Annabelle Dowler (Kirsty Miller)
I feel that Kirsty will ultimately prove to be Rob’s nemesis, as she is deeply concerned about Helen’s health and she suspects that Rob is responsible. Having been invited by Roy to join him on the steam train experience (Mike and Vicky can’t make it, as Bethany is in hospital), Kirsty realises that there must also be adult and child tickets going begging. Roy says that if she knows anyone who could come, by all means get in touch with them.
Kirsty texts Helen, who calls her back in the evening - she’s all for it. Kirsty asks Helen where she’s calling from and the answer is ‘the garden’ as Helen claims to be feeding the birds. When the call is over, a thoughtful Kirsty asks Jim if anyone would feed birds in the dark and, when he says “no”, she replies “That’s what I thought.” Kirsty Marple is well and truly on the case!
As it turns out, Helen and Henry don’t make it to the train (of which more later), so it’s just Kirsty and Roy. She tells him of her concerns for Helen and doesn’t believe that her no-show was down to illness, as Helen had said. Kirsty points out that, when she was carrying Henry, Helen was fit, well and happy and “whatever’s the matter with her now, it’s not just physical.” Roy tells her to talk to Helen, and Kirsty says that that’s what she’s been trying to do, “but I’ve got to get her to trust me again.”
She gets her chance the following day, when Helen rings her and asks to meet in Borchester after her latest scan. Unbelievably, Rob hasn’t gone with her, but he did book (and give Helen the money for) a taxi there and back. However, Helen went shopping in charity shops and then met with Kirsty. Helen apologises for not telling Kirsty about Tom’s pre-wedding doubts and then bursts into tears, saying that she keeps driving people away. Kirsty says “You’re not right, are you? It can’t just be hormones. I’m worried about you. And why are we meeting here in Borchester - does Rob know you’re meeting me?” Helen says “Of course; why wouldn’t I tell him?” Kirsty says that she doesn’t know - perhaps for the same reason that Helen rang her from the garden after dark, the other day? Helen rushes off, saying: “I’ll call you.” “No, you won’t” Kirsty mutters at Helen’s retreating back.
It was another difficult week for Helen - Rob took her and Henry to The Bull for lunch, where he keeps trying to force-feed her with roast beef. Helen must feel like a foie gras goose and, when the conversation turns to the delights of the Bull’s Valentine’s menu (asparagus, oysters and suchlike) Helen rushes off to the Ladies’ to throw up. Henry turns up a few moments later, saying that he’s been sent to find her and that Daddy’s got a surprise for her. It turns out that the surprise is dessert - a light sorbet, perhaps? Not quite, as Mr. Thoughtful has ordered sticky toffee pudding, with extra custard. Helen manages to stop herself rushing off to the loo again. Incidentally, Rob has decided that they should do their jobshare shifts together, which seems to defeat the object of the exercise to me.
That was Sunday, and Tuesday was the day of the steam train excursion. Helen tells Henry that she has a treat for him and that she will pick him up from school early and he is not to tell Daddy. Henry doesn’t need to, as Rob spies Helen’s car outside the school and confronts her, just as the teacher is bringing Henry out. Helen has told the teacher that Henry has a medical appointment, but Rob says that Helen has got her dates mixed up and Henry should stay at school. Henry screams that he wants his day out and Rob admonishes Helen, saying: “Now see what you’ve done? What were you thinking?” He tells her that he’ll follow her home.
At home, he demands an explanation, accusing her of going behind his back, deceiving him and lying to the school. Why did she do it? Helen has no explanation, but is desperately unhappy. Never one to miss the opportunity to twist the knife, Rob says “Darling - I knew this would happen. You get close to Kirsty again and see what happens.” It was the day after this debacle that Helen met with Kirsty, so perhaps there is a spark of rebellion in there somewhere?
Rob really is a nasty piece of work, who seems determined to destroy what little self-confidence remaining in his wife; when examining the clothes she bought from the charity shops, he approves their dowdy look (“they’re not as tarty as the last lot”), adding: “You’re not exactly Kim Kardashian, are you?” Instead of retorting “And you’re no George Clooney”, Helen says, meekly “No, I’m not.”
It gets even worse for Helen on Friday, as Rob now seems intent on driving a wedge between her and Henry. Henry is acting up because he missed his treat and Rob tells him that it was Mummy’s fault for telling lies, which is very naughty. Mummy also told him to keep it a secret, and Henry’s teacher said that secrets are nasty things, as they mean leaving someone out of things and “you can imagine how I felt when I learned that you and Mummy were going on a day out without me.” Henry agrees that that was mean and, when Helen comes into the room, she is stunned when Henry tells her “I’m not speaking to you - you’re horrible. You lied to me and Daddy - I hate you!” Helen is, understandably, upset, but Rob says it was her fault for making promises that she couldn’t keep. I put it to you that she could have kept her promises if Rob hadn’t interfered. Come on Kirsty - expose him for the nasty, manipulative piece of scum that he is, as he’s doing my blood pressure no good at all.
It did my heart good to see Toby get turned over by Josh last week. With Matthew up in Cumbria, Toby obviously thinks that he stands a chance with Pip and commiserates with her on her broken heart. On the contrary, Pip says that she and Matthew are solid and ignores Toby’s comments about it being just a holiday romance and that Matthew probably has girls all over the country. Not everybody’s a low life like you, Toby.
Josh approaches the Fairbrothers to talk about their proposed pasture eggs project. Josh mentions that of course they will have thought of the Bridge Farm shop and café as outlets for their products? As Josh takes his leave, Toby gloats “This is just too easy” and rushes off to Bridge Farm to talk eggs. Later on, Josh approaches the Fairbrothers again and Rex feels guilty that they have muscled in on his ideas for markets. Toby, who probably has a degree in being patronising, offers Josh £20. Josh brushes this offer aside, saying that he foresees massive possibilities and “I want in.” Toby points out that it’s their idea and why should they need Josh as a partner?
Undeterred, Josh proceeds to tell them exactly why - for example, they hadn’t even considered such obvious markets as the Bridge Farm shop and tearoom. Rex says that they are only at the planning stage and hadn’t contacted potential customers yet. Josh immediately slaps them down, saying witheringly: “And when you do, what are you going to say? ‘Hi, we’re a couple of city boys who thought we’d do a bit of hobby farming for a laugh’?” Josh points out that he knows all about eggs and the markets for them and there’s no way the Fairbrothers would be able to blag their way into the market. Rex is willing to listen, but Toby is unconvinced. “Fine,” says Josh, “Do what you want, but don’t come to me in six months’ time, expecting me to sort out your mess.” Rex asks him to sit down and we are in no doubt about who has the upper hand, as Josh replies: “Great; let’s talk percentages.” Will Josh be able to handle Rex and, especially, Toby? Mum Rooooth has no doubts, as, when speaking to Usha later in the week, the latter asks whether Josh can trust the Fairbrothers and says that she hopes Josh won’t get ripped off. Rooooth’s reply to this is that it’s more likely to be the other way round. Well done Josh; make sure you keep rubbing Toby’s nose into the dirt.
Now we come to one of life’s mysteries - why on earth would anyone go around looking for Kate? I have been luxuriating in her absence over recent weeks, but Brian is annoyed because he cannot track her down. Eventually he runs her to earth in her cottage and hammers on the door, demanding to know why her business isn’t up and running. Kate admits that “I am a little behind on my optimal opening date” and Brian, breathing heavily and no doubt clenching and unclenching his fists, asks his daughter, through gritted teeth, to explain what’s happening and “I won’t be cross, I promise.”
Kate bangs on about how the green log burner, underfloor heating and photo-voltaic cells have proved much more expensive than budgeted for and the cash has gone, including what both Brian and Debbie put into the venture. Brian asks what happens now and, when Kate begins “Well, if you could just -” he explodes, ranting “I said this would happen!” Kate reminds him of his promise not to get cross and Brian storms off, shouting “I’m not cross - I’m furious!” He confronts Jen, who is delivering logs to Kate and also Alice. “I’m subsidising half of Ambridge!” he rants, telling Jennifer that Kate is “completely without shame or any shred of self-reliance.” Jennifer calms him down, reminding him that he and Adam have a meeting with the BL board, where Adam will pitch for the Estate contract.
At the meeting, Andrew Eagleton is sceptical about awarding the contract to Home Farm, but Adam wipes the floor with him, demolishing his arguments with hard facts, much to Justin’s delight. They do get the contract and, back at Home Farm, they are getting stuck into the champagne, when Justin joins them, also bearing a bottle. We hear Lilian’s voice, saying “Do I sense champagne?” and Brian says to himself “How does she do it?” in a mystified voice. Justin tells Brian that he is renting a house in Ambridge. Which one? Asks Brian, and Lilian tells him it’s the Dower House. “But where will Lilian go?” Brian asks, to which Justin replies that Brian is a lucky beggar, having Jennifer and Lilian under his roof. “How long for?” Brian asks, in a strangled voice. “Indefinitely” says Lilian in triumph and Jennifer adds “Won’t that be lovely, Brian?” There is no reply, as Brian has been rendered speechless with shock.
Let’s return to Kate who, after Brian’s tirade, seeks out Lilian to ask what can she do? Lilian suggests she teaches yoga, but she has no qualifications. Then what about selling some unwanted possessions? Kate replies that she hasn’t got many and Lilian says, desperately that there must be something she can make money from? I can think of something, but Kate’s past experiences suggests that she is more used to giving it away free of charge.
Before we go, here’s a reminder of The HelenTitchener (nee Archer) Rescue Fund - “raising money for Refuge because for every fictional Helen, there are real ones” - which at the time of writing has raised £37,500.