Tom Gibbons (Johnny Phillips)
Having passed his Level 2 module, what subjects should Johnny choose for his Level 3? Jazzer and Tom suggest that he opts for shearing as one, but Johnny isn’t sure, as Rob has suggested that he goes for Budget Management instead, as he needs office skills and a good admin base if he is to make a career in farming. Tom asks him if he wants to be like Rob and tells him that what he does at college isn’t up to anyone but Johnny. Tom also adds that Johnny is a natural stockman, like his father and he should back his own judgement.
Tom’s words hit home, as later on we learn that Johnny is going to opt for shearing, as he doesn’t want to be a manager, stuck in an office. Rob isn’t used to having his ‘advice’ ignored and he won’t be happy when he finds out - presumably his plan was to get Johnny qualified as an office bod, so that he can get a job on any farm except Bridge Farm. The man certainly plays the long game.
Before all this happened, we were told that Rob has got Johnny to oversee the petting zoo that will be outside the shop and to talk about the animals to the public. Jazzer is scandalised when Johnny tells him that he isn’t going to be paid for this task, and Tom drily observes that “Rob is good at getting other people to do things that he wants.” Ha! You don’t know the half of it, Tom.
Life at chez Titchener continues on its convoluted way - Henry wet the bed and, even worse, he was in with Rob and Helen at the time and the man that all Archers fans love to hate was not a happy bunny, saying that it shows how wrong they were to let him in their bed. Helen protests (albeit feebly) that Henry didn’t do it on purpose and Ursula steps in to stop the squabbling. Ostensibly, she agrees with Helen, but the upshot is that Henry is going to have to stick to his own bed in future, which is what Rob wanted all along.
Henry is in trouble at school, pushing a girl classmate. Helen tells him off and Rob says that she was getting angry with her son. An increasingly-bewildered Helen says that she wasn’t angry; just firm. Rob assures her that her voice was raised and why couldn’t she be calm, just like Ursula? He also suggests that perhaps Henry prefers the stability provided by Ursula to the (he says) volatility and unpredictability exhibited by Helen. Helen is confused, and no wonder, with Rob and Ursula presenting her with faits accomplis, such as Ursula attending the birth as well as Rob and the fact that Ursula will stay with them for as long as is deemed necessary (but not by Helen).
We had a couple of examples of how devious Rob is, as, when Pat queries the wisdom of a home birth, he replies “You know your daughter, Pat - once she’s made her mind up, there’s not much anyone can do about it.” This masterpiece of duplicity, leads Pat to tell Tom that she believes that Rob isn’t any more keen on a home birth, than is she. “Did he say that?” asks Tom, who, along with Kirsty, seem to be the only people who mistrust Rob. “Not in so many words” Pat admits.
Things come to a head on Friday, when Ursula turns up at Bridge Farm, carrying Henry. According to her, Helen was running Henry’s bath and forgot to put enough cold water in. He wouldn’t get in and she forced his foot into the water, stopping only when he started shrieking. They thought that it would be better if Henry spent the night with Pat and Tony (let him wet their bed for a change). Ursula also let’s slip about Henry’s behaviour at school - something that Pat and Tony didn’t know about. As Ursula leaves, Pat says that she is going to sit down with Helen and demand to know what’s going on. Tony, however, fears that this could turn their daughter against them and it’s better to say nothing, and just be there if Helen wants to talk to them. In a statement which could qualify as ‘the most erroneous ever uttered on the Archers’, Tony says: “If she needs anyone to talk to, she’s got Kirsty and Ian, and there’s Ursula too - thank heaven they get on so well.”
Bert is back in the bungalow and he admits to Carol that he spent the first day talking to Freda about the renovations and is that normal?. Carol doesn’t seem surprised, but fortunately Bert doesn’t say that Freda came back with her opinions on the colour scheme.
We’ve said before that, if Toby is a good example of a high-flying City executive, then it’s no surprise that we got into the mess we did. On Sunday, he ‘accidentally’ meets Lilian, out on a hack and tells her that he really likes horses. Sadly, he gets the gender of the horse wrong and Lilian, who can see straight through him, suggests that he accompanies them back to the Stables, where she can show him how to groom the horse. Every time Toby tries to bring the conversation round to the benefits of pasture eggs and the opportunities provided for sponsorship of the boxes, she interrupts and tells him to carry on cleaning the horse.
Eventually, she puts him out of his misery and says that, if Toby and Rex give her the figures, she’ll have words with Justin. She also teases him about how long it took him to come to the point. Later on, we learn that Justin will, indeed, sponsor the egg boxes (£2,500) - indeed, he seems willing to sponsor anything that moves and most things that don’t - so presumably Lilian didn’t have to be that persuasive. We assume that she didn’t need to buy a new dress for this onerous task, but presumably Justin wouldn’t care if she did.
Justin also sought out Brian, who was servicing a quad bike. “Don’t you have people to do that?” Justin asks, quizzically, to which Brian says that he is pleased to get out of the house, where Jennifer and Lilian are comparing fabric swatches and colour charts and Kate keeps ‘borrowing’ office supplies from him. Justin has a proposition - Annabelle will be standing down as Chairman of BL shortly - she is being promoted to the Damara Board and won’t have time to devote to the BL job. Brian says that he had no idea that Annabelle was standing down, to which Justin replies “neither did she until recently.” Brian is worried that Martyn, or maybe someone else, might have objections. Justin tells him not to worry about Martyn or anyone else - the Chair is yours if you don’t mind the rush; what do you say?” Aren’t Democracy and transparent voting wonderful things?
While we are talking about Justin, he was doomed to being bombarded with colour ideas from Lilian (I thought the idea was that he paid her to come up with the décor?). So what can a man do? This being Lilian, the answer is to take her to Grey Gables and, in Lilian’s words to Jennifer afterwards, “Justin didn’t stint on anything.” Attaboy, Justin; get her pissed so she becomes incoherent, then, as they say, make an excuse and leave.
A well-refreshed Lilian goes back to Home Farm, presumably singing to herself, where she tells Jennifer (who isn’t impressed, as she is trying to update the Village website) all about the lunch. Lilian confesses that, in the past, she had always had a nose for the property market, but, since Matt buggered off with all AmSide’s money, she has totally lost her confidence. However, Justin’s advice (no doubt fortified by industrial quantities of gin over lunch) means that “I could feel the old appetites coming back.” Watch yourself, Justin.
There was a nice cameo between PC Burns and Fallon, when he picked her up to go shopping for bed linen or similar. Fallon, who seems to be solid with PCB - something of which I heartily approve - tells him that her dad, Wayne, said some nice things about PCB. “Oh yes,” Harrison replies, sarcastically “complimented me on the way I arrested him, did he?” Fallon replies that that’s water under the bridge and that Wayne said that PCB was ‘a decent bloke’. Let’s hope that he didn’t also add ‘for a bloody copper’.
While tying up loose ends, Jim and Lynda talk about her garden and we are all delighted to learn that she has decided where to put the shepherd’s hut, although when she sees it, it might be at the bottom of the Am. Her garden, she says, should represent a renaissance, to which Jim brightly remarks ‘Resurgam’, which is carved into St Paul’s and means “I shall rise again.” Hearing Lynda bang on about her garden and the sodding Pageant (which looks like it will go ahead, damn it), ‘Resurgam’ was within an ace of describing the near future of my breakfast.
And now, finally, leading candidate for ‘most self-deluded comment’ came from Emma. Ed, who is obviously a chip off the old block, is trimming the ferrets’ claws in his and Emma’s bedroom, in defiance of Clarrie’s blanket ban on ferrets indoors. The conversation turns to whether or not Ed should go for a qualification in crop spraying. This was suggested by Adam, who needs extra help now they have the Estate contract back, and involves going back to college to gain the certificate. Ed says he cannot afford it - no problem, the Estate will pay and Ed can work it off - not only will it help out Adam, but should give Ed another string to his contracting bow.
But there’s another problem - Ed goes to pieces in a classroom and this qualification will involve studying for two, maybe three, days. Intensive education indeed! Having been beaten up by Emma (Ed had smuggled a second ferret into the bedroom and didn’t tell her) Ed agrees to do it and it is here that we have Emma’s comment: she compares their lives to those of Posh and Becks, in that both of them (Ed and Emma) are enjoying success in their careers. I don’t know about you, but I’m not entirely convinced that Victoria Beckham spends an awful lot of time making sandwiches and flogging cinnamon hot cross buns (a major success for Fallon’s Ambridge Tea Shop) and I’m willing to wager a substantial sum that David Beckham’s experience of clipping ferrets’ claws is even less.