Monday, 16 January 2017

I Think Miranda Has Been Here Before

Lucy Fleming (Miranda Elliott)

Before we begin, I must apologise for the late appearance of this week’s blog, which was due ostensibly to a gremlin in the PC, although personally, I reckon Toby Fairbrother was responsible…

Miranda Elliott got a big speaking part last week. Poor Lilian has been moping around the place, depressing everybody with her sombre mood. And why is she so down? Because she has heard nothing from lover Justin Elliott since the panto ended and she fears that the romance is over.

Then on Tuesday, she gets a call from Justin, who says he wants to go through his diary and could Lilian come over later? You bet she can, and she turns up at the Dower House, full of expectations. These are cruelly dashed when she sees Miranda by her husband’s side and salt is rubbed into the wound when Miranda says that at her husband’s side is where she needs to be, plus she will sit in on the meeting and has one or two suggestions as to some of the diary entries. Miranda also suggests that perhaps Lilian has been taking on a bit too much. Her suggestions concerning the diary are to cancel virtually all of the social appointments, as Justin won’t have time for socialising, busy business magnate that he is. Lilian puts up a token resistance, but Miranda steamrollers this aside and, when Lilian says that she will get on to it right away, Miranda smiles sweetly and says “Thank you.”

During this exchange, Justin hardly says a word, except a feeble protest that there are one or two events he’d still like to attend, but Miranda ignores this. It is painfully obvious that this is not the first time she has faced this problem and, by cutting Lilian off at the knees, she believes that she has nipped it in the bud. But has she? Lilian’s mood is not improved; Brian described her as being “Like a wet weekend” and he is worried that she will put the damper on the Friday night drinks party, being held to celebrate the purchase of the land from BL. That shows how little he knows his sister-in-law, as, on the day, Lilian proclaims that “If I’m going down, then it will be with all guns blazing” and, when she makes an appearance, she looks like a million dollars.

Jennifer contrives to take Miranda and Brian away to look at some paintings (Miranda fancies herself as a bit of an expert), leaving Justin and Lilian alone. He immediately apologises for his behaviour earlier in the week and for not contacting her, but “Miranda has been watching me like a hawk.” He wants things to go back as they were before and the two of them risk a kiss. I reckon they ought to take it carefully, as Miranda’s no idiot and, if Justin’s diary starts filling up again with social engagements, she’ll know where to look.

Going back to the land purchase, Brian managed to get Justin to knock £200k off the price, and he makes a point of seeking out Adam to tell him that the herbal ley experiment can continue for another couple of years (oh good) and so can the mob grazing, which makes Pip happy. Adam is grateful too and we had a rare bit of radio when Brian told Adam “I made a mistake.”

Pip seeks out Rex and finds him making an industrial-size dish of Dahl. He tells her that it’s for economic reasons and explains that his dad will be stopping his and Toby’s allowance. He also lets slip that it was dad who supplied the capital for the business start-up – something which Toby never mentioned to Pip. Personally, I reckon that there are a lot of things that fall into this category and we can expect further revelations.

Pip takes Toby to task, but he dismisses it, saying that he and Rex will be OK. Pip pointedly says that Toby will be OK, as he’s living rent free (he’s also got your £5k Pip) and Toby says Rex will survive. However, Pip isn’t so sure and meets with Rex to suggest that she ask David if he could let Rex have a three-month rent holiday. Rex says that he wouldn’t want to exploit David’s good nature and, when Pip says that she wishes she had some money to lend him, he says that, even if she had, he wouldn’t accept it. “No, I don’t suppose you would” Pip replies, no doubt musing on how different the two brothers are.

Toby’s stock rose somewhat among certain members of the Archer family when Pip rang him and asked him to go over to Brookfield and retrieve some figures from a tablet that she had left behind (she and Rooooth were visiting a dairy farmer). Toby finds Jill trying to remove Christmas cards from the top of a bookcase and she falls off the stool that she had been standing on. Toby helps her to sit down and urges her to put her leg up (“Lucky we’ve got this stool handy” he remarks, drily). He diagnoses a bad sprain and says he’ll drive her to the Minor Injuries Unit.

A sprain is indeed diagnosed and Rooooth, Pip and, later, David are horrified to see her in a wheelchair, although Toby explains that this is because the x-ray unit is down a long corridor and Jill can’t walk. Jill is in curmudgeonly mood and moans at everyone for making a fuss. Everyone is grateful to Toby for his prompt action and thanks him. Did I say ‘everyone’? There is a pointed silence from one person and then, presumably with everyone looking at her expectantly, Jill finally says “Thank you” to Toby, albeit through gritted teeth.

Her ingratitude continues the next day, when she tells Rooooth that, far from being grateful to Toby, the fall was his fault, as his sudden appearance startled her, making her fall. She also moans again that everyone is making too much of a fuss and it is all too much for Rooooth, who snaps at her and tells her to shut up about Toby. Over at Rickyard, Toby is mystified by the Archers’ reaction – Shula cooked him cakes, Kenton brought him a pint, Liz bought him a potted plant and David came round to thank him in person. “Did they expect me to leave her on the floor and step over her to get the tablet?” he asks Pip. They probably expected you to go through her purse first, Toby.

It was a week of mixed fortunes for Rob. On Sunday, he had his first contact meeting with Jack and afterwards, he waited for Helen and Tom to come back (which he wasn’t supposed to do). He tells Helen that he wants the divorce to go through quickly and cleanly. He also asks if she would accept the toy that he and Jack had been playing with and also a present for Henry. She agrees, much to Tom’s disquiet.

On Friday afternoon, he opens his flat door to see Justin standing there. Justin isn’t in the mood for small talk and asks Rob if he has the report he asked for about contractors on the Estate. Rob admits that he hasn’t started it yet, to which Justin replies that he’s sure that some of the contractors are contactable (this is late Friday afternoon, don’t forget) and he’d like to see something in an hour or so.

Justin leaves and there is another knock on Rob’s door. This visitor is even less welcome, as it is Stefan, the Berrow Farm worker who saw Rob blocking a culvert on the night of the flood and who Rob then paid to go back to Eastern Europe. Stefan tells Rob he wants to talk and suggests the pub might be more congenial. ‘Congenial’ Rob isn’t, and, in the pub, tells Stefan that he never expected to see him again – that was the deal with the money. Stefan suggests that there are a number of people who he is sure Rob would not want to know about the money – Justin Elliott, the police and suchlike. Stefan says that he has a business opportunity back home, but he needs some start-up money. Not right away, of course: “I can wait a few days, but I want that money, Rob.”

What else happened last week? The Kirsty/Tom/Baby situation took another twist when Tom tells Helen about the baby. Helen thinks that she might be able to discover what Kirsty is thinking – it’s time they had a catch up anyway. Tom begs her not to tell Kirsty that she knows she is pregnant and Helen says “Of course I won’t”. The two girls lunch at Grey gables (Helen’s treat – I thought she was supposed to be borassic?) and the conversation wanders from subject to subject, including a toast to “seeing the back of Rob Titchener”, before Helen blows it by telling Kirsty that she knows she’s pregnant. Kirsty realises that Tom must have told his sister and she storms out. Well done Helen, you played a blinder there. Kirsty goes back to work, where she asks Roy to give her a minute. She’s still angry that her secret is gradually getting out but, as Roy points out, you cannot keep a pregnancy secret forever.

Roy has his own troubles. On Sunday, Tracy is at Susan’s (yes, they are looking at photos) and she says she’s just popping down to The Bull to see if there’s anybody interesting there. Susan says she can bring Roy back for lunch if she likes. Roy is there, along with Johnny, who disappears when Tracy breezes in and makes for Roy. She is keen to rekindle the passion of NYE, but he tells her he’s not looking for anything serious. Tracy agrees; “We need to get to know each other better” she says and, when invited to lunch, an alarmed Roy mutters something about Phoebe cooking for him and makes a rapid escape.

Back at Ambridge View, Susan notices Roy’s absence and suggests that maybe he isn’t interested? Tracy says, no, he’s just shy and she’ll have to do all the chasing. “It’ll be a bit of a stretch for me [Ha!] but I’m sure it will be worth it.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only man who felt a deep pang of sympathy for Roy when Tracy tells her sister “I’ll crack him – in the end.”

And now we come to the ‘storyline with the biggest potential for disaster’. Freddie has failed his maths resit and is being commiserated by Johnny. Freddie’s twin Lily finds him and asks him when is he going to tell Elizabeth? He’s lucky, she says, as Liz is up to her eyes in work at the moment and will even be away for a couple of days shortly. She and Johnny think ‘why not throw a party at lower Loxley?’ To his credit, Freddie isn’t too sure, but that’s probably because he hasn’t got any friends. Johnny is all for it and tells Lily that he will help her organise it.

Let’s pause here and take stock. Will they tell Elizabeth about the party? No, I don’t think so either. Freddie may have few friends, but Lily’s got hundreds. Add to this the fact that Johnny’s got a gob on him that Susan Carter might envy and the fact that they are bound to advertise the party on Facebook, or whatever is today’s preferred social media and do you see what I mean by ‘potential for disaster’? I envisage Lily driving the shared car into the lake and loads of students sloping off with family heirlooms. Of course, they could invite the younger Horrobins, which would mean the lead being nicked from the roof as well.

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