Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell)
Poor Lynda came dangerously close to losing it last week - things started badly on Sunday when Susan, who was admiring the newly-printed calendars, noticed that she was showing a bit more flesh than she had intended in her Miss October picture. There’s no way that she would let the calendars go on sale with her bits being flaunted all round the village - something needed to be done. Perhaps people wouldn’t notice if the offending page was ripped out and September 30th was followed by November 1st?
It got worse for Lynda when, at rehearsal for Calendar Girls, she learned that Jean Harvey (who had been brought in to replace Carol when the latter had to hotfoot it down to Bristol) had walked out in a mega-strop when Lilian, the epitome of tact and diplomacy, called Jean a prima donna. Jean won’t come back till Lilian apologises and Lil says that she has nothing to apologise for, as she was speaking the truth. Lynda agrees that Jean isn’t what you’d call a team player and then goes ever so slightly berserk when Elizabeth remarks that it’s as if the play has two directors.
Giving her actors a verbal lashing, Lynda accuses them of behaving like spoilt children and adds that she cannot take much more of this. “Do any of you know how hard it is?” she rants rhetorically, adding: “Do you wonder why I put myself through this ordeal year after year? It’s because I care. This rehearsal is over - you can leave whenever you want!” She’s got a nerve - never mind her being put through an ordeal - what about us? And if it’s so hard, then don’t do it - you may care but I’m sure I don’t.
Just as we thought that was it, Susan seeks Lynda out and says that she has come up with a solution to the problem with the calendar - self-adhesive silver stars to cover up the offending bits. Lynda is pathetically grateful and, sadly, we realise that the show is a goer once more.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve, where Lynda and Leonie are almost late for the Carol Service. Constanza the llama made a bid for freedom and it took time to round her up. When the service is over, Lynda and Leonie are putting the finishing touches to little Muppet’s stocking and Leonie tells her what a good grandmother and a good friend she is. Lynda muses on missed opportunities - if she had had children, perhaps she wouldn’t have been so active in village life. So, on the plus side there would have been no Christmas extravaganzas, but we would have had Lynda the doting mother and her genes added to the pool - a tough one to call, I think you’ll agree.
But we aren’t done with Lynda yet - her musings are interrupted by a noise from outside. Has the bloody llama got out again? No - it’s something smaller, maybe a fox or a badger? Leonie tries to scare it away, but Lynda stops her, making encouraging noises to the creature. Surely in can’t be…But it is - it’s Scruff. Lynda’s joy is unconfined at the return of her pet.
The next day, we learn that Lynda got Alistair out (on Christmas Day? That’s going to cost her) and his opinion is that Scruff has been living rough - he has no appetite and is infested with fleas. Lynda sends Robert out to Felpersham to buy some tripe from a lady who breeds terriers and the dog actually eats a bit; presumably to stop Lynda going on at him. Jill has turned up to check on the news about the returned dog (shouldn’t she be in the kitchen at Brookfield, baking or basting something?) and we learn from Lynda that she knew it was Scruff when she heard whining in the dark.
Mind you, from last week’s performance, that could just as easily have been Joe. God, the man’s a miserable old git, isn’t he? The Grundys have a lot of turkeys left unsold and likewise the Fairbrothers with geese, so Toby suggests that they have a joint stall at Felpersham market on Christmas Eve. He also manages to rope Clarrie in for plucking and dressing (the geese) and, on the day, he proves himself a good crowd worker, managing to get rid of all the spare birds.
At the end of the day, Toby hands over £1,200 in cash to Eddie - I hope officials from HMRC were taking note - and he was proud that he had managed to sell all the turkeys. Ingrate Joe, however, moans that that was because he “practically gave them away.” Excuse me? If he was ‘giving them away’, then I submit that, to rake in £1,200, there must have been an artic or two full of turkeys. Toby responded to Joe’s comments by saying “They’d be worth nothing to you on Boxing Day, Joe” and the old curmudgeon eventually concedes that Toby did well.
Let’s digress here for a moment. We heard Toby sell one goose, weighing 5kg, for £32. If we assume that the Fairbrothers also trousered £1,200 and that this goose was a typical weight, then that’s 37 people who bought a goose. I think that we can assume the turkeys weighed a bit more (Toby was selling them by £/kg), but if we assume that the average turkey was 11kg and sold for the same £/kg, then altogether that’s around 50 people who hadn’t ordered their Christmas bird before Christmas Eve - taking a chance, or what?
Going back to Toby - he did, indeed, do well. So well, in fact, that there was no turkey left for the Grundy’s and Carter’s Christmas lunch. No problem - Toby and Rex had kept back a goose as a ‘thank you’ for Clarrie and a Christmas present for the rest of the family. Joe is apoplectic at the thought - he’d rather chew his own gonads off than have goose on Christmas Day. So it was that, on Christmas Day, Grange Farm was full of the delicious smell of roasting goose, while Clarrie got ready to prepare Joe’s pork chop, as he chuntered in the background.
By an odd coincidence, Holly the dog managed to get hold of said chop (had it been dusted for fingerprints, Joe’s would have shown up) and Joe said that he supposed he’d better have the goose. After lunch, Eddie remarks that the goose was “The best thing I’ve tasted in years” (Which says a lot for the quality of Grundy’s turkeys) while Clarrie admitted that it made a pleasant change and even Joe said that it was the best goose he’d ever had and he took his hat off to the Fairbrother boys. Even better, he suggested to Eddie that they rear a few geese next year, which will please Rex and Toby no end.
The Grundy’s Christmas ends with Eddie showing Clarrie the replacement he got for her flood-damaged sideboard and she (admittedly helped by a glass or two of wine) telling Eddie and Joe how much she loves them - frankly, I don’t think there’s that much wine in the world - and how Caroline and Oliver are more than friends - they are Guardian Angels. I’d hold on to that thought - yes, Joe might feel that his life has turned full circle and he’s back where he belongs; yes, your sideboard might look just right in the kitchen, but never forget that this is only lendsies - Caroline and Oliver will want Grange Farm back one day - or if not, then they’ll want market value and either way, the Grundys will be out of there.
We turn now to the Evil incarnate that is Rob Titchener. At this Festive time, I don’t intend to spend too much time on him. Helen is ill and, as is his wont every time she so much as sneezes, Rob insists she goes to bed (“You know I’m right, don’t you, darling?”). He also manages to get her to agree not to go to the traditional tree-decorating at Bridge Farm on Christmas Eve, as they are now their own family and should be creating their own traditions. As such, Helen won’t want to spend Christmas Day at Bridge Farm either, will she? She’d be much happier at home and he’s already spoken to Pat and she’s agreed and what is Helen doing out of bed?
Rob seems determined to cut Helen off from all human contact other than himself, Henry and the unborn Prince of Darkness, who we will call Damien. Helen has been trying to contact Ian and, as Rob is driving her home from the shop, telling her she’s too ill to be there and get back to bed, she spots Ian outside Honeysuckle Cottage. Amazingly, Rob agrees to stop the car and Helen greets Ian. He is not a happy bunny and tells Helen in no uncertain terms that she let him down - she knew all about Adam and Charlie and she didn’t tell him. In vain Helen protests that Adam told her it was just a drunken, one-off kiss, but Ian says that Rob has known it has been going on for ages and “What kind of friend does that make you? I trusted you and you let me down. Happy Christmas.” Another avenue closed, another friend alienated and yet another victory for the evil Titchener.
So far, with the exception of Helen, the Christmas stories have been happy, more or less. What else has happened? Richard Locke held his housewarming party, helped considerably by Shula, although Richard bemoaned the fact that Elizabeth couldn’t make it (could we be looking forward to ’A Tale of two Sisters’ in the future?). At the same party, Charlie told Adam that he wished him well, but he hoped they could still talk as friends, to which Adam replies “I’m sorry, I just don’t think there’s anything left to say.” At this party, we had another example of Jennifer’s unerring instinct for doing the wrong thing, when she wanted to take Charlie over to talk to Adam (who had rejected his advances) and Justin (who had, effectively, exiled Charlie to Perthshire). Incidentally, Justin might have slipped up, as he told Lilian and Shula that he has an interest in a racehorse and would they like to be his guests at Felpersham Races? Lilian? With a free bar? Better get ready to sell a company or two to pay for it, Justin.
Someone who definitely isn’t happy is David. Rooooth is still in New Zealand and says she might try and get back sometime soon, maybe. The milk figures are depressing and there is a real possibility that the herd might have to be sold, in which case, they couldn’t justify keeping Pip on. She realises this and says that, if she can’t pay her way, she’ll have to leave. While talking of Pip, she gave Matthew a present and, in return, he gave her a good snog, which she seemed to like. Watch this space.
But back to the dairy herd - we have been here before. Back in 2011, David suggested getting out of milk (see Are The Cows Doomed? August 2011) and Rooooth wouldn’t hear of it, saying there’d always be a dairy herd at Brookfield. A possible solution - Rooooth stays in New Zealand and Pip and Matthew revitalise the fortunes of the herd. Alternatively, Pip and Matthew leave to start up a new dairy business and Rooooth stays in New Zealand, or even, Rooooth stays in New Zealand and… but I’m sure you perceive my drift. A Happy New Year to everyone (except Rob, of course).