Sunday, 25 October 2015

No, Adam, Let Him Carry On

Felix Scott (Charlie Thomas)

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person cheering on Charlie last week as he confronted Lynda on the Village Green. The story was on Friday, when Emma dashed into Woodbine Cottage, telling Fallon and PCB that she had been ‘ambushed’ by Lynda to sign her petition to raze Berrow Farm to the ground and eviscerate all who work there, and then Charlie had turned up.

Emma’s visit was untimely, as that was the evening of Fallon and PCB’s housewarming party and they were getting frisky on the sofa pre-party. In fact, when Emma rang the doorbell and Fallon went to answer, PCB warned: “Fallon - your top.” Emma said that Charlie and Lynda were having a discussion. Lynda - sniffing as only she knows how - says that the outbreak of whatever it is at Berrow is down to the conditions in which the cows are kept. Charlie replies that this is rubbish and the outbreak could have happened on any farm.

In full eco-zealot mode, Lynda tells Charlie that Berrow is “A giant Petri dish and an incubator of diseases; dangerous, immoral and I’ll do anything I can to shut you down.” Charlie says that he’s got bigger problems, but: “I wish someone would shut you down instead: you really are an ignorant, pious, old - “ And it is that this point that Adam turns up and says “Charlie, that’s enough.” I, and I would hope, the majority of five million listeners, said ‘No; let him go on - he hasn’t mentioned sanctimonious, pretentious, annoying (and another 100 pejorative adjectives)’ However, Charlie says ’sorry’ to Lynda, instead of stuffing her in the anaerobic digester.

Adam tells Charlie that he’s in need of a rest and invites him to the housewarming (pretty generous, as it’s not his party). He also says that Ian is working tonight, so, if Charlie wanted to stay over… I assume that Ian would be coming back at some stage (or is he still at Grey Gables?) he’d be less than chuffed to find Charlie ensconced at Honeysuckle. Earlier, Adam got the local farmers to rally round and donate silage to Berrow Farm and, when he tells a seriously-in-bits Charlie, the latter breaks down and says “You don’t know how much I’ve been wanting to see you - it’s just such a relief to know I have a friend.”

Anyway, Charlie doesn’t go to the party, but turns up at Honeysuckle later with some items of news. Firstly, tests have come back showing signs of botuline (or similar), so they know what the infection is. Secondly, one of the workers found part of a decomposing corpse hanging from one of the feeders. Forensic examination revealed this to be the pelvis and a back leg of a dog. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this turned out to be the remains of Scruff (and how many other missing dogs do you know of?) and Lynda’s errant pet was responsible for the deaths of 80+ cows? I would make her eat her petition if it were to be the case.

At the housewarming, Fallon is surprised that Helen has stepped aside from involvement in the new shop, as she is the retail expert. Helen, who is falling more and more under the Rob influence, says “It’s not as we planned it, but I’m grateful - I never asked Rob to be project manager.” Fallon mentions to Emma that it’s strange that Helen is abdicating responsibility so early, but Emma says that it’s because she’s pregnant - I never realised that pregnancy jellified your brain. Rob has spent the party going round telling people that he’s not surprised about Berrow Farm’s troubles, which is why he got out when he did and he tells Helen that it’s time to go home and she agrees, without a murmur and without saying goodbye.

Helen’s personality is rapidly being subsumed into Rob’s - they went and signed the parental responsibility papers for Henry, making Rob the de facto step-father, and, afterwards, when Rob told Henry that they were now father and son, Henry’s first reaction was to ask if he could go hunting? Rob said it was up to Mummy but it was plain that Mummy had been got at when she said that she supposes he’s old enough.

However, there are inklings that Rob might be heading for a fall over his project managership of the shop, as he gives an electrician a piece of his mind because he can’t make an appointment and this could mean a week‘s delay, as the man doesn’t turn up and the plasterers can’t get on until the wiring is finished. Rob tells the man that he is stressing out his pregnant wife and Helen gets as close as she’s ever likely to to open rebellion when she tells Rob that she just wants to be treated normally. Rob asks her if she realises how oddly she’s been behaving lately? Helen also isn’t best pleased that seemingly everybody appears to know that she’s pregnant, but Rob brushes this aside.
To more happy matters - it’s time for Pip’s Graduation ceremony and David and Rooooth attend, despite the gearbox on the mixer wagon packing up (don’t you just hate it when that happens?). Rooooth gives Pip a package from Granny Heather, which contains a card that, sadly, says that she can’t wait till they can spend more time together, and a silver fountain pen, engraved with the words ‘With love and pride. Granny.’ Tears are shed and throats have lumps.
Elsewhere, the Fairbrother boys (or at least Toby) are trying to expand their empire. You have to blame Pip for a lot of this - she got them the land at Hollowtree and she introduced them to the fact that Adam was looking for a share farm partner to run cattle on his land. Toby attends a ‘Farmwatch’ meeting (prompted by the rustling of Ed’s cattle) and gets totally wasted. He talks to Adam about the possibility of a meeting to discuss this and, the next morning, a very hungover Toby tells brother Rex that Adam is expecting them for a meeting that very morning. Adam’s recollection is different - he thinks that there was the scintilla of the possibility of a chance that there might have been grounds to fix a provisional meeting at an indeterminate future date, but Toby blags it, telling Adam that Rex single-handedly ran a beef ranch in Argentina during his Gap Year (later, we learn that Rex was only there for two weeks - you can tell these guys were bankers, can’t you?). Adam tells them to submit their CV s - I suspect there will be some creative prose involved.
Speaking of creative, we come to the Grundy’s turkey website and Joe’s Lower Loxley Ghost Walks. Regarding the latter, Eddie suggests that a story about Nigel falling from the roof and uttering blood-curdling screams might not be exactly what Elizabeth would like to hear and that the other stories (almost entirely the figment of Joe’s imagination) shouldn’t be told, as they aren’t true. For his part, Joe says that some of Eddie’s copy for the website is stretching the truth. In the end, they agree to compromise and just both lie a little. Talking of the website, Eddie asks Joe where the apostrophe should be in ‘Grundys Turkeys’? Joe says that, as there are a lot of them, it should read ‘Grundys Turkey’s’ Not a wonder educational standards are falling.
Finally, we come to Calendar Girls and I don’t propose to dwell on Lynda’s attempts to get Susan to audition - Susan is worried about showing too much “Not that I’ve got much to show.” Way too much information! Lynda did suggest to Helen that she wouldn’t be too pregnant to appear at Christmas, but what are the chances of Rob (‘The Manipulator’) Titchener letting his wife appear naked on stage? I bet he wouldn’t even let her attend one of the performances.
It occurred to me that we could invite responses from readers - who would you like to see in the play (obviously Sabrina Thwaite is a shoo-in)? But equally, who would you pay good money to keep out of the cast? I await your nominations with interest.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Barry Farrimond (Ed Grundy)

There is a scene in an episode of Blackadder the Third where, after one of his ideas fails, a frustrated Edmund tells Baldrick “Fortune vomits on my eiderdown yet again.” We had a similar scene in last week’s Archers, where Edward (same first two letters, note) despondently asks Dad Eddie “Do you believe in Fate? I’m starting to - I reckon Fate’s got a dartboard with my face on it.”

And what is the cause of this despair? Well, how long have you got and how far back do you want to go? Ed has not had the most successful of careers - he himself mentions the dairy herd, which didn’t go well, and now he has had his beef herd rustled. Even worse, in true Grundy tradition, he hadn’t got them insured. The cattle have vanished without trace and the police haven’t got the crime at the top of their list of priorities. Ed, Eddie and Joe are talking about it in The Bull and it turns out that Kenton saw two men loading the beasts into a van, but he thought Ed had sold them. As such, he didn’t take much notice and cannot help much with descriptions or number plates.

There was a comic moment as Joe, who had broken the habit of a lifetime and bought a round of drinks on the expectation of being paid to conduct ghost walks round Lower Loxley, reckons that what Ed needs is a whisky chaser (“A nice, large one”). Ed admits that he wouldn’t mind, to which Joe swiftly says “Your round Eddie.” He might be 94, but there are no flies on Joe.

It was the week of Heather’s funeral in Prudhoe and, as well as family, Jill, Jim and Usha all made it to the funeral. Rooooth couldn’t face speaking at the service and Pip gave a moving reading of a piece, chosen by Heather, written by a major who died in WWII. Everyone agreed that it was a lovely service, as Usha tells Rooooth, but Rooooth, in full hair-shirt-and-nettle-thrashing-mode, rather illogically says to Usha “But she [Heather] wasn’t there to see it.” Well, no, she wouldn’t be, would she? Rooooth still blames herself for Heather’s demise and bursts into tears, telling Usha “When she needed me most, I let her down.” The ‘it was all my fault’ mentality persists when she and David arrive back at Brookfield and Rooooth sits alone in what would have been Heather’s bedroom. “I’m sorry, mum, I’m so sorry” she says, before breaking down in tears again.
Mind you, the journey back wasn’t much fun; especially when David rather thoughtlessly asks her if she wants to stop at the Service area. Nice one, Dave.

I think most people would agree that, when it comes to manipulating other people - especially his wife (or girlfriend as was) - Rob has no equal in Ambridge, or possibly Borsetshire. However, it seems that at least one person has been sitting at the feet of the Master and learning. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Phoebe’s boyfriend Alex, or maybe we should start calling him ’Titchener Lite’. Phoebe is at Alex’s house on Sunday and she says that she has to leave soon to finish off her personal statement for Oxford Uni. Alex moves into Rob mode, saying that, if she went home now, it would disappoint him. He then ratchets up the pressure, asking her whether or not she feels that she is being pushed into this whole Oxford thing? Laying it on with a trowel, he goes on to tell her that she’s lovely as she is and he doesn’t want her to change.

He then tries to make Phoebe feel guilty by saying how far away Oxford is and had she thought of choosing Felpersham Uni instead? Cunningly, he says how few places are available at Oxford and he’d hate her to be disappointed, adding that Oxbridge types are “stuck-up over-achievers.” Phoebe is wavering and agrees to stay for lunch.

Later on in the week, we learn just how much Phoebe has weakened, when Roy takes his daughter for a driving lesson and she reveals that she hasn’t sent in her Oxford application yet. When asked why not, she tells him that she doesn’t think she’s the right sort of person and that Rob - sorry, Alex - thinks it might change her. Roy points out that Alex probably hasn’t met many Oxbridge graduates and, if he cares for Phoebe, he’ll support her in whatever she decides. “You have to think of your entire future,” Roy tells her, adding that her teachers obviously have faith in her. It obviously worked, as, when Phoebe returns home, she phones Roy to tell him that she has sent off her application. He’s proud of her. “I hope Alex feels the same way” Phoebe says. Stuff him, Phoebe - it’s your life.

Kate is trying to persuade Phoebe to do some admin work at her Hippy Retreat during the holidays (the Planning Application has gone in for the barn conversion and yurts). Phoebe sidesteps the question, but we know what she thinks of her mother’s plans as, earlier in the week, she had told Alex that Kate can never stick at anything for any length of time, that she doubts Kate’s qualifications for running an holistic project (“Just because she does a bit of yoga”) and her final verdict on the whole enterprise is “It’s never going to work.”

Let’s move from apprentice to master, as Helen has a home visit from a Health Worker and, of course, Rob is there, all attentiveness. Ellie (the Health Worker) has a lot of questions for Helen, who goes into detail about her previous problem with anorexia and depression. When Rob leaves the room to take a phone call, Ellie asks Helen if she is experiencing any kind of abuse; physical or mental? A shocked Helen replies “No”. Perhaps she should have thought about it a little longer? Rob returns and is as charming as he can be, to the extent that, before she leaves, Ellie describes him as ‘the perfect man’. When Helen is in the bathroom, Rob returns a call to Peggy - she’s worried that Helen is looking peaky; is she working too hard? Rob tells her that Helen is expecting and Peggy is thrilled. She joins the Rob fan club when she tells him “Helen couldn’t be in better hands.”

Earlier in the week, Rob had rubbished Fallon’s plans for the café at the new shop, describing her ideas as twee and “a glorified junk shop”. He says that she cannot possibly have the kitchen as she has planned it and, in what almost amounts to defiance, Helen points out that Fallon will be paying rent, so surely she can have it as she wants? “We wouldn’t need her if we had the skills to run it ourselves” Rob sneers.

Pip tells the Fairbrother lads about Adam’s plans for share farming and Toby is all for going out and buying a couple of hundred head of cattle. Rex advises caution, saying “We’ve got to keep our ambitions realistic.” Toby says “You and I have a different understanding of the word ‘ambition.’ ” As we enter the run-up to Christmas (and still no news from Lynda about this year’s show - perhaps her short-term memory has gone) the poultry wars are hotting up, with an annoyed Eddie confronting Rex and accusing him of stealing the Grundy‘s customers and breaking their agreement. Rex denies the charge and says he knows nothing of any agreement. He also lectures Eddie about the history of the turkey and how it’s not its natural habitat to be kept in sheds. Eddie is on the verge of apoplexy, but fortunately for his blood pressure, at this moment Pip turned up and is off to Prudhoe for the funeral. Eddie and Rex stop arguing and give her their best wishes.

But what can the Grundy’s do to fight back against the Fairbrothers? Eddie looks at the latter’s website and he admits that he is impressed, but what can they do - he knows nothing about the Internet and Social Media, so perhaps they just can’t compete? Never mind - Emma can create a website for them and she arrives to take photographs. Clarrie stops Eddie from filling the website with lies (‘Award-winning turkeys’ - one came first once in a turkey race) and she is optimistic about the forthcoming marketing, saying triumphantly “It’s about time the Grundys joined the 21st Century!”

So, they’re skipping the 20th, then?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Thanks For Trying Anyway Roy

Ian Pepperell (Roy Tucker)

At Grey Gables, Roy gently reprimands Lynda for running off the Borsetshire Am Dram group’s play list on the photocopier. Even worse, she ignores a customer (Charlie) while she does it. Lynda confesses to Roy that she is having a crisis of confidence - having persuaded Elizabeth to let her stage her Christmas show at Lower Loxley, she cannot think of what form it should take.

Roy rapidly moved up in my estimation when he said to Lynda “Why not give yourself a year off; you always get so stressed?” Give that man a house point! Although I would have preferred ‘decade’ in place of ‘year’. With bated breath, we waited for Lynda’s answer, but, predictably, she says that she couldn’t possibly, especially as people are actually volunteering this year. Who are these people? How did they escape from the mental asylum where they so obviously belong?

Roy then blows it by remarking that everyone is pulling together to overcome the disaster of the flood. Lynda then appears to have an orgasm, yelling “Yes!” and calling Roy a genius. We are not let in on what she has in mind and, speaking personally, you couldn’t pay me enough to care.

Later on in the week, Roy is taking Phoebe on a driving lesson and, when she arrives, he is on the phone to Elizabeth. It is purely business and she phoned him, but when Phoebe learns who it is, she is not impressed. During the lesson, Phoebe reveals that she is having self-doubts about applying to Oxford - what if she isn’t good enough? Her father tells her to keep her eyes on the road and points out that, if she doesn’t apply, she’ll never know if she’s good enough and anyway, even if she doesn’t get in, he loves her and will back her whatever she decides. Phoebe is touched and even apologises for being ‘scratchy’ about Elizabeth’s phone call.

On Sunday, we learn from Eddie that Autumn is his favourite time of year. He and Joe are out blocking off boltholes on the rabbit warren, preparatory to a day’s ferreting on the morrow and it will soon be cider-making time - never mind mists and mellow fruitfulness, for Eddie Autumn means rabbit pie and scrumpy. Joe isn’t full of the same spirit and moans at Eddie for referring to ‘the Community Orchard’, saying “It was our orchard”. Too right, but the operative word there is ‘was’ and, as Eddie points out, they do very nicely with the apples. I should think they do, as Oliver lets them make cider for nothing. Mind you, I’d expect no other attitude from Joe, the miserable ingrate.

Eddie’s feeling of wellbeing takes a bit of a knock when Rob Titchener rides up, dressed in full hunting kit (he’s out to get permission from landowners to let the Hunt use their land). Eddie tries to persuade him to order a turkey for Christmas, but Rob says that he and Helen are going to try goose this year, adding that so is Peggy. Eddie is incensed and it is lucky for the Fairbrother lads that they are not around. “If they think they are going to have it easy, they had better watch out.” Eddie snarls.

Sales of turkeys aren’t going well and Eddie goes on a sales campaign. He takes Elizabeth a couple of rabbits as a present (beware Grundys bearing gifts, I say) and happens to bring up the subject of Lower Loxley’s Christmas menu and would she like to buy some turkeys? Liz says that they have already ordered all the turkeys they want, but she will have a few, as presents for clients. Eddie perseveres, telling her that she could describe them as ‘locally-produced’ on the menu. Elizabeth then thrusts a dagger into Eddie’s heart when she says that they already have locally-produced geese on the menu. Eddie is stricken and, when he learns that they are Fairbrother geese, he has another rant, describing the brothers as “locusts, gobbling up every scrap of Christmas business in Borsetshire. And where does that leave the rest of us? You tell me that.” I suppose Elizabeth should think herself lucky that he didn’t ask for the rabbits back.

Eddie featured heavily last week and on Friday, he and Joe are at the cider shack, awaiting Will’s arrival to help take parts of it out, so that it can be cleaned. But Will is late. Joe’s solution? Just clean the bits that show - remind me not to have a pint of Grundy cider, unless there’s a supply of antibiotics handy. Eddie passes the time railing against the Fairbrothers (earlier in the week, we learn from Jazzer that Eddie was down at The Bull, bad mouthing Rex and Toby). Another reason that Eddie isn’t happy is that he took Rob a rabbit earlier in the day, in an attempt to get him to change his mind about having a turkey. Rob confirmed that he and Helen were having goose, but took the rabbit anyway, much to Joe’s disgust.

The reason for Will’s tardiness is that brother Ed has called him. Ed is in his car and spots a gang of - presumably - poachers with lurchers and lamps, carrying what looks like a deer. Do they have guns will asks? Ed cannot see and Will tells him to stay there - he’s on his way. When he gets there, the poachers have left and the brothers set off to see if they can find them. They can’t, and eventually end up at the cider shack, where Eddie is very worried, as Nic had rung him, telling him what Will was up to. Nic also rang the police, but they didn’t come out. Joe wonders whether or not the poachers might have been scared off permanently, but Will lays the foundations for more poacher-related stories when he says “Once poachers have found a good place, they always come back.”

Will thanks Ed, telling everyone that his brother has done him a great favour. Am I the only one to find this new-found bonhomie between the Grundy brothers a trifle unnerving? I keep expecting them to go back to their old, bickering ways, but I suppose the new attitude makes a change - it must make Clarrie happy, anyway.

Earlier on, we had Lynda and Phoebe suffering pangs of self-doubt and it seems to be contagious. Pip and Adam have a deep conversation, in which she wonders whether her parents really appreciate what she’s doing and should she have gone travelling, instead of coming back to Brookfield? Make your mind up girl! Adam reassures her that she’s doing a great job and that she’s taking care of the farm for them while they are occupied with Heather’s funeral.

Adam goes on to reveal that he nearly left Ambridge when he had his disagreement with Brian and, although he loves being in charge, he has doubts that he’s doing the right thing and expects something to go wrong. Also, he is conscious that Brian is taking a forensic interest in the financial side of the business. Says Adam: “So next time you have your little panic, Pip, don’t forget that you’re not the only one in Ambridge with an awful lot to prove.”

Elsewhere, Neil tells Charlie that the Village Hall committee has decided not to accept Justin Eliot’s offer to fund rebuilding and they will do the work themselves. He asks whether Justin might still like to make a discreet, or anonymous contribution? I wouldn’t hold your breath, Neil.

Rooooth breaks down when sorting through her late mother’s things and, in floods of tears, tells David to “get rid of this bloody bed”, as it reminds her of how badly she let her mother down. Amid all this self-doubt and self-blame sloshing around Ambridge this week, it is nice to report that at least two people seem happy, as Fallon (whose business is taking off nicely) and PC Burns look round Woodbine cottage. They are really looking forward to moving in together, but some of Christine’s prints and colour schemes will have to go.

Rob accompanies Helen to the clinic, where her pregnancy is confirmed. They tell Pat, but Helen begs her not to tell anyone other than Tony and Tom. Rob also reveals that he is going to complete a step-parental responsibility agreement for Henry. He’s all over Helen like a cheap suit, saying that he wants to share every part of the pregnancy experience. When giving birth, Helen, I suggest you grab and viciously twist his goolies, so that he can share your pain.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

It’s Not Whether You Win Or Lose - Oh Sorry, Apparently It Is

Andrew Wincott (Adam Macy)

Let’s kick off with cricket, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor. Ambridge were playing Darrington and a win would give them the league title. Adam was acting captain, in Alistair’s absence (and I still think there’s something strange going on with Alistair and his growing number of absences) and he soon has words with Johnny, who, under Rob’s influence, is sledging the batsmen. If Johnny doesn’t calm down, he’ll be taken off, says Adam.

Rob thinks that Adam doesn’t have what it takes to win and isn’t impressed when Adam puts himself on to bowl, conceding 20 - odd runs. Eventually he brings Johnny back, and he takes the final wicket. When it’s Rob’s turn to bat, he says someone has to show Adam how it’s done and he is scoring well. But then he edges a ball behind - or does he? Umpire Tony cannot give him out and Rob refuses to walk, despite the exhortations of the Darrington players. Adam comes on to the pitch and asks Rob if he edged the ball? Adam thinks he should “do the decent thing, so we can win the match honourably.” Rob says that he is quite happy with the umpire’s decision and would Adam mind getting off the pitch?

Rob wins the match by hitting a six and, afterwards, Adam ducks out of going to the pub for celebrations. He tells Rob that he’d rather have lost than cheated his way to victory and Rob replies “why don’t you stick to growing your wild flowers and leave cricket to the real men?” Adam isn’t impressed, but just then, Helen turns up. As Adam leaves, Helen tells Rob that she filmed his edged/not edged stroke on her phone, when she was filming Henry playing. Rob demands to see the phone and, when he gives it back to her - surprise, surprise - the cricket footage has, mysteriously, vanished.

Heather is finally on her way down to Ambridge, being driven by Rooooth. Heather is very happy to be on her way and she and her daughter burst into song - “My Old Man” has seldom sounded so untuneful - and Rooooth promises her mother that they will stop off at a Service Station near Nottingham. When they get there, Rooooth is talking to Heather, who isn’t answering her questions. Rooooth has told her mother “don’t worry - you’ll never see that care home again” And how right she is - Heather has had a stroke and Rooooth calls paramedics, and David, who says he’ll be there as soon as he can. By the time he arrives, Heather has passed away.

We’ll come back to David and Rooooth later, but let’s move to Bridge Farm, where Tom is keen to finalise details of the café, which he thinks Fallon should be given the chance to run. Rob has told Helen that it is a mistake to mix business with friendship, but she is too busy being sick and tells Tom to do what he thinks is best. Fallon turns up and, when she hears Tom’s suggestion, she grabs his hand off, even when he suggests that she should use as many Bridge Farm products as possible. This causes conflict when Fallon goes to Rob and Helen’s gaff on Friday; Helen is in the bathroom and Fallon lets slip to Rob that she will be running the café. He didn’t know and he’s not best pleased. Fallon leaves (Helen says she’ll look at her plans and get back to her) and Rob goes into Mr Angry mode, berating Helen for not attending the meeting with Tom and Fallon and “for taking Tom’s advice over mine.” He snarls: “Badly done, Helen - I’m disappointed with you.” Helen says that there are extenuating circumstances and, when Rob expresses disbelief, she tells him that she’s pregnant. Rob immediately goes from Mr. Nasty to Mr. Considerate, calling Helen ‘darling’ and plying her with cushions.

Henry comes into the room and asks if Mummy is all right, as she’s lying down? Rob tells him that he will soon have a new brother - “or sister” Helen adds - but Henry wants someone to play cricket with and Rob is adamant, telling Henry “You’re going to have a baby brother.” No pressure, then, Helen. But you know whose fault it will be if you should give birth to a girl.

Let’s talk turkey, or, rather, geese: the Fairbrothers don’t seem to be team players - they negotiate separate deals over the geese and it seems that there’s only ever one of them at the farm at any one time. Rex has sold 50 birds to Elizabeth and Toby has negotiated a deal with Ian at Grey Gables, giving him a 10-mile exclusivity on the birds. The brothers eventually meet and the conflict is revealed. Toby goes to Grey Gables to try to re-negotiate the deal and Kathy suggests that now is not a good time to talk to Ian, as he is somewhat frazzled because of a big party tonight. Kathy says that she will talk to Ian, but she can’t promise anything.

As it turns out, she comes back to Toby (who has been joined by Rex) and says that Ian will forego the exclusivity clause, but he wants a 15% discount. Toby tries to negotiate, but Kathy says ‘no’. Rex agrees and Kathy tells him “Your handsome brother talked me into it.” Dear God, please don’t let Kathy get romantically (or sexually) involved with Toby - I don’t think I could stand it. Mostly because I don’t like him. Come to think of it, Kathy’s not my favourite either.

It was a change to hear from Kathy and it turned out that she was at Grey Gables (of which she is the manager) in order to interview candidates for the post of Health Centre Manager. There were five on the shortlist, but let’s cut to the chase - Kirsty Miller was one of the candidates and - knock me down with a feather - Roy (who was the other interviewer) rang her to offer her the job. Should be interesting when she meets Tom - if he has a sauna at the health club, the temperature could well be 1200° C.

We return to Rooooth, who is still in guilt trip mode - it started off because she thought it was her fault that Heather died in a service station (come on, they’re not that bad). Jill is deliberately keeping away from Brookfield while things are difficult, but she cooks a chicken at Lower Loxley and brings it to Brookfield. Rooooth and Jill meet and they hug, although later a tearful Rooooth tells David how hard it was to see Jill at Brookfield, when it should have been Heather and perhaps, had they moved up north as originally planned, Heather might still be alive. For God’s sake - has this woman got a wardrobe full of hair shirts and does she regularly thrash herself with nettles? ‘What if?’ is one of the most pointless mindsets going - nothing you can do is going to bring Heather back, so don’t try, and stop making everyone else feel guilty.

Lynda finds a dead deer and Brian reckons that it has been hunted
down with dogs, although he doesn’t care that much, as it isn’t one of his herd. Nevertheless, he informs the police, who confirm that there is a gang of armed poachers on the loose, which gives Lynda goose bumps. Sadly, instead of pulling up the drawbridge and staying at home, Lynda goes to see Elizabeth to suggest that, with the Village Hall standing no chance of being ready for the annual Christmas extravaganza, wouldn’t Lower Loxley be a great venue?

Elizabeth is not convinced, but Lynda says “Can you imagine Ambridge without a Christmas show?” Speaking personally, the answer is an unequivocal ’yes’ - in fact, at this time of year, a show-less Ambridge dominates my dreams - but Lynda tells Elizabeth that the positive PR would be beneficial. Was I the only one who thought that there was an unspoken ‘and if you disagree, the negative PR will be a disaster’ hanging in the air?

Whatever - and this is why I (and, I like to think, five million other listeners) may never forgive Elizabeth - she agrees, but obviously has reservations, as she says to Jill “What have I let myself in for?” I’d like to point out that (a) we don’t know, as Lynda hasn’t decided what this year’s offering will be and (b) never mind yourself, you selfish cow, what about the rest of us?