that Joe and Eddie have caused while living free at Grey Gables for weeks and causing their TripAdvisor rating to plummet to -4.5? And why not invite David, who was 56 on the same day, and who has done nothing to trash Grey Gablesreputation?

Sunday, 13 September 2015

A Long Way To Come Just To Moan

Felicity Finch (Ruth Archer)

On Sunday, Rooooth phoned from Prudhoe to ask how are things? Pip answers and tells her mum about the new trackway for the cows and the plan to over-winter ewe-hogs on stubble turnip fields - all things about which Rooooth knew nothing. David is over at Lower Loxley, moving in Jill's writing desk with Elizabeth's help. Jill is unhelpful, bordering on the tetchy, as she keeps telling David to be careful and making him move the desk two inches to the left. Jill can't understand why David didn't ask Kenton to help with the moving. Because Kenton cannot bear to be in the same room - or even on the same planet - as David, you stupid woman.

Rooooth does touch base with her husband later, but it's only brief, as David has a dead calf ("stuck inside its mother") to contend with and he rings off when Alistair arrives to sort it out. Having been thwarted on the phone, Rooooth turns up in person on Wednesday and is a bit miffed that neither David nor Pip noticed her car in the yard. The fact that it was 1 a.m., pouring with rain and that they were in the cow shed, ministering to new-born calves might have had something to do with it. Even worse, David hadn't returned her phone calls (his phone battery was flat).

Later on, Jill lets slip that it is Rooooth and David that are putting up the lion's share of Kenton's loan - another thing that was news to Rooooth. It all gets too much for her and she confronts David and Pip, saying how it would have been nice to have been consulted over the trackway, and the ewe-hogs and the money for Kenton - it's the Brookfield/Fairbrother boys situation all over again. David tries to calm her down, but she says that it appears that her opinions of what should happen at Brookfield count for absolutely nothing. Perhaps she should stop to consider that, every time David has a decision to make, he doesn't really have the time to ring Prudhoe for a consultation.

It's poor Usha who gets the full sighing and moaning treatment the following day, when Rooooth tells her that, "when I'm down here, I want to be in Prudhoe and when I'm there, I want to be here." This to-ing and fro-ing must be costing a fortune in petrol and, let's face it, it is a long way to come just to have a moan and make other people's lives miserable - why not get a tablet and then Rooooth can get it off her chest by sending moaning e-mails?

Usha is trying to slit her wrists with a teaspoon when, luckily, she remembers that she has a client appointment and rushes off. As she leaves, Jolene enters the café and makes the mistake of asking "How's your mum?" Rooooth fills her in and, when Jolene manages to get a word in edgeways, she tells Rooooth a story of how one night she found her mother weeping at the kitchen table. When she asked why, her mum replied "It's so hard, mothering my mother." "It's a killer" Rooooth agrees.

Jolene rings Pip later and says she wants to talk about Rooooth. As a result, when Rooooth comes home, Pip is cooking supper, which will be just for the two of them, as David is at a NFU meeting. Rooooth is overcome (it's only tuna pasta bake, for heaven's sake) and suggests that they open a bottle of wine, plus there's a cheesecake in the freezer. "This is lovely, Pip", she says and we assume that that is not just because David is absent. 

The mellow mood continues the next day, when Rooooth is off to Prudhoe again and there is a touching farewell scene with David. While the two girls were getting stuck into the cheesecake last night, they cooked up a scheme to put an end to Pip sleeping in the dining room - Rickyard cottage is empty and has not been put back on the letting list. "How would you feel about me moving out?"Pip asks. A couple of days ago, David would probably have said "OK, as long as you take your mother with you" but the week ends without us knowing whether or not he intends to charge his daughter rent.

At long last, the saga of the loan to Kenton and Jolene reached a climax, although that is a far too exciting word for it. By Thursday, Kenton still hasn't made his mind up and Rex encounters him wandering around Hollowtree. Kenton says he's looking for inspiration, telling Rex "I grew up at Hollowtree." This is patently untrue, as Kenton is still behaving like a petulant two year-old - grown up? I don't think so. Rex gives him a fig roll and coffee and there is much talk about brothers, with Rex saying that, whatever happens, your brother is still your brother.

Jolene brings things to a head on Friday when she tells Kenton that she has invited the Archer family to lunch "to hear your decision over the money". Kenton is aghast, but Jolene twists the emotional knife by saying "think of your mother - she's an old lady and it's tearing her apart, seeing her sons at war." The emotional blackmail works, as Kenton arranges to see David before the others (except Jill) arrive and he says "David, will you shake my hand?" Jill is emotional and, when David is driving her home later, she comes over all tearful, remembering the handshake moment. Cut to The Bull, where Kenton is telling Jolene "It doesn't mean anything. I only did it to please you. The minute I can I'll pay him back - with interest." That's the way loans usually work, Kenton, but whatever his motives, thank God it all seems to be over at long last.

Rob continues to subtly introduce his own ideas about the Bridge Farm shop. Helen draws up a list of suggested lines to stock and, after telling her that it's not his area of expertise, Rob agrees to look at it and he describes it as "too local, too organic and too expensive," He asks where are the national brands and the food supplements and vitamins? Helen wants the shop to have an aura of exclusivity and Rob says this is all very well, but wouldn't it be  a pity if it went belly up? As usual, Helen starts agreeing with him. There appears to be a fundamental difference of opinion about the shop - Tom and (before her talk with Rob) Helen are visualising an establishment like Harvey Nicholls, while Rob is all for Poundland.

Kate was back to her arrogant best last week, telling Brian that she needs a building for her planned rural retreat. He tells her it's Adam's decision and she promptly picks a barn, telling him that he'll have to move his machinery out of it, plus she'll put her yurts near the beech trees, as her guests will be grateful for the shade. What about the sheep, which also use the trees for shade? No problem - Adam can build them 'a lean-to, shelter thingy' and Kate will also want him to dig compost toilets ("it will only take you half a day") and, while he's at it, get the field tidied up, as it looks a mess. I cannot understand how Kate manages to avoid being slapped at least once or twice an hour and if I were Adam, I'd stick her in the compost toilet. God only knows where Phoebe, who is being encouraged to apply to Oxford to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics, got her brains from. 

Susan, who was called 'Mrs Sourpuss' by Clarrie (how very, very true) devoted her efforts towards getting the Village Hall back on its feet. She got Neil, as Chair of the Parish Council, to write to Justin Eliot and he was granted a meeting with Charlie on Friday. As Susan hosed Neil down in the yard and got his suit out of mothballs, she instructed him to ask for a minimum of £5 K. Neil returns from the meeting and says Charlie said that Justin was agreeable to contribute 'a significant sum' but their plans were too modest. He'd like to see a nursery, gym and screening room in addition to the hall and kitchen. No doubt he'd like a heliport, boutique hotel and racetrack as well. How much will he offer? According to Neil, it'"A heck of a lot more than £5 K" but there is a condition - he wants the hall be renamed 'The Justin Eliot Hall'. Susan is ecstatic and Neil says he cannot see that the renaming will be a problem. Well, I suppose 'Justin Eliot' sounds better than 'Bloated Capitalist'.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The New Machiavelli

Louiza Patikas & Timothy Watson (Helen Archer & Rob Titchener)

We all know that Rob Titchener is a scheming, devious person with more than a touch of control freakery in his make-up, but last week he surpassed himself, running rings round Tom and Helen in a masterclass of Machiavellian manipulation over the look for the new shop.

Having shoehorned his way into the initial discussions about the décor and layout of the shop, Rob proceeded to undermine the traditional look that Helen and Tom had agreed on and engineered it so that the designer would produce two sets of sketches, all the time making Tom think that it was his own idea. When the designs are produced, Rob praises the traditional design at first, but then begins subtly criticising some aspects of the layout, sowing seeds of doubt. He is all for the more contemporary design and asks Helen what she thinks. Stupid question! She doesnt think - shed agree with Rob, even if he suggested decorating it in the same colours and design as Susans tabards.

It looks like two to one for the contemporary design Rob tells Tom, trying to keep the triumph from his voice. Lets rewind here and ask ourselves what hes doing there anyway - Pat and Tony handed over control of Bridge Farm and Ambridge Organics to Tom and Helen; its nothing to do with Rob. Tom doesnt seem aware that Rob is slowly taking over; he even thanks Rob profusely when the latter offers to ring round builders for Tom, as he has more time. As Tom leaves, still thanking Rob, Helen remarks to Rob that it was kind of him to offer to help and she could assist him if he likes, now that she has more time as Henry is starting school. He replies that theres no need to get involved as Ive got the time and Ive got the experience - Im happy to be project manager. Id watch out if I were you Tom - at this rate the shop name will be Titchener Organics if you dont rein Rob in pretty quickly. He certainly seems in no hurry to get a job.

Over at Home Farm, Adam reveals his plan for the future. Brian is aghast to learn that Adam wants to turn over 17% of the land to planting herbal leys and ideally, in ten years time, the farm would be 50/50 leys and arable. An apoplectic Brian points out that they wont get much income from a farm thats gone bust, to which Adam reminds him that he (Adam) is the one taking most of the risk under their new shared farm arrangement. Brian can only foresee disaster if Adam has his way and tells Jennifer so when they are talking the next day.

Jennifer is more optimistic, telling Brian that shes sure Adam will soon have the place buzzing. Yes, but only with bailiffs is his sour retort. Mind you, Brian proves that Rob isnt the only slippery customer in Ambridge when Kate approaches him to rent some land for her hippy retreat. Brian agrees in principle, but is upbraided by Jennifer because he told Kate it would have to come out of the land set aside for the herbal leys. Brian answers that Adam wants to make the big decisions and heres one for him - How do you run a farm and cope with Kate at the same time? Im tempted to say run her through the combine harvester but the whole episode is a sobering reminder that, sadly, since Debbie invested some start-up money in her retreat idea, it looks as though Kate isnt going anywhere any time soon.

Hands up all those who thought that Kenton had touched rock bottom? Wrong, Im afraid. The week began with him telling Jolene that hes not going to the family lunch that Jill has arranged (again). He also points out that the lunch was supposed to be Pips leaving party, but shes not going anywhere. Jolene says its now become a farewell to Jill lunch. Thunderstruck, Kenton says What? Wheres mum going? You see Kenton, this is what happens if you turn your back on your family - you tend to fall out of the loop and dont know whats going on if you dont talk to people.

Anyway, Kenton indulges in another rant and asks how dare David throw Jill out - her heart must be breaking? He definitely isn’t going to the meal now, as he might not be able to stop himself giving David a good kicking if he went. From Kenton’s attitude, you’d think that Jill is being turned out into the snow, homeless and sleeping rough, whereas in actual fact she has the pick of rooms in a stately home, with superb views and a separate sitting room. Probably a four-poster bed too, I wouldn‘t be surprised.

On Monday, Jolene goes to Brookfield to take the wine for the meal and tells them that Kenton won’t be coming and she feels that she should stay away too. “How much longer is he going to go on sulking?” an annoyed Jill asks, to which Jolene replies that it’s much worse than mere sulking and the whole story of the £26k shortfall comes out and that The Bull is in real danger of closing down. As Jolene leaves, the rest of the Archer clan are stunned - nobody had any idea how bad things were. David says “We can’t let that happen. Who says it’s too late, even now?”

The upshot is that Shula, Elizabeth, David and Jill pool their resources to raise the £26k and, on Wednesday, David informs Jolene that she and Kenton can have the money. Jolene is thrilled and grateful, saying “We’ll pay back every penny.” Well, it is a loan, not a gift, so I think David, Shula et al were expecting to get their money back sometime. Jolene tells David that she’ll have to choose her moment to tell Kenton, adding: “There’s so much riding on this - he can’t refuse, can he?”

It’s amazing how little some people know their spouses, as, on Friday, Jolene takes Kenton to one side and tells him of the offer. On hearing the name ‘David’, Kenton goes completely gorilla-poo and berates Jolene for telling everyone their troubles. Jolene points out that the offer is from the entire family and, when Kenton asks her can’t she see how humiliating it all is, she reveals that she obviously studied at the Joe Grundy school of grammar when she replies “We can’t afford to be proud no more, not if you want to save the pub - let alone our sanity.” Clutching firmly at non-existent straws, Kenton says “There has to be some other way.” OK Kenton, we’ll give you half an hour to come up with one. Jolene spells it out when she says “We’re in one hell of a spot and we’ve been offered the money to get out of it - are we gonna take it; yes or no?” And there the final episode of the week ended. I know Kenton is stubborn, stupid, unreasonable (add your own list of adjectives) but if he doesn’t seize this chance, I’d batter him senseless if I were Jolene.

At least Fallon won’t have to put up with him - at the opera at Lower Loxley, she told Chris that she and PC Burns are looking for a place to set up home. Chris asks have they considered renting Woodbine cottage from her? I bet she can’t wait, with Kenton the way he is.

The opera was a great success, except for the fact that Eddie’s phone (ringtone ‘I am a cider drinker’) went off during an aria. Clarrie was mortified and her discomfort is further increased on Thursday, when she reads Lynda’s review in The Echo. Lynda (under her nom de plume of Dylan Nells) gave the opera five stars and the audience two. She specifically mentioned the phone going off and Clarrie isn’t reassured when Susan tells her that people won’t know that it was Eddie. Clarrie is not convinced, saying that, when it happened, the whole audience looked at them. “I could have died with embarrassment” Clarrie wails. I would have thought that, given Eddie’s track record of scams, uncouthness and cock-ups, dying with embarrassment is the default position you take when you go out anywhere in public with him.