Sunday, 19 March 2017

Jill Goes Cold Turkey

Patricia Greene (Jill Archer)

Jill has given up tea and coffee to show Carol that she isn’t dependent on caffeine. Sadly, she seems to be just that and is very tetchy with everybody. On Tuesday, she throws Josh out of the kitchen, where he is on his laptop, operating his farm machinery business. Josh grumbles and retreats to the farm office, from which he is later evicted by David. Next he goes to the Ambridge Tearooms, where he is gently chided by Alice for taking up a table for four and for only buying one coffee in about two hours.

David suggests that Josh uses his bedroom, as he used to when he did his homework, but Josh says no way - he’s not a schoolboy any longer; he’s a businessman. The word ‘parasite’ springs to mind and, on Friday, we learn that Lynda threw him out of Grey Gables for taking over the lobby and using their sockets to charge his equipment. Perhaps someone should tell him that real businessmen usually have a base to work from and pay for their own electricity.

But back to Jill and her cold turkey. The lack of caffeine means that, on Tuesday, she falls asleep in the chair, where she is found by David. Unfortunately, while she napped, her baking burnt and was ruined, which did nothing to improve her temper. She complains of a bad headache and a nasty taste in her mouth and David gives her one of Carol’s herbal teas, which Jill tells him tastes vile. David suggests that Jill goes to the Aquafit exercise class, which Carol mentioned - what could be better than some gentle exercise in the company of a friend? As the friend in question is Carol, in her present mood, Jill might well hold her under water for half an hour or so.

A burnt cake is by no means the worst disaster to affect Brookfield last week, as Rooooth draws David’s attention to some cows which are poorly, coughing and with discharge from nose and mouth. A cursory examination reveals that quite a few are affected and David calls Alistair to come over and have a look. “I think it might be IBR” David tells his wife. ’Oh no - not IBR!’ the listeners chorused, knowing that Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis is a highly contagious disease that can lead to fertility problems, reduced milk yields and lots of other things that farmers don’t really want (thank you Dr Google).

IBR is Alistair’s guess too and he recommends a vaccination programme. Even with that, he says there will be some cows that don’t make it. As if on cue, a calf that wasn’t looking too good is found to be dead. David and Rooooth cannot understand it - yes IBR is infectious, but their cows were all certified IBR-free when they were purchased and they haven’t been in contact with any other cows, have they? The whole thing’s a mystery. Well, it’s a mystery to David and Rooooth, but perhaps daughter Pip could throw some light on it, if she were to be asked. Cast your mind back to a week or so ago, when Pip woke Toby up early to help her round up some cows that had escaped. They were eventually found mingling with beasts from Home Farm, or Bridge Farm (one cow is very much like another, in my limited experience) and Pip and Toby managed to get them back home, with David and Rooooth not even aware that the cows had gone temporarily awol.

It will be interesting when David tells Pip about the IBR - will she break down and confess, or will she scratch her head and agree that it certainly is a mystery? If she adopts the latter course, then she might have to kill Ed, who is the only other human (apart from Toby) who knows about the absconding bovines and who might accidentally blow the gaff. Things could get interesting at Brookfield in the near future. Even more so if David finds out that the reason Pip cannot invest her profits from last year’s cows into buying more beasts is that she lent it all to Toby to fund his gin business.

Elsewhere, Kirsty has come to her senses and is having time off work and she goes to see Peggy. Kirsty tells Peggy that she hasn’t been too good, but is better now and ready to return to Grey Gables next week. The real reason for her visit is to return Peggy’s cheque, because there’s no need for it now, following the miscarriage. Peggy gently reminds Kirsty that it was a gift to her and, in what had been a difficult year for the Archer family, Kirsty’s support and help had proved invaluable. Peggy adds: “I don’t know what we’d have done without you - please indulge an old lady.” Wasn’t that nice? Touched, Kirsty agrees to accept the gift.

In last week’s blog, Peggy gave daughter Lilian a dressing down over her affair with Justin. At the end of that week, the affair was back on again and Lilian and Justin have been making up (and making out) at the Dower House. Peggy is coming over for a family lunch and Lilian begs Jennifer not to say anything to Peggy about the rekindled affair. “I may be demoted from strumpet to marriage wrecker” Lilian tells her sister.

At the lunch, Brian asks Lilian if she knows what Justin’s movements are in the next few days? Lil replies that she’s not aware of what he is doing. Brian then proceeds to wedge his size nine into his gob when he says “But I thought you and he -”. Jennifer tries to change the subject, but cat-like, Peggy leaps on the phrase and asks Lilian “That you and he what? You told me it was all over - don’t tell me you’re a liar as well as a cheat.” No Mother’s Day card for you, Peg!

At the beginning of the week, all was well between Justin and Lilian as they spent time at the Dower House. He is pleased that he doesn’t have to go back to London and that “there is no longer any need for all this sneaking around.” Lilian remarks that that was half the fun and tells Justin that she should go back to Home Farm for a while. At Home Farm, she tells Jennifer about her news and Jen is delighted for her. Lilian, however, isn’t sure how she feels and she is in a bit of a whirl as she doesn’t want to lose what they had.

A couple of days later, she is back at the Dower House and Justin suggests that they go for a walk round Arkwright Lake and we first learn that the pair have different takes on their new-found relationship. Lilian seems to think that the future will be one long round of social engagements and functions and she says that she hopes life doesn’t get too domestic. Justin reassures her that they will have a lot of fun and there is a whole season to plan. Glyndebourne is a must, as is Ascot, he says and Lilian says why don’t they go to Alderney, as she’s never been? Good idea says Justin. “Perhaps we should honeymoon there” he adds. Lilian is dumbstruck and says it will take a lot of thinking about. Later on, she phones him, muttering “Please go to Voicemail”, but he answers. Lilian says that she won’t be at the Dower House later, as she has to do some AmSide work, which she has been neglecting, but she promises she will see him soon. After the lunch with Peggy, Lilian tells Jennifer that she has arranged to meet Justin the next day. “I have to tell him how I feel” Lilian tells her sister.

Justin and Lilian meet in The Bull and they decide to eat there and Lilian pays. The atmosphere is awkward and Justin asks what has he done wrong - he knows that she hasn’t been doing AmSide work. Her reply is that his talk of marriage really threw her. Justin is puzzled - surely the fact that he is divorcing Miranda shows how much he wants to be with Lilian? She is flattered, but asks whether Justin really wants to jump straight into another marriage? He certainly does - he wants to make a permanent commitment and he thought she felt the same.

Lilian points out that Justin has never actually told her that he loves her, to which he says “That’s an horrendous oversight which must be rectified immediately” and he goes down on one knee. “I love you from the bottom of my heart and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?” There is a long pause and he adds “Lilian?” Lilian is embarrassed and confused and runs away in tears, saying “I just don’t know. I’m sorry - I’m just so sorry.” Robert Snell and Jim Lloyd are in the pub and Robert remarks “I don’t think that went quite according to plan.”

It seems to me that there is a serious gulf in commitment here - Justin is looking for a soulmate, while Lilian is apparently just seeking a playmate, and preferably one that pays for everything. Having made a spectacle of himself in the public bar, Justin might be feeling a little embarrassed and this relationship could well take some sorting out if it is to end happily.

At Grange Farm, Eddie is reading glowing reviews of the B&B offering at Ambridge Hall and torturing himself. He notices that they are offering bird watching outings with Robert Snell and says that “we need to get our own birdman”, leaving immediately to track down Jim Lloyd. A despondent (what else?) Emma is washing laundry for Grange Farm’s own B&B guests and sighing. Ed asks her if everything is OK? “Just peachy” she answers, flatly, adding that she hates all this B&B business. “We need the money” Ed tells her. All his recently-born lambs have been below par and he hopes that things will pick up. Emma exhibits a profound understanding of the Grundys’ place in the world when she observes sadly: “It’s always a ‘maybe’ for us with farming and with Eddie’s money-making schemes.”

Finally, at Home Farm, if anyone had any doubts about whether Alice Carter really is a true daughter of Brian Aldridge, all they had to do was listen to her reaction when Brian took her for a walk to see the new acreage that he has recently purchased. He is waxing lyrical about how Adam has plans to rehabilitate the land. Alice is surprised at Brian’s attitude, as surely the land has to turn a profit? Brian then tells her about the plans he has to create an area of woodland and he has taken advice from Patrick of the Borsetshire Wildlife Trust (or similar) on which species to plant. Beech, oak and hornbeam are favourites - Brian tells her that he is planting for the future. Her attitude can be summed up by ‘sod the future, what about now?’ and she gives her father the hard sell about how her company’s high-tech monitoring system could really benefit the farm, so how about it? Unwisely, Brian says he’ll think about it and he is then stalked by Alice for the rest of the day, with her demanding to know if he’s made his mind up yet? Definitely a chip off the old block indeed.

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