Sunday, 19 February 2017

But Is It Cricket, Harrison?

James Cartwright (Harrison Burns)

PC Harrison Burns is a man with a problem - he’s having trouble getting people to commit to the Ambridge cricket team (Rob’s never around when you need him, is he?). PCB has even tried to get some ex-players out of retirement, namely David and - and this surely shows the extent of his desperation - Eddie Grundy. All to no avail, and PCB is in despair.

However, Fallon to the rescue! She suggests that PCB should ask girls to play in the team (what, as well as doing the teas and sandwiches?) and he thinks this is a great idea. Having said that, Fallon tells him that she’s way too busy at weekends and Harrison’s tentative queries to Alice and Pip later are also rebuffed. He is not downhearted, though, and seeks advice from Lynda - how can he be sure of getting people to understand the direction in which he wants to take the team and give him their backing at the forthcoming AGM?

Lynda is in her element and gives him advice on how to conduct himself. She also suggests that it could be a good idea to get one or two people on his side before the AGM. PCB takes her advice to heart and goes to see Alistair, to tell him of his plans. Alistair is all for the inclusion of females; indeed, he tried to do something similar some time ago, but it was voted down. He advises PCB to get a couple of girls who want to play, before announcing the idea at the AGM. Indeed, it was Alistair who suggested Alice and Pip.

One person who it probably isn’t worth asking is Miranda Elliott, who thinks that Borsetshire in general, and Ambridge in particular, is the end of the world. “It’s so barren” she tells husband Justin. On Sunday, Miranda went to buy a paper, only to find the shop shut. She runs into Jennifer, who invites her to a dinner party that she will be hosting to celebrate the buying of the 300-odd acres of land for Home Farm. Miranda makes it plain that she would rather disembowel herself and eat her own intestines, but Jennifer starts to big up the event. Later on, Jen discusses her grand plans with Brian, who is alarmed at the ever-increasing scale of the event. He tells Jen that it is in danger of becoming tacky and “we should be ourselves and be proud.” Eventually Jennifer agrees that it should be small, local and beautiful and that she’s sure Fallon and Emma can rise to the occasion. Brian agrees, no doubt relieved that, after having spent £2.5 million on the land, he won’t be looking at a similar-sized bill for the party.

If Miranda finds Ambridge so tedious, why is she hanging around? That’s what she appears to be wondering herself, as she makes the point to her husband that, now Berrow Farm is history, why cannot Justin run his empire from London? His answer is that sometimes the personal touch is needed, forbearing to add that most of his personal touches involve Lilian Bellamy. We have said before that Miranda obviously suspects Lilian of going the extra mile when it comes to exercising her duties as Justin’s PA and these suspicions are given free rein when Miranda meets Anisha at the Stables. Miranda asks Anisha if she knows Justin Elliott and Anisha replies that she’s often seen him in the pub with Lilian - she thinks they were playing a drinking game on one occasion. “I’m Justin’s wife” Miranda says, in frosty tones. Shula tries to rescue the situation by saying that Lilian is often busy with AmSide business during the day and thus conducts business in the evenings, but she’s fooling nobody. Miranda leaves and Anisha tells Shula: “I put my foot right in it there, didn’t I?” ‘Fraid so, Anisha love.

Miranda continues to hang round Ambridge and she runs into Lilian in Underwoods when looking to buy a frock for Jennifer’s soiree. Later on, in The Bull, Lilian shows Jolene some sexy lingerie that she has bought as a treat for Justin, although, personally, I think he’ll look pretty silly in it. Jolene warns her that Miranda and Justin are in the bar, having lunch and she asks Lilian if she is OK with Miranda around? Lilian shrugs - Miranda will be going back to London soon. Jolene is not so sure - earlier Miranda told her that she and Justin have been spending too much time apart and they need quality time together. “I think Miranda is keeping an eye on Justin” Jolene tells Lilian.

The main story of the week was that of Kirsty’s miscarriage. Tom was away in Scotland when Kirsty felt ill and it was left to Roy and Helen to accompany her to hospital. We learn later that the child was male, Kirsty does not want any sort of ceremony to mark his passing and that she and Tom hadn’t got round to thinking of names for a child. Kirsty’s parents take her back to Liverpool, which leaves Tom on his own, beating himself up as he feels guilty about the whole situation.

Tom throws himself into his work and manages to get on the wrong side of nearly everyone; notably Jazzer, who tells his boss that he won’t be talked to like that and he is going to the pub and if Tom has any sense, he’ll join him. Indeed, he does so and apologises for his behaviour. Tom says that he has messed up Kirsty’s - and his - lives and he keeps wondering about what might have been for their son. Jazzer reminds him that he cannot know what life with Kirsty would have been like “and you can’t get all soppy over some fantasy life that didn’t happen.” Jazzer also tells Tom that he’s there for him and assures Tom that things will get better with time. I hope so, as I think I preferred Tom when he was banging on about sausages rather than this self-flagellating heap of misery.

Earlier, we mentioned Anisha and the girl seems to be settling in well as the new partner - certainly Alistair told Shula that she’s “a damn good vet.” But this view is not universally held, apparently. Anisha goes out to treat a bull owned by a Mr. Hodge. Alistair asks how did it go? Anisha thinks that she did a good job, although Mr H wasn’t particularly friendly and she thinks that he thought she was spinning out the job, although she was just making sure that she did a thorough job. Mr H rings Alistair and asks him to turn out next time, not Anisha. Alistair describes Mr H as ‘cantankerous’, but Anisha’s confidence is dented somewhat and, later on, Alistair wonders aloud to Shula whether Anisha is as tough as they first thought.

The following day, Mr H rings the surgery - he has a cow with suspected mastitis. Anisha takes the call and tells Alistair. He says that she can make it her first call, but Anisha explains that Mr H explicitly asked that Alistair is the one to attend. On what grounds? “I didn’t ask” Anisha replies. Alistair worries - is Mr H’s prejudice based on gender, age or race? He makes a decision and tells Anisha that he will ring Mr H and tell him that Anisha is the vet going out to him. “What if he tells us where to go?” she asks. “Then we tell him ‘thank you and goodbye’” Alistair replies, adding: “We have to decide what sort of practice we want to be.” Anisha agrees.

And now we come to the latest hare-brained scheme from the Grundys to make money. Fat Paul’s cousin, Eric comes to Ambridge and the Grundys put him and Becks (his partner, rather than the ex-England international) up for a few days. The grateful couple leave behind an envelope with £100 in it as a ‘thank you’. The Pound signs behind Eddie’s eyes light up as he tries to convince Clarrie that there’s money to be made in B&B and they have all this spare room at Grange Farm.

Clarrie points out that it isn’t actually their house and that Oliver and Caroline might be a tad miffed to learn that the Grundys are running a business from their property. Eddie is confident that they won’t mind and shows Clarrie the photographs that he has taken to publicise Grange Farm on the Internet. Clarrie is wavering - there’s no doubt that the extra money would come in handy, but she would only countenance the idea if Oliver and Caroline agreed to it. The other thing that worries her is the additional work. Eddie says that he’s sure all the family would muck in and not leave it all to Clarrie.

Unbelievably, Clarrie swallows all this guff - she should perhaps pause and ask herself just how much help does the family give her at present? ‘Precious little’ would be my guess. Even more unbelievably, later on Eddie tells her that he has spoken to Oliver, and he’s OK with the idea. Clarrie asks a couple of questions, but despite Eddie’s evasive answers - he admits that he hasn’t actually spoken to Caroline, but thinks Oliver was speaking for both of them - she doesn’t demand to see Oliver’s permission written down in black and white, as would any sane person. How long has she been married to Eddie? How many times has he tried to pull fast ones and it’s all gone tits up? And yet she swallows it wholesale. You can tell the quality of Eddie’s scheme, as when he tells Joe, his father (who normally goes along with any half-baked idea - remember ElfWorld?) is not keen and reminds Eddie that they have tried something similar before and it didn’t work. We await the inevitable forthcoming series of cock-ups with a feeling of déjà vu.

From one dodgy scheme to another; young Freddie is troubled, as he has still not told Elizabeth about failing his maths resit. In this he was encouraged by Kenton, whose plan was that Freddie would pass the exam eventually and Elizabeth would never find out. Sadly, there’s a parent’s evening next week and, while Liz won’t want to talk to the maths teacher, he will want to talk to her and then the game will be up. Freddie begs Kenton to think of something.

Kenton’s master plan is that he will go to the parent’s evening early and see the maths tutor instead of Elizabeth - Freddie will just have to delay Elizabeth for a while. The tutor will be happy and Elizabeth will be none the wiser - what could possibly go wrong? Freddie is singularly unimpressed “And that’s it?” he asks. Kenton says it’s the best he can come up with, but I’m sure that, deep down, Freddie realises with sinking heart that this plan has more holes in it than a truckload of colanders. Confess now lad, is my advice.


  1. This site really is the only way to endure The Archers even now Rob has gone. Thank you!

  2. Does anyone know where Mr Hodge has come from, or indeed, where his farm is? Alistair bangs on endlessly about how it is a local practice, so presumably it's not far away. But dairy farms do take up quite a bit of room, so where has this one been hiding? And why was it never mentioned at the time of the megadairy debacle?

    And this week also gave us a reminder that Ambridge exists outside the ambit of all known commercial activity. So to add to "The Supermarket" and similar, we now have "Some Internet Sites" for marketing bed and breakfast. I think the Grundy's might get on better with AirBnB, at least until the first review gets published...

  3. I found this comment on another Archers forum: Terry Hodge from Paradise Farm, Edgeley had previously upset both Ruth and Pat with his rather unreconstructed opinions on women in farming. Mind you, that was some 25 years ago, but clearly he hasn't moved much with the times.