I fear that the probity and integrity of Harrison Burns is open to question after last week’s episodes. PCB, as we know him, is a man on a mission - and that mission is to secure the future of the Ambridge cricket team and his preferred strategy is to draft women into the team. He has been secretly coaching Molly Button (enthusiastic - perhaps overly so), Lily Pargetter (a raw talent and hampered by being afraid of the ball) and Anisha Jayakode (a potentially useful off-spinner). He also managed to talk Pip into putting her name down, but at the moment, she’s too busy with calving and lambing.
But PCB has a problem - how to sell the idea to the men in the team, especially as the idea was thrown out at the recent AGM? He calls an EGM and, at the meeting, it is quickly apparent that the prevailing mood is still against letting females in. The most vocal opponent is Will Grundy, whose attitude was reminiscent of the old, whiny Will and who reminds PCB that this is going over old ground.
Then PCB pulls his master stroke, as he reveals that he has had an e-mail from the captain of arch-enemies Darrington, which says that his club would be open to a merger of the two clubs and he’s sure that positions could be found for some of the Ambridge players, albeit low down the order. PCB also suggests that the name of the new team would be Darrington. There is uproar at the meeting and PCB spells out the options. 1. Let women play. 2. ‘Merge’ with Darrington. 3. Give up cricket in the village altogether. The Darrington option is anathema to the meeting and the majority vote to admit women.
Rex is impressed with the way PCB handled the meeting and remarks that Harrison kept quiet about the Darrington e-mail - could he have a look at it? “Deary me, is that the time?” PCB asks, adding that he was due home ages ago and he must fly. So this is why we questioned PCB’s probity earlier - could our local bobby be renamed PC Porky pie? Was the e-mail a figment of his imagination - albeit a brilliant strategic master stroke? Surely we can put our trust in a member of our police force? Whatever, well done Harrison for saving Ambridge cricket.
At the meeting, Alistair learned for the first time of Anisha’s interest in cricket and he muses to Shula that he is already spending a lot of time with his new partner. “Maybe she’ll keep you young” his wife replies. Anisha is also having reservations - she won’t pursue the cricket idea if Alistair thinks they are already too much in each others’ pockets. Alistair assures her he couldn’t be happier about it.
It was a busy week for Anisha, as Shula gets her to have a look at Damson, one of the Stables’ old favourite horses, who is obviously in distress. Anisha diagnoses a thorn in the eye and suggests that Damson should go to equine hospital. No good, says Shula, as Damson doesn’t travel. The alternative is to remove the eye, which Anisha says she can do there and then. Shula agrees and Anisha operates successfully, deeply impressing Alistair, who admits to her that he couldn’t have done what she did.
When talking to Anisha, Shula remarks that the Stables probably won’t be housing the two Arab horses belonging to the Elliotts for much longer, as the Elliotts’ focus has moved away from Ambridge. This is a polite way of saying that Lilian has cocked things up (and I use the phrase advisedly) royally. On Tuesday, Miranda turns up at the Stables and wants to join Lilian on a hack. Before long, she spells things out to Lilian, telling her that she (Lil) is the latest in a long line of Justin’s ‘diversions’. She adds that, usually, his ‘diversions’ are younger than Lilian and “I can’t imagine what he saw in someone as well-worn as you. It stops now - you will not disrupt my marriage any longer.” With that, Miranda rides off, leaving an open-mouthed Lilian behind.
Lilian is very unhappy and later on she takes herself down to The Bull, where she proceeds to get totally wrecked and drunkenly bangs on to PCB about the fragility of the human heart. We learn later that PCB had to pour her into a taxi to get her home and, the following day, Brian tells Adam that Lilian couldn’t get her key to fit in the door and Jennifer had to help her up the stairs. The extent of Brian’s concern for his sister-in-law is demonstrated when he says to Adam that he hopes the whole unsavoury incident won’t affect relations with Justin.
Poor Lilian has her own troubles, as Peggy has demanded that her daughter comes to see her. Lilian has to obey the summons and Peggy doesn’t beat about the bush - she has been hearing rumours and is Lilian having an affair with Justin? Lilian admits that she was, but it’s over now. Peggy is scandalised and says “You’ve been committing adultery!” Lilian points out that, technically, she hasn’t, but Justin has. “I’m not in the mood for word games, Lilian” says Peggy, icily, adding that marriage is sacred and Lilian should know better at her age and how does this reflect on the family? Suitably admonished, Lilian goes home via The Bull, where Eddie remarks that she looks a bit shocked. Lil’s response? “I’ve just had a very difficult conversation - it turns out you’re never too old to be told off by your mother.”
This was also the week when Kirsty went into meltdown as her ‘I’m over the miscarriage’ façade finally crumbled. She started off the week by offending Miranda (only too easy to do), who demanded the name of her manager to complain. Kathy wasn’t working, but Miranda complained to Lynda, who mentioned it to Kirsty and got an earful for her pains. Kirsty went home, where Roy asks her if she’s ok? He knows about the complaint and Kirsty turns on him, telling him he’s got a lousy track record. “You lost your job, bust up your marriage and now you can’t even get a woman” she tells him, spitefully. Roy’s response (which in the circumstances was pretty restrained) was that he’s going to make chilli and there’s plenty for two, should she want some.
On Tuesday, Jazzer is startled to come across Kirsty out walking around dawn. He is working, but what is she doing there? She couldn’t sleep, so got up to enjoy the dawn. Later on, she rocks up at the Tearoom (Jazzer is there) and she learns from Fallon about the plan to include women in the cricket team. Why did no-one ask her? Is she supposed to spend the rest of her life in a darkened room? Kirsty says some very hurtful things to Fallon and storms off.
Kirsty runs into Helen and she breaks down - she thinks she’s going mad, as she’s snapping at guests, rowing with Lynda and being cruel to Roy and Fallon. She cannot stop thinking about the baby and feels guilty because she didn’t want the baby enough and the miscarriage was her fault. Helen says that that’s rubbish and Kirsty did not cause the miscarriage. Kirsty is in floods of tears (and it was a fine piece of acting) and tells Helen that she’s going to Grey Gables to ask for some time off. But first she must apologise to Fallon.
Kathy obviously is sympathetic, as the next time we see Kirsty, she is in pyjamas, answering the door to Jazzer, who has decided that she needs an afternoon watching a film and he has brought along ‘Tango and Cash’ and close to £10-worth of popcorn, nachos and other cinema-style snacks. Kirsty isn’t keen, but he insists and she enjoys herself, telling him that the film was so bad, it was good. Roy returns home and the three of them are on the sofa, finishing off the snacks. As Kirsty excuses herself to make herself comfortable, Roy remarks to Jazzer that Kirsty is looking the best she has done for some time and well done Jazzer for cheering her up.
Although PCB spent a lot of time on cricket last week, he had his ear bent by Lynda, who is still obsessed with cars speeding through the village - it is definitely getting worse. PCB wonders if the situation is exacerbated by other villages, who are conducting anti-speeding campaigns. Could speeders be avoiding these by taking a diversion through Ambridge? Lynda is amazed - she has heard nothing about these campaigns, but she finds out what’s happening. Apparently, said villages are operating speed cameras and passing on details of speeding cars. Lynda is determined that Ambridge will not become a refuge for speed merchants and intends to lobby the Parish Council. Watch out lads and lasses - Lynda’s on a crusade.
Let’s return to the Lilian/Justin/Miranda situation. Having been told off by Peggy and getting blind drunk, Lilian is not a happy person. On Friday, she misses a call from Justin and her return call goes to voicemail. Eventually, the pair do make contact and he asks her to meet him at the Dower House. She does so and the conversation is awkward, to say the least. Justin says that he is sorry that things happened the way they did, but Miranda can be unstoppable when she wants to be. Lilian replies that she completely understands Justin’s situation and he says that, please, let him say what he came there to say.
The last few days, he tells her, have been somewhat trying. He goes on to say that Miranda isn’t whiter than white, as she has had dalliances with personal trainers and ski instructors in the past. They have always been transitory and very discreet. He has always wanted more than just physical attraction and this is why Miranda warned Lilian off - she felt threatened because of the special connection between Justin and Lilian.
Lilian says that she is finding all this very painful and Justin says that he will come to the point. Things came to a head last night - there were ugly scenes and Miranda issued a cliché ultimatum. “Choose me or choose Lilian” Lilian says, gloomily. Justin says ‘yes’ and adds “I chose you.” Lilian is stunned, but Justin explains: “Suddenly, it became crystal clear - I asked myself who mattered most to me and it was you. My marriage is over - I’m going to divorce her. I want to be with you.”
Assuming they get together, presumably Peggy will be pleased. What are the other benefits to them and people of Ambridge? Well, if they move into the Dower House together, Brian can get rid of the dogs guarding his wine cellar and he’ll have his house to himself once again. Lilian and Justin won’t have to skulk around any longer (not that they were much good at this) and Jennifer won’t have attacks of the vapours, trying to stop people finding out. However, it’s not all good news, as Lilian will be losing a reliable tenant and a regular source of income at the Dower House.