Hollie Chapman (Alice Aldridge)
When it comes to getting job offers, you have to hand it to Alice - past experience has taught us that, by the time she has got home from the interview, the job offer is on her doormat. It was a bit more difficult for the latest job, insofar as she had to endure a second interview before being offered the position.
But this wasn’t enough for young Alice, who demonstrated considerable nerve when she contacted the company to tell them that she would deign to take the job, but a) the salary is too low and b) the holiday entitlement was laughable, so would they mind going back and having a rethink? Jennifer is all of a twitter, wondering if Alice has done the right thing - would the company tell her to take a hike and offer the job to the runner-up candidate?
I know that, if I tried such a tactic, the ‘sod off’ e-mail would be in my Inbox within seconds, but we are talking about Alice here and she not only secured eight extra days of holiday, but a salary 20% higher than the original offer. I have said it before - this girl must be very, very good. I suspect that, when she goes for her next job (presumably President of the USA, or UN Secretary General), she will march into the interview room, put her feet on the desk, glance at her watch and say “OK gentlemen - I can give you 15 minutes; tell me why I should come and work for you.”
Compare and contrast this, as they used to say on exam papers, with the attitude to Kate towards her hippy, alternative therapy set-up, which seems to have suddenly morphed into a ‘glamping’ experience. Having driven her mum mad when shopping for furnishings last week, Kate decides that her purchases are not good enough for her guests, so she raids Home Farm for a better class of furnishings for the yurt. These include Jennifer’s best china tea service and silver cutlery, a full-length mirror from the dressing room and Jennifer’s priceless Persian rug - all things, as Brian sarcastically remarks, that Mongolian horsemen presumably regarded as indispensable in their yurts. He is also worried, as all this is for one yurt and Kate has two others to furnish. And it gets worse, as, when Brian suggests that he and Jennifer have lunch on the terrace, they find that the garden furniture has also been appropriated. We learn later that the glamping guests were deeply impressed, and so they damn well should have been, after all that faffing around.
Let’s leave the Aldridges and turn now to a lady who has zoomed to the top of my ‘favourite Ambridge person’ chart - ladies and gentlemen, I give you Fallon Rogers! Before we find out what she has done to earn this accolade, we must mention the advice that she and PCB give to Rex Fairbrother, concerning his love life. PCB tells Rex that, when he and Fallon first met, she wasn’t interested and it took ‘considerable persistence’ to get her to go out with him. Fallon backs him up, telling Rex that, when she first met PCB “I thought he was an arrogant prat. Now I realise that he’s a sweet, caring, adorable prat and people will do what he asks them to.” Praise indeed!
But why has Fallon gone up in my estimation? She, Kenton and Susan managed to outvote Lynda over the Village Fete and incorporate some Rio- and Olympics-related elements into more traditional offerings such as ‘whack the mole’, Morris dancing, White Elephant and ’dunk the vicar.’ At the Fete Committee (FC) meeting, it becomes evident that the Rio theme has gone much further than Lynda anticipated and that Kenton has booked a Samba band. Lynda protests that this has not been discussed by the FC and Fallon, who has privately described Lynda’s ideas as boring, says that it will make a nice change from Morris dancing.
Scandalised, Lynda says that surely they are not suggesting cancelling the Morris Men? Too right, Fallon answers and, when Lynda embarks on her ’upholding traditional country practices’ speech, Fallon asks “why not do something different for a change?” With a sniff that must have measured around five on the Richter Scale, Lynda says that she has never denied people choice. However, Fallon is going for the jugular now and interrupts with “as long as they choose what you want.” Stunned, Lynda makes a speech about how she has served this committee, and others, for over 30 years: “Fete after fete, Christmas show after Christmas show [too bloody right!], which I have undertaken in a spirit of selfless dedication. If the younger generation has decided that my time is past and this is the moment to stage a coup, far be it for me to stand in their way.”
Come on Lynda, lighten up - we’re talking about the Village Fete here, not Turkey. But La Snell isn’t finished yet and, rising from her chair, she rants “I’m not going to sit around and watch while traditions are trampled into the ground in the name of brash innovation.” Turning to Jill, Lynda says “Be warned Jill - this week the Village Fete, next week the Flower and Produce Show!” and on this dramatic note, she flounces out of the room. “Oh dear!” says Jill, while Kenton mutters “Oh Fallon, what have you done?”
My answer to Kenton’s question would be “an immense favour to Ambridge residents and five million listeners”, but I have no doubt that Lynda will regain her megalomaniacal tendencies (or ‘selfless dedication’ as she terms it) in time for Christmas. I hope not, but like death and taxes, I fear it is inevitable. I suppose that, if Fallon wanted to make things up with Lynda, she could always claim that she misheard her, saying “I’m sorry Lynda, but I thought you were behind the Rio idea - when you talked about ‘whack a mole’ I thought you said ‘guacamole’.” OK, I know guacamole is Mexican, but it’s close enough.
Away from the FC drama, what else has been happening? Lilian and Peggy went to see Helen, prompting many in the village to ask them on their return “How’s Helen?” “Still banged up in chokey” is the answer to that and, at the end of the week, we had Anna trying to get Helen to agree to tell the Helpline that she rang to confirm that she called them. Helen says that she has already told Anna that she rang, but Anna points out that the Helpline can only confirm it if Helen gives her express permission for it and, for reasons that I didn’t fully understand, she’s reluctant to do so. Helen, love, you have already said how boring the institution is - if you don’t get some sort of defence sorted, you’ll be put away for years, with no Jack or Henry to comfort you, so get it together. To be fair, she is remembering the odd incident, but it’s slow going for Anna.
Back in Ambridge, Pat has hopes that, now Ursula is gone, maybe Rob will let them have the odd extra day with Henry. Fat chance! Never mind, she and Tony can take Henry on a week’s holiday and she has found a nice place in Tenerife. “You’re not taking my son to Tenerife - do you think I was born yesterday?” and he flatly refuses to allow them to take Henry out of the country, talking about recent cases of child abduction. I don’t know about born yesterday, Rob but it could be a case of ‘dead tomorrow’ if you keep crossing Pat. As a furious Pat tells Jennifer later: “That man is playing games with us - and he’s clearly enjoying it!”
It was the naughty step for David, midweek - he had taken an extra cut of silage and, when Pip checked out the grazing paddocks with the plate meter, the instrument shows that the grazing is insufficient and the cows will have to be fed supplements, thus incurring extra costs. Pip discusses this with Rooooth, who tells her that that explains why milk yields are down and she’ll have a word with David.
When confronted with the facts, David admits that, when he cut the silage, he didn’t use the plate meter and judged it by eye. Oh dear! Rooooth says he will have to confess to Pip and will probably be subjected to physical violence. Not quite, but there is lots of biting sarcasm and the phrase ‘my idiot father’ was bandied around. As Pip goes off “to feed these poor, starving cows”, David says quietly to Rex “Well, that’s put me in my place.” Rex’s reaction? “She can be a bit fierce when she puts her mind to it, can’t she?”
Pip’s fling with Toby is continuing and she makes it plain that it’s just sex and throws Toby out of her bed when he is settled down for a post-coital nap. This is about 2am and Toby notices a light on in Brookfield. We learn later on that it was Jill, who couldn’t sleep and, as she tells Peggy, she saw Toby slinking away. Jill has no time for the Fairbrothers (“He’s just like his father”) but Peggy tells her not to go interfering - “just be there when it all goes wrong.” Actually, I wonder whether Toby, who tells Rex that he is indeed seeing a woman, but “Sex for me is a necessity and that’s all it is with this woman - it will burn itself out”, isn’t becoming a tad smitten. As Rex says that everyone’s telling him not to give up on pursuing the girl he fancies, Toby suggests that perhaps it is time he called it a day, which surprises Rex, as it was Toby who has been egging him on.
Emma confessed to Clarrie that, while she has no problems in moving back in with her mum and dad, Ed isn’t so keen. She describes her husband as ‘a bit of a slob’ and her mother as ‘a bit houseproud’ adding: “She never forgave Ed for being sick all over her sofa.” Yup, that’s what I call really houseproud.
Caroline is out riding with Shula and she tells her that she and Oliver have had an offer for Grange Farm, close to the asking price. Will she be sad to leave? Not a bit of it: “When I came back from Italy and saw the mess the place was in, I thought ‘I don’t want to live here any more - it isn’t my home’ “ Caroline reveals that, if it were up to her, she’d accept the offer like a shot, but Oliver is dragging his feet. The reason is that the prospective purchaser is a developer, who wants to divide it into holiday flats and “Oliver hates the idea - he knows it would break Joe Grundy’s heart.” Get a grip, Oliver - do you want to sell the damn place or don’t you? Repeat after me: ‘It doesn’t matter a toss what (or, indeed, if) Joe Grundy thinks’ and keep repeating it until it sinks in, or Joe kicks the bucket.
Finally, a change of sporting fortunes; Sunday was PCB’s first match as cricket captain and he could only raise a team of 10 men, who were all out for 91 against Loxley Barrett. Despondency ruled OK, but Ambridge redeemed themselves by dismissing their opponents for 88, thanks in no small part to two brilliant catches by PCB. Actually, I can’t understand why he is having trouble raising a team - the man is a policeman, after all and it only takes a few phone calls along the lines of “would you like to be in the cricket team this Sunday - or would you rather have a speeding ticket?” People will be falling over themselves to play.