Monday, 27 March 2017

Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be, Pip

Daisy Badger (Pip Archer)

It would appear that both Pip and Toby have either never read Hamlet, or they don’t think much of the advice of Polonius about financial affairs. Pip is desperate to get her hands on some money to buy cows for her mob grazing, having lent Toby last year’s profits to pursue his gin-making idea. No worries, Pip was confident that mum and dad would sub her. Sadly, David rejected the idea out of hand, leaving Pip back at square one.

Toby says that he would give her the money like a shot, if only he had it, which is easy to say, and when his gin business takes off (ha!) he will repay her with mega interest. In the meantime, he knows someone who would fall over themselves to lend her the money. Toby’s very good at getting other people to do things, or provide money - he’s the sort of person who, when they go on a lad’s night out, is first out of the taxi and last into the pub. The very fact that he knows someone who’d lend Pip money shows that he has been considering the problem and who she can put the bite on.

And that person is - Jill. Toby and Pip arrange for her to ‘accidentally’ bump into Jill and the conversation swiftly turns to herbal leys and beef cattle. Pip admits that she wants to run more beef cattle, but hasn’t got the funds to buy them and, when Jill asks what happened to last year’s profits, she is vague and evasive. Just before this awkward question, it seemed that Pip might be pushing at an open door, as Jill said that it sounded a good investment and how many cows was Pip thinking of buying? The answer was 25. Now, I’m no expert on cattle prices, but I’m willing to bet that they don’t come cheap, so we are looking at a sizeable investment here. Whether Jill was alarmed by Pip’s evasiveness or, as she told Carol later, she was concerned that Toby might get his hands on the money (as if!), Jill asks for time to think about it. “You don’t need a decision now, do you?” she asks. No, Pip really needed it last week, but, through gritted teeth, she tells her Gran to take all the time she needs.

Never mind, when Toby’s gin distillery goes global, he tells Pip that “all our money worries will be history.” To be fair, he does add the words “touch wood” which must really inspire Pip with confidence. Personally, I reckon you could take the word ‘worries’ out of Toby’s pronouncement and it would be more accurate. But how is the gin doing? He has another batch ready for tasting and he manages to persuade Kenton to hold a tasting group one evening after the pub is shut. The group consists of Kenton, Toby, Alice and Christopher. The latter two are already pretty well-refreshed, having celebrated the fact that Brian is buying one of her company’s mapping packages. Alice and Chris love the gin - “I’d buy it” is Alice’s comment, but Kenton is more circumspect. He does admit that it is an improvement on Toby’s first effort, but as that had silage notes and a lingering aftertaste of turpentine and pine cones, this is not great praise. In fact, Kenton produces a bottle of artisan gin that Jolene had bought that day and suggests that they compare the two products.

Exactly how Toby’s brew fared, we aren’t told, but as he returns to Rickyard, slightly the worse for wear and trying not to wake Pip up (he needn’t have bothered - she can’t sleep for worrying about the cows) he reveals to her that Kenton liked the gin “but not as much as I’d hoped.” From this we deduce that Toby was unsuccessful in getting Kenton to buy any. Pip tells him of her worries and that “Mum and dad are losing money that they will never get back.” Lucky they didn’t commit to lending you any then Pip, isn’t it?

Earlier in the week, Pip says that she’d love to get her hands on the idiot that introduced IBR into the farm and it seems incredible to me that she hasn’t considered the fact that her negligence let Brookfield’s cows escape and mingle with other farms’ cattle - surely it must have crossed her mind? It seems that Brookfield may not be the only farm to suffer, as the final action of the week sees Tom - newly returned from the conference in Brazil - ringing Alistair to ask him to come over. A cow has lost its calf very late on in the pregnancy and Tom cannot think of a reason, unless… “Oh Alistair, I really hope it isn’t what I think it is.” And so the week ended. It must be IBR, surely? After all, what are the chances of having two different fatal bovine diseases in the same area?

Alistair had a busy week. Apart from treating IBR-infected bovines, he has been holding the fort as Anisha is looking after her mother (broken pelvis) and father (senile dementia) up in Scotland. She has no idea when she will return and Alistair has to cancel the Surgery Open Day and ring round prospective visitors (more work).

It never rains but it pours and, on Monday, we learn that the roof of the Hunt’s kennels has collapsed and some hounds have been injured. Shula says what a start - and she’s not even officially a joint hunt master (JHM) yet. Phillip the builder has good news and bad news - the good news is that he thinks that Little Owls have been nesting in the roof and perhaps Shula would like to put up a nest box? The bad news is that to repair the roof properly will cost £8k. Alistair asks why can’t the money come out of Hunt funds? Answer: they haven’t got £8k. It also appears that the other JHMs are reluctant to cough up, although I can’t believe that Oliver would leave Shula in the lurch.

Aren’t these places insured? Having said that, it seems that Perry (retiring JHM) has been very slipshod on maintenance and other expensive things and, if Shula wants the job to go ahead, she will have to put down the deposit to get the work started. Alistair grumbles about the cost and Shula has a go at him because he has spent ‘hundreds of thousands’ on modernising the vet’s surgery and premises “so please don’t have a go at me for spending a measly £8k.” Alistair could have pointed out that his expenditure is to improve the business and increase income, while Shula’s £8k is so people can ride around Borsetshire dressed in funny clothes and blowing quaint, brass instruments, but wisely he said nothing.

I have the answer - ask Justin Elliott for the cash. After all, he probably spends more than £8k a week, feeding Lilian’s G&T habit - or, rather, he did, as she ran away from him in The Bull the week before. Eddie apparently does a good impression of the moment that Justin was on his knees after his proposal as Lilian fled the pub. Be careful Eddie - you might need Estate work in the future.

Justin is tetchy in the extreme and Brian is concerned that the separation might have an adverse effect on a deal that he is trying to line up between BL and Damara. To make matters worse, half the BL Board are having cold feet about the project. Jennifer berates him for only considering the financial implications and doesn’t he realise that Lilian’s emotions are raw? Brian retorts that it was Lilian that ran out on Justin, so it’s her fault. Lilian asks him what he thinks, as she’d like a man’s perspective, as Justin hasn’t contacted her for two days. Brian asks why can’t she just ring him? The two sisters roll their eyes - she can’t possibly ring him, as it’s Justin that is in the wrong. Brian cannot get his head round this logic and retreats to change the sparkplugs on the quad, or something - as long as it gets him away from Lilian.

Brian is an unlikely Agony Aunt, but when he meets up with Justin, the latter asks his advice, as he cannot get Lilian out of his mind. Where did he go wrong? This is all Brian needs and he mutters something about Lilian having been hurt in the past (Matt Crawford) and she puts a brave face on everything. Justin has a eureka moment - perhaps he acted precipitately and was too quick; how can he put things right? Brian tells him to ring Lilian and Justin says he will, later in the week. However, he is worried, as he doesn’t want to get in touch and be made a fool of again. A trifle wearily, Brian suggests that he chooses a less public venue than the pub and adds ”If you want to know just where you stand, isn’t that a risk you’ve got to take?” Secretly, you know that Brian’s preferred solution would be to knock Justin’s and Lilian’s heads together.

Anyway, Justin and Lilian go out for a ride (on horses, I should make clear) and the conversation is very banal. Justin says that he wants to talk about the future and Lilian apologises for running out on him, but it was a shock to her. Justin adds that he misjudged the situation badly and Lilian replies that the way she reacted doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care for him. “But you don’t know if you want to marry me.” Justin says, forlornly. The couple ride on and Justin has made his mind up - she may think that she’s not the marrying kind, but he’s out to prove her wrong “And I never set goals that I can’t achieve.” You have been warned, Lilian.

The B&B feud between the Snells and the Grundys grinds on and Eddie learns that Lynda will be offering holistic massages or similar, using a friend of Kate’s from Spiritual Home. Eddie has a cunning plan and takes Clarrie to The Bull for a drink. She is wise to his machinations, if that isn’t too strong a word, and says flatly that she isn’t going to touch anybody’s body, so he can forget it. Eddie says that she’d only have to rub their shoulders or similar, but she isn’t having it and poor Eddie reflects on the waste of a port and lemon.

The cricket team is heading for a crisis - Usha is absolutely useless, but keen as mustard and, when PCB suggests that she could help Fallon with the teas, Usha’s eyes narrow and she says, in a menacing tone: “You might want to be very careful Harrison - if it’s because of what I think you’re implying, you might very well come to regret your decision.” Threatening a policeman? Is that a good thing for a lawyer to do?

Earlier, we mention the fact that Tom has returned from the Nuffield conference in Brazil. He seeks out Helen, to tell her that he’s giving up on organic baby foods, as the market is saturated and the coming thing is fermented foods - a subject on which he can be as boring as he used to be on Ready Meals. Tom says that, from now on, he’s going to devote 100% to Bridge Farm. He keeps angling for news of Kirsty and, eventually, an exasperated Helen says “For heaven’s sake go and see her, Tom.” He does so and gives her a souvenir from Brazil (a soapstone carving of an eagle). She’s feeling more resilient now and she feels she has so many people that she wants to apologise to. She’s not looking forward to Monday, when the specialist will hopefully tell her the reason for the miscarriage and whether she can have more children. Tom asks whether he can go with her and she says “Yes please, that would be really nice.” What was that about devoting 100% to the farm, Tom?

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