Edward Kelsey (Joe Grundy)
It would appear that some residents of Ambridge are in danger of losing their grip on reality. Take Joe (please); the elves have suffered badly in the torrential rainstorm, but he tells Eddie that they can’t let a summer shower get them down. This is a markedly different attitude from the “we’re doomed!“ stance of a fortnight ago. In fact, Joe has an idea that will have the punters queuing down the road to get in. And what is this boffo wheeze? Why, turn the cider shed into a cottage hospital for elves and call it the National Elf Service - oh, how we laughed!
A couple of days later, Eddie tells Joe that Neil wants to see him in his capacity as Chair of the Parish Council, as he has received complaints about ElfWorld. These include garish, dayglo signs and posters, plus the fact that someone has changed the village signs to read “Ambridge, twinned with ElfWorld.” After meeting Neil, Eddie tells his Dad that he thinks it’s time the elves moved on - to the skip and that ElfWorld is finished. This is where Joe demonstrates the aforementioned lack of grip on reality, when he says to Eddie that the elves don’t have to go anywhere and “We’re closed to the public, but we can leave the elves be - they seem perfectly happy where they are.” Er, Joe, I don’t know how to break this to you, but the elves aren’t real, living beings.
Mind you, Joe has always been a bit weird - Caroline visits Grange Farm, where she is less than thrilled to find Ed drenching his new herd of Texel sheep and she tartly reminds him that he’ll soon have to find somewhere else to do things like that. Joe shows Caroline where the damp patch on the wall is getting bigger and he reckons that the recently-felled sycamore is having its revenge, telling Caroline that she has “stirred up dark forces.” Get a grip, Joe - it’s just a tree, or rather, it was just a tree.
Joe is not alone in Cloud Cuckoo Land, as we have Lynda taking Scruff for a walk round the churchyard and talking to him. Nothing strange in that, except that Scruff died last week and was cremated. This doesn’t stop Lynda, as she has the dog’s ashes in her handbag, as she tells Shula (who is slightly alarmed). Richard Locke, who turns up at the churchyard is mystified when Lynda says “Come on Scruff, let’s go and leave these people to their business.” “I thought Scruff died?” says Richard. “Don’t ask.” Shula replies.
Lynda tells Shula about Scruff’s cremation, remarking that she thought that Shula and Alistair, as Scruff’s original owners, would have been at the service. Having said that, they probably wouldn’t have found room, as Scruff was seen off to strains of Elgar’s Enigma Variation number 11 and Robert reading a piece by Galsworthy about a dog that has passed on. The London Symphony Orchestra provided the music. That’s a lie, but I bet it was only because Lynda couldn’t afford it that they weren’t there. Ditto the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Let’s move away from the weird and look at the sinister, aka Rob Titchener. On Sunday, he gives PCB some advice on how to get to the Darrington cricket team - basically, sledge their batsmen. PCB takes this advice and Ambridge narrowly beat their deadly rivals, causing PCB to hail Rob as “our 12th man.” Rob seems to want to ingratiate himself with team members, inviting everybody down to The Bull for a beer. PCB declines, as he does not want to be seen to be fraternising with a witness in Helen’s trial. Fallon warns him no to get too pally with Rob, but PCB says that he feels sorry for him.
Rob then tries to tempt Adam to the pub, saying that he has been wrong about some things in the past and he would like to put it all behind them - why not bring Ian along? Adam replies that he feels this would be inappropriate, as Ian will be a character witness for Helen. This is news to Rob and he quickly drops the ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ stance when he tells Adam “I should have known that there isn’t an act low enough that your so-called husband won’t overlook.”
Learning that Ian will be a character witness for Helen obviously got Rob’s mind thinking and he takes Henry on an outing, ostensibly to see Grandma Ursula. Before getting to her house, he parks the car in a street and tells Henry that “we are going to see an old friend.” Henry gets bored and starts kicking the seat and Rob is getting more and more annoyed when, suddenly, the ‘old friend’ appears and it is Jess. Rob makes the meeting appear accidental and says that Jess looks very happy. He has heard that she is keen to wipe the slate clean and “Let’s hope it stays that way.” Rob has also used the time in the car with Henry by telling him how he has to tell the social service interviewers (Rob was incensed when he found out that he wouldn’t be allowed to be present at Henry’s interview) what wonderful times he and Henry spend together.
Anna Tregorran goes to see Jess on Friday, having persuaded her to talk about her marriage to Rob. However, when Anna gets there, Jess tells her to go away, as she doesn’t want to talk to her. Anna is - understandably - a tad miffed, as she has driven a considerable distance and why couldn’t Jess have let her know earlier? However, Anna persists and gets Jess to speak of how Rob tried to grind her down and how she urged Helen to leave Rob. Jess is not happy and says that Rob always gets what he wants and, when Anna says that her evidence could be crucial if she were to testify in court, Jess replies that she doesn’t want to see Rob or be near him. Pleading, Anna says that she has helped other women face their abusers and begs: “Please Jess, this is Helen’s whole life we’re talking about. Don’t let him take it away from her.” Jess is adamant and tells Anna that she’d like her to leave.
Well, that could have gone better. But wait! There’s still Shula and her crisis of conscience over whether or not she should tell the police that she lied about Rob’s assault on the Hunt sab. Shula and Alistair have a full and frank discussion, which ends with Alistair saying that he doesn’t seem to be a factor in her life any more and “Why do you have to be such a martyr all the time?” Shula’s response is that martyrs are blameless, whereas she is guilty of helping to cover up a violent assault.
Fortunately, Shula has had a heart to heart with Richard Locke, who advised her to take legal advice before going to the Police. Shula comes across Anna in the churchyard and steers her away from Lynda, who is telling a bemused Anna that she has decided that Scruff would be much happier on their mantelpiece. Soon, Shula has told Anna the whole story - would she be better telling the Police what happened and, if so, what would be the likely consequences? Anna replies that, on the second question, the answer would be ’prison’ but, as far as Helen is concerned, Shula’s evidence would be inadmissible - because she had lied to the Police in the first place, the Prosecution would brand her as a liar and an unreliable witness. You’ve got to hand it to the Archer women when it comes to screwing things up - first, Pat mistakenly becomes a witness for the Prosecution and now Shula has messed things up. Still, it should stop Alistair going on about how her conscience is messing up their future.
Tell you what - I don’t know what Anna is getting paid (nor who is actually paying for it) but she’s certainly earning her corn. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Bridge Farm had to be sold to pay the legal bills? What would Rob do for a job then, not to mention Pat, Tony, Tom, Helen and Johnny, as well as support workers Clarrie, Susan, Jazzer and Maurice? Half of Ambridge would be out of work at a stroke.
Life continues to be difficult for the Fairbrothers, as they get a phone call from their father, who has had a heart attack. He’s not in hospital, but Rex thinks that they should go and look after him. Toby, showing no filial feelings whatsoever, decides that the two lads’ future is what’s important and he isn’t going to act as nursemaid to his father and he tells Rex that he is staying at Hollow tree “until we are back on our feet.” Rex says that he will go back home and leaves Toby to it. I don’t think this is exactly what Toby had in mind, as it means that he will have to cancel the dirty weekend in London with Pip in a friend’s penthouse. He breaks the news to Pip, who shrugs and says it doesn’t matter.
Meanwhile, Rex goes to Brookfield and tells Jill that he won’t be around for a while, explaining why. He also tells her that Toby refuses to look after Dad and, in a scathing attack, describes his brother as “feckless, arrogant, totally narcissistic and self-serving and God help any woman who wants a relationship with him.” Jill is surprised at the venom, and says so, to which Rex says “Toby is an idle, conceited, unscrupulous leech and I can’t see the point of pretending otherwise.” Not a fan then, Rex?
Jill is troubled, as she saw Toby sneaking away from Rickyard in the early hours of the morning a few days ago. All week she has been dropping hints to Pip, asking her if she has a man on her horizon? For her part, Pip does her best to give it away, referring to “us” when she is supposed to be going away on her own. When Pip learns that the dirty weekend is off, she tells Jill that her friend has had to cancel and so she won’t be going away. Jill, who by this time has learned that Toby also isn‘t now going away for the weekend, decides to stop pussyfooting around and tells Pip that she saw Toby leaving her cottage and, by the way, she has straw in her hair (Pip and Toby have been practising ‘a lay in a manger’). Jill says that Pip seemed genuinely heartbroken when she broke up with Matthew “and now you’re messing around with this Fairbrother boy.” She doesn’t actually spit when she mentions the name, but it was close.
Pip says, a tad testily, “Gran, can we not talk about this?” and adds that she knows nothing is going to come of it - it’s just a summer fling. “It’s not like I want to be with him - Toby’s a laugh, but it will soon all fizzle out.” That’s your opinion, Pip, but what about Toby? After all, when he was urging Rex to pursue Pip, he reminded his brother that “Pip comes with a farm attached.” What better way for a feckless, etc., etc., ne’er-do-well to break into farming by marrying into an established business? He probably wouldn’t have to work too hard, which would suit him down to the ground, and he could continue to have his wicked way with Pip whenever he wanted. Mind how you go, Pip.