Michael Byrne (Bruce Titchener)
Last week we were re-introduced to Bruce, Ursula’s husband and it was definitely a case of ‘not nice to see you - to see you not nice!’ Bruce rang on Sunday, telling Ursula that he would be at Blossom Hill Cottage the following day. This throws Ursula into a bit of a flat spin and, the following day, she is making a second treacle tart, as the lattice on the first one wasn’t quite to her satisfaction and she wants it perfect for Bruce.
We infer from this that Bruce might be a bit of a difficult customer and we are quite right. Ursula is agonising about what to cook - she wants toad in the hole, but Rob says that’s for the autumn and she should serve up salad and yesterday’s leftover cold meat, which she does. Bruce arrives and immediately begins moaning because he was held up behind some giant drill. After lunch, he and Ursula go for a walk and he has indigestion, which he blames on her “rabbit food”. Ursula says that she has got food in the freezer which he can take back with him, but Bruce has other ideas - he has had months of living on microwaved meals and he’s sick to death of it all. The house is a tip (can’t he operate a vacuum?) and, when Ursula asks about Miles and Belinda, he tells her sharply that it’s not their job to look after him, it’s Ursula’s. As such, he’s taking her back with him.
Ursula is distraught and says that Rob still needs her and he’d never be able to look after Henry on his own, so why doesn’t she go home and come back for the holidays? “Ridiculous!” snorts Bruce. He eventually relents to letting Ursula stay till the end of the week and, back at Blossom Hill Cottage, he announces that he is returning home. But doesn’t he want to see Henry? Bruce replies that he doesn’t want to go and see “some snotty-nosed kid.” “But you’ve never even met Henry” Rob protests and Bruce demonstrates the depth of his grandfatherly feelings when he says “I can live with that.” In case you thought that Bruce was just disguising his affection behind a bluff, gruff façade, he spells out his feelings, calling Henry “a freak of nature conceived in a test tube with a stranger’s sperm.”
He doesn’t want to get involved with Henry and says that he will return “to get my grandson - your true son - back where he should be; with you. And that crazy harpy who put him there and put you in hospital will be kept behind bars for years to come.” However, there is a touching farewell - oh, do come on; you didn’t really believe that, did you? What Bruce actually says is “I won’t say it’s been no trouble, because it has been.” What a charmer! Let’s just hope that he doesn’t crash into a tractor or any other very solid piece of agricultural machinery on the way home to Hampshire.
Fast forward to the end of the week and Ursula sobs as she packs to leave - she had brought baby clothes and Rob’s own baby blanket for young Gideon (as they think of Jack) and Rob wonders if Jack will have outgrown the former by the time he gets to hold his son. Demonstrating a breathtaking level of self-delusion, he says “It’s all wrong. I only wanted to help. All I ever did was to try to give Helen some stability in her chaotic life - she wanted it; she needed it.” Ursula is far from convinced that Rob is up to looking after a boisterous five-year old and, if he has the slightest trouble, he’s to call her and she’ll come straight back “no matter what your father says.” Yeah, right. She also tells Rob not to let Henry run rings round him and “like all young boys, he needs a firm hand.”
Rob obviously takes the advice to heart as, when Ursula’s taxi drives off, he and Henry are standing, waving. It starts to thunder and the rain comes down. The conversation goes thus:
Rob - Just you and me now Henry, eh?
Hen - Daddy, I’m getting wet
Rob - Are you waving?
Hen - Can I go inside?
Rob - Don’t you dare. How rude after all that Grandma Ursula has done for you. We are standing here and waving until her taxi is right out of sight. Understood?
Hen (sadly) - Yes Daddy
Are there any clues to a possible solution here? Maybe Rob and/or Henry catch a fatal chill, or perhaps Rob’s interpretation of ‘a firm hand’ could leave to abuse or violence and Henry is snatched from him by the authorities, revealing the darker side of Rob’s character. Or maybe Rob will expire, not being able to keep up with Henry.
Meanwhile, Helen’s barrister Anna is talking to her mother about the case (in so far as she is allowed) and Carol is pleased that Anna is continuing with the case. Anna remarks that it is certainly a challenge and she needs more input from Helen.
Let’s turn to the Pip/Toby/shagging story. At the beginning of the week, Pip is trying to get in touch with Toby after their tryst (euphemism for ‘bonk’) last week. She eventually confronts him and he is very defensive, saying that he’s let lots of girls down before, but they weren’t mates who you see every day, and Pip is a great girl and he likes her, but… “Oh no, you’re not telling me I’m dumped?” squeals Pip. Later on we found out that she was only joshing and she finds it hilarious that Toby thought that he was breaking her heart. Her heart was shattered by Matthew, but her fling with Toby was fun and fun is what she’s looking for - two consenting adults with no strings. Toby isn’t one to ignore a hint, as he says “I’ll show you fun lady” and there is the sound of kissing.
‘Don’t these people have jobs to do?’ I hear you scream. Yes they do, but in Toby’s case, it doesn’t seem to matter as he sleeps in when he should be collecting eggs and looking after the goslings/hens. Josh and Rex are picking up the pieces and Josh, for one, is not happy. Rex says that Toby rolled in at 2 am and he tells Josh that talking to Toby is water off a duck’s back. Josh is becoming ever more incensed - since buying out Neil and Hayley, he is working all hours at Willow farm and is in debt to his parents. Upper Class Eggs have to turn a profit, but they won’t if the business isn’t efficient and they are carrying Toby. Rex repeats that Toby doesn’t listen, to which Josh replies “Did you use up your lifetime’s aggression playing rugby? Just let me at him!”
On cue, Toby turns up, full of false remorse and promising that things will be different in the future. “That sound you hear is that of a new leaf turning” he says, glibly. But Josh is having none of it, saying that “No it’s not; it’s the sound of someone trying to dig himself out of a hole.“ Josh goes on to say that he bought into UCE because he thought it had potential “And it does, but there’s three of us in this partnership and it needs you to pull your weight, so let’s see you doing it.” Josh reveals that he was going to invite the brothers to invest in Willow Farm (what with - they are living hand to mouth as it is?) “But that’s not going to happen, is it? Not when you’re such a plonker Toby.” As Josh goes off to work at Willow Farm, Toby demonstrates that it is indeed water off a plonker’s back when he says to Rex “Well, that was a right little hissy fit, wasn’t it?” “Oh, I give up” says a disgusted Rex.
Actually, if Rex knew what was going on behind his back, he’d be even more pissed off. He’s depressed enough because it’s his 29th birthday and he’s “part owner of a business that’s barely breaking even, with no prospect of buying a home.” Bert says that he hopes that Rex can regard the bungalow as his home and he has cooked Rex breakfast as a treat. As another treat (?) Bert has composed a poem for Rex’s 29th, but fortunately we were only subjected to a couple of stanzas.
Later on in The Bull, we learn that Bert has added some more verses and he reads it to Rex, Toby and Pip (again, fortunately, we don’t hear all of it.) While Pip is at the bar, Toby asks Rex if he has any change “for the machine in the Gents.” “Which girl is it now?” asks an exasperated Rex. “No-one you know” Toby replies. Rex forks over some money and Toby says “That should keep us going for a bit. Thanks bro - you’re the best.” I can’t help thinking that Rex would be mightily pissed off if he found out that, not only is his brother bonking the girl for whom Rex has the hots, but Rex is subsidising the steamy sex sessions. Pip isn’t helping Toby’s newly-professed new leaf image when she tells him on Friday that all her family will be away at Daniel’s homecoming bash, but she has said that she will stay and grease the grain trailers. Toby has a meeting lined up with a journalist but he blows that out of the water and the two indulge in a shagfest, curtailed only when Pip says that she really should grease the trailers, or the family will wonder what she’s been up to. She wants to be careful, as if she keeps leading Toby astray, his partners might get really fed up and the business could go tits up, with ‘goodbye Fairbrothers’ the result. Incidentally, I don’t want people to think that I am against Pip’s new-found sexual adventurism because she’s a woman - I am against it, but purely because she’s doing it with Toby, who I find insufferable, although he is obviously good between the sheets, which I suppose is what she’s looking for.
What else has happened? Kenton insisted that Wayne went to Beverley’s funeral, accompanied by Jolene. Go on Kenton; ask to see the order of service leaflet. Eddie and Joe are dreaming of the money that they will make through ElfWorld and are taken aback when Emma suggests that their costumes are a bit creepy (Joe looked like the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Eddie looked like a Hobgoblin). Furthermore, Joe’s stories are “terrifying” and “will have the children rushing for the exits”. Sounds like another Grundy marketing masterclass.
Finally, the Fete Committee met (Lynda, Kenton, Fallon and Susan) and Lynda’s suggestion of a traditional fete with the theme of - well, who’d have thought it? - Resurgam was rejected in favour of a traditional fete with a twist, as they want to create a party atmosphere with a Rio carnival theme as a homage to the Olympics. Lynda sniffs mightily, but she is outvoted. But it’s not all good news for Fallon, as she joins with Alistair to persuade Harrison (or PCB as we know him) to take over the cricket team captaincy. PCB is not interested but, when Fallon persists, he agrees, on one condition. When Alistair was captain, he says, he and Shula were a team, as she did the teas. He (PCB) will take over as captain as long as Fallon does the teas - another partnership. Fallon says no, but she has painted herself into a corner, by talking about how the village needs the cricket team. She agrees, as long as it doesn’t clash with paid work and saying: “Don’t think you’re getting a Goody Two-Shoes like Shula.” “I should hope not”, says PCB as the pair kiss, after saying how much they love each other.