Patricia Greene (Jill Archer)
Peace and Harmony is what Pip asks for when David asks her what does she want for Christmas? Oh, and for the family to be nice to Toby as well. David says that that would be a Christmas miracle, but, when Pip says that all she’s asking for is a bit of everyday civility, he says “OK, peace and harmony it is.”
Ha! In your dreams, David! True, he wants a nice family Christmas, as does Pip and Rooooth, but the problem lies with Jill - instead of everyday civility, she wants Toby’s head (and other bits) on a spike. And she doesn’t keep her feelings to herself, either - when she sees Toby working on his pickup in the farm workshop, she has a go at him about the still. Toby cannot resist the urge to wind her up, saying that he has abandoned the still idea, but the cannabis plants are coming along a treat. Jill tells him she wants him to leave Pip alone and clear off the farm. “Are you for real?” Toby asks, adding: “You want me to break Pip’s heart just so you can be happy? Sorry Grandma; that’s not going to happen.”
Mind you, Toby brings a lot of it upon himself - he is in a quandary, as he cannot distil gin without a licence and he can’t get a licence until he has somewhere to house the still. The solution? He goes to see Rex and tells him he wants to move the still to Hollowtree. Rex isn’t keen, to put it mildly, and tells his brother that David would terminate the lease in a heartbeat. But Toby has been looking at the lease - firstly, both his and Rex’s names are on the lease and secondly, nowhere does it specify what type of business can be carried out on the premises. “David might not like it, but he has no option.” Toby tells his brother.
It turns out that Toby is right on both counts - David does indeed go ballistic when he confronts Toby, who calmly explains the situation to him, and David realises that he actually doesn’t have a choice. He may have accepted the situation, but Jill cannot believe that Toby has got away with it. David then tells her about his ‘Peace and Harmony’ promise (incidentally, his conversation with Pip was after he apologised to Toby for losing his temper) and Jill demonstrates a novel twist on ‘Peace and Harmony’ as it is after David tells her this that she has her ‘get off the farm’ confrontation with Toby.
Should Toby tell Pip what Jill said? He knows that she thinks the world of her Gran and doesn’t want to upset her. However, she realises that something is up and he tells her the story. Toby suggests that he goes away for Christmas, so that Pip can have her family celebration and he’ll be back on Boxing Day. Pip however, is having none of it, saying: “No Toby - I’m not going to stand for this; they can do Christmas without me - let’s do our own Christmas here in the cottage.” So much for Peace and Harmony.
There appears to be a rift developing too, over at Home Farm, where Brian is keen to buy the additional acreage from BL. Jennifer is worried that it will cost and awful lot (£2.7 million - about half the cost of her kitchen) and Adam isn’t happy as it would mean more intensive farming. “We’re going to end up with a dustbowl” he tells Peggy. For her part, Peggy can see where Brian is coming from - he wants to pass on a bigger farm to his children. She is worried that Adam might walk away, but he says that he’ll stick it out, for Ian’s sake if nothing else. Has Adam spoken to Debbie about it? No, he hasn’t and Peggy suggests that it might be a good idea.
The following day, Brian returns from a meeting with Bryce, Home Farm’s accountant and financial adviser, with the news that Bryce thinks they can afford the deal and that it’s a good idea. Jen is still concerned and says can’t they get a second opinion? At this point, Adam comes in and tells them that he has spoken to Peggy, who said that Brian should get in touch with Debbie. Brian protests that she’s hard to get hold of, to which Adam says that he just rang her mobile and she picked up. “How is she?” Jen asks, brightly and Adam replies that she was “alarmed” to learn of the suggested deal “She thought you were out of your mind” he tells Brian. Brian insists that Adam must have given her a skewed version of events and: “Don’t worry, Jennifer - I’ll talk to Debbie and give her the actual, unbiased facts. She’ll soon understand the benefits, believe you me.” Looks like interesting times ahead at Home Farm.
Kenton takes time out to help Elizabeth seek out a car for Lily and Freddie’s birthday (and one car between two teenagers sounds like a recipe for trouble to me). Not only does he buy himself a red 4x4, but he’s missing a panto rehearsal, which earns him a tongue-lashing from Lynda. David wasn’t happy when he learned of the car purchase, as Kenton still hasn’t repaid the money David lent him to help refurbish The Bull. Things aren’t going very well at the panto (as in every previous year for the past decade or so) and Kenton criticises Lynda’s script for being a) too long and b) too boring. Lynda is not one to take criticism well and tells him that it has been lovingly crafted. Never mind, Kenton and Toby rewrite the turgid egg-laying scene, including visual jokes and fart gags, and play it for Lynda. I think ‘apoplectic’ is the word that best describes Lynda’s reaction. Perhaps nobody will turn up to watch, although I am sure that it will all come good in the end - it seems that triumph is snatched from the jaws of disaster when it comes to Lynda’s plays.
When Kenton was out with Elizabeth, the pair spoke about Dr Richard Locke and his and Lizzie’s opinions of each other. Elizabeth admits that she has feelings for the doctor, but is worried, because Shula told her that, when she and Alistair were going through a sticky patch, Shula developed “a crush” (her words) on Richard. Elizabeth is worried that, if she and Richard developed a relationship, might this not hurt Shula? Kenton tells her to go for it, adding that Shula would be mortified if she thought that she was being a stumbling block to Elizabeth’s happiness. We await further developments with interest.
Wednesday was the day of the Family Court Hearing about Rob’s access to Jack and Pat was apologising to Susan because she (Pat) gave Clarrie the day off to slaughter turkeys and Pat had totally forgotten about the court hearing, so Susan will be on her own in the dairy. I find this incredible, as Pat and Helen have talked about little else over the past few weeks and I cannot believe that it slipped her mind.
At the hearing, Helen is nervous that the court might widen Rob’s access, even though the psychologist’s report is so damning. Helen’s nerves are not improved when her brief, Anna, tells her that she has known courts in the past that have totally rejected such reports. Nice one Anna - just what Helen wanted to hear. As it happens, we are not privy to the actual hearing, but only to the result, which was a triumph for the Archer family - apparently Ursula kept interrupting the judge and the result was that Rob’s attempt to change Jack’s name to Gideon was rejected and - even better - his access to Jack was cut to once a month, at a contact centre and overseen by a professional. Even better, Rob has to pay for it. Helen still has reservations - she can divorce Rob, but Jack will have to see him once a month for the next 16 years. God, is the woman never satisfied? Anna tells her “Time will heal, Helen; believe me, it will.”
You will be delighted to know that the vomit stains did come out of Susan’s dress but, now she can’t take it back to the shop, she’s determined to get some wear out of it and comes up with the idea of throwing a party. She invites Kirsty, who would probably prefer to remove her own entrails, and then Susan speculates about whether there is ‘something going on’ between Justin and Lilian - it’s the way they look at each other during panto rehearsals (they’re probably looking longingly towards the exit). Susan also goes all coy about how Roy and Tracy met in the nightclub and didn’t Kirsty think that they were well suited? Tracy was sad that she lost Roy in the crowd - a tribute to Roy’s ability to make himself scarce.
Kirsty tries to nip all this in the bud, asking Susan if she’s matchmaking (Susan denies it) and saying, quite sternly, that Susan shouldn’t go around spreading rumours. Susan exhibits a capacity for self-delusion worthy of Rob when she replies indignantly: “Me? Spread rumours? I wouldn’t dream of it!”
Over at the Vicarage, Alan is getting it in the neck from parishioners, complaining that the Nativity plays are a bit early this year. “Don’t they realise that I have to organise four plays?” Alan asks, peevishly. Usha is on the way out to show prospective tenant Anisha Blossom Hill Cottage when Rob storms into the Vicarage, saying that he needs to talk to Alan urgently.
To digress, Anisha does take on Blossom Hill, having haggled about the rent and asked about traffic noise. Usha asks if she is aware of the recent history and Anisha replies yes, but it doesn’t worry her and the two go off to seal the deal over a cup of coffee.
Back at the Vicarage, Rob is at his ranting best, telling Alan that the court’s verdict is completely wrong and how could they think that he would hurt his son? “I love that boy. How is he supposed to get to know me? He’ll be scarred for life.” Rob seems not to have grasped that the whole point is that Jack doesn’t get to know him too well and any scarring would result from contact with his father, not from a lack of it. Alan says diplomatically that the court believes that this is what is best for Jack, which does little to calm Rob down.
Rob’s thoughts then turn to Henry - what must he be going through, not being allowed to see his ‘Daddy’? A thought strikes Rob - is Henry appearing in the Nativity play? Alan confirms this and Rob wonders aloud whether he could sneak into the back of the church and maybe give Henry a Christmas present? Slightly alarmed, Alan says that the court said that Rob should have no contact with Henry and Rob’s idea is not a good one.
When Usha returns and Rob has left, Alan is troubled. He cannot reach Rob, who is convinced that he is right and everybody else is wrong. “It’s as if there’s a piece of his brain missing” Alan tells his wife, and Usha urges him not to let Rob get to him. Alan replies that a bit of him feels pity for Rob and he wants to make him understand (good luck with that, vicar!). “Perhaps not all mankind can be redeemed” he muses. Tell you what, vicar, I reckon that Jill Archer would agree with that 100 per cent, although it’s not Rob that she’d be thinking off.