No doubt about the main story of last week. Stefan turns up at the Damara offices - he knows Rob has got a good job and still wants his money. Rob refuses and tells Stefan to sit down and shut up while he answers a phone call. When he has finished, Rob says that Stefan won’t get the money, as he has no proof of wrongdoing. Stefan replies that he will go to Justin Elliott and the media, which prompts Rob to offer the money “as a goodwill gesture” in a couple of days. Stefan, however is angry at being lied to and spoken to like a dog - the amount of money he wants has just doubled and he will be back at 4pm Friday to collect it. As Stefan leaves, Lilian comes in and Rob fears that she may have overheard the conversation. He pretends that Stefan was a feed rep and not a nice man - he hopes that she didn’t hear any of his offensive language? Lilian replies that she has come for the invitation list for Justin’s next shoot.
Jennifer and Lilian are out shopping, when Jen spots Stefan and she is puzzled, as she’s sure she knows him. It comes to her later and she tells Lilian the story of Rob allegedly blocking the culvert and how she and David had gone to see Charlie Thomas about it but Stefan had disappeared. “So Rob got away with something else” Lilian muses. “It’s all in the past - nothing will come of it” Jen says.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon. Justin tells Rob to come to his office in an hour, so they can discuss costings for a future project. At the meeting, Rob is anxious for it to be over, but Justin wants to discuss other matters “Unless you’re bunking off early for the weekend, Rob?” Rob says of course not, but then says he will have to go, after all, as he has remembered that his car is parked on a meter. “Yes, you can’t take chances with Traffic Wardens - especially if they’re called Stefan” Justin agrees.
To say that Rob is surprised is a masterpiece of understatement. The story comes out and Rob defends himself, saying that blocking the culvert was akin to putting sandbags outside your door - it diverts the rain somewhere else. Justin cannot believe what he’s hearing “You sent a torrent of water into the village” he gasps, adding: “Have you any idea what would happen if this got out? Never mind the compensation; the publicity alone could destroy us.” Rob’s response is that he thought he was being loyal to Damara - loyalty is one of his qualities; just look at his reference from Minnesota; they didn’t want him to leave.
This cuts no ice with Justin, who tells Rob that he stuck his neck out for Rob and made himself very unpopular into the bargain. Rob begs for another chance and Justin reveals that he got the story from Lilian - she did overhear the meeting with Stefan and of course there was the story that Jennifer told her. This is where Rob loses it (perhaps he realises that his time is up) as he describes Lilian as “Vicious and twisted, just like the rest of the family. She can twist you round her little finger” he sneers. As a negotiating tactic, this is less than perfect, as Justin lays into Rob. “From now on you no longer work for Damara” says Justin, to which Rob replies that he wouldn’t want to, but he wants severance pay.
Justin hasn’t finished yet though, as he angrily tells Rob that he (Justin) has considerable influence in the agricultural industry and he will make sure that there is no job for Rob anywhere in the industry. Rob retorts that his former employer in Minnesota would have him back tomorrow and Justin suggests that he goes there, as “it’s the nearest to Ambridge you’ll ever work again - you’re finished here Rob - for good.” So, no reference then Rob, I’d guess.
If Justin is true to his word, that would appear to be that for Rob. It’s going to be difficult to get back to Borsetshire from Minnesota in order for Rob to have his monthly contact meetings with son Jack. However, before we all break out the champagne and party poppers, spare a thought for poor Stefan - after all, if he hadn’t come back to Ambridge, none of the above would have happened, and presumably the poor sod never did see his money in the end.
In last week’s blog, I predicted all sorts of mayhem at the party held at Lower Loxley by Freddie, Lily and Johnny, while Elizabeth was away overnight. Well, I was wrong, as it all went off like a Methodist prayer meeting. Johnny was looking for Freddie, as he wanted someone to distract Amber’s friend while he chatted up Amber. I don’t know why he bothers, as someone else always gets off with Amber. Johnny found Freddie playing computer games in his bedroom and he persuades him to come down and join the party. Predictably, Amber has been grabbed by someone else and Freddie decides to change the music. Lily isn’t happy, but people start dancing. Freddie seems to have now got his party animal head on, as, when he hears that some people are planning to go skinny-dipping in the lake, he joins them and, ripping his clothes off, he dives into the freezing water. As we learn the following day, this gave him considerable street cred among Lily’s friends (who he describes as ‘a decent bunch’). The enhanced street cred will be scant compensation for the frostbitten goolies, I reckon.
The totally unfrenzied atmosphere of the party was neatly illustrated by a cameo between Adam and Ian. Ian is worried that he may have made a mistake in encouraging Lily - what if hordes of people turn up, having seen the gig on Social Media (Ian obviously reads this blog)? So concerned is he that he and Adam drive over to Lower Loxley and they are reassured that everything seems to be calm. Lily spots them and invites them in, saying how sweet it was of them to worry. The two men end up serving drinks and Ian is popping corn and making snacks. When they return home, Ian says “What are we like - gatecrashing a teenage party?” Whatever, it appears to have done their still-rocky relationship no harm at all, as Adam tells Ian that he will wait for however long it takes for Ian to be ready to resume sharing a bedroom once more. Ian’s response is “I am ready Adam” and there is the sound of a kiss as the two of them go upstairs.
When Elizabeth returns, she asks her twins what they got up to while she was away. She is suspicious because everywhere is spotless (“and that‘s not normal“), every towel is clean and the CCTV footage of the night in question shows absolutely nothing - no foxes, no rabbits, nothing. The twins do a pretty good job of blanking her; even coming up with a plausible excuse for the empty beer can she found outside the French Doors. Elizabeth is suspicious but she has no proof of misbehaviour. She won’t be so happy when she finds out that Freddie lied to her about his D-grade maths resit.
While on the subject of romance, we must speak about that mistress (and I use the word advisedly) of self-delusion; to wit, Tracy. At the beginning of the week, she turns up at Roy’s, bearing a bottle of Merlot, which she suggests they open. Roy makes sure they stay in the kitchen, as the living room is a bit of a mess. Tracy is fishing for compliments, telling Roy how her previous boyfriends (the 14-volume index will be published shortly) admired her eyes, her figure and - fortunately she stopped there. She also says that she senses ‘a deep hunger’ in Roy. A deep hunger to have a closed door between them, I reckon.
Kirsty comes in and Roy invites her to join them; in fact, he practically nails her to the kitchen table. Tracy realises that Kirsty isn’t going to go (and how can she, handcuffed to the chair leg?) so she leaves, saying “We’ll have to catch up some other time, Roy.” Roy is grateful, telling Kirsty “You saved my life.” He admits that he is not interested in Tracy, but he wants to let her down gently. What else can he do: put barbed wire round the house? Roy, this is Tracy we are talking about and I submit that the equivalent of letting her down gently is to say ‘Tracy, please bugger off’ instead of ‘Tracy - bugger off.’
On Friday, Kirsty runs into Tracy, who asks her to tell Roy that her phone is out of action, so if he wants to get in touch, he’ll have to visit in person. Why would Roy want to get in touch? “To set up our next date” the arch self-delusionist replies. Kirsty decides to try and do Roy a favour and spells out that Roy isn’t really interested and “he has trouble giving out clear signals.” Kirsty says her motive is to stop Tracy wasting her time by chasing after the wrong man. Tracy demands to know if Roy asked her to say that and, when Kirsty admits no, Tracy accuses her of “Trying to break me and Roy up - we’re taking it nice and slow.” Slow? Glacial would be too quick for Roy. “We’re definitely an item” Tracy adds. She also says that Kirsty wants her off the scene as she has designs on Roy herself and then gets personal and offensive by telling Kirsty that she should look after her figure as it looks as if she has overindulged over Christmas. As Tracy goes, Kirsty is thunderstruck and mutters “You can dump your own girlfriends from now on, Roy”.
It was a busy week for Kirsty - Helen followed her on a country walk, as she wanted to clear the air over letting slip that she knew that Kirsty was expecting. The two women talk and Helen tells her that she’ll be a wonderful mum - if she ever needs to talk, Helen will be there for her. Kirsty admits that she is worried because Tom will always be the child’s father - she told her parents that the baby was the result of a one-night stand. On the question of the baby’s parentage, Helen remarks wryly “At least Tom’s no Rob.”
Kirsty obviously takes this to heart and she seeks out Tom, who is pleased to see her. Kirsty spells it out - if Tom promises never, ever again to talk about marriage and accepts that he and Kirsty are just friends, then he can go with her to her next scan. Tom agrees with alacrity.
We could speculate about whether we have seen the last (or nearly seen the last) of Rob, but let’s end talking about Toby. He has been told that the Environmental Health people have brought their inspection date forward and he is struggling to get everything repaired and vermin (including Rob) proof in time. Can Pip help? No way. Josh? You’re joking. Bert? He’s busy, plus he has a poetry competition to prepare for. Pip suggests Rex, but Toby isn’t keen, moaning that he will want paying. “That’s how the world works, Toby,” says Pip, adding pointedly: “When you’re not getting an allowance.”