Michael Cochrane (Oliver Sterling)
After last week’s episodes, the Grundys must truly believe in Santa Claus, except that his name is Oliver Sterling. At the beginning of the week, Clarrie and Eddie were practically suicidal - the doss house where Joe has an emergency bed is - well, it’s a doss house. A shared bathroom and toilet, no meals provided and some of the other inmates on the dodgy side; it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas for poor old Joe. It’s all too much for Clarrie, who rings Susan as she needs someone to talk to, or rather, she needs a shoulder to cry on. Her big fear is that she and Eddie will spend the rest of their lives in a poky flat, miles from Ambridge.
On Tuesday, Oliver rings Ed from Tuscany to thank him for sorting out the clear up after the break-in at Grange Farm and he notices that Ed seems a bit distracted. Ed tells him about the hostel and the dire flat that Eddie and Clarrie have signed up for. Emma joins him at Grange Farm and Ed becomes nostalgic when he remembers his childhood there. Emma gets him to dance with her on the new oak floor.
On Thursday, the Grundy’s spirits have sunk even lower, if such a thing were possible. Mind you, it is the day of slaughtering, plucking and drawing the turkeys, which can’t be a lot of fun. To digress, it appears that Thursday ought to be renamed ‘Death Day’ as the Fairbrothers (aided by Pip) are slaughtering their geese on the same day. Eddie is really despondent, saying that this will probably be the last year that they raise turkeys, as it’s not worth it and they cannot compete with the Fairbrothers and everything’s awful. An annoyed Clarrie (no doubt prudently removing knives from his reach) tells him off for saying such things in front of Joe and to get on with the poultrycide.
Ed should be helping, but he’s on his phone and we hear him say “You aren’t serious, Oliver?” “Oh no, what now?” Clarrie wails. But this time it’s good news - in fact it’s fantastically good news, as Ed reveals that Oliver and Caroline are having such a good time in Tuscany, that they aren’t coming back for some time; if indeed they come back at all. As such, why don’t the Grundys (Eddie, Clarrie, Joe, Ed, Emma and the kids) move into Grange Farm for six months? Rent free, of course - all they have to do is pay the bills - would they like that? Would they? Do the Osmonds have teeth? It is all too much for Joe, who goes out to tell Bartleby and who bursts into tears of joy. Oliver’s reason is that, if the house had been occupied, then there would probably not have been a break in. Suffice it to say that the family is delighted and Clarrie turns up the heating as they return to killing fowls with new-found enthusiasm.
The Fairbrothers sold a few more geese at their touch rugby event. The insufferable Toby tells Rex that this could be his day - when Pip sees his athletic prowess, she won’t be able to keep her hands off him. Rex taunts him and, when the brothers meet on opposite sides during a game, Rex scores a try. Always the sportsman, Toby later flattens him with a vicious tackle (this was supposed to be touch rugby, don’t forget) and Pip drives Rex to A&E. While there, Rex shyly tries to tell Pip that he likes her, but she isn’t listening.
At the end of the week, we learn that this is obviously a genetic defect, handed down in the female Archer line, when Rooooth rings David. David has been counting down the hours till his wife returns and is devastated when Rooooth tells him how much she’s enjoying her time in NZ and she’s learned so much. She’s actually excited by farming once again - so much so that she has decided to stay on and has swapped her return ticket for an open ticket. David manages to say “Things aren’t ideal here” but Rooooth doesn’t pick up on this and witters on about what an opportunity it is. David reminds her that it’s their 27th anniversary on Tuesday (he’s spent a lot of time sourcing her present - a bronze ornament of a calf and its mother) but she says that it’s not an important number is it? In a doom-laden voice, David says he’s pleased she’s enjoying herself, adding: “Don’t stay away too long.”
‘Things aren’t ideal.’ Too right they aren’t - firstly, David has broken his right arm and, the day before Rooooth rang, Matthew heard a calf coughing. It turns out to be pneumonia and Alistair is called in to dish out some antibiotics. David is annoyed that Pip didn’t spot the sick calf (Jill tells him off for berating Pip on the phone) and says that Rooooth, with her greater experience, would have noticed it. He is really angry with himself and Rooooth’s news that she is staying on does nothing to improve his mood.
Adam gets a text from Charlie, saying that he is going to accept the job up in Perthshire, and he drops everything and rushes round for a fuller explanation, and tries to change Charlie’s mind. Charlie asks Adam if he’s asking him to stay “Because if you are, that could make a difference.” All Adam can say is that he hopes it works out as Charlie wants it to. On Friday, Charlie, Adam and Ian are among the invitees at the Lower Loxley wine festival. Charlie gets Adam on his own outside and asks him to come with him to Scotland. Adam points out that he’s getting married in three days, plus his home and work are in Ambridge. He admits that he has strong feelings for Charlie, but he couldn’t hurt Ian like that. “So you’re going to sacrifice what you really want for him?” Charlie asks. “Isn’t that what love is, real love?” Adam replies. Right on cue, Ian (who has been looking for Adam) turns up - it’s time to take David home. A disturbed Adam says ‘goodbye’ to Charlie.
Another attendee at the wine festival is Dr Richard Locke, who tells Elizabeth that he is moving back to Ambridge - he has taken a lease on Keeper’s Cottage. “It will be great to have him back in the village again” Elizabeth tells David, after she and the doctor have had a long conversation. She tells him that she is appearing in ‘Calendar Girls’ and he says that he’ll be sure to come and see it.
Speaking of Calendar Girls, there is no doubt that Lynda has a world-class sniff of disdain, as we hear when she talks about the tabards that Susan makes the shop assistants wear. Honestly, if she ever got a cocaine habit, I reckon she could hoover up about a grand’s worth at a time.
The Rob and Helen story rumbles on. She rings him at work to ask if she could have some money to buy a new dress for Adam and Ian’s wedding. The short answer is ‘no’, as he reminds her that he gave her some money recently to buy some maternity clothes and she should have got something then. Besides, he’s much too busy to leave the shop and take her shopping. Helen’s doorbell rings. “Are you expecting somebody?” Rob, asks, sharply. Helen isn’t and rings off before answering the door.
The visitor is a surprise - it is Rob’s mother, Ursula. To Helen’s surprise, she knows about the baby boy and has brought a few things for her soon-to-be grandson. She demonstrates that she is Rob’s mother when she asks Helen “Are you getting enough rest?” Suddenly Rob (who obviously couldn’t have been that busy) turns up and is surprised to see his mother. Not only surprised, but obviously not very happy, as he immediately starts on at her about driving in the dark etc and can he open the door for her? Before she is carried over the threshold, Ursula mentions Godparents, saying that presumably Rob’s brother will be one. Helen mentions Adam and Ian. Mistake! When Ursula has finally been given the bum’s rush, Rob chides Helen, saying that Adam and Ian are hardly shining moral examples and, in a breathtaking bit of cheek, he accuses Helen of making his mind up for him, adding: “How would you feel if I did that to you?” As if!