Ian Pepperell (Roy Tucker)
You can’t please some people, can you? Roy Tucker is - if not desperate, then at least very keen - to get back into the dating game. Trouble is he’s not that good at it; although he embraces the latest technology, with Apps and the like, he still manages to cock it up, sending messages to the wrong girls (he hoped one girl’s Grandma was feeling better and she replied that she died two years ago) and it’s making Roy despondent.
Never fear! Jolene says that he should junk the technology and do it the old-fashioned way and she shows him a flyer for a 90s night at a club in Felpersham. He’s interested, as it’s his era. “Maybe a new approach is exactly what I need.” he muses. The next day he floats the idea to Tom and Jazzer and the three agree that they are up for it and set off. Jazzer knows the club manager - he knows everybody - and soon the lads are strutting their stuff on the dance floor. Or, rather, Jazzer is, as Roy and Tom are keeping a low profile because Tracy Horrobin has developed the hots for Roy and he can’t shake her off. Tom goes on to the dance floor and Roy says he’ll join him later. “Tracy is on the way over” says Tom and Roy is on the dance floor in a nano-second. As I said, you can’t please some people - Roy wanted a female companion and Tracy is more than willing to fill the role, but Roy still isn’t happy.
Leaving Roy cowering in fear in the club, we turn our attention to matters at Home Farm. It is getting to the stage where, if I hear the words ‘herbal ley’ once more, I might not be responsible for my actions. Yes Brian, we know that results aren’t good and, yes Adam, we know that your vision is going to take time to prove itself (assuming that it ever does). You can understand Brian’s point of view, as he’s just turned 73 and, by the time the herbal leys have proved their worth, he could be in a bath chair, or a coffin. Equally, Adam could argue that the future belongs to him and his siblings and he’d prefer to inherit a farm with decent soil. Whatever, the constant repetition of argument and counter argument is getting on my chimes.
Brian has introduced another factor into the equation - Justin has asked if he would be interested in purchasing 337 acres of Estate land, bordering on Home Farm? The going price is around £2.7 million and, as Brian tells Jennifer, they could raise £1m from cashing in shares and they could borrow the rest. Jen points out that it is a lot of money, but she has news of her own and tells Brian about Justin and Lilian’s affair. Brian demonstrates his caring, human side when he says “If Justin is involved with your sister, this could be just what clinches this land deal.”
Brian runs the idea past Adam, who is immediately wary about incurring such a huge debt, although Brian waxes enthusiastic about how it would secure the future of the farm. They walk the land and Adam remarks that the soil is in poor condition. Brian’s response is that Adam is just the man to improve it. What? Does this mean that the herbal leys are back in favour? The argument continues to rumble throughout the week, with Adam going home early on Friday after supper at Home Farm (Ian had to work and couldn’t make it) saying that he’s tired.
Jennifer says that £2.7m is a lot of money “And we won’t be running the farm for ever.” Brian’s answer is that land is the safest investment there is and, when Jen chides him for bringing up the subject after dinner, he replies “Adam will be fine - there’s nothing the matter with a bit of healthy debate.” “Is that what you call it?” Jen says, dryly. Brian insists that it is not his future that he is thinking about, rather that of his children and, once he has explained it to Kate, Alice, Debbie and Ruairi, they’ll realise what a terrific deal it is. I’m reserving judgement.
Lilian tells Justin that ‘some of the family’ have found out about the fact that they are having an affair, neglecting to tell him that Rob also knows. Justin takes it all in his stride, saying that people were bound to find out at some stage and the important thing is that Miranda must not be embarrassed. Justin apologises to Lilian for the fact that he has to spend Christmas Day at home, but he will be back in Ambridge on Boxing Day and can stay through to New Year.
And now we look at the farce that is the Carter family’s photoshoot. It is booked for Tuesday and, on Monday, Susan still hasn’t made up her mind about which dress to wear. Eventually, Lilian persuades her that she looks good in the buttercup yellow, but even on the day of the shoot, Susan is still wondering whether it is the right choice.
You’d think that it would be comparatively simple to organise a family photograph, but Susan has turned it into a logistical exercise of monumental proportions, with a list of worries as long as your arm. First of all, will Chris and Alice manage to get to the studio in time? Will Ed scrub up sufficiently to meet Susan’s high standards, or will he have to stand at the back? And look at the state of Neil’s hands - why didn’t he use Susan’s hand cream, as she wanted? The reason for this is that he was already having a hard time with Jazzer and Johnny taking the rise out of him and he didn‘t want to give them more ammunition.
As Susan and Neil wait outside the photographer’s studio, she is overcome with foreboding - there are no lights on inside and no sign of life. Susan phones them, but it goes to answer phone, so Susan asks for them to ring her back. “Is that rain?” Neil asks, which does nothing to cheer Susan up. On the plus side, Emma turns up with Keira, who is looking a bit peaky. Emma explains that there appears to be a bug of some sort going around.
Susan gets a message from the photographer - they have overrun on a shoot and cannot get there until six o’clock at the earliest. In the end, it is decided to postpone the shoot until a week Monday (God, that means the saga will continue to drag on). There is the sound of barking and George turns up with Holly. Susan says there is no way that the dog is appearing in the photograph and Keira pesters Granddad Neil to be picked up. Susan is still having doubts about whether her dress is suitable, but Emma says that it looks lovely and she should definitely wear it in the photograph. Keira is squirming and wriggling and Neil puts her down. Emma says that Keira is going to be sick and she promptly is - all over Susan’s dress. We learn the following day that it is possible that the stains won’t come out. I bet Neil is wishing that he’d let Susan have plastic surgery and had never mentioned the photo, as presumably his diet will be enforced for another week and we’ll have another seven days of Susan moaning and agonising over dresses.
As Christmas approaches, one thing I would bet my mortgage on is that Toby Fairbrother will not get a Christmas card from Jill - when it comes to him, she exhibits a vindictive streak a yard wide. In idle conversation with Rooooth, her only topic is Toby - what does he do all day? Has he got rid of the still yet? Rooooth keeps trying to change the subject, but every time Jill drags it back to Toby. Rooooth says that Pip’s cattle will be sold on Thursday and she’ll get a big cheque, so the world will be her oyster. By this time, Pip has come over to see her mother and Grandmother and the conversation is a bit stilted. It stops completely when Jill suggests that she should leave Toby behind.
Pip has a go at Jill - she’s always sniping at Toby. “What will he do next?” Jill asks, adding somewhat nastily “Smuggling? Poaching?” Pip replies that the gin is a fantastic idea and, when Jill still won’t let up, Pip walks out.“ ”Now look what you’ve done” Rooooth says, adding that it might be better if Jill kept out of Pip’s love life. Not in the least abashed, Jill says on the contrary; she won’t turn her back on Pip. She rubbishes Toby’s track record and his attitude to women and says “Believe me; Toby’s no good and the sooner Pip realises that, the better.” You may be right, Jill, but it’s not really any of your business, is it?
As things are going, it looks like there could be a few empty places round the Brookfield dining table on Christmas Day, but perhaps Rooooth could take a few scraps over to Rickyard. A word of advice Toby - whatever you do, make sure that you don’t give David and Rooooth a bottle of artisan gin for a Christmas present, or a full and frank discussion might ensue.
While the Pip/Jill/Rooooth conversation is going on, Toby (whose ears must be well alight) goes to see brother Rex and compliments him on how good the geese look. Rex says he’s busy and what does Toby want? He also has a go at Toby for possibly putting his tenancy of Hollowtree at risk by annoying David. Toby says that he has got rid of the still - it’s in Grundy’s field and also that their mother would like to see them for a dinner one night. Rex replies that he is busy - not living off Pip and messing about with gin (who could he be thinking about, do you suppose?).
Later on, outside The Bull, while waiting for the Christmas lights switch on (great radio) the two brothers meet again. “Where’s Pip?” Rex asks. “Getting the drinks” Toby replies. “Oh yes - she’s the one with the money” Rex says, prompting Toby to stalk off, saying “At least Pip still believes in me.” “More fool her” his brother retorts. I don’t know how much Pip got from the sale of her cows, but I hope Toby gets a job or something to pay his way soon, or Pip’s hard-earned dosh will vanish like early-morning dew and we won’t be able to shut Jill up.