Patricia Gallimore (Pat Archer)
Is it just me (and Lilian, of course) who thinks that Justin Elliott is being given an unjustifiably hard time over the Bridge Farm land purchase? For a family that’s potentially picking up £900 k for selling 3.5 acres, they seem particularly ungracious. Take Helen for example - on Wednesday she tells Justin “Just because you’re marrying my aunt doesn’t mean you’re part of the family” and she accuses Justin of stitching the family up.
Pat is even worse. On Monday, she, Tony and Justin are meeting to sign the option agreement. This means that they agree to sell the land to Justin, subject to planning permission being granted. As a sign of good faith, Justin will pay them £30k, which they get to keep, even if planning is denied. Pat is very prickly and, while Tony is in the toilet (something that seems to be happening more and more often), she and Justin have a very stilted conversation. Justin says that he appreciates that the deal hasn’t gone the way she would have liked, but it wasn’t his fault. “So you’re blaming Tom?” Pat snaps back and Justin replies that, once you enter into negotiations, there are bound to be consequences.
Pat then tells Justin that he has no idea what it’s like, to let go of land that you’ve worked for 40 years and he points out that they have decided to sell and, when she continues to harp on about how hard it is, he says “Let’s hope the £30k eases the pain a little, or were you thinking of turning that down as well?” Not nice, I grant you, but I’m not surprised that he has had enough - after all. It’s not as if he’s forcing them to sell at gunpoint, is it? He does apologise later, but Pat is still anti.
Justin is concerned at all the bad feeling and says to Lilian “I should never have played hardball with Tom” and he reproaches himself for treating Tom as a businessman, rather than a nephew. Sod that, Justin - Tom was the one who said “this is how business operates” and he was trying to screw an extra half million from Justin. When it all went tits up, Justin showed him exactly how real businessmen operate and cut a better deal for himself. On Friday, Lilian visits Bridge Farm and tells them to lay off Justin and stop demonising him as a ruthless, blood-sucking parasite. Helen suggests that Justin has it in for Tom, but Lilian says that it was just a business deal. Tom agrees and says that he has learnt his lesson, to which Helen protests that Tom is family, for heaven’s sake. True enough, Helen, but as you reminded Justin so forcefully in our opening paragraph, Justin isn’t family.
Let’s just reflect on the whole deal, shall we? The Bridge Farm Archers are getting £900k, for which they are giving up - voluntarily - a parcel of land described by Brian Aldridge as ‘one small field.’ Judging from the reactions to the initial £30k payment, they don’t seem averse to taking the money, as Helen and Tom both put forward cases for having the money, until Tony suggests that they think of others on the farm, like him, Pat and Johnny. Contrite, Helen and Tom tell their father that he can do what he likes with the money, but they’d like Johnny to have some.
So if the money isn’t a problem per se, what is? It’s the fact that Tom’s stupidity and arrogance means that they are £100k down on the deal and all this bleating on about how hard it is is just cobblers. I am reminded of the remark (attributed to, among others, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Churchill, W.C. Fields and Bertrand Russell) where the man asks a lady if she would sleep with him for £1 million. ‘Yes’ she replies. How about £5? Indignantly the lady says ‘What kind of person do you think I am?, to which the man answers ‘Madam, we have already established that - we are now merely haggling over the price.’ And that, I submit, is the Bridge Farm land deal in a nutshell.
Let’s leave this sordid story behind and pop in to Home Farm. Brian thinks that, if the family partnership is to work, somebody needs to be appointed as attorney for Ruairi and how about David? After all, he understands farming. Adam, just before shooting off to Venice with Ian as a belated birthday celebration, says that Alice thinks David is too old and has Brian considered Ian, or perhaps Alistair? Brian admits that these are possibles, even though they are not farmers, but he knows who is the ideal choice - and that person is, surprise, surprise, David. Brian has promised Adam that he will have sorted the whole thing out by the end of the week and he invites David to The Bull in order to sound him out. Except that he doesn’t - David is tired and has tweaked his back and he can’t stop yawning, remarking ruefully that he feels older than his 58 years. Brian tells Jennifer later that he thinks Alice might have a point and that David isn’t the one for the job. It would seem that, as far as Brian and David are concerned, 58 is the new 85.
It’s a busy time for Lynda, what with worrying about Leone (don’t bother - there’s one problem solved) and having to keep an eagle eye on the housing development and the new pig unit. She is also obsessed with Lilian’s age and keeps asking people about it. Don’t worry Lynda - she’s 70 on July 8th. Then there’s her reading list and the preparation for the Fete. On the latter subject, Lynda has deliberately left Fallon and Emma alone to see how they have progressed things. The short answer is that they haven’t, unless you count having signed up Kathy to run the White Elephant stall as progress. With a martyred sigh, Lynda tells husband Robert “It seems that once more I will have to step into the breach.” Don’t bother on my account Lynda.
Something else that is keeping Lynda busy is trying to get one over on Eddie regarding the B&Bs. Eddie spoke to a reporter from the Echo about staycations locally and, in his words, he “bigged Grange Farm up a bit.” This is Eddie-speak for ‘going off into the realm of fantasy’ and he makes Grange Farm sound like a cross between a luxury hotel and Utopia. Lynda vows revenge and, later on, she is talking to Emma. Emma has already told her that she wants Eddie to scale down B&B operations while the kids are on holiday, plus Clarrie is concerned that Oliver and Caroline will read the article online and wonder what has happened to their home. Lynda suggests that this doesn’t sound like Eddie is planning to ease off and Emma agrees. She does mention to Lynda that Eddie is getting a string of e-mails from a certain Harriet Vane, demanding answers to questions thrown up by the article; one of which is ‘what do you mean by Eggs Benedict three ways?’ Emma confides that Ms Vane is driving Eddie mad, plus this is not the first time she has done this, although she has never actually stayed at Grange Farm. Lynda gives a little smirk and hides her keyboard.
Over at The Lodge, Hilda Ogden continues to attack whoever she can get her claws into, except for Peggy, of course. The latest victim is PCBurns, who has turned up with a list for Christine of things that need repairing or doing at Woodbine Cottage. Hilda chooses her moment and we hear a startled yelp from PCB. Chris apologises and PCB says that it’s ok - “I think I’ll still be able to bat this afternoon.” Later on in the week, we hear a shriek from Lilian “That cat attacked me on the stairs!” Christine confides, softly, so that Peggy cannot hear, “between you and me, I think it’s a monster.” The only good thing to come from all this is that PCB tells Fallon that he’s fed up with all the things going wrong and waiting for them to be fixed and why don’t they buy a place together? Fallon is over the moon and grabs hold of him. I must say I was quite pleased too, as I like Harrison and Fallon as a couple.
All is not well with Ambridge cricket. Will is annoyed at being left out of the team and, at Nets, he goes off on one when Anisha is taking catching practice. “You’ve got a real issue with me, haven’t you?” she asks him. Will replies that his real problem is with PCB filling the team with his mates and, when Anisha says that, if he feels like that, why doesn’t he go off and play for some other team, he says petulantly “Why should I? I was here first!” Rex overhears this exchange and asks Anisha if Will is bothering her? She says ‘no’ and moves off, and Will makes some sarcastic remark about Rex sticking up for his girlfriend. Rex observes that Will must really feel threatened by Anisha, which Will denies, adding that he just doesn’t think that women should play for Ambridge.
Rex says that it seems Will’s problem is with all women, not just Anisha and, when Will denies this too, Rex asks how come Will told the vice captain of Paxley that he would play for them, provided they didn’t pick any women? Will is astounded - how did Rex know about that? Simple - the vice captain told Rex when he was a passenger in his taxi. A very annoyed Will stumps off, saying “at least I’d be appreciated at Paxley.” I fear that Will is reverting to his nasty, whiny former self and if so, Paxley are welcome to him - at least we would then be spared his whining at practice sessions.
Anisha teases Rex for sticking up for her and, as they talk, she says that she’s not ready for a serious relationship at the moment. Rex, who has just heard that his goslings will be ready to pick up in a couple of weeks, replies that neither is he - with the geese, the taxi job and working for Josh, he hasn’t time, anyway. The two of them agree to keep their friendship on a fun level and Rex invites her to the pub in a few days to celebrate his 30th birthday. Anisha teases him about showing a girl a good time, but says she might make it. Like Fallon and PCB, I like Anisha and Rex as a couple, although I fear this one is going to be a very slow burner. Let’s just hope that Toby doesn’t stick his oar, or anything else, in by making a move on her, as he did with Pip. Speaking of Toby, haven’t the last couple of weeks been made blissful by his absence from all episodes? Long may it continue.
Finally, I have discovered a rare genetic quirk among the offspring of Peggy, in that they seem incapable of getting any major domestic alterations carried out without a lot of grief. Consider; first we had the saga of Jennifer’s new kitchen; the story of which stretched out even longer than the time allocated to the annual Christmas pantomime story. Now we have the seemingly-endless doings of Lilian’s new bathroom at the Dower House. Builder/plumber Philip and his worker Connor are being subjected to unremitting surveillance by Lilian and it is surprising that she isn’t wielding a whip. This story has gone on long enough - please end it and we pray to God that the third sibling (Tony) doesn’t suddenly decide to spend Justin’s money on a new conservatory - I don’t think I could stand the suspense.