John Telfer (Alan Franks)
This was the question asked by Clarrie, when it was revealed by Alan that, when he went back to the vestry to pick up the £400+ that had been donated towards the curtain fund, it wasn’t there. His concept of security is somewhat naïve, as he had left the money in an old biscuit tin and hadn’t locked the vestry door. He didn’t actually say that he had pinned a note to the door saying ‘£400 in used notes inside, please don’t take’, but he might as well have done - I mean even vicars‘ faith in human nature can only go so far, surely?
But who could have trousered the money? No doubt lots of listeners reckon this sort of despicable crime needs a despicable perpetrator, but I’m sorry to say that there’s no evidence of Titchener involvement. Of course, it could have been some well-meaning villager who wanted to delay Lynda’s next production, assuming that no stage curtains means no play/panto/pageant, in which case they are to be applauded and it was money well spent, or well nicked.
However, sometimes the obvious explanation is the correct one and we had an example of ‘the slowest penny dropping in the world’ when Clarrie, who earlier had remarked upon how strange it was that Alf had left without saying ‘goodbye,’ put 2 + 2 together and realised that Alf was up to his old ways again. Of course, there’s no proof, but, as they say, if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck…
Clarrie is distraught and tells Eddie that his brother admitted to taking £20 from her purse and she feels she should tell Alan of her suspicions. Eddie says no, Alf is his brother, so he will go and see Alan right away. He returns and Alan has been very nice about it, saying that Alf must be in a very bad way to have done such a thing. No, Alan - he’s just a petty sneak thief, so stop trying so hard to find the good in people. Honestly, I bet Alan would think that Rob is the product of a hard upbringing and a decent bloke, really.
Eddie vows to pay back every last penny and he leaves a message on Alf’s voicemail, saying “You’re not welcome Alf; not now, not ever. As far as I’m concerned, I used to have a brother, but now I don’t. Goodbye Alf.” So much for ‘innocent until proven guilty.’
I suppose it could be a case for PCB to investigate, but as he never managed to track down Fallon’s stolen bunting from this time last year, I’m not sanguine about his chances of success - after all, you’d think 100 yards of coloured flags would be easier to find than a bundle of used notes and coins.
It’s Titchener time again, I’m afraid. On Sunday, Helen snaps at Peggy, who, in my opinion, is getting a tad curmudgeonly in her old age, telling Pat that, when she has two children to look after, Helen should “Roll up her sleeves and get on with it.”
Helen isn’t doing a good job of covering things up - she leaves her phone lying around and Rob answers a call. It is the midwife, saying that she heartily approves of Helen’s change of mind in opting for a hospital birth. Rob is perplexed, saying that, as he understood it, they had agreed on a home birth and hadn’t Ursula explained the advantages of a home birth? Showing a little flash of her old self, Helen replies that it isn’t Ursula who’s having the baby and she (Helen) has had one baby and she knows what she is comfortable with. Rob is pained that she didn’t consult him, but Helen explains this away by saying that she wanted to talk to a medical expert first. Surprisingly, Rob says that whatever she wants to do is the right thing. “Do you mean that?” asks a startled Helen. “Of course” he answers and, when Helen thanks him for being so understanding, he laughs and says “Darling, I’m not a monster.”
On Thursday, Helen meets with Kirsty, who begs her friend to talk to someone. Helen passes it off, but Kirsty gives her an old mobile, loaded with her number and that of the Helpline. Kirsty also suggests that Helen should get in touch with Jess, as Rob’s ex-wife might have some insights into the darker side of Rob’s character. Helen is not convinced and asks how could she get Jess’s number? Off Rob’s phone, says Kirsty, but Helen says that he never lets it out of his sight.
Helen returns home, to find that Mr. Nice from a couple of days earlier has turned into Mr. Nasty. First of all he berates Helen for seeing Kirsty (they were spotted by a mutual acquaintance, who mentioned it to Rob), then he tells her that Henry has been naughty - he started eating the Easter egg that Pat and Tony bought him, despite being told not to. As a result, Henry has been banished to his bedroom, wearing an orange jump suit and handcuffs. Rob even made Henry throw away the Easter egg and the ‘ridiculous’ fluffy toy that Helen bought him for Easter. Helen tearfully begs Rob to let her go to see him, but he repeatedly, and sternly, tells her to sit down. He then starts laying down the law, saying that she should have taken the anti-depressants that the psychiatrist prescribed. Furthermore, while he is upstairs (presumably to subject Henry to some waterboarding), she can look up the number of the pharmacy on his phone and arrange to have the prescription filled. Will she take this golden opportunity to take note of Jess’s number?
He answer to that is ‘yes’ as, the next day, Helen and Jess meet up. Helen tells her where she got her number and the two women have a heart to heart. Helen is embarrassed and apologetic (she did steal Jess’s husband, after all) but Jess says that she’s now over all that and, anyway, Helen did her a favour. Jess asks if Rob hit Helen and, when she admits it, while saying that it was her fault for raising her hand to him, Jess says that he hit her too.
Obviously, Alan doesn’t have a monopoly on having faith in people’s human nature, as Helen suggests that maybe Rob will change when the baby is born? Jess asks incredulously “You’re going to stay with him?” and tells Helen to get away, saying that Rob chipped away at her day after day and, if Helen hadn’t come along, there’d be nothing of Jess left. Helen mentioned the ‘strange’ remark Rob made (i.e. “I’m not a monster”). “Do you think he’s a monster?” Helen asks. “Yes I do,” is Jess’s answer, adding “Get away from him, Helen, or else he’ll crush you and there’ll be nothing left.” And five million listeners yelled ‘Listen to her, Helen, for God’s sake!’
Still, Helen is showing the faintest glimmerings of rebellion and, who knows, one day Rob might push her just too far and she finds the poker/carving knife within easy reach.
Shula had a busy Easter, with Dr Locke joining the family for Sunday lunch and, on Wednesday, Daniel’s girlfriend, Dorothy coming over. Dan is a bit worried - firstly because Dorothy hasn’t met Shula and Alistair yet and, secondly, he fears that he might be overdosing on lamb, his mother’s signature dish. No need to worry, though, as Dorothy turns out to be the nearest thing to a saint that Ambridge has ever seen. Shula tells Dan that Alistair really likes her (as has become the custom in recent weeks, Alistair is mute - he should have given up talking for Lent; it would have been a doddle.
Dorothy says how lovely the lunch was and asks Shula for the lamb recipe (was that a groan from Daniel?). She also says that she and Dan will clear away and, a bit later on, thinks that she ought to be going, as she doesn’t like driving in the dark. Shula invites her to stay the night and is going to make up a bed for her and Dan, when he asks if Dorothy could sleep in a spare bed as he’d feel better that way. Shula admits that she is relieved he feels that way and I must say that, as she is a fully paid-up God-botherer, I’m a little surprised that she even contemplated a same-bed scenario.
The Village Hall opening went ahead, with Eddie refusing to tell Lynda the name of the celebrity he had lined up to officiate. As the opening time draws close, Lynda is in a panic and bites the bullet and phones Jean Harvey (the nearest Ambridge has to a celebrity) to do the honours, even though Lynda loathes her with a passion, after her scene-stealing antics in ’Calendar Girls’. Fortunately, just as Lynda was about to grovel to Jean, who should walk in but Anneka Rice! Lynda promptly tells Jean to do one and begins fawning all over Anneka.
Poor Anneka is subjected to Lynda’s E. M. Forster Pageant and, when Lynda explains that she had tried to reflect the power dynamics of the village in her casting, Anneka is looking for a sharp knife, or a stout length of rope. Justin is playing the part of the land-grabbing baddie and, afterwards, he asks Lilian how did he do? and confesses that he always had a dream of pursuing a life on the stage. In answer to his question, Lilian (conscious no doubt of the corporate credit card and clothing allowance) described his performance as “very nuanced”. Eddie, meanwhile, takes great delight in booing Justin, telling Clarrie that that’s what you do at pantomimes - good job Lynda didn’t hear that. Actually, Eddie rose in my estimation as a theatrical critic, when he gave his verdict on the pageant. “It’s boring” he tells Clarrie. I could have told him that weeks ago, when she first thought of the idea.