The week before last we had the delicious carrot dangled before us of Lynda abdicating responsibility for all village events. Oh, fabulous day! Of course, it was never going to happen, was it? For one thing, the writers would have to think of alternative stories for Fete/May Day/Christmas time. Ah well, it was good while the dream lasted. So what happened? The star (?) Brazilian footballer Benny Carvalho wasn’t coming to open the Fete, as PCB informed Fallon that he had been arrested after a fracas in a nightclub the previous evening.
Fallon is in a quandary, but there is one person who can save the day, so she bites the bullet and goes to see Lynda, who is relaxing in her garden, talking to Lilian and with Scruff asleep on the Resurgam stone. It was pitiful to hear Fallon grovel to Lynda - would she do them the honour of opening the Fete? After all, she is the nearest thing Ambridge has to a celebrity and has been a leading light in Ambridge for 30 years and…I’m sorry; I missed the rest as I was throwing up in the toilet. Amazingly (not), Lynda allows herself to be persuaded and we are reliably informed that she looks stunning, wearing a hat she once wore for Ascot.
Anyway, the Fete proved to be a great success and it ended on a note of unity, with Fallon not able to thank Lynda enough and Lynda responding by saying that it was a very successful blending of cultures and traditions. Fallon presented Lynda with flowers. “I don’t know what to say” responds Lynda, which makes us wonder if we could get Interflora to open up an outlet in Ambridge and establish an on-going fund for people to contribute to daily bouquets for Lynda?
However, Lynda’s day of triumph is tinged with tragedy as, on the return from the Fete, poor Scruff has passed away in the garden, on the Resurgam stone. Lynda says that the last few months have been wonderful (Scruff was pronounced ‘missing, presumed dead’ after the corpse of a dog was found to be the cause of the fatal infection at Berrow Farm but Scruff miraculously reappeared some months later) but she is afraid that Robert will be devastated. Her voice is none too steady as she accepts Fallon’s condolences.
Moving on, may I respectfully suggest that it’s time to write Joe Grundy out of the series? I don’t wish him any harm - well, I suppose I do, as the easiest way to get rid of him is for his dearest wish to be granted; i.e. to end his days at Grange Farm and, judging on last week’s performance, the sooner the better - talk about being a miserable git - he makes Victor Meldrew look like Dr Pangloss in ‘Candide’.
Things came to a head on Friday, when Ambridge is subjected to a torrential downpour “of Old Testament proportions” in Lynda’s words. Surely not another load of flood stories, I thought (‘a spate of spate tales’, as I christened it) but I cheered up, as we could perhaps see Rob try to recreate his heroic feats from the last flood and instead get swept away. But it didn’t come to that, despite the thunder and pouring rain.
Eddie and Joe are marooned at ElfWorld and Joe has an attack of the vapours, imploring Eddie to get Bartleby under cover - if Eddie won’t do it, he will. For God’s sake - Bartleby’s a horse; they live outside. Instead of letting his Dad go out and rescue Bartleby (thus saving the writers a lot of trouble in coming up with an exit strategy for Joe) Eddie goes out to get Bartleby. However, has Eddie got his own strategy, as, while he and Joe are sheltering under a tent at ElfWorld, Eddie brushes the accumulated water on the tarpaulin roof all over Joe? However, Joe’s not one to complain - complain, no; whinge, bitch, whine, wheedle, gripe, moan, bleat, whimper and bellyache; too bloody right.
Eddie takes Joe to The Bull to cheer him up, but Joe wants to go home and go to bed. Eddie takes him back to Grange Farm, but Joe says it’s too cold and can he have another blanket, to go with the two he has already? Can’t they have a fire? Emma points out that it’s August, but Ed says he’ll put the heating on. Joe points out that the damp patch on the wall is getting larger and he has taken misery to depths not seen since the staging of a Chekov play. There is a power cut and Joe (who said that the last thunderclap was the Four Horsemen on the ride) tells his family “It’s a judgement on us all - mark my words; it’s the end of days and there ain’t nothing we can do about it.” Even Emma who, let’s face it, is hardly a ‘glass half full’ person, tells Joe not to be so negative.
Interestingly, Clarrie is absent from this cheerful conversation - she’s upstairs and Eddie calls her, but we get no answer. Has she gone deaf, or, and this is my personal opinion, has she overheard Joe and reached for the wrist-slitter or the aspirins? Whatever, please, dear writers, put Joe (and us) out of our miseries.
Pat had another opportunity to go off on one when Susan let slip the fact that Rob has been paying Emma to babysit Henry. Pat asks how dare he - aren’t Henry’s Grandparents good enough to look after him? This demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding of the Titchener mentality and Pat adds “if Rob cannot look after Henry, he shouldn’t have been awarded custody.”
Pat gets quite shirty with Susan about Emma taking Rob’s 30 pieces of silver, but Susan fights back, saying that surely it’s better that Henry spends some time away from Rob and with friends such as George and Keira? Incidentally, the reason that Rob approached Emma is that he shouted at Henry, who wouldn’t stop banging the drum he won at the Fete. Henry said ‘sorry’ but Rob apologised for raising his voice, then he called Emma.
Pat has had a visit from Maggie, her solicitor, who is preparing the statements of the Archer family as to why they should have custody of Henry and Jack, rather than Rob. As Rob and Helen get to read their statements before they make their own, I know who my money is on.
Meanwhile, Helen seems hell-bent on booking her place in prison, as she refuses to co-operate in forming anything like a credible defence. Anna says that she noticed on the log of the mobile that Kirsty gave Helen that she rang Jess; Rob’s ex-wife. Helen says so what? All they did was set up a meeting. Anna is flabbergasted - she didn’t know that the two had actually met just a few days before Helen decided to leave Rob. Helen thinks this is no big deal and is reluctant to let Anna talk to Jess, although she accepts that there is nothing she can do to stop her. “There’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there?” Anna asks, shrewdly. No Anna, there’s heaps that she’s not telling you.
Anna rings Jess, who, if anything, is even less enthusiastic than Helen, saying that she’s sure that Helen has filled her in fully about Rob. Anna persists and begs Jess to at least meet her for an hour to talk about things. Jess says she’ll think about it and we can only assume she will do it, or else we have wasted a lot of airtime.
Things are getting serious with the cricket team - even Lilian, who rarely rises before the game starts on Sunday afternoon, asks Harrison what’s gone wrong? PCB has his own ideas and has asked the team members to read The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which, let’s face it, is not the first name that springs to mind when you think of cricket, unless the game has changed a lot recently.
Shula, who will be 58 on Monday 8th (as also will be her twin Kenton, spookily enough) is undergoing a crisis of conscience regarding what she knows about Rob assaulting the hunt saboteur. She agonises to Caroline, who warns that, if Shula admits that she lied to the police, they could give her an extremely stiff talking to, along the lines of ‘please step into this cell for the next X months and remove your belt and shoelaces.’
Shula hasn’t mentioned any of this to husband Alistair - will he encourage her to do the right thing and admit that she lied? Will he buggery! Once he gets over his amazement that Shula could tell such a fib, he points out that, to come clean now could have been better timed. In fact, what he says is that he has just re-established his practice at the Stables and, if Shula goes ahead “Your reputation - our reputation - both of our businesses gone at a stroke.” Shula, who seems a bit slow on the uptake, asks him if she should carry on covering it up? Alistair realises that he has to go back to basics, says “In a word, yes - you won’t be helping Helen; you’ll be making everything worse for us. You’ll be charged with perverting the course of justice.” Just in case she hasn’t quite got it yet, he adds: “Telling the truth might salve your precious conscience, but if you’re convicted, you’ll go to prison.” I think that’s a ‘no’ Helen.
Over at Brookfield, things are looking up as the butter fat yields are up. Pip takes the opportunity to have a few more digs at her father, but she hasn’t been feeling that well and Rooooth wonders if things are getting on top of her. If by ‘things’ Rooooth means ‘Toby Fairbrother’, she’s spot on. Pip and Toby go for a walk on Lakey Hill after he has been moaning (could he be Joe’s bastard love child?) that he is doing all the work round the hens and the goslings and no-one seems to appreciate his efforts. Bless! He also moans that Josh seems to be keeping tabs on him at every possible moment, which indicates that Josh at least has his head screwed on.
Toby, who told Pip that he is a changed man and who, as he told us last week, is giving 200% rings Pip and suggests that they go away together for a couple of days. How about this weekend? No, Pip is way too busy. OK, how about next weekend? That sounds much better, as Pip says “A proper dirty weekend - I can’t wait.” “Neither can I” Toby replies. Now, I may be missing something here, but Pip has said that she is fantastically busy and Toby’s definition of ‘200%’ would appear to fall far short of what most of us would consider to be required, so how can they get the time off for a 48 hour shagfest? Sooner or later their secret is going to be unearthed and I predict there will profound repercussions.