Michael Winder (Matthew Holman)
Last week, we said ‘hello’ to Matthew, the relief contract milker who was brought in to help out at Brookfield after David broke his arm, having caught it in the cattle crush when checking on a lame animal. David chides himself for not taking adequate safety precautions, but we are all wise after the event. Incidentally, David tells Pip not to mention the accident to Rooooth, which will no doubt give her something else to gripe about when she returns.
David might not appreciate this thought, but it’s an ill wind and all that, as Matthew seems a more-than-adequate stand in (he was the one they had lined up earlier when it looked like Pip was leaving the farm) and Pip seems quite taken with him, singing his praises to David after only a couple of days. She also invited him to join them for the great Christmas lights switch-on and the re-opening of The Bull on Friday.
This truly looks like a match made in heaven, as the two of them spend the evening talking about milk yields and how calm and relaxed the cows are; something which Matthew puts down to the quality of Pip’s handling of them. As they indulge in a session of self-congratulation, Toby comes into the pub and offers Pip a drink. Pip says she’s OK and introduces Matthew. Toby’s nose is put out of joint by the obvious rapport between Pip and Matthew and he says coldly “We’ve met.” Toby then heaps praise on Pip, describing her as “the third member of our team.” He has leaflets promoting his touch rugby tournament and says “It’s probably not your game, is it Matt?” “Matthew,” the milker replies, adding that he likes both rugby and football, but he’s got plans for Sunday. Toby’s discomfiture is completed when Pip asks him if he’d mind doing one, as she and Matthew are discussing matters bovine. A clearly-narked Toby says “OK, catch you later” and Matthew rubs it in when he replies “See you - Tobes.”
I like Matthew already - anyone who gets up Toby’s nose has got my vote and Pip is obviously impressed. What will happen when Rooooth comes back after a fortnight? Perhaps Pip will send her away again, or maybe Matthew might stay on, as we learn that David’s arm will be in plaster until Christmas.
Toby and Rex are trying to get some Brownie points by delivering Jennifer’s old kitchen units to the Village Hall as a favour. Not that it does them much good with Rob, who is there when they load up and, when the brothers ask if there is any chance of the Bridge Farm shop stocking their geese, Rob says ‘no’, as they are not organic. He adds “We’re very strict about that - organic only.” Where did you get the ‘we’ from Rob?
It wasn’t a good week for Tobes, as he was gently taking the mick out of Adam, when the latter explained that he and Brian were off to a farm near Witney where the farmer has been operating a soil fertility policy, similar to Adam’s. Toby feigns great interest, but Adam is not fooled and, on his return, he tells Toby that he has loads of literature and is looking forward to discussing the subject with him in great depth. Toby quickly changes the subject.
Brian is impressed with the Witney operation and points out that the farmer has not gone to the same radical lengths as Adam. For his part, Adam says “Trust me - in five years’ time these guys will be visiting Home Farm to see how it’s done.” Just as long as they aren’t visiting to say ‘I remember when this used to be a viable farm.’ No - I’ve got faith in Adam; carry on lad.
Adam seems to have faith in his half-sister, Kate. Brian tells him that she has been granted planning permission for her yurts and he had been hoping that ‘this mad scheme of hers’ would have failed at this hurdle. Adam says “She might surprise us all yet” but Brian regards this as the triumph of hope over experience, citing her track record of failures and disasters. Speaking personally, I hope that she does surprise us - preferably by packing up and moving to the Far East somewhere.
Rob continues to exert his baleful influence over Helen, by undermining her confidence and tightening his control over her. On Sunday, Eddie delivers a load of logs, just as Rob is off to do Helen’s stint at the Bridge Farm shop (he has told her to spend the day in bed - why doesn’t he just nail up all the doors and windows when he leaves the house?). Later on, Eddie turns up at the shop, slightly embarrassed, as Helen had no money to pay him and she couldn’t find the cheque book. Rob gives him £50 on account (how many logs did he deliver, for heaven’s sake?). When he returns home, Rob shows Helen the cheque book (“where it always is, darling”). Mystified, she says that she had looked there and he eventually apologises for over-reacting, citing her ‘all over the place hormones’, which does nothing for her self-confidence.
Rob then lets Helen know about Adam’s indiscretion with Pawel but, master that he is, he makes her drag the information out of him and feigns reluctance to tell her. Of course, he eventually does, and says that the knowledge is weighing heavily on him. Why so? Because Adam is deceiving Helen and everyone else and, who knows, Rob adds, might this just be one in a string of affairs? He urges Helen to have nothing to do with the wedding, thus isolating her from one of her best friends in Ian, who will be upset if she doesn’t turn up. Just another turn of the screw by Rob, the master manipulator.
Thursday is the day of Helen’s private scan and Rob is on top form again, saying that the midwife was pleased that Helen has given up driving. In - what for her - passes as open rebellion, Helen disagrees, saying that the midwife seemed surprised, if anything, as most women carry on. “Most women don’t have two accidents in quick succession” is Rob’s reply and Helen (who has obviously been taking the Brave Pills) protests that the first one was a speeding ticket, not an accident. Rob’s answer? “It’s symptomatic of how your head’s still in a bit of a muddle.” You have to admire the skill of the man, while desperately wanting to tar and feather him.
The Brave Pills kick in further, when Helen questions the need for the scan and describes it as an unnecessary expense. “You’re worth it darling” Rob replies. What is she supposed to say to that? ‘No, I’m not’? Besides that, he says that they will be able to tell them if it’s a boy. Helen still puts up token resistance, saying “But only if we want them to - I’d be happy knowing it’s healthy; we don’t need to know the sex at this stage, do we?” Well, dear readers, whose will do you reckon prevailed? Spot on! As they drive away (Rob at the wheel, naturally), he says ecstatically: “Isn’t that the most perfect news? A boy - it’s a boy - my son. Isn’t that wonderful?” Helen, who is presumably realising that she is just the conduit through which Rob junior will walk the Earth, says (unenthusiastically) “Yes, of course it is.”
And so to Calendar Girls. We are getting into photo shoots for the Calendar and rehearsals. Elizabeth upbraids Lynda for pilfering props from the ‘Deck the Halls’ exhibitions and tells her to put them back. At rehearsal, PC Burns, who is playing Lawrence, the photographer, gets told off for his off-script comments. For example, when supposed to be photographing Lynda, whose modesty (if indeed she has such a virtue) is preserved by a pile of pastries, he yells out “Nice buns Lynda!” and I’m willing to bet that it’s been an awfully long time before anyone (including husband Robert) has told her that.
Susan is miffed when she says that ‘the body stockings will help cover us up’ and an indignant Lynda says that there will be no body stockings, just sheer nudity (not nakedness, which seems a fine distinction). Susan is appalled - what if the stagehands cop an eyeful of her au naturel? Don’t worry Susan - we can make sure that backstage staff have a ready and copious supply of vomit bags.