Sunday, 8 May 2016

Blood and Custard

Patricia Gallimore (Pat Archer)

We turn straight away this week to Helen who breaks her silence by calling Bridge Farm -  except Pat’s in the dairy and Tony doesn’t go and get her. I wouldn’t have done either Tony – I’m sure you had a much more sensible conversation with her than Pat would have done. It turns out that Helen wants them to visit her. Pat wastes no time in going online to register for a visit and bemoans the speed of her broadband (are you with BT too Pat? I know how you feel). There’s a knock at the door and instead of an engineer from BT Openreach, it’s Ursula bringing Henry round.

When Ursula comes back to collect Henry, he’s out with Tony looking at Kingfishers. She could have said something like “oh how lovely”, but Ursula’s a bit put out and complains that Rob’s been waiting to see his son. Tony and Henry are having a great time at Haydon Brook, and we are prompted to recall the halcyon days of young Henry before Rob came on the scene. Ursula seems to have got the wrong end of the stick about why Rob left Berrow Farm (I wonder how that happened) and says he left to help set up the shop. What’s more, she says he’s entitled to sick pay! As she leaves, Ursula says that Rob will never be the same man again. Kirsty, who’s been there all the time, mutters under her breath, “we should be so lucky”!

At the May Day celebrations Pip and Rex are talking in the beer tent, and Rex is puzzled by how many enquiries he’s had for the pastured eggs. It turns out that Josh posted a picture of ‘hens on holiday’ to Facebook, and has had thousands of responses. Josh’s elation disappears when he finds out from Pip that Farm Sunday at Brookfield will showcase the family’s suckler beef business, while he wanted to use it to promote his eggs. Rex does his best to come to Josh’s aid by drawing a link between pasture-fed Hereford cattle and pasture-fed hens, and while Pip’s distracted by an unexpected phone call from Matthew, there’s a chink of glasses as Josh and Rex hatch a plan.

Apropos of nothing, I was puzzled by Josh’s turn of phrase in reply to Pip saying the beef was not some kind of satellite enterprise like his eggs. Josh didn’t suppose that Pip’s cattle were some kind of “Jupiter’s moon” either. At first I thought this must be a saying that I wasn’t aware of, but have concluded that this was just a reference to moons being satellites. If I’m wrong, and this is a Shakespearean quote that’s been leveraged in by the scriptwriter and one that’s entered everyone’s language except mine, then I’m sure someone will tell me. Otherwise it just sounded odd to me.

In her desperation to find some ‘finishing touches’ for the Dower House interior, Lilian turns up at Lynda’s May Day white elephant stall. Nothing catches her eye apart from a matching pair of ‘Chinese’ vases in an old cardboard box on the floor, donated by the Horrobin’s. The bartering reaches the dizzy heights of £2.50, on condition that Lilian takes the whole box. As well as the vases, Lilian ropes in her collection of Borsetshire slipware to complement the Dower House furnishings, which Justin seems perfectly happy with. I think Lilian’s panicking about what Justin’s wife, Miranda, is going to think when she comes up from London. Why should Lilian care? What’s she trying to prove? Miranda appears on cue and the atmosphere turns palpably icy when she sees Lilian standing there, and Justin introduces her as his social secretary. “I could murder a coffee” she says, when Lilian mentions it, “white, no sugar”. We get an inkling of what might be up when she makes a disparaging remark about our Lilian, saying she’s “a bit past it”, and then goes on to say  “at least we won’t have the same problem as last time”! Not if Lilian gets her way, I fear. Justin sounds very on-edge as he shows her round. She points out that she’s mostly happy apart from all the clutter, especially Lilian’s cherished slipware. Miranda doesn’t, we learn, do pots. What she does do though is bark orders, and a whole series follow for Lilian to jot down on her “scribble-pad”. I can see that this Miranda-Justin-Lilian triangle is going to be very entertaining.

The next day, Lilian’s still hyper after Miranda’s visit and Justin’s beside himself with apology over her “brusque” manner. He gushes with compliments to Lilian - “totally a people person … all friendly with such a generous, open heart” – and has even booked La Famme Du Monde for lunch – “where else could I take a woman of the world like yourself”. Lunch is a giggly affair, and Justin seems much more relaxed in Lilian’s company that that of his wife.

Meanwhile at the shepherd’s, Lynda tells Eddie that the chimney’s smoking again. Eddie puts it down to a change of wind direction and suggests installing a new chimney cowl – one that changes direction with the wind. Surprisingly, Lynda accepts that it will cost her more money, and Eddie fits the new cowl before somehow persuading her to put some additional work his way (he still wants to pay back the church money). It turns out she needs a paved area near the hut, an ornamental seat to allow visitors to relax and “survey the pastoral scene”, and a meandering pathway to the Resurgam stone. The self-styled Mr Pathways tells Lynda “you won’t regret it” – a sure sign that she will. Later, Eddie complains to Lilian that he’s spent longer on Lynda’s hut than Michelangelo took to paint the Sistine Chapel. Hardly, Eddie. It took Michelangelo 4 years to complete his commission, and as Lilian pointed out, it even has a working chimney.

Back to the headline story, and Pat gets an email saying they can visit Helen tomorrow. That’s not the only news - DSM wants Pat to go to the police station that afternoon for an interview to put, Pat thinks, Helen’s side of the story. Tony urges caution and repeats Tom’s advice not to speak to the police without a solicitor present, but Pat sees it as “a chance to put things right for Helen”, and that she’s learnt her lesson. Sorry to be blunt Pat, but you obviously haven’t.

Pat sounds a bit concerned after the interview. She thought it would be an opportunity to get everything off her chest, but instead felt that DSM guided it. Of course she did, she’s pursuing a line of enquiry, not running a self-help group. DSM seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on Helen’s threat on Maundy Thursday to kill Rob if he sent Henry to boarding school (see ‘The Beginning Of The End?’). She calls Anna Tregorran and it turns out that Pat’s dropped herself right in it and is now a witness for the prosecution. Nice one Pat, and stop it with your “I can’t believe it, it’s so unfair”. You brought this on yourself and now you won’t be able to see Helen, and probably the baby, until after the trial.

Anna goes to see Helen and want to know how she’s going to plead, now that she’s had time to think about it. Helen seems to be reluctant to take responsibility for how she pleads, but Anna patiently outlines the options: plead guilty to attempted murder and get a long sentence, or wounding with intent and get a shorter one, or plead not guilty if she acted in self-defence. Helen still can’t make her mind up and Anna leaves plea-less, and thinks that Helen’s been Robbed (get it?) of her ability to think for herself, and might be thinking of either what Rob would want her to do, or what would be best for Henry in the longer term. Tony and Tom go to see Helen who’s disappointed that Pat hasn’t come to see her. They try and persuade her to plead not guilty at her hearing tomorrow, but Helen’s concerned about the risk of being found guilty and being sent down for 12 years. Helen’s the only one who can say what happened between her and Rob in that blood and custard covered kitchen that night, and Tom exhorts her to enter a not guilty plea, “Henry and the baby, they’ll both go to him if you go to prison”. Well said, Tom.

Everyone gathers at the court for Helen’s plea hearing, and there’s initial optimism when they find out the judge is a woman. The problem is, no one yet knows what Helen’s plea will be, so Anna’s prepared two statements. We are left in momentary suspense until the hearing itself, but to everyone’s relief she pleads not guilty, and the date of the trial is set for September 5th (Josh being, as we heard earlier, a fan of the Planet Jupiter, will know this will be the 39th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1). The next hurdle is whether she’s to be granted bail or not. The prosecution makes its case for not granting bail and this causes Tom to momentarily lose his cool when it’s suggested she might abscond – “Abscond? She’s having a baby any minute for God’s sake”. Anna, for the defence, makes a case for bail and suggests several conditions that the judge might want to impose. However, the judge is sufficiently concerned to refuse bail on the grounds that she might interfere with prosecution witnesses, which do of course include her son, her best friend, and now her own mother. Before they leave the court, Anna gets a call saying that a doctor has been called for Helen. Is the baby coming? It turns out she only had a funny turn and was fine after a lie-down and well enough to go back to prison.

All this is getting to Tom and he’s feeling the pressure, and it doesn’t help when David comes to find Tom and Johnny because the pigs have trampled their fences and all got in together. The three of them round them up, which includes a bit of pig whispering from Johnny (I wonder if the film rights have been bought yet). While he’s there, David suggests that Tom bring over one of his cows and a calf to Brookfield’s open farm Sunday, to give people a different breed to look at. Tom’s not sure but David wants to help, and Tom agrees that it’s a good idea. What’s more, David wants to help cut Bridge Farm’s silage and then helps Johnny to finish planting the cabbages so Tom can grab some lunch before he sees Helen. The problems with Helen seem to be bringing Tom and Kirsty closer together. Tom’s exhausted and at his wits’ end, and recognizing that he needs a break, Kirsty takes him for a drink – “you’ve got to stay strong to keep her (Helen) strong”. Will Tom and Kirsty get back together again? It’s not long ago that I would have said no way, but now I’m not so sure.

Before we go, here’s a plug for the The HelenTitchener (nee Archer) Legal Fund - “raising money for Refuge because for every fictional Helen, there are real ones” - which at the time of writing has raised £130,000.


  1. Pat should not be allowed anywhere on her own from now on - she has no clue what the legal system is like, and hasn't troubled to find out from those, like Anna, who could tell her.
    Just like her daughter, really - thinks she knows it all, won't take any cautionary words of advice, and ends up unable to see Helen at all. Even I, a complete amateur, thought it highly unlikely she would get bail.

  2. I'm still waiting for the domestic violence sage to finish so i can start listening again. Just how long are they going to drag it out for?

  3. I'm still waiting for the domestic violence sage to finish so i can start listening again. Just how long are they going to drag it out for?