Rhys Bevan (Toby Fairbrother)
If we’re honest, Toby has had better weeks. On Wednesday, Eddie informs Rex that it appears that the hens weren’t shut away the previous night and are roaming free. Even worse, there is a gap in the netting fence and a fox has got in and wreaked bloody havoc among the hens. Rex is incensed, as it was Toby’s turn to see to the hens last night and he didn’t come home. Rex blames it all on his brother being so loved up with his new woman - perhaps it’s a blessing that Rex doesn’t know that the new woman is Pip, or we could have a Cain and Abel re-enactment on the cards.
Eddie helps Rex round up the hens in the field and shows him the best way to put severely-injured birds out of their misery. The final count is 50 hens dead or missing. Josh responds to Rex’s call and, if Rex was angry, then Josh is positively incandescent. When Toby does turn up, his apologies are waved aside and both Rex and Josh have a real go at him, with Josh pointing out that it’s not just the dead birds, but the surviving ones will have had their laying patterns disturbed from shock. The only thing to do is to contact customers and try to negotiate a reduction in their orders.
Toby has an idea - source more point of lay birds, perhaps from Josh’s free range hens. Josh would want full market price and, asks Rex, where is the money coming from? Toby says that he will pay - he’ll source a personal loan, to which Rex replies that running Upper Class Eggs is a struggle anyway and “maybe Josh and I would be better off going it alone.”
We hear nothing more until Friday, when the three partners meet to assess the damage to UCE. Rex has been ringing round customers to suggest an immediate reduction of 20% in orders. Two customers have cancelled; something which Toby describes as “an overreaction”. He insists that, in three or four weeks, UCE will be back to normal and he has sourced the money to buy the new hens (he negotiated a personal loan from his father). He also says that the drone video is getting lots of hits and why can’t the customers who have cancelled give them a break?
This is too much for Josh, who snaps back “Why should they? We’ve only been dealing with them for five minutes; you can’t expect loyalty this soon.” Toby still proffers grovelling apologies, saying it’s totally his fault and he couldn’t feel worse about it. Actually, he could - and does - when Rex tells them that the worst-case scenario is losing 50% of the business. Josh isn’t best pleased by this news and says “This isn’t personal Toby; you’re a good laugh, but as a business partner, you’re an utter disaster.” Josh then goes on to say that he thinks he and Rex could pull UCE around by themselves. Toby says “It’s up to you guys to decide.” Rex says that, two days ago, he would have cut Toby out immediately, but now he thinks Toby could do a job for them - he’s better at the people side. Especially if the people are female, presumably.
Toby begs for one more chance, saying “this has been a massive wake-up call. Give me another chance and I swear I’ll put this right. 200% effort” (I assume he wasn’t a very good banker, figures-wise). Rex admits to having “massive misgivings” but what does Josh think? “One more chance” says Josh, hence the title of this week’s blog. Relieved and grateful, Toby tells them that they won’t regret it. All I can say is that this will be a conversion akin to that of St. Paul’s if Toby does change and I wouldn’t bet money on it happening, especially if he gets the scent of a woman. Incidentally, before the fox got to the hens, we learn that Josh hasn’t got a very high opinion of Toby. Josh was talking to Johnny about women, saying: “You like brunettes, I’m into long, blonde hair and Toby goes for anything with a pulse and no judgement.”
Josh and Johnny were waiting by the combine for Adam to do some grain hauling work. Adam is late and the boys are bored, so Josh turns on the combine’s engine, just as Johnny warns that Adam has arrived. Josh quickly turns it off, asking nervously “Do you think he noticed?” Let’s think - the combine is extremely powerful and has a large engine - of course he’ll bloody notice! Indeed he does and, as he tells Ian later, he gave the boys a right rollocking.
Adam is keen to persuade Tom to pursue the Nuffield scholarship so that he can research the market for organic baby food in other countries. Tom has a look at the application forms, but feels he is too busy on the farm. Nevertheless, he mentions the form to Pat and Tony. Pat says it sounds like a good idea, but… “Now isn’t the right time” Tom finishes for her. Pat agrees, but Tony isn’t so sure “Yes, we’re stretched, but why should Tom have to sacrifice his dreams?” he asks. Tom thinks that it could be positive for Helen - “It might be the perfect way for her to find herself again.” Not only that, but if it were to take off, it could provide a future for Johnny, Henry and even Jack: “Helen and I would be creating something for their futures - like you and Dad did for us.” Pat relents and gives her son her blessing to apply.
Meanwhile, Anna has been trying to find people who would be willing to speak as character witnesses on Helen’s behalf. First up is Ian and Anna tells him that Helen described him as “a very good friend.” Ian replied “We were, until Rob came into the equation” and he tells Anna about how he and Helen had a massive falling out, engineered by Rob. Ian seems genuinely touched that Helen said nice things about him and tells Anna “I’ll do it. Whatever. Whenever. Certain.” And he asks Anna to send Helen his love. She suggests that he does it himself, by sending her a letter. “Will she want to hear from me?” he asks “I’m sure she’d love to, Ian” Anna replies.
Anna next tackles Neil to be a character witness and he is initially reluctant, saying that they had never been that close. Anna counters that that is ideal - he will be a more objective witness, plus he is Chair of the Parish Council, which cannot hurt. Neil agrees and Anna thanks him and leaves, just as Susan returns. Susan asks what was Anna doing there and, when Neil tells her what he has agreed to, she is horrified, saying: “There’s a hero walking round the village with terrible injuries and she’s the woman responsible.” Neil protests that he just wants to be fair to Helen, but Susan is in full cry and tells him “You’ll turn Rob against us, not to mention the cricket team and half the village.” She also reminds him that, as village postmistress, she has to get on with everybody and that Neil is making a big mistake “And it won’t be long before you wished you’d listened to me.” I can’t believe that’s ever likely to be the case, personally.
And now we have this week’s ‘can we have that in writing, please?’ moment. The organisation of the Fete is running into problems - the ‘whack the mole’ man has moved to no-one knows where and there are problems with the parking. Even worse, the ‘dunk the vicar’ mechanism has a piece missing. Later on we learn that ‘whack a mole’ will be replaced by ‘splat a rat’, or ‘club a seal’, or similar, but Fallon is floundering. So she bites the bullet and goes to see Lynda, admitting that there are some problems. “Problems? Oh dear, what could possibly have gone wrong?” asks Lynda, positively exuding smugness from every pore.
To be fair, Lynda does help with addresses and Fallon asks her if she could help with the parking or the Jean Harvey problem, but Lynda says that she doesn’t have the time. Lynda says Fallon did her a big favour by pointing out her shortcomings and Lynda has decided to drop out of everything. “No more fetes, bazaars, maypole dances or Christmas shows for me” Lynda says, adding that it has been “a wonderful liberation for me.” And this is what I want to get in writing and signed, as I cannot believe that Lynda can, and will, give it all up. Lynda’s been doing this for 30 years and she tells Fallon that now it’s time for her and her friends to pick up the baton, adding smugly: “From what I’ve heard, the Fete is going to be an absolute triumph.” Only a couple of days earlier, Lynda had told Robert: “It’s no longer my role to care but, from an outsider’s point of view, you might be forgiven for thinking that rank inexperience is steering this year’s Fete towards disaster.“ Fallon is distraught at what she has done and wails “if you drop out of everything, life in Ambridge won’t be the same“, which is what we are all hoping, of course.
Over at the Stables, Caroline and Shula have been out riding and there is talk of Dan and Dorothy’s forthcoming holiday in Croatia - we learned on Sunday that Dorothy is a bit of an action girl, who enjoys rock climbing and she and Dan will be white water rafting when on holiday. There is talk too of Alistair’s on-going attempt to move his business back to the Stables. However, Caroline notices that Shula appears distracted and she asks her friend what’s wrong?
In the tack room, Shula reveals that she has been thinking of when Rob attacked the hunt saboteur and how she subsequently lied to the police about it. Rob was so self-righteous afterwards and Shula saw a side of Rob that nobody else had - could she have somehow stopped the train of events that has led to Helen facing trial? Caroline assures her that she could not possibly have foreseen what would happen and their conversation is interrupted when Fallon comes in, looking for another errant piece of Fete machinery.
And now to ElfWorld; the Grundy’s latest money-making scheme. Or, then again, perhaps not, as the contribution bucket yielded 98p and a broken hair slide when they last looked. Never mind; Joe has an idea which will turn Bartleby into ElfWorld’s premier attraction - fit him with a pair of wings and introduce him as the magical, flying and talking horse of the fairy kingdom (an idea Joe nicked from one of Keira’s DVDs). Great idea, except that Bartleby isn’t having any of it and throws the wings off three times, before trampling them underfoot. He also manages to kick the head off the plaster statue of a wizard, which Eddie describes as “one of our best attractions”, which gives you a clue as to why they only took 98p. I don’t think that the Harry Potter Experience or Disneyworld need to start panicking just yet.