Sunday, 18 June 2017

Many Unhappy Returns

Roger May (James Bellamy)

I sometimes think that there is a marked sadistic streak in some of the Archers writers. Take Tuesday - it was Lynda’s 70th birthday, so we were expecting much in the way of pretension and pontificating. We had even been warned that James, Leone and Muppet would be turning up, which indeed they did. What we hadn’t been prepared for was the fact that James and Leone were at daggers drawn and she had changed the locks, effectively throwing him out of the house. The only reason they had come together was because they didn’t want to spoil Lynda’s big day and were putting on a united front.

Ha! That lasted about 10 minutes before yet another blazing row erupted, with Leone saying that she cannot believe that she ever found James attractive, while he says that he only hooked up with her out of pity and he’s going to stay in the Dower House. Leone bursts into tears and Lynda appeals (unsuccessfully) to them both to talk it through - think of the effect on little Muppet. What effect could this be? For starters, the poor little sod has two of the worst parents possible and he probably wouldn’t understand what’s going on anyway as, if he inherited all the brain cells from both parents, that would still only give him two. I have said in the past that it was lucky that James and Leone got together, as that means they only messed up two lives, instead of four and I stand by that.

When James is ensconced in the Dower House, he is a complete pain, telling Lilian that he’d like a full English breakfast, as he’s under a lot of stress. He also adds that Leone is very spoiled. Hello pot; meet kettle. Lilian suggests a sausage sandwich for lunch and James is aghast: “We’re not road menders, Ma” says the slimy creep, adding that he rather fancies some devilled kidneys. Oh yes, he also needs a lift into Borchester to buy some more clothes if he is going to stay (his car is in for repair).

The rift between James and Leone makes things difficult for the grandmothers and, when Lilian and Lynda meet outside the shop, wounding words are exchanged. Lilian says James has always been sensitive and Lynda retorts that, from what Leone says, exactly the opposite is true. Lilian describes Leone as “that hysterical girl,”, “a self-centred clothes horse” and “an emotionally incontinent harpy.” For her part, Lynda calls James “an over-privileged wastrel” and suggests that his character is down to a poor parenting. Lilian says that that is a subject on which Lynda is completely unqualified to comment, and the barb hits home, as Lynda describes it as “a low blow”. Be that as it may, I submit that all the insults about James and Leone were accurate, but they didn’t go halfway to describing the vapid, childish, selfish, completely off the wall nature of their characters. God only knows what Muppet is going to turn out like. I mean, I could have gone on for pages about the faults and imperfections of James and Leone, but I try to keep these blogs down to about 2,000 words and anyway, I do need to sleep every now and then.

Leone goes back to London (hooray!), taking Muppet with her, but James is hanging round the Dower House. On Friday, he demands that Lilian takes him to Felpersham to pick up his car, but she has AmSide business in the opposite direction. James (whose main talent seems to be exploiting other people) seizes on the fact that Justin hasn’t got any appointments right away and he can take him. Justin is not happy - even less so when Lilian backs him into a corner about giving James a lift. “You owe me!” he calls after Lilian as she goes for her meeting.

In Felpersham, Justin and James run into Matt and James immediately goes on the offensive - especially when Matt reveals that he’s got a Bentley. “So that’s where Ma’s money has gone, is it?” James shrieks, and accuses Matt of laying waste his (James’s) inheritance. Matt responds by saying that the only person who has fleeced Lilian is James, as “you’ve sponged off her all your life.” The unseemly row is ended by Justin, who tells James to sit in the car and tells Matt that his behaviour is unacceptable. “Have a bit of class” Justin tells him. I put it to you that, if Matt had any class, it would be Remedial.

And now we come to the reason that Justin could be my new best friend: he tells James that, at his time of life, he has found that relationships are very important and urges James to return to London and woo back Leone. James protests that, while he’s asset-rich (liar), he’s cash-poor (true) and Justin says that perhaps there’s something he can do about that, but he doesn‘t want Lilian to have to undergo any more family dramas - “do you hear what I‘m saying?” We are not told the details. But, when Lilian returns home, James is packing. Lilian is stunned and asks him what’s happened? James tells her that he had “an inspirational talk with Justin - he’s a top man.” Lilian, who obviously knows her son well, asks Justin if he gave James any incentive to leave. “Just friendly advice” he replies.

We have spent a lot of time on James and Leone, but that is because I hope that we have seen the last of them - not for ever, as they will presumably return for significant events - Lynda’s 80th, Robert’s funeral, Muppet’s celebration at passing the 11 Plus at the age of 27 - things like that. Why can’t they take a leaf out of Flat Leaf Parsley’s book and just bugger off abroad to live?

Let’s turn our attention to those two rockers, Freddie and Johnny. It would appear that Freddie had a most enjoyable night with Bonnie and he marked the occasion by emulating her in having an eyebrow piercing. The pair are waiting for a bus, but neither of them has any money. No worries - ring Elizabeth for a lift. Sadly, both phones’ batteries are dead. But they are outside Damara’s HQ - surely they will let them phone home? No, they won’t. Fortunately, they encounter Justin and he lets them use his mobile to call Elizabeth, mentioning in passing that Freddie’s eyebrow looks in need of medical attention.

Lizzie goes ever so slightly berserk but, when they get back to Lower Loxley, Freddie takes to his bed for a day and a bit. Elizabeth doesn’t know how to handle the situation and, when she does get to talk to her son, she says that she wants to understand - was he just running away from his exams? Freddie tells her it was “an epiphany” and he’s had it with education. Elizabeth confided in Rooooth that she can see that Freddie is making the same mistakes that she did at his age - if I may digress, not just at his age, as both mother and son spent a night of passion in a tent and, in Elizabeth’s case, she was about 30 years older than Freddie.

Freddie tells his mum that there’s a whole new way to live and he wants to do something original - look at Nigel. What did Nigel do that was original, we ask ourselves? His party piece was removing girls’ bras one-handed at parties, plus he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the rooftops of Lower Loxley (including a quick way down) and he once drove an ice cream van. Lucky for him that he inherited a stately pile. Elizabeth reminds Freddie that he will have responsibilities before long (as eldest son, he will inherit Lower Loxley) “and I won’t let you throw away your education - and that’s final!” Not much common ground for a compromise, I would suggest. Here’s an idea - why not let Freddie go off an be a beach bum or whatever his ambition is and let Lily inherit the hall? Not only is she the older twin, but let’s be honest; Freddie couldn’t be trusted to run a whelk stall, could he? Arranging a drinking event in a place where beer is produced would be similarly beyond him.

While on the subject of children and their future plans, we now turn to Josh. Open Farm Sunday at Brookfield was a success, in that very few people asked about IBR (presumably the few that knew about it stayed away, in case). Afterwards, David congratulated Josh on his latest refurbishment project, adding that Josh will probably find running his business a strain when he goes to uni after his year off. However, Josh has a bit of news for his father - he’s not actually going to go to university; his business is taking off big time and he wants to pursue it. David says that is all very well, but university has to take priority, only to be told that that’s not possible, as Josh told the university that he didn’t want his place. “I haven’t actually got a university to go to.” Josh adds. Look on the bright side David - at least he hasn’t got an eyebrow piercing.

The ‘will they, won’t they?’ saga about the sale of three and a half acres of Bridge Farm land drags on. Tom and Helen put their heads together and come up with a plan - half the money can go into Tony and Pat’s retirement fund and the other half a million can go towards a new, purpose-built showcase for Bridge Farm, offering courses, cheese-making experiences and, for all I know, goat-fondling. It would be built with the greenest of technologies, so how about it? Tony and Pat are impressed (I reckon the £500 k in the pension pot helped) and they agree that Tom should contact Justin and say OK. But Justin isn’t in a hurry to meet Tom - he tells him to contact Anthea, as he doesn’t keep track of his diary. On Friday, Tom gets a call from Matt, who wants to meet him. Matt has heard about the deal and he says that he has some property developer contacts who would offer £1.5 million for the land and he can give Tom names and phone numbers and Tom can do what he likes. I really hope that this doesn’t all go tits up. As Tom said to Matt “why should I believe you?” Hold that thought Tom.

The reason Matt had heard about the deal was the rumour spread by Susan and Pat took her to one side to tell her off. Instead of being contrite, Susan says that it’s in the interest of the village to know the truth and, if Pat had told her it was a secret, she wouldn’t have said anything. As Pat didn’t know Susan was listening, this appears to be academic. Furthermore, in a breathtaking bit of self-deception, Susan says “I don’t spread rumours, Pat”, adding “it’s true, isn’t it?” Sack her Pat - stick her in the strawberry yoghurt mix. At the very least tear her tongue out to teach her a lesson.

We return to Rex and Anisha. Last week I told him to forget Pip. This week, the pair meet up on a run and there is banter. Rex tells her that there is nothing between him and Pip - ”we’re mates, just like you and me.” Anisha invites him to a Hunt puppy show, but he is going to the British Grand Prix that day. What? I thought he was skint - do you know how much that costs? However, Rex says “this is daft - there’s obviously something going on here and we need to find out what.” They agree on a ‘proper’ date on Tuesday - Anisha will book a restaurant. Please, please, Rex, seize this chance and, if Pip wants to pour out her heart to you (again) on Tuesday, tell her to take a hike and look after number one for a change.

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