Eric Allen (Bert Fry)
Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my most fervent wishes is that someone will stand up to Lynda Snell and refuse to be bullied and go along with her latest project or Christmas extravaganza. Imagine then how pleased I was when Eddie Grundy did just that, and how frustrated I was later when Bert Fry pulled Lynda’s chestnuts out of the fire.
It happened thus: on Friday Lynda got an e-mail from the insurance company, laying down a series of conditions if they were to offer public liability cover for her garden open day. To be fair, you can understand why Lynda isn’t very happy, as this happened on Friday and the garden is scheduled to open on Sunday. Even worse; one of the conditions was that the frontage with the river Am should be fenced off and, apparently, there is miles of it. Lynda gets on the phone to Eddie and demands that he drops whatever he’s doing and gets over to Ambridge Hall at once, if not sooner. Eddie replies that he’s laying a patio at Hollerton and can’t make it, sorry. Lynda then demands to know exactly where he is.
To Eddie’s surprise, Lynda turns up at the client’s house and berates Eddie, saying “The whole prospect of my open garden is at stake!” Eddie, bless him, says “That ain’t my problem - I’ve had quite enough responding to your whims these last few months.” This prompts a super sniff from Lynda, who tells Eddie that she’s prepared to pay 50% over Eddie’s going rate. Eddie, however, has his own idea, saying that Lynda should allow him and Joe to promote their shepherd’s hut building business to the visitors. Lynda is aghast and flatly refuses, telling Eddie that the whole shepherd’s hut episode was “one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.” ”Them’s my conditions, “ Eddie replies, “Take it or leave it.” Lynda says that she’ll leave it - “I may be desperate but I will not be held to ransom.”
‘Way to go Eddie!’ I thought, ’That’ll teach the arrogant so-and-so.’ Sadly, Eddie runs into Bert Fry at a builder’s merchant and tells him about Lynda giving him grief. Flash forward to Ambridge Hall, where a despondent Lynda comes off the phone after what is obviously one of a long series of abortive calls to fence building firms. It’s no good, she tells Robert, we will have to cancel the open day. He suggests that she takes a look outside, where Quisling Fry is erecting a pole and netting fence, aided and abetted by Toby, Rex and Josh. Lynda is overcome, telling Bert that “this is extraordinarily kind.” He says that he knows how hard she has worked on the garden and he wouldn’t want to see it go to waste. “We’ll work late into the evening if need be [I bet Toby was pleased to hear that] and, come hell or high water, your garden will open tomorrow, as planned.”
OK, I admit that my attitude is a tad curmudgeonly and I shouldn’t exhibit schadenfreude when it goes wrong for Lynda, but you have to admit that she is bloody annoying and expects everybody to jump when she says so. She was right - it was extraordinarily kind of Bert and let’s hope she doesn’t forget it; especially as she was complaining bitterly about the website that Toby’s designer friend had created, showing off Bert’s garden, calling it unfair.
It was a momentous week for the Archers, marking as it did the soap’s 18,000th episode. Lilian had her interview as Justin’s mistress and apparently passed with flying colours; especially the practical component. The couple return from a weekend away in the Peak District (“Not that we saw much of it” Lilian says to Justin - too much information!). He asks what will Lilian tell Jennifer if she asks about where she was for the weekend? Lilian replies that her and Justin’s ‘arrangement’ is private and she will only say something if Jennifer asks her direct. Not much fear of that, I’d say - Jennifer would only suspect something if they were caught bonking on one of the marble worktops in the new kitchen, and even then only if she needed the space to prepare vegetables.
Even more momentous - Justin gets an e-mail from his contact on the County Council; the CC is ready to announce its decision on the preferred route for the new road. The news spreads quickly and our tenters have seldom ever been so hooked. David especially can hardly stand the suspense and goes out for a walk - will Brookfield be cut in half by Route B? He soon rushes back, telling Rooooth that Neil has told him to check out the Council website. What’s the verdict? The Council have changed their mind and rejected Route B in favour of Route C, which is wonderful news for most of Ambridge (although Kenton and Jolene were looking forward to increased footfall). Not such good news for the poor sods at Hollerton, where Route C will go, but you can’t make omelettes etc.
Cue for a massive party, which coincides with the welcome BBQ that Adam has arranged for the fruit pickers, and everyone gets well and truly hammered at The Bull, which cheers Kenton up a bit. An emotional David tells Jill that he wish he could have let Phil know the result, to which she replies that she’s sure that he knows. Fortified by a few points of Shires, David gives a speech about how he nearly abandoned Ambridge and how the future has been uncertain for the past two years (what, has it only been two years? Seems longer. A lot longer). But now the uncertainty is over. David is exultant. “We fought and we won! Route B is dead! Long live Ambridge!” David yells to the crowd. “You rabble rouser” Rooooth tells him.
Sunday was Open Farm Sunday at Brookfield and Pip was not happy to see that Josh had sited his egg display close to the entrance, where she believes it detracts from the display concerning suckler beef. Whatever, the family agrees that it has probably been the best OFS ever and Pip’s mood lightens as she realises that Josh has had precious little success in selling his eggs, as she takes great delight in telling him.
Of course, Toby has produced a promotional video for the eggs and he has great hopes that Justin will sign him up to shoot a corporate video for Damara. Justin has delegated this to Lilian and she views the finished product with a critical eye. If Toby was hoping for an easy ride, he is soon disabused, as Lilian tells him that Justin has no interest in Toby producing a video for Damara. Not only that, but as Damara’s logo features on the egg boxes, the standard of the video (’amateurish’ and with ’a phony-sounding voiceover’) is such that, on no account is Toby to show it to the public. Ever. “You don’t pull your punches, do you?” Toby asks, in a hurt voice.
But not much dents Toby’s confidence, although Rex tries to keep his brother’s feet on the ground. Rex’s latest problem is that Toby has promised Morgan and Minster (a client) an unreasonable number of eggs a week. No problem, says Toby, buy some more point of lay hens. “With what?” Rex asks, pointing out that they need sales if they are to fund any expansion. Toby bemoans the fact that he appears to be the only one with any vision and has a go at Josh, who sided with Rex. Later on, Josh asks Toby if he has gone back to M+M yet and, when Toby says “no”, Josh says “Good. I might have an idea.” This was Wednesday and, by the end of the week, we still hadn’t heard what the idea might be. God! The suspense!
Let’s deal with Helen. Anna calls her to discuss the forthcoming hearing to decide access to and custody of Jack. Anna says that it would look more reasonable if Helen were to allow Rob some supervised access to his son. Helen sobs and says that she cannot, to which Anna replies that it would be better to have some voluntary arrangement, rather than have one imposed on her. Anna also says that Helen will have to appear at the hearing (by video, not in person) but she won’t have to talk to, or see, Rob. How does Helen take this? When Anna puts the phone down, we hear Helen sob “no, no, please no!”
Things aren’t going well for Helen, as Jack is crying and she can’t cope or get his nappy off. She is helped in this by Kaz, another inmate who has a child of similar age. The two get talking and, even though Kaz describes Helen as ‘quite posh’, they get on well and have a cup of tea. Kaz is obviously more experienced than Helen in being incarcerated, as she describes the mother and baby unit as “Quiet”, adding “You have more of a laugh in the proper Nick.” That’ll be some comfort for you, should the worst happen, Helen.
Towards the end of the week, Tom visits his sister, who admits that she is scared of the forthcoming court hearing as “Rob is always in my head” and “everything always goes Rob’s way.” Tom tells her that she is brave and she replies that “I don’t feel brave; I’m just glad that I’ve got Jack - he needs me.”
Back at Bridge Farm, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, as Kirsty has been keeping in touch with Anya, who used to work for Ambridge Organics. Anya has agreed to do some shifts, but she’s away travelling for a few weeks. Never mind - would Susan be willing to take a few shifts at the Bridge Farm shop? Susan demonstrates mega delusions of adequacy when she tells Pat “You expect me to sort out this pickle that you’ve got yourself in, drawing on my extensive retail management experience?” Come off it Susan - just because you are occasionally left alone in the village shop doesn’t make you a retail magnate. Pat can’t be choosy, however, and is relieved when Susan says “It would be wrong of me to withhold my experience, wouldn’t it?”
We end with the Grundys. Eddie and Joe are helping Ed with the haymaking and there is much reminiscing (from Joe) about how things were in the old days, when the whole village joined in. Clarrie has brought a picnic and she is worried what Oliver and Caroline will say when they return, with the piglets penned close to the house and “as for that crack in the kitchen wall…” For his part, Joe is deeply content, saying “I wish this could go on forever.” However, he does admit that he had hoped that he could end his days at Grange Farm. Don’t worry about that Joe - we might be able to help you with this one; Clarrie, just pass Eddie the carving knife, will you?