Emerald O'Hanrahan (Emma Grundy)
I know that, in the past, I have said some unkind things about Emma, but she has risen in my estimation after last week because of the way she treated Rob. On Sunday, Rob had his first session with his son, supervised by Tony, in the Ambridge Tea Room. Tony reminds him of the rules (I bet he enjoyed that bit), as Rob cradles his boy.
Rob is besotted with Jack, calling him perfect and beautiful. However, Jack begins to cry and Tony suggests that perhaps he needs his nappy changing. Rob reaches for his phone to call Ursula, but Tony forbids it, reminding Rob of the rules - Rob will have to do it himself (see earlier about enjoying himself). Rob doesn’t know what to do and asks Tony to tell him.
Over at the Flower & Produce show, Henry wins first prize for his bejewelled crown and Jill’s chutney scoops the Freda Fry Memorial Prize for best in show. Henry is upset because he cannot tell daddy how he got on and he can’t understand why Jack can see daddy and he can’t. Let it go, Henry - this is one situation where grown-ups definitely know best.
Things aren’t looking good for Jill, either, as Carol points out that the winning chutney is actually hers and not Jill’s. High drama! The word ‘chutneygate’ springs to mind - has there been sharp practice? Is Jill guilty of switching jars? Of course not; the answer is much more prosaic and it all comes down to the incompetence and carelessness of Toby Fairbrother. Toby helped carry Jill and Carol’s entries into the tent and he got them mixed up. Jill’s opinion of Toby was already that he rates just slightly above a retarded nematode in the order of things and her frustrated “Oh Toby!” indicates that he might just have slipped a bit in her estimation.
Things are made worse - Jill had her photo taken for the Echo and she frantically rings the paper up to put things right. When the story appears, Carol is named as winner of the FFMP, but Jill’s picture still appears. Carol is enjoying herself hugely, pretending to be annoyed with Jill, who is all contrition and beating herself up, while explaining to everybody that it was a mistake - and Toby’s mistake at that. Eventually, it gets too much for Carol and she tells Jill that she shouldn’t worry and can’t she see the funny side of it?
But let’s return to Rob. Wednesday is his one-hour scheduled time with Jack and he turns up at Bridge Farm early, where he engages Jazzer in conversation, but Jazzer isn’t interested. Pat comes out and tells Rob off for being 24 minutes early and she doesn’t want him hanging around in the yard, so he can either go home and come back later or wait in the Tea Room. “All right, if you insist” he replies, through gritted teeth and goes off to the Tea Room. Here, he tries to make conversation with Emma, once again with conspicuous lack of success. He moans about the court order concerning ‘his boys’ and says that the whole Archer family is against him and they are practically holding him to ransom. Emma’s reaction is to say that she has to go and she seeks out Helen.
Emma has fears that Helen will resent the fact that Emma worked as a babysitter for Rob, but Helen soon dispels these, saying that she would rather Emma looked after Henry than letting Ursula and Rob spend more time with him. As for taking Rob’s money, Helen says it probably came from their joint account. Emma holds Jack and says he’s lovely. Helen wonders if her being in prison has undermined her relationship with Henry. Emma says that she understands how Helen is feeling - when Emma’s mother Susan was in prison, they didn’t see much of each other, but now they are closer than ever. Meanwhile, Rob’s time with Jack is over and Pat sees him walking to his car. She is annoyed and tells Jazzer how angry she is about what Rob did to Helen. Even worse, he has not been punished for it. “He got clean away with it - and there’s nothing we can do about it” Pat says bitterly.
On Friday, close to closing time, Rob walks into the Tea Room, where Emma tells him that he’s too late to be served. But Rob doesn’t want tea, he wants a favour. He tells Emma how he and Henry spent time together, making the bejewelled crown and he has a card that he’d like to give him personally. Could Emma get Henry and bring him over to see Rob? No she couldn’t, and Helen has told her that she doesn’t want Henry to see Rob. Rob is bitter: “You’re all on her side now - she’s spun you into her web of lies” he says, and angrily rips up the card. “Give that to Helen - a little present from me” he snarls, before leaving.
Rob ends up at The Bull, where he demands a large scotch. Kenton asks if he’s celebrating something. “Exactly what would I have to celebrate? Just get me the drink, would you?” Rob replies. As he continues to drink, Rob gets more and more bitter, telling Kenton that Helen is petty and vindictive and doing all she can to wreck his life. Kenton reminds him that this is his family that Rob is rubbishing and he doesn’t want to hear it. Rob orders another drink. “OK, but this will be your last” says mine-less-than-genial host.
As he goes to the loo, Rob runs into Emma, who is there having dinner with her family to celebrate Poppy’s third birthday. A drunken Rob asks her to come and he’ll buy her a drink to show that there’s no hard feelings. “We’re still friends, aren’t we?” he asks. It would appear not, as Emma replies “You must be out of your mind.” Once again, Rob demonstrates a breathtaking capacity for self-delusion as he says “What exactly have I done? Has my mad wife been spinning you more of her crazy lies?” Now, Emma could just make her excuses and go, but instead she tears into Rob, saying: “What? You call her mad after what you did to her? How dare you? Now everyone knows the things you did and just what kind of man you are. If you had a shred of decency, you’d get out of this village and never come back.”
Rob disagrees. “You evil, hypocritical bitch -” but Emma is in full flow and interrupts him “That’s your style, isn’t it - picking on women; bullying them and pushing them around. Now you can’t deal with it when one of them dares to fight you back.” “Oh can’t I? I know just how to deal with you” answers Rob and he moves towards her. “Don’t you dare lay a finger on me” warns Emma. By this time, the raised, angry voices have alerted David and Jazzer and they come over. Emma tells them she’s OK and, in a voice full of contempt, says “He’s just a sad, pathetic bully.” “What did you call me?” shouts Rob and moves towards Emma again. David tells him to back off and to go home “You don’t tell me what to do” Rob snarls. “Oh yes I do” David replies and he and Jazzer manhandle Rob out of the pub “You can’t do this to me” Rob protests. David tells him to go home and sober up. “Aye,” says Jazzer and, speaking for five million listeners, adds: “On your way pal - and don’t come back.”
Well, that’s you told, Rob. You might think that this whole thing is just a minor hiccup as you progress serenely through life, but a lot of people really don’t like you and wouldn’t throw water over you if you were on fire. I know we have dwelt on the subject of Rob, but I really enjoyed his discomfort and good for you Emma, I say.
What has been happening elsewhere? The title of ‘chicken-livered git of the week’ goes easily to Toby Fairbrother. His brother Rex returns from nursing their father and Pip tells Toby that he has to tell his brother that she and Toby are an item. Opportunity after opportunity passes and Toby bottles it time after time. He is concerned that Rex will go to Alice’s 28th birthday party and find out about him and Pip, but Rex says he won’t be going as he can’t bear to watch Pip ‘making out with some bloke’, as happened at Chris’s party earlier in the year. Toby reasons that, if Rex isn’t going, then he doesn’t need to tell him about himself and Pip and so another opportunity goes begging.
Instead of going to the party, Rex goes to The Bull, where he starts talking to a despondent Adam. Not only is Adam upset because of his situation with Ian, but earlier in the week, he had words with Alice. In fact, his sister tells him that he behaved like a total rat and she’s surprised that Ian didn’t walk out months ago. Little wonder then that Adam hasn’t gone to the party, although he hates having fallen out with Alice. His despondency is further increased because he is currently living in an attic at the pub. Rex suggests that, if he wants to put things right with Alice, Adam has to talk to her and he comes up with a deal - if Adam goes to the party, then he, Rex, will face up to the ‘personal issues’ that he gave Adam as his excuse for not going.
Adam agrees and the two arrive together. Adam and Alice kiss and make up (Alice has admittedly had a sniff of the barmaid’s apron), but Rex is confronted by the sight of Pip and Toby snogging. Rex is furious with Toby and storms out. Pip too is not very happy with Toby, as he told her that he had told Rex about them. Toby runs after Rex, who is incandescent, telling his brother that he knew how Rex felt about Pip and, as soon as Rex was away, Toby moved in on her. Toby, who is obviously mendacious as well as spineless, tells Rex that Pip came after him. “She practically threw herself at me” he lies. Rex doesn’t believe him and spits out “What kind of brother does that? I’m never going to trust you ever again.” Personally, I find it incredible to think that he ever trusted him at any time.
Back at the party, Ed is being introduced by Alice to all her high-tech friends - she says they will love him, as they’ve never met an end user of their equipment before. Ed begins to feel like an exhibit and has soon had enough, asking Alice if she asked him along “because I’m a man of the soil who knows how to drive a combine?” Alice protests that she asked him because he’s her friend. Ed replies “I appreciate that, but I don’t appreciate being the token peasant - I’m off.” At least he got a free beer or two out of it.
Finally, it was a good week for Josh - David let him and Johnny attend an auction to buy a second-hand mower and gave him a top limit of £4,000. Josh got what we learn was a great bit of kit for £3,200 and so he asks his father for a commission. David, having tried out the mower, says that Josh was £800 under budget, so he’ll split the difference and gives his son £400. Not bad for half a day’s work. We wonder how the Rex/Toby/Pip situation will affect the pasture egg business. Josh is concerned because Toby is a player and he says that Pip isn’t as tough as she makes out. Rex says that Pip is his friend and he won’t stand by and see her hurt by anybody. “You leave Toby to me - from now on I’ll be watching him” Rex tells Josh. From his tone, there’s not a lot of brotherly love evident, and I reckon it could soon get uncomfortable for young Tobes.