Sunday, 29 November 2015

If You Are looking For A Double Entendre, Then Kirsty And Elizabeth Are The Girls To Give You One

Annabelle Dowler (Kirsty Miller)

We begin with Lynda’s attempt to get Kirsty to persuade Roy to take part in ’Calendar Girls’. He isn’t keen, but Kirsty keeps at him, telling him (rather unflatteringly): “It’s only a small part - you’d be perfect for it.” (Boom boom!). Roy agrees to go along to the audition later that night and is somewhat discomfited to find Elizabeth there.

He is even more put out when he realises that his part would be that of Elizabeth’s husband (who dies early on) and he says to Elizabeth “You know what they’ll all be thinking.” Liz says it’s harmless fun, plus it will show everyone how they have both moved on. She adds: “I’m up for it if you are.” (Boom boom!). When Lynda returns (she had been sent away by Elizabeth to get some water, so that she and Roy can have a heart to heart) she takes a loftier view, telling Roy that “This is theatre; this is Art” (and you could hear the upper case A).

Faced with this triple female offensive, Roy gives in and agrees to join the cast. I have this dream that one day, someone - anyone - will say to Lynda “I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than take part in your ridiculous Christmas extravaganza; now go away and leave me alone - I have my own Christmas to prepare for.” Sadly, it’s never likely to happen, as you could carve out of a banana someone with more backbone than the average Ambridge resident, faced with a determined Lynda. There was a frisson of the previous relationship between Roy and Liz, when she admits that she is nervous of getting her kit off for the play. Roy, rather unthinkingly, says “You’ve got nothing to be nervous about” and then both are overcome with embarrassment.

When Kirsty, Liz and Roy go for a drink later, we had a moment of farce when Kirsty says that she is looking for somewhere to live in Ambridge - perhaps someone who has a spare room? It would have to be someone who she gets along with. Any ideas, anyone? Liz says “Can you think of anyone Roy?” Kirsty adds “Yeah, can you?” After a seemingly-interminable pause, Roy says “There is my place.” Kirsty (in mock shock): “Yours?” Roy says he’s got a spare room (as if he’d only just realised it) and Kirsty says that she remembers his place and she loves it. Well, bugger me and hold the front page - who’d have thought it? Roy then joins this week’s double entendre club when he asks Kirsty: “So, how about it?”

Let’s move on to Brookfield. We’ll pass over Stir Up Sunday, as Ben was the only one of the Archers to help Jill with mixing the pudding. Jill takes this as a sign that times are changing - true, so why not save a lot of trouble and get a pudding from M&S or Waitrose (other purveyors of Christmas puddings are available)? David and Pip think that Rooooth is keeping something back and not telling the whole truth about why she is off to New Zealand. She says “OK” (actually, she says Ooooooh Kaaaay) and tells them that they (David and Pip) have their own ideas about running the farm and she doesn’t feel that she has a meaningful role on the farm. Not true! Here’s a bucket and mop and get on with cleaning the yard.

I don’t know about you, but when we learned that Rooooth is only going to New Zealand for two weeks, I was devastated - I thought she was emigrating, or at least going for six months. Later on in the week, Rooooth has lunch with Usha, who begs her “to keep in touch” and, when David drives her to the airport and she deserts him (albeit after a farewell kiss) to find her group, he urges her to keep in touch. Come on people - she’s going away for two weeks, or 14 days in old money - it’s not a one-way trip to Mars. Give the girl - indeed give you (and, also, us) - a break and remain incommunicado. Bye Rooooth; don’t rush back.

David and Pip discover problems at Brookfield when they discover two cows that have gone down with Ketosis (apparently it makes their breaths smell of pear drops). “Mum would never have let it happen.” David gives the affected cows a Drench and hopes that they can carry on with the old/new feeding system. No need to bother Rooooth with the news - let her go to New Zealand.

Clarrie, Eddie and Joe are being evicted from Grey Gables in the near future and they cannot find an affordable two-bedroom property to rent. The solution? Put Joe in a home. Joe has been the subject of complaints at Grey Gables, for wandering around in his long johns and dressing gown, so I reckon that Clarrie and Joe might find it difficult to find a home that would accept him. We’ll pass over the (abortive) attempts to find a flat and the sadness in Joe’s voice when he realises that he is destined for (at least a temporary) sojourn in a home. Personally, I feel sorry for the other residents. What will happen to Bartleby was not mentioned.

It was a mixed week for Justin Eliot - the shoot went very well (despite Will’s nightmares and sleepless nights). Indeed, Justin wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it, as Will picked up over £600 in tips - I hope he declares it to HMRC. Later on, Justin’s luck changed when he heard Jennifer talking and went to congratulate her on the lunch that she had provided and he inadvertently stumbled across a naked Lynda, rehearsing for her forthcoming photo shoot for the calendar. We learn later that he has sent Lynda a bouquet by way of apology, while many of us think that he should have sued Lynda for mental cruelty, or strange and unusual punishment, or anything.

The Rob/Helen/Bridge Farm situation becomes ever more complex. On Sunday, Helen has a dizzy spell and refuses to go home when Rob suggests it. Later on, she won’t eat the scrambled eggs that Rob has made and he asks whether she is determined to make herself ill?  The next day, Rob tells her that she’s not needed at the shop and should stay in bed. She reminds him that he has a job interview at noon and Rob takes himself off to the Bridge Farm shop. Pat says that she hopes the company turns him down,
as they need him at the shop and she agrees that Helen is looking tired and pale. For heaven’s sake - when she was pregnant with Henry, Helen was exercising seven hours a day.

Rob returns home later and Helen has received a letter, giving her an appointment for a scan, a few weeks earlier than she thought. Rob says that he has arranged an earlier (private) scan as they can find out the baby’s sex earlier than they thought - and she’s not to worry about the cost. Not with the £10,000 from Peggy in the bank, she shouldn’t. We learn that Rob turned down the job, as his priorities are Helen, the new baby and the shop.

At the Hunt Ball, Justin sounds Rob out about Charlie and Rob damns him with faint praise, adding to Justin’s reservations about Charlie’s suitability as a manager. Incidentally, Rob says that Helen isn’t well enough to attend as the exertions of being at the official opening of the shop the day before have taken it out of her (more likely he has tied her to the bed). At the opening, Rob made a fulsome speech in praise of Helen and modestly played down his part in getting the shop open, saying that he doesn’t want to steal Pat and the family’s thunder. Pat has done a complete U-turn about Rob and even gives him a kiss for being such a nice person.

Back to the Hunt Ball and Rob wheedles the story from Jennifer about Adam’s indiscretion with Pawel a couple of years ago. Rob seems to have an agenda against the forthcoming wedding, asking Jen if she believes it will ever happen. She asks ‘why not?’ and then proceeds to spill the beans about Pawel. Belatedly, Jennifer realises that she’s been indiscreet and begs Rob not to tell anyone about Adam’s fall from grace. Rob (who has been plying her with drinks and compliments all evening in order to get the low-down on Adam) says triumphantly “I solemnly swear that I won’t tell a living soul.” Hands up all those who believe him - a quick count: yep, that’s no-one then.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

I Want To Be Alone

Felicity Finch & Tim Bentinck (Ruth & David Archer)

Roooooth’s not happy with David again when she discovers that he contracted out the artificial insemination for the next 6 weeks to a man who turns out not to be the talkative type. To be honest I’m not sure how much I’d be able to face talking to anyone if I spent all day every day servicing cows. David did this with the best of intentions to help take the pressure off Roooooth at a time when she was still in Prudhoe looking after Heather. But no, she says he made the wrong decision – I swear that woman’s got 20/20 hindsight. Jill’s in Roooooth’s bad books too. The poor woman’s only been back 5 minutes but she’s already made the mistake of inviting Carol to Christmas lunch without consulting Roooooth first and getting it signed off in triplicate. Not only that but she’s rearranged the rest of the kitchen to accommodate her cake tins, got a batch of biscuits in the oven, and moved the mug tree!

This is all too much and Roooooth seeks refuge outside where she offers to help David and Pip, only to find they’ve got it all in hand and what they really need her to do is out the kettle on. However even that menial task is taken away from her when she returns to find Jill putting out the warm biscuits and preparing the tea things. “Thanks Jill”, she says, as only Roooooth can.

Meanwhile, Adam needs Brian’s help with the silage, a task he leaps at as he’s become so bored he’s started reading Phoebe’s copy of the Highway Code. Adam quizzes him on stopping distances from 70mph and what he’d do if a child ran out from behind an ice-cream van. “I hope I wouldn’t be driving at 70mph round an estate”, says Brian. I put it to you that Brian is unlikely to be found driving round an estate, full stop.

We move to talk of Lynda’s latest production, Calendar Girls. It turns out that Neil, PCB and Kenton have got parts. That should please one of our regular correspondents (Zoe) whose wish for a male line-up almost came true. PCB was on her list, but I don’t recall a shirtless Neil Carter being in her top 5 (or, as we hear later, a soaking wet Neil Carter, stripped down to his underpants). Lynda’s search for the rest of the cast continues - no prizes for guessing who’s going to play the part of Marie, “a bit of a busy-body who likes to be in charge”, or a control-freak, as Kirsty helpfully points out. And what do you know, Helen’s turned down the part of Ruth – a woman let down in marriage. She would have been perfect, however Kirsty offers to take it on intrigued by the character’s journey from doormat to powerful woman, “a powerful message for women generally”. Women generally or do you mean specifically? Do you have anyone in mind?

Speaking of Helen, she’s got a fixed penalty speeding ticket and Rob’s not happy about it. He starts the interrogation by asking why she was going so fast. I wish the answer was “to get away from you, you controlling manipulative bastard”, but no, it was just to hurry back. Rob uses it as an excuse to remind her yet again about Henry’s accident on bonfire night and infers that this time Helen put their unborn baby at risk. Thankfully he doesn’t lose it, and “thanks for not getting angry with me” is about all Helen can say.

Rob and Tony go head-to-head over the second hand tables that Tony’s bought on which to display the fruit and veg in the farm shop. Rob inflames the situation by talking about “organic mumbo-jumbo” – a phrase guaranteed to set Tony off on one – but he stands his ground. Sure enough Rob goes back to Helen and complains about being “overruled”, but Helen’s got news to tell him. Greenbury Farm Services want to see him for an interview. Later on Rob seems to have come round and has found a way to make the tables blend in with the rest of the décor. It’s anyone’s guess what this is, but I think he’s put new legs on them, and to complete the look, put new tops on as well.

Clarrie and Eddie are looking at a string of unsuitable flats, and Clarrie is forced to lobby Peggy in a desperate effort to prevent their eviction from Keepers Cottage. Peggy gets right on the phone but Hazel’s busy, torturing kittens probably, and instructs her to phone back at 15:30. As predicted, Hazel has no sympathy for the “feckless Grundys”, and after having spent so much on the refurbishment, doesn’t want them moving back in. Eddie’s blind optimism about finding somewhere is kicked into touch by Clarrie suggesting they might have to put Joe in a home.

It was good to hear Lilian’s laugh again when we caught up with her at rehearsals, where the discussion was around the difference between “naked” and “nude” and how are they going to do the photo-shoot? Neil’s increasing discomfort is obvious, being the only man there, and he has to leave the room when Lilian mentions her dependency on a “well-formed bra”. However, a braver Neil stands up for the ladies when Lynda reveals that she won’t be appearing in the “artistic” calendar herself because her role doesn’t demand it, but expects the others to. They gang-up and Lynda’s pressured into agreeing. Why didn’t you keep your mouth shut Neil?

Charlie’s drowning his sorrows in the Bull while thinking about his future at Berrow Farm and whether he can keep Justin happy, when Adam walks in. They start reminiscing about good times but Adam kills the mood when he tells Charlie that he and Ian are getting married next month. Heart broken, a timely message from Justin on Charlie’s phone gives him an excuse to leave. Rob’s not impressed about the marriage either. In a ‘pot calling the kettle black’ moment Rob say’s that he wouldn’t Trust Adam because of his “roving eye”. Really? And you can’t see the irony there Helen? Rob tops it off by saying he can’t attend the celebration because he’s not a hypocrite!

Later, Helen’s rushing to pick up Henry and phones Pat back at the shop in a panic because she’s crashed the car. Pat’s first thought is for Helen, but when Rob gets on the phone he’s most concerned about Henry. Henry’s still safe at school, which is just as well as Helen’s gone into full headless-chicken mode. Pat picks Henry up then plays right into Rob’s hands by asking whether Helen needs to drive at all. Well done Pat, you’ve just confined you daughter to the house and given Rob even more control over her.

We end the week with more simmering resentment from Roooooth. The incident with the mug tree is one thing, but Roooooth’s harbouring a grudge that Jill and Pip downed a bottle of Champagne between them, beating her and David to the celebrations over Pip’s degree. It’s not made any better when David tells her that Ben and Josh won’t make the hastily arranged dinner that’s been booked for the ‘real’ celebration. David tries to make it better by saying it’s also a celebration of the future, but this prompts Roooooth to make an ominous comment – “whatever it may hold”. Afterwards, Roooooth and David have a heart-to heart and Roooooth explains that she’s reached the conclusion that she needs some time on her own to clear her head and sort herself out.

And where can a frustrated moaning farmer with a personality deficiency be really appreciated? New Zealand.

Monday, 16 November 2015

No Room at The Inn

Edward Kelsey (Joe Grundy)

We start with a Remembrance Day service and a reading by Rex of the Ode of Remembrance. Alan doesn’t miss the opportunity to tap him up for a goose for The Elms Christmas dinner – it’s nice to hear that this hostel for the homeless still seems to be going strong. Christmas symbolism seems to be a theme running through the week as on-cue we turn to Eddie and a poorly sounding Joe grooming Bartleby while contemplating how he would cope with relocation and anyway, where are they going to relocate to? It sounds like there’ll be no room at the inn (Grey Gables) at Christmas, and they briefly consider squatting in Keeper’s Cottage. Probably better than moving back to somewhere like Meadow Rise which Joe says would finish him off. Eddie promises him that it won’t come to that, probably because for the storyline to reach its natural conclusion they’ll all have to move into a stable.

Eddie finishes the grooming and Joe gives him a mint – Bartleby that is; I was unsure until I heard the donkey-enjoying-a-mint sound effects to confirm it. Edward turns up and greets Bartleby, failing to appreciate his fresh minty breath, and has news that they’re even getting rid of the old shed, which Eddie takes as a sign that “sour-faced-misery” Hazel Woolley is determined to cleanse every trace of the Grundy family from the face of the earth. Edward has a plan to move them into No.1 when it’s ready while he and Emma stay with Susan Carter, but Eddie tries to stay positive and is adamant they’ll find a home of their own – even if they have to move out of Ambridge.

Robert Snell’s helping Lynda align her Chi, whatever that means, by moving her desk around the new production office at Lower Loxley. Worries turn to more tangible energy flows with the number of trailing leads there will be from her computer and desk lamp to the plug sockets. Nice try Robert, you might need a more discreet approach – perhaps you can fashion a tripwire out of some old fishing line or something. With his Chi energised, Robert then makes the blindingly obvious connection between needing to cast Celia in Calendar Girls – a drink and man chasing character – and Lillian. Perfect.

Pip needs a business partner after only being able to raise enough money for a third of the cattle needed to graze the herbal leys. Adam steps up by offering to provide the extra 100 needed and goes away to draw up a contract. It seems that Toby’s loss through over-emphasising his experience is Pip’s gain.

There’s more tension between David and Roooooth as David’s been making decisions without telling her; offering to help fund Pip’s business for example. However Roooooth gets revenge by offering Rex the use of somewhere to process his geese. If he did but know it Roooooth and he are in exactly the same position and suffering the same frustrations.

Poor Edwad has to deal with more trouble at Grange Farm, this time it’s a break-in during the middle of the night. PC Burns is soon on the case examining the scene of the crime. Apparently the living-room is in a bit of a state and Ed will Face-time Oliver and Caroline later. Borsetshire Constabulary still seem to have plenty of resources though, enough anyway to send round a forensics team and equip PCB with a tablet computer on which to report crime (presumably amongst its other assets Ambridge has very good mobile coverage).

Helen’s still beating herself up about Henry’s burnt hand, and to add to her woes it turns out the poor thing can’t even hold a pencil for very long. I’m surprised Rob hasn’t told him to man-up and bear the pain with dignity or use his other, un-burnt hand, but he finds it more useful to use it against Helen as another example of her working too hard and making mistakes. He later continues his brainwashing by first persuading Helen that taking a part in Calendar Girls and taking her clothes off in public is not a good idea; “what made Susan think you would dream of accepting”, and “think of the teasing Henry would get”. Helen further risks his ire by showing him a job advertisement she downloaded for a Product Development Manager, and to make things worse it turns out it was Tom’s idea for Rob to apply. Rob swiftly tells Helen to go home and not worry about his job prospects – a lucky escape if you ask me.

Later Helen drops into the shop with a card from Rob’s parents, who she still hasn’t met, and Rob’s reaction is underwhelming to say the least. Helen seems to be enjoying getting on with organising stock with Jennifer when Rob comes in and tries to drag Helen away, but Jennifer sides with Rob and they both persuade her to go.

Charlie gets put through the mincer by Justin Eliot over his handling of the Press and treats him to an old Polish proverb; “only fools, children and drunkards always tell the truth”. Everything Charlie’s doing seems to be in question, from the hunt ball and accommodation at Grey Gables for Justin’s guests, to his staff management and handling of Rob’s departure. After the meeting Charlie phones Adam for moral support and wants to see him later that evening for a drink but Adam’s seems to be on a promise from Ian that night. Charlie bravely conceals his jealousy.

Kenton drops by Brookfield and brings the first instalment of his debt repayment – proceeds from the sale of a few old ashtrays online – which Roooooth inexplicably stashes in a teapot.

That evening the guests are gathering for Dan’s party and Elizabeth’s busy organising the evening. Discussion of a magnificent floral centrepiece doesn’t bode well for its survival in the presence of Dan’s army friends, and sure enough a stuffed deer’s head turns up in the middle, and is positioned as if grazing the flowers. Everyone seems to be in a good mood and Elizabeth takes it well, and Brian seems happy ogling all the young ladies (especially the girl Dan reveals he wants to marry) and it seems to have gone to his head, telling Roooooth about the music “if it’s too loud, you’re too old”.

Roooooth retreats to the main house with Usha where she reveals her frustrations with David. It turns out she’s been feeling unwanted and very sorry for herself for a long time, and we end with Roooooth wondering if David knows who she is anymore. How do you feel about older women Rex? Roooooth has history and may need a shoulder to cry on while you eviscerate your fowl in her barn. It could make for an interesting domestic situation too, if Toby finally gets his paws on Pip.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Just Tell It Like It Is

Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell)

Given that she is mega-annoying, interfering and pompous, how come everyone was walking on eggshells and trying to make sure that Lynda never found out the truth about the dead Scruff poisoning the Berrow Farm cattle? Wednesday evening saw the public meeting about the deaths of cows at Berrow Farm and Lynda was active before it started, exhorting people to attend (“Do we have a choice?” asked a resigned Jim) and also to sign her petition for the closing of Berrow Farm and the hanging, drawing and quartering of Charlie Thomas.

At the meeting, she constantly interrupted Adam and, when he said that the cause was silage, contaminated by a dead animal, she asked “What animal?” What a chance for Adam to say “Well, actually, it was your dead dog, Scruff”, which would have shut her up or, more likely, sent her screaming from the meeting. Instead he waffles on about a dead bird being responsible in an earlier case and heads off her line of questioning. He finishes by saying that no-one was to blame and it was a tragic accident that could have happened on any farm.

Lynda is not convinced and, afterwards, she tells Jim that it all goes to show how immoral it is to keep so many cows crammed together, and sign the damn petition. She then goes off to harass some other poor sod after telling Eddie that she hopes all his turkeys are securely penned in (notice that it doesn’t seem to matter that the turkeys are all crammed together). Eddie confides in Jim that he was playing darts with a worker from Berrow Farm, who said that it was a dead dog that contaminated the silage. Both men realise that it has to be Scruff and Jim says “If Lynda finds out, she’ll be terribly upset”, to which Eddie replies “Yeah, so let’s try and make sure she doesn’t.”

No, no, no! Go round and tell her what really happened, dropping the occasional remark along the lines of ‘Don’t worry that you are - albeit unwittingly - responsible for the deaths of 80+ cows and a financial hit for Berrow Farm of £150 K - it could have happened to anyone who wasn’t looking after their dog properly’.

After the meeting, Adam tells Brian what a good expert witness Alistair was. Digressing slightly, Alistair only arrived at the last moment and left immediately it was over, and Shula has been telling Jim that her husband has been spending a lot of time working. I have speculated that something seems to be brewing between Shula and Alistair (see earlier Instability At The Stables) and I still reckon that there is a story here about to happen.

The Grundys are suffering from a lack of turkey sales and they featured in the week’s ‘most obvious story line’, which began on Monday, when Eddie revealed that the builders had finished in Keeper’s Cottage. He whisked Clarrie off for a sneak preview and she was overcome at the sight of tiled floors, granite worktops and a built-in dishwasher: no expense had been spared. She cannot wait to move in. On Friday, Joe and Eddie are further dispirited by low sales figures, and Joe is in full Cassandra mode, saying that it has been an ’annus horribilis’ for the family and, furthermore, “It’s gonna get worse - there’s gonna be a disaster.” Joe might be a rubbish scallywag and a miserable git, but you have to take your hat off to him as a prophet of doom - no sooner are the words out of his mouth than Clarrie opens a letter and lets out a squeal of alarm. It is from Hazel Woolley’s agents and is giving the Grundys two months’ notice to quit Keeper’s. I, along with practically all listeners, thought on Monday that ’there’s no way Hazel will let the Grundys live in a high-spec residence’, but Clarrie obviously wasn’t suspicious, as she said “Oh Eddie; our home”, adding: “What are we going to do?” Well, they could always move in with the turkeys - if they cannot be sold, they can be used as living blankets.

Rob is becoming more sinister and controlling (and less likeable) than ever. On Sunday he finds Helen out of bed sleepwalking - later on she has no recollection and Rob says her hormones are all over the place and he also suggests that it might have something to do with her accidental meeting with Kirsty. Later on, he reveals his plan for decorating the shop, which appears to involve getting Pat, Tony and Tom to do all the work (and, presumably, Rob wielding the whip). Helen thinks this is a good idea and says that “We have a good team.” “We?” asks Rob in leaden tones and proceeds to tell her that going up ladders and breathing in paint fumes is not a good idea. The sleepwalking, he goes on, is a sign of physical and mental stress and that she should step back. “You should stop feeling that you always have to be in control,” he says, which is a bit rich, coming from him, adding: “Your priority is yourself and our baby - you know that I’m right, don’t you?”

Obviously Helen hasn’t taken this in as, the following day, she and Rob are at the shop, checking that the decorators are still at it. Rob unshackles Pat briefly and the three of them examine Fallon’s proposals for the new café at the shop. She wants to call it ‘The Ambridge Tea Room’ but Rob ridicules the name and her branding, saying that “We need to decide what’s best for our business.” Sorry? Our business? Pat says that it’s nothing to do with her, politely refraining to point out that it’s sod-all to do with Rob either and why doesn’t he get a proper job? So what does the Doormat think? Amazingly, we had a spark of the old Helen, when she points out that Fallon is paying rent and she prefers ‘The Ambridge Tea Room’. Rob is not a happy camper and, later, he says that Helen made him look a fool and undermined him in front of Pat. He adds that she shouldn’t be making such decisions and “Is the shop more important than your peace of mind, your health and the health of our baby?” He goes on: “You’re not strong Helen; you seem determined to risk a complete breakdown.” The Doormat apologises, but an angry Rob says he’ll eat out and “Don’t wait up.”

It gets worse on Bonfire Night, when Helen tells Rob (who has been out hunting - it seems that he’s not picking up a paintbrush at the shop) that she has arranged for Susan to take Henry to the fireworks on the Village Green. Rob is incensed that Helen could entrust Henry to Susan and Emma, as they’ll be letting the kids run wild. As it turns out, Susan takes her eye off Henry for a moment and he picks up a hot sparkler and is taken to A&E. Rob and Helen go to the hospital, where he is stern with Susan and says that it should never had happened. Driving home, Rob says that he knew something like this would happen and he tried to warn Helen “But you just wouldn’t listen - you see now how right I was?” Helen admits that she was wrong and Rob rubs it in, saying that she has changed and she’s not in a position to make clear judgements. He adds: “Your priority is our little boy growing inside you - that’s the only thing that matters. Listen to what I tell you.” The Doormat replies “You’re absolutely right”, which is what he’s been telling her. Note that ’our baby’ has changed to ’our little boy’.

The Fairbrothers submitted their CVs and business plan (co-authored by the Brothers Grimm) to Adam regarding the shared farming plan. Their pitch for running a 450-strong herd of cattle seems to hinge on the fact that Rex has seen and touched a cow on one occasion. Adam is not convinced and kicks the lads into touch. However, he realises that Pip could be an ideal partner and runs it past David and then Pip. David says that she will grab his hand off (and she does) and he isn’t even fazed when Adam says that it would involve some financial investment.

On that note, Rooooth went to Prudhoe to sort out Heather’s estate and came back in full moaning mode, as nothing seems to be happening at Brookfield, regarding running the home. She tells David that Heather had a life insurance worth £200 K. David mentions that the house is worth £300 K and Rooooth goes off on one, saying that “It’s only money” and says she has to go out. When she’s gone, David says to himself “Half a million.” David, a few months ago, you could have had 15 times that, so I wouldn’t go on about it to Rooooth.

Meanwhile, Rooooth has gone to Lower Loxley to see Jill. Rooooth reveals that she feels useless as a wife and mother and the house is in a mess. Jill asks if there’s anything she can do and a tearful Rooooth asks if she feels that she could come back to Brookfield? Jill accepts like a shot and Rooooth hastily adds that “It’s not just for the cooking and tidying.” Of course it isn’t - there’s the washing, shopping and cleaning as well.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

It’s Good To Talk…

Patricia Greene (Jill Archer)

If so, why dont more people in Ambridge do it? Lets start off with our self-flagellating, hair-shirt-wearing, nettle-thrashing, mega-sighing, false Geordie, Rooooth. David tells his wife that she needs some time off, but Rooooth says that there is no food in the larder, the washing wont do itself and whos going to clean the house? Nevertheless, David says that, if she doesnt ring Usha and arrange a lunch date, then he will.

Poor Usha is having her ear bent from all sides: on Thursday she is meeting with Elizabeth, who says that Brookfield could probably do with Jills help. Usha wonders, if Jill moved back, would Rooooth be upset? Usha then moves on to having lunch with Rooooth (dont these lawyers have a job to do?) and, you will be gobsmacked to know, Rooooth is feeling guilty - whenever she thinks of her Mum, she thinks of the motorway services where Heather passed away and I let her die like that. Anyone would think that Rooooth pressed a pillow over her Mums mouth. Oh, and yes, Rooooth is also feeling guilty because she cant forgive David for changing his mind over the move, without consulting her. She doesnt say it, but she probably feels guilty because the mixer wagon needs a new gearbox and if shed been at Brookfield, shed have greased it, or whatever.

Usha (presumably banging her head on the table or trying to cut her own throat with a bread knife) suggests that Rooooth will have to talk to David about how she feels and you need Jill; would you mind her being back? Rooooth says that shed be overjoyed if Jill were to return and Usha says do you really think that shed say no? and urges Rooooth to talk to her. I cant risk it Rooooth replies and Usha (by now presumably beating Rooooths head on the table) says Youve got to find out sometime.

Meanwhile, Jill is talking to Carol about how she feels, living at Lower Loxley (not very happy, and Joes totally fictitious story about seeing a ghostly dancing girl - supposedly Julia - at Lower Loxley, hasnt helped her mood any) and Carol suggests that Jill really wants to move back to Brookfield. Jill agrees, but wonders if Rooooth might not want her back. Says Carol: Unless you have a conversation with her, neither of you is going to find out. Give that woman a coconut! Please, just talk to each other, as I cant stand all this What ifbut what does she thinkwhos going to clean up this mess? scenario.

Lets move on to Calendar Girls, which I remember fondly as a good film. Lynda Snells forthcoming production has banished this good feeling. Every year - every bloody year - we have the who can I cast as so-and-so, God, its always so difficult scenario and, quite frankly, it gets on my chimes. I dont propose to dwell on the machinations of Lyndas attempts to ensnare people into her cast, but she persuaded Elizabeth to play Annie, the widow, by telling her that it could be cathartic and flattering Susan into taking the part of Chris, after Susan had said that she wasnt interested in being a member of the cast. Susan even says that she is comfortable with getting her kit off. However, maybe Lynda has been hoist by her own petard (yes please, God) as Susan rings her to request a meeting as Ive got so many ideas of how to play Chris. How this will go down with the Director, remains to be seen.

Looking back, Lynda puts all this effort into the Christmas production and it always seems to succeeds despite of, rather than because of, her production. Think back to last year - she had imbued Blithe Spirit with all sorts of pretentious nuances and it turned out to be a runaway success because Susans dress split and she played it like a farce. The year before, Lynda had a smorgasbord of Shakespeare and Bronte (if Im wrong, I prefer not to know - I try to block these out of my mind) which was destined to fail until Kenton, as the Lord of Misrule, took over proceedings and turned it into a pantomime, which pleased the audience.

Talking of Kenton, it is his and Jolenes second wedding anniversary, which we are informed is Cotton. Jill and Carol wonder what Kenton can buy her. I dont know, but given the choice between a lacy doily and some sexy knickers, I know where Id put my money. Renovation work on The Bull is going ahead and things are looking up for Kenton and Jolene - and thank God too, as nobody does a downer week after week like Kenton.

Its an exciting week for Rob and Helen, as its time for their first scan of the embryo Damien Titchener. Rob is excited and cannot understand why Helen isnt as keen as him, adding that it’s probably because it’s his first time and her second. The Rob controlling lasso gets ever tighter when he tells her that he’s going to Bridge Farm to talk to the builders and she says that she’d like to go along. He practically forbids her and gives her money to go shopping and buy maternity clothes. After the scan, Rob is overjoyed, saying that he can’t wait to show Pat and Tony the picture. Helen says that she wanted to be there as well, to which Rob says “Don’t be selfish, darling - you showed them Henry’s.” He also tells her that he is going back to the shop to talk to the builders and, after Helen’s token protest that she’d like to tag along, he tells her that he won’t hear of her going - go off and do some more shopping. Earlier, Helen accidentally met with Kirsty and the two girls meet up for a walk after Rob has banished his wife from the new shop. Helen shows Kirsty the scan and mentions that Rob is convinced the baby will be male. Kirsty says that, if it were to be a daughter, it would be a new experience for both Helen and Rob. Helen’s response is “Rob doesn’t see it like that” and, when Kirsty says that Rob would spoil his daughter rotten, Helen replies that “He can be over-protective” and starts sobbing. Kirsty is concerned, but Helen passes it off as relief about the scan and ‘hormones’. Kirsty senses that it’s more than that and tells Helen that she can tell her. Helen insists that she’s fine, adding: “Why wouldn’t I be? Everything’s going to be all right [long pause] Isn’t it?”

At Berrow Farm, cows are still dying. Charlie goes to the Harvest Supper, hoping to tell Lynda that the cause of the botulism outbreak was the dog’s corpse. Jennifer manages to head him off, by telling him it might have been Lynda’s pet and it might be better if she never found out about the dog. Why? It would give her closure over Scruff and perhaps that she was, however inadvertently, indirectly responsible for the deaths of 80 (and counting) bovines, might take her mind off Calendar Girls, or even shock her into abandoning am dram forever - I’d consider that a worthwhile sacrifice, personally.

Charlie and Adam meet and Charlie says that he is going to be blamed for the outbreak. Joe and Eddie (both the worse for strong drink) happen along and abuse Charlie; seemingly blaming him for the disappearance of Ed’s cattle. Adam tells them “If you haven’t got anything sensible to say, I suggest you leave.” He then suggests to Charlie that he should hold a public meeting about the outbreak and he (Adam) would talk on Charlie’s behalf and Alistair could give a Vet’s perspective, plus Brian could chair the meeting. Charlie is touched by this gesture of friendship and says “You’re one of a kind, Adam Macy.”

Moving on finally to Edward, he is on the verge of giving up the Grange Farm tenancy, but Emma talks him out of it - at least for the time being. Ed tells Dad Eddie and Granddad Joe of his plans and Eddie offers him a loan as he has a substantial cheque arriving. Ed says he cant accept, but thanks anyway. Later on in the week, Ed gets a phone call from Oliver (in Tuscany), who has heard about the cattle theft and is appalled when Ed tells him that he couldnt afford to insure the beasts. Oliver (who must be a candidate for Sainthood) offers Ed a loan (Interest free, of course) and begs him not to do anything rash. Everyone is telling Ed that hes a first class farmer and not to give up, while Ed says that he lost his dairy cattle and now hes had his beef cattle stolen, so is he that good? You have to admit that he might well have a point.