Louiza Patikas (Helen Titchener)
Especially if your name is Helen, that is. On Tuesday, Rob goes off with the hunt, ignoring his wife’s comments and questions about the bank statement, showing that large sums have been spent over the past few weeks. Helen is still trying to get in touch with Ian to talk about him being godfather to Lucifer, with little success. At the hunt, Rob proves something of a hero when he calms down Shula’s horse after its bridle broke and he returned home to cook an Italian meal, including home-made Focaccia (Jeremy Hardy joke: “Focaccia - bread with absolutely no interest in the Far East”).
But Helen isn’t hungry, as Pat brought some pasta over to the shop and Helen forgot that Rob was cooking. He isn’t happy, saying: “I distinctly told you I was going to cook.” He’s right Helen, he certainly did - I heard him. “What’s going on in your head?” Rob asks, angrily. In an attempt to placate him, Helen nibbles a bit of salad and she changes the subject, saying that she couldn’t help noticing from the bank statement that Rob had withdrawn £2,500 last month.
This doesn’t go down well with Rob, who snaps that Christmas is an expensive time. Helen points out that, if it hadn’t been for Peggy’s money, they would have gone overdrawn and wasn’t Peggy’s money going to be used towards a deposit on a house? Perhaps they shouldn’t buy expensive presents, like the necklace that Rob bought - at least not until he’s back in regular work? The arch-manipulator immediately turns the blame back on Helen by saying “That was a symbol of my love and now you’re throwing it back in my face. What’s the point? I want to treat you like a queen, buy you beautiful things, make you beautiful meals [and here he angrily throws his food in the bin]. I don’t know why I bother, I really don’t.”
Instead of making the point that she’d rather that Rob didn’t use her money to treat her like a queen, Helen goes to pieces and the conversation goes thus:
H: I’m sorry, darling, I’m so sorry.
R: Are you?
H: Yes, very sorry
R: We’ll leave it there and say no more. You can tell me how you got on with Ian - you did talk to him?
H: I’m sorry Rob, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.
It obviously didn’t take the actress playing Helen long to learn her lines this week - on Wednesday, she did actually get to talk to Ian, although he only agreed reluctantly. After some small talk about the baby, she broaches the subject of him being a godfather and says that she wants him to be her friend. Ian tells her that she should have told him about Adam and Charlie and says, slowly and clearly: “I do not want to be your friend and there’s no way on earth I could be persuaded to stand as godfather to your and Rob’s child.” So that’s a no then, is it Ian? And Helen’s response, as Ian walks out? You guessed it: “Ian - I‘m sorry.”
Shortly afterwards, Helen is in the shop and is very indecisive when Clarrie, Susan and Fallon want to talk to her about joint promotions to stimulate trade for the café and shop. Helen bursts into tears and (you’re not going to believe this) says “I’m sorry, everyone.”
Let’s hear it for Phoebe, who received an offer from Oxford, although she couldn’t bear to open the letter herself and was carrying it around for the best part of a day. Alex didn’t answer her numerous calls to come over and open it, so she asked Jenny to do it. Even then, Jenny’s response was “Oh Phoebe, I think you’d better read this for yourself” and we had to wait until the following day before we learned of the offer. Talk about milking the suspense!
Phoebe’s success, combined with the fact that Jen celebrated her 71st birthday last week, left Jen in reflective mood - looking back on her life, what had she actually achieved? Let’s think - she managed to nab a (probable) millionaire husband, brought up four children of her own; only three of who quickly escaped abroad, and also her husband’s love child. She’s never had to work (at least not since she hooked Brian) and has just had a state-of-the-art, megabucks kitchen fitted, which she didn’t have to pay for. Better than having to sleep on the streets, I would submit. Brian reassures her that she is the rock on which the family is built, and she is “gorgeous, clever and talented.” He could have added: “And you’re a superb cook, but so you should be, after what that bloody kitchen cost me.”
As we have said before, one thing that Jennifer isn’t very good at is judging potentially embarrassing situations, and she so often says the wrong thing. To celebrate her birthday, she is holding a family supper party and various members of the family are contributing dishes. Why? For what that kitchen cost, I’d expect it to come up with - and cook - the entire menu. Adam brings a cake that Ian has made and Brian wants to discuss the forthcoming Estate contract. Jennifer suggests that they invite Charlie to the supper, as it might be their last chance to say ‘goodbye’ before he is exiled to the frozen north. Brian points out that it is a family gathering and Jennifer says brightly: “You’d like him to come, wouldn’t you, Adam?” She doesn’t even notice that Adam doesn’t give her an answer, when he says “Shall I take Ian’s cake indoors?”
Earlier, we spoke of milking suspense. Phoebe’s offer had nothing on the ‘shall we, shan’t we?’ story of whether Brookfield should adopt Rooooth’s plans for the future. Without going through the tedious conversations, let’s rush through the highlights, day by day.
Sunday: Peggy notices that Jill is grinning like a cat that’s got the cream - is it a new man? No, it’s better than that, but Jill can’t tell anyone, although she does; first Peggy and then Brian. Rooooth asks David isn’t it exciting? In leaden tones, he says “Yes Rooooth, very exciting.”
Monday: Brian tells Jen that David asked him to keep the Brookfield news to himself (obviously he didn’t, but it doesn’t matter, as Jen’s head is full of Oxford - this is before we knew about Phoebe).
Tuesday: Rooooth notices that David isn’t doing handsprings and asks if he’s having second thoughts. “No, not at all.” is his unconvincing reply.
Wednesday: We were spared further procrastination.
Thursday: Rooooth confronts David, who confesses that he can remember all the births of the cows and they are like family, which would make Pip, Josh and Ben unhappy, if they heard it. Honestly! When there was the uncertainty about the cows’ future a few years ago, it was Rooooth who appeared to be in love with the bovines and now it’s David who’s cowlovesick. Rooooth says that he mustn’t go for the plan just to please her and, if he has doubts, they won’t do it.
Friday: A decision! Dave has gone through all the figures and he accepts that Rooth’s plan is the best way forward. “This isn’t your husband talking; it’s your business partner” he tells her. To celebrate, they walk up Lakey Hill, taking torches as it will be dark when they get to the top, and there are protestations of love and optimism for the future. Sadly, they are caught out by a flurry of snow and freeze to death in each other’s arms, unable to escape. Sorry, I got carried away there, although Friday’s episode did end with the couple racing to the top of Lakey Hill.
Toby had prepared a presentation for David and Rooooth, in which he invited them to invest in the Fairbrothers’ business, which would go global in five years. He makes the mistake of talking to David all the time and Rex realises that Rooooth is the person they should be addressing, as she asks all the awkward questions. For example, Toby, when making the case to be allowed to stay at Hollowtree, says “Most of our area is on a slope…” Rooooth interrupts with “Your area?” and Rex spends most of the meeting continually telling Toby just to shut up and listen. Wise words Toby - that’s your New Year’s resolution sorted; forget you were a banker and try a slice of humility for a change. What are the chances?