Charles Collingwood (Brian Aldridge)
Brian is rattling around Home Farm, totally at a loss for something to do. Adam has the arable side all sewn up and, since Adam has also decided that winter lambing is now consigned to history, Brian cannot even look forward (?) to spending the occasional chilly night in the lambing shed.
No wonder he moans to Jennifer about Lilian, saying: ”That woman leaves a trail of destruction wherever she goes; dirty underwear, overflowing ashtrays and gin and wine glasses all over the place.” If I may digress, he also moans about Kate, asking Jennifer if she knows what’s happening about the so-called therapy business and why isn’t it up and running? Jennifer says “we shouldn’t be judgemental”, to which Brian replies “why ever not?” I’m with you on this one, Brian.
But back to Lilian, who comes in as Brian, who is not in the best of tempers, is leaving, muttering under his breath, “I see Mr Grumpy’s back in town” Lil remarks, before asking her sister a favour. Earlier, Lilian was out with Justin at the top of Lakey Hill - she thanked him for the advice his experts had given about which properties she should sell and he asked if she might do him a favour. No, not that - at least not yet. Justin is keen to get more involved in local affairs and, since his purchase of Brookfield has gone nads up, he wonders if Lilian was willing to rent out the Dower House to him?
Let’s pause here for a second - Justin referred to Brookfield as his preferred “bolt hole”. Bolt hole? The man was willing to pay £7.5 million for the place - that’s some bolt hole. Good job he wasn’t after a residence. Lilian is all for it and asks Jennifer if she can carry on living at Home Farm. Jen is overjoyed but Lilian’s question - “What’s Brian going to say?” - remains unanswered. We have also learned that Justin’s wife is not keen on country living (Ambridge is too parochial, apparently), so we have to wonder exactly what sort of local affairs Justin is keen on. The phrase ‘pushing at an open door’ springs to mind, but we‘ll wait and see.
But we eventually get round to the comeback kid of this week’s title. Justin takes Brian and Jennifer to dinner and talks of his plans for the future. He admits that he has made a lot of mistakes and, thinking about it, for a so-called astute businessman, he certainly has; Berrow Farm was a disaster, the anaerobic digester will only work if slurry is trucked in, he offered over the odds for Brookfield and still didn’t get it and his attempts to schmooze the villagers of Ambridge over the dairy and AD were unmitigated PR disasters.
Anyway, does Brian think Adam would be prepared to address the BL board and outline his new strategy for the Estate? Of course he would - the chance to turn the majority of Borsetshire into one vast herbal ley is too good to miss. Justin also says that he regrets the fact that Brian resigned from the BL board, which is a bit rich, as it was he that engineered it, and that Annabelle (Brian’s replacement) hasn’t quite come up to scratch. Would Brian consider rejoining the board and, when Annabelle decides to step down - “And I’m sure she’ll make the right decision when the time comes” - it would leave Brian free to take the Chair again. “Assuming you want to, of course.” Hmm, what do you reckon? Me too. If you wouldn’t just mind falling on this sword, Annabelle. That’s lovely, dear - bye bye.
Inevitably we turn to things Titchener. I must say that the comments we have had about Rob show a difference of opinion - half of you hate him, while the other half loathes him. I don’t know what his evil agenda is, but he moved into overdrive this week, especially where Tom was concerned. Firstly Rob told Tom that the shop was cutting down on the amount of sausages it would be carrying in future, as they weren’t selling well. An incensed Tom said that the shop existed to serve Bridge Farm products and business, to which a sneering Rob replied that he thought the idea was to make a profit.
Later on, Rob came across Tom and Helen trying out recipes for black pudding, using Joe’s ‘secret’ ingredient of used tea leaves. Helen was laughing when Rob made his entrance - something that was guaranteed to annoy him; how dare she be happy without him? Rob immediately has a go at Tom, saying that this seems to be another example of him being bypassed over a new line for the shop and it would have been nice to have been consulted. Helen is busy apologising, but when Rob asks if this (“blood and oats etc.”) is the way we want to go, Tom defends black pudding as being increasingly popular in London. “Peasant food” says Mr Sneery, adding that there must be better ways to make the shop profitable and “perhaps we all need to try a bit harder.”
Pat, who apparently now believes the sun shines out of Rob’s bottom, confesses to him her fears that Helen might be returning to her anorexia days. She also mentions her fears to Jennifer, who goes round to visit Helen. Rob returns as she is leaving and asks Helen what was her aunt doing there? “Your family just can’t leave you alone, can they?” he says accusingly, adding: “Earlier I had your mum implying that your anorexia had come back - that’s the last kind of thing you need now, that kind of stressful insinuation.” Spot on Rob, so why did you tell her? “When will [your family] learn that it’s my baby you’re carrying, not theirs?” As Helen leaves to tend to Henry, Rob rings Pat and tells her that Helen has said that she’s just fine and no need to worry. “Thank goodness you’re there to look after her” says Mrs Gullible, later telling Tom that she’s sure that Ian and Kirsty are keeping in touch with Helen and that she knows there are lots of us looking out for her. That’s a ‘no’, ‘no’ and ‘Rob’s working on the rest of her friends and family’, actually Pat
Moving on to happier things, Pip seems to have fallen head over heels for Matthew and seems determined to wear him to a frazzle before he drags his shattered body off for a few days’ rest before starting his next job. “I want to make the most of every minute I’ve got left with you” she tells him, making us wonder if you can operate a milking parlour with your trousers round your ankles. There was a nice moment when Pip, who had been invited to The Bull by Rex and Toby to hear about their latest business scheme, persuaded Matthew to go with her. Toby wasn’t best pleased - his opening comment to Matthew; “You’re not hanging around, are you?” set the tone, but Pip put Toby in his place by telling him to get the beers in.
The idea was patently total garbage and Matthew told them so. When Pip and Matthew went off to watch the dancing (it was Burns’ Night), a severely pissed-off Toby told Rex “She’s clearly under the cowboy’s thumb” and, when Rex says that Matthew will be gone soon, Toby replies “Good riddance - smarmy git.” Pots and kettles, Tobes.
What else has been happening? The Brookfield cows have had their photos taken for Rodway’s sales catalogues and there is much love and “we’re in this together and it’s a new step forward” between David and Rooooth. Fallon, Emma and Kirsty manage to overcome the pickiest bride in England and their catering of the reception is a triumph, due in no small part to Kirsty saving the day at least twice. Fallon is full of praise for her, but Emma is her usual, miserable self and, when Fallon asks Kirsty if she’d be prepared to help out at future events, Emma’s comment is “Do you think we’ll need her?”
The story of Lynda commissioning Eddie to build a bespoke shepherd’s hut is too laughable to contemplate - and she’s paying him £3k in advance. Prepare for tears and strong words, I reckon.
Let us finish with Matthew taking his leave (only temporarily is my bet) of Brookfield. He’s done his final milking and Rooooth says goodbye, telling him to keep in touch. “We’ve enjoyed having you here” she tells him. Somehow, I think that phrase would have been much more appropriate coming from her daughter’s mouth.