Monday, 26 September 2016

Now Look What You’ve Done, Oliver

Michael Cochrane (Oliver Sterling)

It’s the day of Joe’s 95th birthday party and Clarrie and Susan are preparing nibbles. They’ve run out of mayonnaise - no problem, use salad cream. Joe has been inviting half the village and the phone’s battery has run down. It all bodes ill for the party.

At the party, Oliver and Caroline arrive late and a well-refreshed Eddie drags a more-than-reluctant Caroline to take part in the line dance/barn dance. Caroline is not very happy with the whole Grundy/Grange Farm situation and she and Oliver prepare to leave early, presumably before she lays Eddie out. “But I haven’t done me speech yet” Eddie protests and proceeds to do just that. He begins honestly enough, by saying that Joe could be a misery guts sometimes. Sometimes? However, due to the kindness of the Sterlings, they now have something to be cheerful about.

The partygoers, who have obviously been doing their best to get as legless as possible as soon as possible, call for Joe to give a speech. Joe is emotional - as emotional as the newt, if I’m honest - but tells Oliver that he and Caroline have given him back the will to live. “Now I know that I’ll be spending the rest of my days at Grange Farm, I could go on forever!” Please God, no! See what you’ve done, Oliver?

Caroline tells Oliver that he must draw up a proper tenancy agreement - she suggests one year (presumably she thinks that one month might be regarded as unreasonable) - and Oliver goes to see Eddie with said agreement. Oh, and by the way, the first monthly payment is due on Monday. Oliver goes and we hear Eddie say “Flippin’ heck! Monday! What are we gonna do?”

Later that evening, Oliver is being plied with cider at a pre-opening session of the Cider Club and Joe hugs him and says again that he feels that he could go on forever. In an ideal world, Oliver would be sick and tear up the agreement, but Ambridge is far from ideal. And you know that, if the Grundys don’t come up with the money, Oliver will probably go all soft and let them off. Get a backbone, man!

Other people are also having problems with their places of residence - Usha is torn between whether she should forgive Rob, or whether she should give him notice to quit Blossom Hill Cottage. As a Hindu, forgiveness is of paramount importance but, as Usha, she thinks Rob is “a plausible monster” and does she want to keep taking his tainted money? Alan talks about forgiveness, but his wife reminds him that he has had more than one villager turning up to see the vicar, in a state of shock and distress.

Alan admits that he has a hard job to heal the village, but he points to Rob‘s upbringing, with Bruce and Ursula, as a mitigating circumstance. Usha says that lots of people have had worse upbringings than Rob “And they don’t come out of them as psychopaths.” In a neat bit of theological gymnastics, Alan muses that ‘love they neighbour’ could be interpreted as meaning that it would be best for the people of Ambridge if Rob was encouraged to move elsewhere. Usha sees it more personally - “I’ve got to be able to sleep at night” she tells Alan.

In the week’s final episode, Rob gets a hand-delivered letter at Blossom Hill Cottage. He is annoyed that his first supervised session with Jack will be supervised by Tony and will be held at the Ambridge Tea Room. Ursula has been bemoaning the fact that she has no visiting rights at all. Rob opens the letter and it is from Usha, giving him two months’ notice to quit the cottage. Yeah! Way to go, Usha!

Is Rob downhearted? Not a bit of it - in fact, he says Usha has done him a favour. “With the money Justin is paying me, there’s no need to stay in this poky place with all its associations.” He’s sure he can find somewhere else to live in two months and he might even buy somewhere. As to the visiting rights, he’s confident that he will be bringing Gideon back before long - and even Henry. He knows that he has no officially-allowed contact with Henry, but he can’t help it if he occasionally bumps into him, can he? Ursula agrees and asks if she should try and clean the blood off the carpet? “No,” says a defiant Rob, “If Usha thinks she can get me for dilapidation, she’s got another thing coming. And if Ambridge thinks they can hound me out this easily, they’ve got another thing coming too - I’m not going anywhere.”

So why is Rob so buoyant, apart from his refusal to acknowledge the fact that he has been exposed as a wife-abusing, manipulative rapist, that is? The reason is that, earlier in the week, he met with Justin to talk about the Estates Manager’s job. Rob is convinced that Justin wants to rescind the job (which is what any normal human being would do, surely?) but Justin points out that Rob has not been convicted of anything and the offer is still open. Justin did wonder if Rob might be leaving the area, but Mr Thickskin says that he’s staying, as his son is here and when can he start?

Justin suggests that they leave it for a few weeks “to let any residual fuss die down.” I submit that, with an (admittedly unconvicted) rapist and child mind-warper walking the streets of Ambridge, any ‘residual fuss’ could be around for quite a while. Justin proposes a start date of early October, but there’s a problem, as Rob is booked in for surgery on October 5th and his convalescence will take around a month. Rob says that he wants to hit the ground running (drop him from 500 feet, I say) and Justin agrees, albeit reluctantly, and they shake on the deal. I agree with Peggy, who, when told of the job offer by Jennifer, remarked: “I would have thought that Justin would have had more sense and more sensitivity.” Maybe Rob will not make it through surgery, or will contract something horrible, or is Justin being devious?

Over at Brookfield, Josh is annoying David, who asks his son what are his plans for his gap year? Josh counters by asking David if he had a five-year plan when he was 19? David says that he’s only interested in the next 12 months and what is Josh going to do? The answer is ‘farming’. “Not here” says David and presses Josh for more details. “Mushrooms” Josh replies, and walks out, leaving his father speechless.

David then researches mushrooms on the Internet, and is appalled by the amount of capital required and the long, long list of things that can go wrong. When David confronts his son again, pointing out that the market is dominated by a few, massive players, Josh says that he’s thinking about exotic mushrooms like shitake, rather than the bog-standard closed cup whites. Josh exits once again (he’s always off to somewhere, seemingly) and David explodes, saying to Jill “What is it with my children? I’ve got Pip with Toby, Josh with his head full of wild ideas…” Jill laughs, saying: “This takes me back - you sound just like your father.” David is not amused.

Moving on, has anybody else picked up on the fact that, judging from the amount of time that Jennifer is spending doing shopping for Phoebe in preparation for going to Oxford, Phoebe appears to be taking enough stuff to fill a pantechnicon or two? Poor Jenny is being run ragged and God only knows where all the stuff is being stored and how they will get it to Oxford. Brian will probably have a seizure when he sees the credit card bill.

Going back to our earlier theme of people having trouble with their places of residence or personal lives, we have to turn to Adam and Ian. The consequences and ramifications of the revelations that came to light in Helen’s trial are manifold and far-reaching. One couple who has been badly affected is Adam and Ian - Ian especially is devastated by Adam’s lack of fidelity and is spending every hour that he can at Grey Gables, avoiding his husband.

For his part, Adam is desperate to salvage the relationship and, as he tells Jennifer, he cannot stand being in the house all on his own, waiting for Ian to come home from work. He tells Jennifer that Ian cannot bear to be in the same room as Adam and his mother suggests that they talk to a counsellor. Adam is not convinced, but agrees that he has nothing to lose by asking Ian, which he does the following day. The suggestion is not met warmly, as Ian brushes it aside, saying: “You deceived me with another man; face it Adam, you’re not the faithful type.” In vain, Adam protests that he is, but Ian leaves, telling Adam that he (Adam) just can’t help himself.

It’s another long day at work for Ian and, when he returns, he tells Adam that he needn’t have waited up. Ian then notices that Adam has his bags packed - is he giving him an ultimatum? “What other choice do I have other than to move out?” Adam asks, adding; “Do you want me to stay? Ian, please, just say ‘yes’”. There is a considerable pause, then Ian replies “No, I don’t. We can’t both stay here. It’s no good Adam; it’s the only way.” And Ian opens the door for his husband, saying “Off you go.” Adam pleads “I love you Ian. I know you don’t believe it, but I do.” “Just go” the chef tells him.

We know this was late at night, so where could Adam go? We learned the next day that he decided not to go to Home Farm (they have enough non-paying lodgers already, he thinks), so he ends up at The Bull, in one of their less-than-luxurious guest rooms (or garrets). Kenton tries to engage Adam in conversation about Government farm subsidies (like Kenton knows anything about the subject) but Adam is not in the mood.

The pub is filling up (it’s quiz night) and Joe and Bert are among those taking part. Joe fills Bert in on the Adam/Ian split and Bert opines that it is a real shame. He calls Adam over and invites him to be part of their quiz team - his specialised knowledge could be crucial (presumably there is a round on ‘infidelity’) - but Adam is not keen and is looking forward to an early night. However, Joe and Bert insist and force him to sit down, telling him that they have already chosen a name for their team - ‘The Old Contemptibles.’ A resigned Adam sits down, muttering wryly; “How very appropriate.” Come on Adam - you’re not that old.

1 comment:

  1. The striking similarity between Oliver Sterling and the Mekon is unexpected.