Trevor Harrison (Eddie Grundy)
Eddie Grundy seems determined to make life as difficult as possible for himself; a couple of weeks ago Clarrie told him not to fill George’s head with ideas about poaching, so what does Eddie do this week? That’s right, he takes George to one side and tells him that it’s time he learned more about his countryside heritage. What does Eddie mean - ploughing a straight furrow? Hedge laying? Training a sheepdog? No, he means stealing pheasants and he shows George how this is done with whisky-laced corn to make the birds drunk and easy to catch.
George says that his dad says that poachers are criminals, to which Eddie replies that it’s not poaching, but foraging. “Like picking mushrooms or blackberries.” However, he warns George not to tell anybody about “our secret.” Early the next morning, Eddie goes out and nabs a couple of drunken pheasants, which he hangs in the barn at Grange Farm.
Eddie’s timing couldn’t have been worse, as this was the day that Justin Elliot had set aside for inspecting the shoot and birds to check that all is OK for the shooting season. This makes gamekeeper Will a tad nervous. As he and Brian check on the feeding stations, they come across drunken pheasants wandering about. Brian goes to head off Justin (who has just arrived) and Will picks up the remaining grain. Justin suspects nothing and, when he has gone, Brian asks Will if he has any idea who could have done it? Will reckons that it isn’t a poaching gang, but someone more local. “There’s plenty around who know how to do it” says Will, refraining to add “and most of them have surnames beginning with G.”
The following day, Will goes to Grange Farm - and he’s very angry. He confronts his father, asking where was he yesterday “and don’t lie - I’ve been in the barn and there’s a brace of pheasants hanging up.” These criminal masterminds - however clever they are, they always make one mistake. Will is really getting into his stride now and lambastes Eddie for putting his job in jeopardy. “Talk about messing on your own doorstep” he spits.
Eddie seems incapable of understanding that he has done anything wrong and says that it was only a couple of birds. He is more sorry for his bad timing - how was he to know that Justin chose that day to inspect the shoot? Eddie then makes Will’s blood pressure go even higher when he says that he’s entitled to take a couple of birds because he’s a local. Will says he cannot believe what he’s hearing and calls Eddie “despicable” and “a waste of space.” “Are you going to let him talk to me like that?” an indignant Eddie asks Clarrie. She, however, tells him to shut up and she tells Will “This will never happen again - ain’t that right Eddie?” He mumbles ‘yes’ and Clarrie tells Will to calm down and leave it to her.
Will leaves and Clarrie has a real go at her husband, calling him ‘irresponsible’. Far from being chastened, Eddie goes into a long justification of his actions, saying that it’s not stealing; it’s his birthright, plus the Estate raises thousands of birds a year, so who’s going to miss a brace here and there? Not only that, but the locals have to put up with the inconvenience associated with the shoot - traffic, noise and so on. It is this inability to accept that what he has done is against the law that inspired the title of this week’s blog. I suppose we should be grateful that he never offered Will a pheasant sandwich.
Let’s pause and look at Eddie’s arguments for a moment. Firstly, the inconvenience. Yes, this could be a pain, but for how many days a year? Also, Eddie seems to have forgotten that the shoot provides him with much-needed income as a beater, not to mention a hearty meal on shoot days. Secondly, who will miss a couple of birds from thousands of others? I put it to you that there are thousands of ten pound notes in the average bank, but, if you help yourself to a couple one night, someone will visit you and give you a stiff talking to. As for the ‘it’s part of our heritage - we’ve been doing it for years’ argument, it wasn’t so long ago that we used to duck witches or sentence poachers to Transportation - would Eddie want that tradition to be preserved? Clarrie tries to shame Eddie into seeing sense, saying that it’s a terrible example to set to George. She says: “It’s bad enough that George hero worships Alf - do you want him to know that his grandfather is a thief too?”
After last week’s A Level results, this week saw the GCSE results released. Lily Pargetter did much as expected, and so did her brother Freddie. In Lily’s case this means A’s and B’s and, sadly for Freddie, grades somewhat lower down the alphabet. Lily goes off with friends for a celebratory coffee, while Freddie goes off and gets hammered. Things are made worse because the Cathedral School does not offer resits and they won’t accept anyone for the sixth form without a grade C in maths, which Freddie didn‘t achieve. One might make the observation that Freddie’s additional maths lessons with Iftikar do not seem to have done him very much good.
When Freddie returns to Lower Loxley, he has difficulty walking and, to Elizabeth’s disgust, he smashes a Minton vase. She tells him to sleep it off and then she rings Richard Locke - could he come over and have a chat with Freddie about re-taking maths at Borchester College - perhaps Freddie will listen to someone who’s not family?
Digressing slightly, Richard and Elizabeth seemed to be moving closer last week - he borrowed a book from her (working title: ‘An idiot’s guide to opera’) so that his daughter Sasha could look up the story behind Madame Butterfly, thus ensuring that she would only be bored out of her skull, instead of bored and bewildered. I never realised that people went to opera for the plot - that’s like going to the ballet for the singing.
Richard agrees to talk to Freddie (who submits to the ordeal with bad grace) and he tells him that this isn’t the end; it’s just a blip on the road and there are many places where he can resit the exam. Freddie retorts that it’s all right for Richard - he’s a doctor and a successful professional. Richard tells Freddie that he knows more about it than he might think as he (Richard) cocked up his O-Levels when he first sat them. Whatever, Richard appeared to get through to Freddie and Elizabeth rings him to thank him and to tell him that Freddie will look at Borchester College.
Finally on this subject, Brian and Jennifer are at Lower Loxley for the opera and Brian (the man who put the ’f’ in Philistine) is grumbling because he could be watching Dad’s Army and what’s Madame Butterfly all about, anyway? When Jennifer tells him that it’s about a woman who brings up another man’s child, he quickly suggests that it’s time for a drink. They are joined by Elizabeth, who tells them about the twins’ exam results. “It looks like Lily got your brains and Freddie got Nigel’s” says Brian, which, while being 100% accurate, is not very tactful. Jennifer is shocked, but Elizabeth takes it in her stride.
While propping up the bar, Brian remarks that Lilian, who is acting as hostess for Damara’s corporate guests, makes a good team with Justin. “If I didn’t know Justin had more sense, you’d almost think that there was something going on between those two” Brian says. “Don’t be ridiculous!” snorts Jennifer and Brian laughs. “The very thought, eh?” he tells her.
Freddie was not the only one to suffer through the effects of alcohol last week. Adam is working all hours and he asks Alice to organise the fruit pickers’ farewell BBQ and party, which she does efficiently. At the party, she is looking for a bottle opener and Adam gives her his tractor key ring, which has just such an instrument attached, before he goes to get some rest. Alice and Pip enter into a drink-fuelled argument about who is the best farmer and Josh decides that this can only be settled by a head-to-head duel of tractor driving - after all, they’ve got the keys, haven’t they?
Alice is first up and sets off at a fair clip - the tractor has the new, expensive drill attached and Alice loses control, crashing into a stanchion. “Adam’s going to kill me!” she wails. In fact he doesn’t, but he is a very unhappy bunny.
I am full of trepidation about the Pip/Toby storyline. After their row, it looked encouragingly bleak between them, but Pip is missing her regular bonking sessions and goes to see Toby to see if they can get back to their ’non-exclusive, sex-only’ relationship. Toby, who has been mooning about like a love-struck calf, says he doesn’t think so and could they not have a proper relationship? “What? Boyfriend and girlfriend?” asks Pip. “What are we - 15 year olds? I mean as lovers” Toby says and they consummate the new-found relationship in Bert’s (thankfully secluded) garden. Pip - I’ve told you before, he’s after the farm and leopards don‘t change their spots. It won’t be long before he has you bringing him breakfast in bed - that’s after you’ve collected the eggs and turned the hens out, of course.
Henry, Pat and Tony return from holiday and Rob turns up 50 minutes early to collect Henry. Pat questions his timekeeping, but his response is that he was magnanimous in letting them have Henry for a week (although this was ordered by the Court), so can’t she be the same? He tells Henry that he has a new job, nearer home and the Archers are dumbstruck when he tells them he’ll be running Damara’s estate management. Rob also interviewed Charlotte (a prospective nanny) and we saw his charming side when she asked if he was the one whose wife stabbed him, but “we all need to move on.” Watch yourself, Charlotte.
Anna is still having trouble getting Helen to focus on her case - Helen is concerned because Blake, the ex of her friend Kaz, has taken their eldest child away from Kaz’s Mum, who is unwell. Blake, we learn, deliberately burned Kaz’s hand on a hot oven, although he did drive her to A&E, bless him. The week ended with Helen knocking on Kaz’s door, saying that she’s got an idea. There is no answer and Helen enters the cell. Oh my God! Kaz! What have you done? Help somebody, please help!” she screams, as the theme music plays.
Finally, we have a ‘scenes we’d like to see’ moment. Oliver goes to Grange Farm, where Joe tells him (again) that it is his dearest wish to die in his old home. Furthermore, if he didn’t, he believes his soul would roam the Earth, seeking Grange Farm. That’s all he wants. “Fair enough” says Oliver, and blows his head off with a shotgun. “How’s that?” he asks, kindly. Well, it could happen.