Daisy Badger (Pip Archer)
It was a busy week for vet Alistair, but we didn’t hear him complain. In fact, we didn’t hear him full stop. On Monday, he is at Brookfield, testing the cows for TB, or so we are told, as all we heard was his car as he drove off, with the job done.
On Thursday, he returns to Brookfield with the results of the tests - we know this because again we hear his car and David helpfully yells out to Pip and Matthew that “Alistair is here.” I can’t remember if we heard his car depart, but once again Alistair came and went wordlessly. You will be pleased to know that there were no TB reactors, but we heard it from David, not Alistair.
He was name checked on Friday by wife Shula, who explained to Charlie at the latter’s leaving soiree that Alistair is operating out of rented premises in Penny Hassett, which explains why he didn’t make the party. If the actor who plays Alistair is getting paid for these non-appearances, then it’s been money for old rope over the past few weeks.
Let’s return to the party. On Tuesday Jennifer meets Charlie and she decides that he should have a proper send-off and forces him to agree to a party at Home Farm on Friday evening. He wasn’t sure, but Jen mentions that Brian has got some really good malt whisky (I bet he’ll thank her for revealing that) and she won’t take no for an answer. Just as Charlie has given in, Helen makes an appearance and Jen promptly invites her and Rob. As Charlie leaves, Helen points out to Jen that Charlie and Rob didn’t see eye-to-eye when Rob left Berrow Farm and it could be awkward if they were to meet. The day before the party, an interview with Rob appeared in the Echo, in which he suggested that many of Berrow Farm’s problems were down to poor management. Perhaps it was just as well that Rob called off on the evening of the party (Helen wasn’t feeling too good, or so he said).
Considering that many in the village regarded Charlie as just one step down from Satan, there are some nice things said about him at the party. Even Rooooth, who was implacably against Berrow Farm from the start, conceded that nobody could fault the effort that Charlie put in, but she did qualify this by saying that she wouldn’t want to work the way they did.
Charlie, fortified by red wine, hot toddies and Brian’s best malt, doesn’t really care and he invites Adam outside. Ian didn’t make the party - he probably could have, but thought better of it - and Charlie tells Adam that there’s something he’d like to share with Adam. The something is a passionate kiss and he asks Adam: “How can you really just let me go when I know you feel the same?” Adam admits that he does love Charlie and he never wanted him to go “but I’m a coward.” Adam invites Charlie to stay a moment longer and the week ends with the two enjoying another long kiss.
Rob did his best to remove yet another of Helen’s emotional props when she asks him if she looks all right? Rob says she looks blooming to him and asks why she mentioned it? Helen replies that Kirsty told her she didn’t look at all well when they met at Helen’s pamper day at the Grey Gables health club. “What a bitch!” Rob shouts, saying that Kirsty obviously has an agenda and “wouldn’t it be better if we just forgot about her and moved on?” Helen half-heartedly defends Kirsty, saying “she was my best friend”, to which Rob replies “yes, was; she’s hardly bothered to keep in touch, has she? Where was she when Tony was at Death’s door? Let’s face it darling - I think you’re better off without her.” Well done Rob; first you engineered the estrangement with Ian, now it’s Kirsty - presumably the next wedge will be driven between Helen and her family and then she’ll have no-one to turn to.
Thursday saw the wassail ceremony (another old tradition that we’ve never heard of before), with Joe dressed as the Wassail King and Phoebe as the Queen. There is a bonfire and flaming torches and much quaffing of cider and the ceremony apparently involves the Queen climbing up into an apple tree and tying a bit of toast to a branch (don’t ask) and then pouring some cider round the tree’s roots. While this merriment is going on (with Eddie getting ever-more pissed) someone notices flames at Grange Farm. Fortunately, we learn the next day that it was only one of Oliver’s sheds that was burned down and fortunately they saved the lawn mower. Hardly what Oliver was expecting from his rent-free-living tenants, but Eddie is confident that he can knock up another shed in no time.
Ronnie and Reggie, the fugitive pigs, are still at large and causing mayhem by trashing people’s gardens. They were finally caught in Grundys’ field, helping themselves to the Grundys’ turkey pellets. Joe - never one to miss an opportunity - said that he deserved a finder’s fee (he told Tom where the pigs were) and settled for a couple of pints.
Mystery surrounds the Fairbrothers: they are discussing future plans (such as getting into eggs) when Toby gets a text message. He immediately tells Rex that he has to get to Brighton immediately (intriguingly, an exasperated Rex says “not again!”) oh, and by the way, he needs some money (“£500 should be enough”) and, dragging Rex along to the bank, Toby promises that “this will be the last time.” Rex tells him to sort his life out and we are left perplexed, wondering what is going on with the brothers. No doubt we will know before long, but please feel free to speculate.
Love’s young dream went horribly wrong for Phoebe, as she told Jennifer that her boyfriend Alex has told her to choose between him and Oxford and she loves him and doesn’t want to lose him. I wouldn’t worry, Phoebe, as Jen is so desperate for you to go to Oxford, that she would probably kill Alex with her bare hands if he stands in your way. As it is, Jen tells her that she mustn’t give up on Oxford: “This could be the chance of a lifetime, Phoebe; you mustn’t throw it away.” Fortunately, she stops short of saying “so stuff Alex”, which wouldn’t have gone down that well.
Jennifer urges Phoebe to talk to her parents and Phoebe shows that she really is clever enough to go to Oxford when she tells her grandmother that she has tried to reach Hayley and she certainly doesn’t want to talk to Kate. At the wassail ceremony, Phoebe talks to both Hayley and Roy and they gently ask whether she thinks Alex is taking what Phoebe wants into account? “But I love him Mum” Phoebe tells Hayley (note the ‘Mum’). Hayley suggests that Alex might be being just a teeny bit selfish and, if he really loves her, he’ll find a way of coping, wherever she goes. Roy says that, if he’s forcing her to choose, then he hasn’t really got her best interests at heart. “All we really want is for you to be happy” he tells his daughter. Phoebe saw sense and told Alex that she was going to try for Oxford and he was horrible to her, saying that she obviously preferred her snotty friends (she hasn’t even got there yet) and he’s gone off her anyway. This feeling suddenly seems to be reciprocated, as Phoebe tells Jennifer that she is going to try her best to get into Oxford, obviously having learned a valuable lesson about young love. As for Alex, his life has been spared, as Jennifer leaves the cheese wire garrote in her handbag.
Actually, there was a lot of love about last week, as we had Pip going on a date with Matthew the milker. This prompted a dialogue between Rex and Toby; Rex was bemoaning the fact that Pip seems smitten with Matthew, to which Toby replies that there are plenty more fish in the sea - “All you need is the right tackle.”
In the early hours of the morning, neither Rooooth nor Jill can sleep and meet in the kitchen. Rooth suggests they turn down the radio, as Pip is sleeping in the dining room while Matthew is living in Rickyard. Jill says that she doesn’t think Pip is there, as she thought she heard someone going over to Rickyard earlier. They check and, sure enough, her bed is empty. Who’d have thought that Pip would still be sleepwalking at her age? Be gentle with him Pip - after all, he’s got to get up and do the early morning milking.