June Spencer OBE (Peggy Woolley)
What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually, as I suspect we will be finding out in the near future, but more of this later. When the week began, I thought that I had been transported back a week or two when I heard Pat on the phone to Peggy. “I should be there! I should be there!” came the anguished wail. Peggy rang off and the phone rang again - this time it’s Kirsty, who has hardly had time to say that she couldn’t sleep before Pat broke in with “I should be there, Kirsty, I should be there!” Obviously it didn’t take the actress playing Pat long to learn her line this week - even more so as she repeated it on every occasion.
At the hospital, Peggy sits with Helen, who asks where is Tony? When Peggy says that he’s gone to ring Pat, Helen exclaims “She should be here!” I thought ‘Oh God, not you too’ but at least she only said it the once.
While Pat is wallowing in self-pity on the phone, Rob cannot get through and he’s not happy, saying “It’s a nightmare - my son coming into the world, surrounded by armed guards!” Ursula says mildly that they’re probably not armed, to which Rob snarls “Then they should be!” Make your mind up, man. I suppose we should be grateful that he didn’t say “I should be there!”
As time passes, Rob gets angrier and angrier, fulminating against Helen, her family, Bridge Farm and practically everything else. He calls Helen “an evil bitch” and says “The danger that woman has put my child in. Defying me was more important than the future of her own child - how twisted can you get?” Rob is convinced that Pat has taken the phone off the hook and is all for going round to Bridge Farm, until Ursula dissuades him.
Ursula suggests that she goes instead, on the pretext that Henry has been asking for his train set. Kirsty opens the door and the conversation between the two is both frosty and waspish. However, it is cut short when Pat returns from being on the phone - Helen has developed pre-eclampsia and the baby’s heart rate has dropped; time for an emergency caesarean. Ursula returns to Honeysuckle Cottage and the news sets off another series of rants from Rob; “Evil bitch - why did I ever get involved with her and her ghastly family?” Well, the marathon bonkfests might have had something to do with it, I suppose. As well as being nasty, Rob’s rants indicate a level of self-delusion; take, for example “It’s only thanks to me that their pathetic little farm is still a going concern. After all I’ve done for them, they treat me like this.” “Unforgivable” agrees Ursula.
We’ll cut to the chase and gloss over Helen saying that everything is her fault and maybe it would be better if she and the baby both died - Helen has the baby and both she and he are fine physically. Peggy is with her granddaughter in the Recovery Room and has slipped into besotted Great Grandma mode, saying how perfect young Robspawn is and how Helen can hold him later. “You’re all right, he’s all right; in fact everything is all right” she says, cheerfully, only for Helen to say, in doom-laden tones “No, it’s not - it’s not.”
Tony is also besotted and tells Pat how beautiful the baby is. “I wish I could see him” she says - well, you should be there, woman! Tony says that they aren’t allowed to take photos of Helen and Robspawn together (is he appearing as a witness for the Prosecution?), but he is clearly over the moon. Someone else who is delighted is Rob, who reveals to Ursula that the baby will be called ‘Gideon (after Ursula’s father) Robert Titchener’ and they drink a toast “to the next generation of the Titchener family.”
An exception to these scenes of delight and celebration is the attitude of Helen towards her new son, which could best be summed up as “put him down there and I might get round to taking a look at him a bit later.” She is having trouble breastfeeding and decides to bottle feed - or rather, she lets the midwife feed the baby. Basically, bonding she isn’t and, when Peggy and Tony play ‘who does he look like?’ (Tony thinks he looks like Pat’s father, while Peggy says ‘He’s all Archer’) Helen brings the conversation to a close, by saying morosely: “He looks like Rob.”
Even Tony notices her lack of enthusiasm - she doesn’t pick the baby up when he cries - and Peggy agrees that Helen is finding it hard to bond with her child and “it will take time.” About 100 years would be my guess and Peggy’s insistence on reminding Helen that the child is as much hers as Rob’s seems to have little effect. In fact, Peggy is trying too hard - on Friday she is upset because Helen hasn’t given Robspawn a cuddle and, despite Helen repeatedly saying it doesn’t matter and don’t disturb him, she goes on and on. Eventually, Helen snaps and shouts “I said ‘no’! I wish people would just listen to what I’m saying!” Peggy apologises and then Helen feels bad about her behaviour.
Later on that day, while Helen is waiting to be driven back to chokey with her child, Peggy and Tony discuss the situation, with Peggy saying “She can’t bring herself to love Rob’s child.” However, there is hope, as Peggy is determined, telling her son: “We can help her to learn to love her baby.” It appears that she may be pushing at an open door, as Helen seems to have had a change of heart - when Peggy and Tony arrive to see her off, Helen asks Peggy to pick the baby up and hand him to her. Not only that, but she has found out that the Registrar can come to the secure unit to register the birth and that she has decided on the name ‘John Anthony’ after her dad and her late brother. To spare confusion with Johnny, she says he will be known as ‘Jack’, in honour of Pat’s late husband. She says: “My son [note the first indication of bonding there] will have the names of three good men - John Anthony Archer.”
So now you see why this week’s blog is entitled as it is - I can’t help thinking that Rob might have something to say about the choice of names - perhaps when he finds out he will go berserk and reveal his true colours, thus securing Helen’s freedom. On the subject of names, was I the only one to notice the ‘Archer’ reference? Unless ‘Archer’ was supposed to be his third forename, shouldn’t there be a ‘Titchener’ in there somewhere? After all, Helen made a point of taking Rob’s surname when they got married. Whatever, Rob isn’t going to be happy.
Another person who isn’t happy is Pip, as we learn that Matthew is coming down for a couple of days and she doesn’t know what he wants to talk about. Pip, Josh and Adam take the 150-strong herd to their new pasture on Home Farm’s herbal leys and the beasts love it. Let’s pause here and consider Josh’s developing role; the lad is becoming - how can I put this? - yes, ‘bloody obnoxious’ sums it up nicely. First of all he taunts Pip about being dumped and then he goes on to her and Adam about the wisdom of grass grazing and will it ever make any money? Adam, no doubt wondering if he can get away with giving the young upstart a slap, reminds him that it is just an experiment. “You sound just like Brian” Adam says, and it wasn’t a compliment.
Matthew turns up and the atmosphere at Brookfield over afternoon tea is strained, to say the least. Eventually, in desperation, Rooooth suggests that Pip shows Matthew the new herd and off they go. They talk through their situation, with Matthew saying that the problem is that, while they love each other, they both love their jobs and couldn’t give them up. Maybe in a couple of years? Pip says that she loves him and wants to be with him now, but Matthew reminds her of how she couldn’t bear to leave Brookfield when she had the chance of a high-flying job. “You mean more to me than a stupid job” she protests, and he answers “But not more than Brookfield - tell me I’m wrong.” And of course she cannot.
Matthew stays the night and, next day, they agree to part. She asks him for one last, goodbye kiss and he says that would be a lovely way to remember her - with the new herd grazing on fresh grass; “You, surrounded by your future” Matthew says and Pip begs him in an uncertain voice to go quickly. Have we seen the last of Matthew? I wonder. Rooooth tells Rex that Pip might need cheering up and Pip tells him the whole story, apologising for crying on his shoulder and saying “You’re such a good friend - what would I do without you?”
As one relationship ends, another is mended, as Fallon and Kirsty plot to get Tom and Jazzer back together. They are entirely successful in this, with the two men meeting at the pig field. There is an awkward moment or two, then they realise how stupid they have been and Jazzer asks if Tom is asking him to come back and Tom asks if he (Jazzer) is asking to come back. Jazzer says that they have been behaving like a couple of Jesses (true) and calls Tom “a Sassenach plonker”, only for Tom to respond in kind with “steaming Scottish idiot.” The pigs’ futures are assured - at least until they go for slaughter, I presume. I just love a happy ending.
Things don’t look that good for the elves at the Millennium Wood - Brian and Will are annoyed that the crowds they are attracting are disturbing the pheasants and they are determined to get rid of them. This is bad news for Eddie and his sales of Elvish tat and even worse for Kenton, who has had five boxes of T-shirts printed with ‘We love the elves of Ambridge’. Nice timing Kenton.
Kenton is getting earache from Jolene about making Wayne’s job permanent. The Bull has been nominated in two categories in the Borsetshire Food and Drink Awards - in one of which it is up against Fallon’s tearoom. Actually, the BFDA list of finalists reads like a roll call of Ambridge businesses; as well as Kenton and Fallon, nominations include Josh’s eggs and Helen’s cheese. No doubt if Tom had entered his Scotch eggs, they’d be up there too.
It will soon be Jennifer and Brian’s 40th Wedding Anniversary and Jen and Lilian hit the clothes shops of Cheltenham in a spending frenzy. Jennifer tells her sister that “Justin has brought the sparkle back to your eyes” and, while discussing the marriage of Justin and Miranda, Lilian describes it as “being in real trouble.” We learn also that Lilian is entering the painting that Paul bought her into the jumble sale - is she clearing the decks for another torrid romance?
One final point about Brian and Jennifer’s wedding anniversary - Brian reveals to Lilian that their honeymoon wasn’t much of an occasion, so he’s booked a week in a five-star hotel in Venice. If you want someone to carry your bags, Brian, I come cheap.