Isobel Middleton (Anna Tregorran)
I was taught that, if you ever see a headline that says ‘mystery surrounds…’ then you have evidence of a journalist who hasn’t done his job properly. However, that isn’t true in this case, as the mystery only featured once last week and then only briefly. Wednesday wasn’t a good day for Anna - it was the day of Helen’s hearing regarding custody of Henry and Jack and Pat and Tony meet Anna briefly beforehand. They think that she’s looking nervous and, indeed, she seems to be at a bit of a loss as proceedings begin, to the extent that the judge becomes a bit tetchy.
The judge’s decision was that things should stay as they are, at least until after Helen’s trial. Pat and Tony are disappointed because Henry will be staying with Rob, but at least Helen keeps custody of Jack. Rob did his best, appearing with a walking stick that no-one remembers seeing him with before, and his brief describes Helen as “clearly a dangerous woman.” The issue of sending Henry to boarding school was apparently only a misunderstanding. Anna counters this by reminding the judge that she will be presenting a defence of self-defence at Helen’s trial and that her client is innocent until proven guilty.
Anna tells Pat and Tony that it was always odds on that the judge would opt to maintain the status quo and not to give up hope. On returning to Ambridge, Anna is confronted by a scene of culinary carnage - Carol had made a lasagne and it slipped when she removed it from the oven (she has a broken wrist remember) and it ended up on the floor. While Anna clears lasagne and broken glass off the floor, she berates her mother, who says that Anna seems bothered about something. In a trembling voice, Anna replies “I think it could be happening again, and this time - oh God mum - this time I’ve got to stop it.”
Mystery indeed. This was on Wednesday and was the only reference to whatever ‘it’ may be. Any ideas? I’ve racked what I’m pleased to call my brains and I haven’t come up with anything that sounds like a likely explanation. An illness? Unlikely, as Anna’s final words seem to imply that whatever ‘it’ is, she seems able to control it. We will have to wait and see what develops. Maybe you have an idea?
This was also the week of the launch of Kate’s Spiritual Home and, to nobody’s surprise, she is stressing and on the verge of descending into panic. First of all there is a tear in Persephone (which I assume is some sort of tent) and where are the caterers? Jennifer fixes the tear and Roy, on the phone, assures Kate that the caterers are reliable and not to worry. Ha! Fat chance! Peggy tells her granddaughter that everything is going to be all right. Kate is getting really stressed and says “No it won’t - and nobody else seems to care!” Well Kate, you got that last bit right at least.
As it turns out, the evening - or, rather, the night, as it went on until dawn - went off OK and we were told that Lynda “was really going for it” on the bongos, which frankly, boggles the mind. Roy was bullied into coming along, but Phoebe didn’t turn up. It was Phoebe’s 18th birthday on 26th June and Jennifer told Peggy, disapprovingly, that Kate just gave her money, while Roy and Hayley bought Phoebe a lovely bracelet. As the evening ended, Roy and Kate were the last two standing and they reflected on where had all the years gone?
In a moment of honesty, Kate admits that she hasn’t been the best of parents and the fact that Phoebe has turned out as well as she has is largely down to Roy “as I wasn’t even here.” They drink a toast to their daughter and Roy says “At least we’re both here for her now.” Kate agrees and, in a moment that made me break down and weep in despair, added “and staying for as long as she needs us.” I sincerely hope that Phoebe will emigrate after university.
The fallout from Josh’s ‘theft’ of Neil and Hayley’s hens continues, as Neil tells Susan that he and Hayley have decided that the passion for the business has gone and they have decided to call it a day and give up on the hens. Josh is still feeling contrite and seeks Neil out to give him a bottle of whisky. This means that Josh is in for another ear-bashing, as Neil tells him how disappointed he is in him. “I never had you down for a thief” Neil tells him and, when Josh admits that he was trying to impress Toby, Neil adds that Josh could find much better role models.
Susan is helping out at the Bridge Farm shop, although the word ‘helping’ might not be the correct one here, as she bangs on to Joe about how expensive everything is in the shop and he’d find them much cheaper at the village shop. “It’s no wonder that so many things are past their sell-by date” she adds, not considering that her negative comments might have something to do with lack of sales. Susan also goes on about how Tom doesn’t listen to her ideas about improving things in the shop - ideas which seem to consist only of wearing tabards and name badges.
Most of Susan’s ire is directed at Toby and Rex’s eggs - how could people prefer these to Neil’s free rangers? Don’t worry about it Susan - Neil’s eggs won’t be around for much longer. If Toby’s ears are burning, it doesn’t show. When talking to Pip, Rex wonders whether he should have gone into business with his brother (whom he describes as ‘a flake’) and admits that he doesn’t even know where Toby is today, but it’s probably something to do with his film.
When Toby does turn up, Pip has a proposition - she is going to take three heifers to a farm in Hampshire and she’d appreciate some company on the journey. Toby quickly says that Rex would love to do it and so the two set off a few days later. They seem to be getting on pretty well, but the journey home is spoiled for Rex as Pip keeps going on about Matthew. It seems that Matthew once worked at the farm they have just visited and had single-handedly saved it from going under when the farmer was ill and Pip tells Rex how good it was “to hear from someone else what an amazing guy Matthew is.” “Yes, he really is amazing” Rex replies, in doom-laden tones.
Say what you like about Toby, but when it comes to matters of the heart (or lower organs) he knows what he’s talking about. On Tuesday, Justin rings Lilian up and suggests dinner “and then we can take it from there.” “You lucky girl” Lilian says to herself, as she puts the phone down. After dinner, she and Justin are walking home and he says that the first part of the evening has been a great success and “shall we move on to part two?” They meet Rex and Toby in the street and, after an exchange of pleasantries, Toby tells Rex that he should take a leaf out of their book. Rex is nonplussed, but Toby says “they’re having an affair” and, when Rex expresses doubts, Toby says “I can tell a mile off. What’s the matter with you Rex?” The big clue was Lilian walking along with both hands down Justin’s trousers, Rex. Rex says forlornly that Pip isn’t interested in him in that way and “I wish she was.” Toby tells him that the trip to Hampshire could be his big chance and “the best opportunity you’ll get. I’m right behind you - just go for it, bro.”
Joe is still trying to find reasons that would put people off buying Grange Farm and he and the rest of the Grundys are awaiting the surveyor’s report. The crack in the kitchen wall indicates subsidence, but that can be cured with some underpinning, so Joe is desperate to find something major wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised if he set alight to the damn place - his attitude is certainly a poor response to Oliver’s generosity in letting them stay rent-free for months. Eddie has more bad news - the large sycamore near the house will have to go, as it is making it hard to sell the farm. Joe is scandalised, saying that the tree has been there for hundreds of years, which, as it is a sycamore - an introduced species - is highly unlikely.
The Grundys express an interest in the next Parish Council meeting on Friday and Eddie turns up. Brian is there, with the Borsetshire Wildlife Trust report on the effect of increased, elf-related tourism on the ecosystem of Millennium Wood. It turns out that the effect is significantly harmful and Brian calls for the elves to be made history. Neil isn’t so sure - the extra trade has been good for local shops and businesses. And now Eddie plays his master stroke - there could be a third way and he tells them of his plans for ElfWorld, thus moving the elves out of the wood, but keeping them in Ambridge.
Later on, Brian congratulates Eddie on his business acumen and Eddie says “At least you know the elves are going to a good home.” “Yes, I was so worried about that” Brian replies, drily. In the pub, Eddie tells Neil that he plans ‘the great elf migration’ for Sunday and he has had some leaflets printed, publicising the event. Neil demonstrates that he isn’t the brightest firefly in the garden when he asks Eddie how come he managed to organise that, when the PC only gave the go-ahead two hours ago? Eddie reckons it will be a nice little earner - they won’t charge for entrance but parking will be £5 and they will ask for donations and sell souvenirs. “We’re gonna have a smashing day on Sunday, so I don’t see why we Grundys shouldn’t make the most of it” Eddie tells Neil, while five million listeners speculate on exactly how this latest money-making scheme is going to come a cropper.
There was a welcome return to a speaking part for Alistair on Sunday when he, Richard Locke and Adam discuss cricket. At least this week Ambridge is able to field a team of eleven, unlike last week’s humiliation. Sadly, despite Richard and PCB playing well, Ambridge lost. Even worse, the tea was rubbish - Shula appears to have gone awol and Ambridge has gone from being the best team with the best teas last season to a bunch of losers serving up sub-standard grub. Alistair decides that the best thing to do would be to call an EGM for next week. “There’s no way I’m going to let this team die on my watch” says a defiant Alistair. I’d wait to see how many turn up for the EGM before you say that, Alistair. Perhaps they should appoint Lynda to roam the village and cajole people into playing - after all, it works for her Christmas shows year after year.