Well, that’s what Josh has his fingers crossed for, although, when you think about it, what are the chances that an experienced chicken farmer might notice that his flock is suddenly 75 birds light? I suppose he might chalk it up to a particularly voracious, yet scrupulously tidy, fox but surely it’s odds on that he’s going to notice their absence sooner or later?
Rex mentions the extra birds to Pip, who is surprised, as Josh never said anything about it to her. At the party to celebrate Chris Carter’s birthday (28 on June 22nd) Pip tells Toby that she’s surprised that Neil let him have his birds, as he’s usually so picky. Uncharacteristically, Toby is embarrassed and nervous and doesn’t answer, so Pip asks “Toby, Neil does know that you and Josh took them? You did ask him first?” Toby still doesn’t answer and Rex pushes the point, saying: “Toby? Answer the question, Toby.”
The following day, Josh is happy, as it’s his last-ever day at college and he’s looking forward to celebrating after his final exam. Unfortunately, Rex has decided that Josh will accompany him and Toby to apologise to Neil and the two brothers drag him off in the car. We don’t get to hear the subsequent conversation, but Toby says afterwards that he’s glad it’s over. Rex thinks they got off lightly and Josh says that he apologised to Neil and he appears to think that that’s an end to the matter.
Wrong! While the trio were grovelling, Pip accidentally let slip to David that there’s something dodgy going on. David demands more details and Pip obviously capitulated, as, when Josh is all set to go out on the lash, he takes a call from his father, who is ever so slightly incensed and tells Josh to come home right away. Josh wants to go and party, but David spells it out for him: “I’m not asking; I’m telling you - get in your car and come back. Now!”
I did wonder how accidental Pip’s revelation was, or whether she was getting her own back on Josh’s attempts to push his eggs on Open Farm Sunday. Whatever, Josh was in a lot of trouble.
And it will get worse for him as, on Friday, Neil visits Brookfield for a discussion with David and Rooooth “about where we go from here.” In the end, they agree that Josh will have to replace the missing hens with point of lay birds at his own expense. And no rubbish either - Neil wants top quality birds from his usual supplier. David and Rooooth apologise for the umpteenth time and Neil says that he hopes it’s all been a good lesson for the lad. Rooooth’s reply (“Don’t worry, we’ll make quite sure of that”) would indicate that Josh is in for a lengthy bout of earache, and serves him right too. One might also make the observation that the price of pasture-fed eggs (or, more accurately, eggs from pasture-fed hens) might have to increase. This might not be helpful, as we learn from David that, in the shop, Susan has been telling people how over-priced the eggs are. Well done Susan; Neil would be proud of you.
Going back to Chris’s party, Pip asks Rex if he’s going and he replies that he hasn’t been asked. Pip says come anyway and he does, only to try and leave early as Pip seems to be hitting on fellow guest Akash - a good-looking, mathematical genius friend of Alice. Next day, Alice told Pip that she made quite an impression on Akash and there is banter between the girls about whether or not Pip is back on the dating scene. Alice wants to go with Pip to see the cows on the herbal leys and she says that she is envious of Pip being able to work in the open air, while she is stuck in an office all day. You should try it on a cold, winter’s morning when it’s tipping down, Alice - bet the office would appear more attractive then. It turns out that Alice has an ulterior motive, as a new, agri-tech firm is moving to Felpersham and Alice might fancy a change of career. So much for all those years studying aeronautical engineering.
It was party time too at Home Farm, where Kate’s open Facebook invitation to celebrate the summer solstice didn’t result in the massive influx of weirdos that some of us had anticipated. That said, there were some instances of eccentric characters asking directions to Home Farm and, as we learn later in a telephone call from Phoebe to her father Roy, there were enough people to form a noisy procession round the house at 4am.
I am starting to think that nobody could be as thoughtless as Kate and not be regularly (and deservedly) beaten up - Phoebe returns after an exam and all Kate can do is bang on about how she is exhausted, trying to clear up the yurt field. The noise is continuing and Phoebe has had enough, going upstairs to pack. She eventually turns up at Roy’s, telling him that she can’t stay at Home Farm any longer, what with Kate, the noise and aunt Lilian. Roy tells her that she can stay with him “And if there’s any more trouble with your mum, I’ll sort it.”
Next day, Roy takes Phoebe a cup of tea and she says how grateful she is that she can focus on her revision. It’s very quiet and peaceful “and there are no drunken aunties in the kitchen.” Of course, it cannot last and Phoebe’s phone rings. It’s Kate, in a panic - Brian and Jennifer are coming home tomorrow and the house is a complete mess and the dishwasher isn’t working. Could Phoebe come round and lend a hand for an hour? It’s too much for Phoebe and she explodes, telling her mum to “shut up!” She adds that she has another exam on Friday and she has to revise for it. Kate demonstrates that she has all the sensitivity of a cast-iron condom when she then asks “Half an hour?” Phoebe puts the phone down as Roy comes in and, seeing she is stressed, asks what’s the problem?” It was probably Phoebe banging her head on the wall that tipped him off that something was amiss.
The story comes out and Roy goes to see Kate to tell her that this is something of a stressful time for Phoebe - she is trying to get into Oxford, in case Kate had forgotten - and Phoebe won’t be coming home any time soon. How dare Kate even ask Phoebe to clear up her mess? Kate says that it’s a stressful time for her as well, with her launch coming up. She admits that she could do with some professional help (I would add ‘and psychiatric’), plus she is having trouble finding caterers. Roy cuts her a deal - if she leaves Phoebe alone, he will give her an hour of his time. To be fair, Kate does say ‘thank you’, immediately followed by “can you take a look at the dishwasher?”
As it turns out, Roy stays there for two hours and even organises a catering deal for Kate (with a 5% discount, no less). Kate calls him ‘just amazing’ - he has even got the dishwasher going (the switch on the wall should be in the ‘down’ position, Kate). So grateful is Kate that she invites him to attend her launch event. Don’t do it Roy! She’s probably only looking for someone to serve drinks and canapés.
Sunday was Father’s Day and Pat and Tony had agreed that Rob could have Henry for the day, while they took the opportunity to visit the prison, where Pat could see her grandson Jack/Gideon/Robspawn for the first time. She is besotted and they agree that he looks like Dan (“a real little Archer”). Pat is of course upset that she cannot see Helen, but Tony is optimistic, saying that he feels Helen is becoming less shut away. Pat is loath to give baby Jack back, but says “At least he’s safe here with his mum, where Rob can’t touch him.”
And what is RobSatan doing while all this is happening? He takes Henry on a steam train ride and, never one to miss an opportunity, subtly drips poison into young Henry’s ear, reminding him that mummy promised to take Henry on the train, but she never did, thus telling lies and letting Henry down. Furthermore, he adds that “this is more fun than boring Bridge Farm” and he’s glad that Pat and Tony decided they would rather see baby Gideon than spend the day with Henry. When Henry asks why can’t he see the new baby, Rob tells him that “Mummy won’t let us see him.” Back home later, Rob tucks Henry in bed and, when he goes downstairs, he is upset because “I could only see one of my sons - it should have been my first Father’s Day with Gideon. Helen knows that too - she’s doing this just to hurt me. How could she be so cruel and calculating?” At a guess, I’d say she’s had a good teacher, Rob.
He continues: “She can’t do this to me - I’m just not going to stand for it.” Ursula urges him to have faith in the courts. Us too, I’d say.
While all this is going on, how is Helen coping? She seems to have found a good friend in Kaz, who is encouraging her to be positive. Helen gets her hair cut and, according to Kaz, it looks sensational. What to wear for the video link of the Hearing? Pat has sent her a linen shirt and, with one of Kaz’s T-shirts under it, Helen will look really good. The initial telephone call with CAFCASS seems quite promising, when Helen describes Rob as having ways of getting what he wants and tells the lady about when Rob made Henry throw away his cuddly toy and Easter egg as a punishment and how he and Ursula planned to send Henry away to boarding school without consulting her. Unfortunately, when pressed to describe Rob’s behaviour further, Helen gets confused and cannot remember.
To compensate for giving up their Sunday access, Pat and Tony can have Henry overnight on Friday. It starts badly when Rob has ‘forgotten’ to tell the school that Tony will be picking Henry up, so Tony is late back. Henry is in difficult mode, refusing to eat his supper and telling pat that “Granny Ursula is a better cook than you.” He doesn’t want to go and see the cows and just wants to watch a DVD. Pat is convinced that Rob’s slip of memory was deliberate and, when Tony asks “What have we done?” she replies ”It’s happening to us now - this is what it’s like to have Rob in your life - he’s manipulative.”Later on, she says “Tony, we can’t let this happen.” Perhaps she could have added “So wake up, you great pudding” but she didn’t.
To more important matters: on Sunday, the Ambridge cricket team could not muster a full team and thus forfeited the match. How different from last year, when they won the league. OK, Rob isn’t playing (surely he could have a runner, the woos?) but it seems that every other eligible male in Ambridge is either unavailable or doing something else, like washing his hair. The chances of retaining their title would appear to be vanishingly small.