Isobel Middleton (Anna Tregorran)
Tony and Pat are still tearing themselves apart about Henry, Helen and how could Rob be the monster that Tom and Kirsty say he is. There’s a clue in Henry’s nightmares in that he’s always the one being threatened or being chased by an ogre. Pat thinks that fairy tales are his only point of reference for the terrible events he witnessed, but I fear this is one that’s unlikely to have a happy ending.
Clarrie tries to steer Tom away from the Sunday tabloids that have (uncharacteristically I’m sure) run a misleading piece on Helen while giving Rob a glowing report. What’s worse for Clarrie, is that Eddie seems to be taking against Helen too “Rob didn’t stab himself”, let alone what Anneka Rice will say if she finds out that Ambridge isn’t the tranquil idyll she’s been led to believe.
One person coming to Helen’s aid is Jill, with the handily coincidental news that her goddaughter, Anna Tregorran, just happens to be a criminal barrister with chambers in Birmingham. What’s more, she specialises in women’s issues and domestic violence. I know – you couldn’t make it up. Jill also takes Bert a lump of Crocosmia for his garden, which he’s still working hard on despite building the MkII EggMobile. We are not told the particular cultivar, but my money’s on it being Lucifer – yet another sign of the coming of the beast (baby Titchener). She’ll be taking round the red-hot poker variety Brimstone Bloom next.
Elizabeth’s looking forward to ‘Borsetshire Business Woman of The Year’ although she doesn’t think she’s ‘high-powered’ enough to win. The more we hear about this event the more unbelievably prestigious it’s made out to be. Apparently there’s going to be a seven-course lunch. Seven courses! For lunch! Now, the authors of this humble blog have been to one or two awards ceremonies in their time, but we cannot remember ever being treated to seven courses. Even at the Baftas you only get three (I know Jill mentioned the Oscars, but let’s not go there – American menus are hard to comprehend at the best of times).
There are fisticuffs when Tom overhears Jazzer talking to Neil in less than complimentary terms about Helen. Jazzer doesn’t realise that Tom’s standing right behind him, and without saying a word, Tom punches him in the face before ordering him off the farm and out of the house. Neil tries to calm things down, but a clearly angry and emotional Tom has gone well beyond mediation, and says he never wants to see Jazzer on the farm again. Well done Jazzer, jobless and homeless in one fell swipe. He wastes no time trying to blag a room off Kirsty but she tells him more or less where to go when she finds out how he came about his sore mouth.
It was nice to hear some cows again in this story of country-folk, when we drop in to Brookfield where David’s struggling to calve his new herd. Cue another silent appearance from Alistair, this time putting his uterus-untwisting skills to good use. Pip thinks she’s found a way to earn some extra money by way of running a small experiment with some of her Dad’s Herefords. If he lends her 15 cows to graze Adam’s herbal leys, and they put on more weight than the others, she can take a cut of the profits. David suggests she ask Tony about using some of his Angus crossbreeds too, but she decides it might be best to ask Tom instead given that Tony might have one or two other things on his mind at the moment.
When she finds Tom, he is working out his anger on a pile of firewood, and boy, is he angry. No doubt imagining that his axe is rendering Jazzer’s lifeless corpse into a massive pile of haggis, Pip manages to calm him down and he pours his heart out to her; if even Jazzer can turn against Helen, what hope does she have? Later on Tom talks to Kirsty and he realises how stupid he’s been as the prosecution can now claim that violence runs in the family. Let it go, she tells him. Focus on getting Helen home.
Over at Willow Farm Neil has 3 eggs for breakfast. You may not think this is newsworthy, but they’re the Fairbrothers’ pastured eggs, and Susan explains they were free samples from Josh. Neil’s not happy because he’s in partnership with Josh and supplies the eggs for the farm shop and he doesn’t appreciate Josh getting involved with the competition. Neil tries them and thinks they taste like, well – eggs. Even though he doesn’t think they’re anything special, it doesn’t stop him going round to see Josh to ask him bluntly who he thinks he’s working for – Neil or the Fairbrothers. Josh tries to argue his case but Neil’s not having any of it and gives Josh an ultimatum – put all his efforts into their existing partnership, or that partnership is at an end. I don’t suppose Neil will be that chuffed either when he sees the feature in the echo.
Now to the big event itself - Borsetshire Business Woman of The Year. Elizabeth’s invited Dr Locke to sit on her table together with Elizabeth, Shula, and Emma. For his part Richard doesn’t mind that he seems to be making up the numbers, probably because he gets to spend the afternoon with Elizabeth and Shula. Justin seems to be all over Lilian again (still just metaphorically), and it sounds like Lilian’s still making full use of the clothing allowance that Justin granted her. There then followed the big surprise for me this week which was hearing Lilian host the event sounding perfectly sober. After all, not only is she in PR, but she’s just sat through a 7 course lunch.
There was a brief moment when we were led to believe that Elizabeth had won, but alas she lost out to the woman behind Borsetshire’s biggest catering business (no, not Fallon – her vintage tea parties haven’t caught on that much). Shula tries to convince Elizabeth that she could have won “when you first went to work for Nigel, Lower Loxley was just a run-down country house with a leaky roof”. Don’t mention the roof Shula. We leave goings-on at the after-party with Richard telling Elizabeth that he is seriously impressed with her. I think we should keep an eye on that relationship.
Now back to Helen. Apparently she’s refusing to see any visitors and Pat’s beside herself with concern. Fortunately Pat’s managed to get an appointment with Anna Tregorran in Birmingham and Kirsty’s offered to drive her. But once they get there Anna discovers who Kirsty is, and tells her to leave the building. This is because Kirsty, as the first person at the scene of the crime, is a key witness – not for Helen’s defence, but for the prosecution.
Anna wants to discuss arguments for getting Helen out on bail, but the difficulty will be there’s no evidence for Rob’s ‘coercive control’, only hearsay and Helen’s word against Rob’s. I don’t think Pat’s argument that ‘she wouldn’t hurt a fly’ would convince many judges, given the fact that she stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife. Despite this, Anna’s willing to take on the case and asks Pat to recollect all the times that Helen’s seemed not herself and acted out of character. Now I don’t know about you, but Pat seemed oblivious most of the time, and with Kirsty out of the picture, and Helen uncooperative, I think it’s going to be hard to put anything remotely persuasive together.
There is another complication when Peggy spots a limousine outside Blossom Hill Cottage and orders Lilian, who’s driving her back from an appointment at the hairdressers, to stop the car so she can find out what’s going on. It turns out the limousine was pre-arranged by Rob to take him and Helen off to the Cotswolds for a romantic break to celebrate her birthday. Oh dear – more evidence of a devoted husband for the prosecution to add to their case.
Finally we head over to Ambridge Hall where Lynda’s happy to hear that the Shepherd’s Hut is ready for delivery. However, Lynda wants to see it first so that she can plan the garden around it – and that’s where her dreams start to fall apart. The ‘functional’ chimney for the wood burner is, let’s just say, not to Lynda’s taste and she describes it as a carbuncle. Are we to assume then that the rest of it is rural Borsetshire life personified? Or has Eddie played a clever trick by using the modern stainless steel chimney topped by a cowl he found in a field as a distraction from his version of traditional Borsetshire craftmanship?