Monday, 31 July 2017

The Flapjack-Flinging Felon

Patricia Greene (Jill Archer)

The actress playing Jill Archer celebrated 60 years with the programme last week and how did she mark this milestone? By getting Jill arrested for common assault. As we said last week, Jill has embraced the subject of not wasting food with Messianic-like zeal and Tuesday saw her, Kirsty and a band of like-minded protesters demonstrating at a PR event to herald the opening of the Duxford sisters’ new restaurant.

The demonstrators are moved back by PC Burns but Jill is not happy, as the Duxford sisters cannot hear their protests. Jill encourages the others to surge forward and she starts elbowing PCB and throwing her home-made flapjacks around. One catches Lulu Duxford in the eye and it is all too much for PCB, who arrests Jill for common assault.

Kirsty contacts David, who arrives at the police station, where his mother has had her fingerprints and DNA taken and has been cautioned. “What are you doing here?” Jill asks. “What am I doing here?” David explodes and points out the irony of throwing flapjacks around at a demonstration against food wastage. He tells Jill that she’s 86 years old and has led a hitherto blameless life – and now she has a criminal record!

When Lynda learns of this debacle, she is worried because all the publicity about the Duxfords opening the fete has been put into gear and she cannot believe that they will want to open the fete after this. Things are not improved when Jill gives interviews to the press and Radio Borsetshire and she is not in the least conciliatory. Jill is unrepentant and reminds the other members of the Fete Committee that she never wanted the Duxfords in the first place. Lynda gets on her high horse, saying “It may not have been your intention, Jill, but you have dealt a potentially devastating blow to this year’s village fete.” Well done Jill, now let’s see you scupper the Christmas offering when we know what it is.

As it happens, it appears that the Duxford sisters still want to open the fete, spouting a load of guff about serving the community. Rumour has it that Jill is baking a mega batch of aerodynamic flapjacks in anticipation.

Over at Grange Farm, Clarrie is distraught at the way the Grundys betrayed Oliver’s trust and she writes him a grovelingly apologetic letter, which she takes round to the stables, where he is staying. Oliver isn’t there, and Clarrie asks Shula to give him the letter. How are things going with the memorial service? Shula says ‘ok’ but admits that Grey Gables is a bit corporate, to which Clarrie wonders whether Grange Farm might be more suitable? Shula says she will ask Oliver, which she does, and he jumps at the suggestion. That gives the Grundys two days to move the furniture back in and tidy up the garden, which is, quite frankly a mess. As Clarrie tells Edward: “This place is going to be perfect if we all work together; we owe it to Oliver - and Caroline”.

Edward is a bit perplexed, as he ran into Oliver in the village and Oliver began apologising for losing his temper last week. Clarrie said he had every right to lose his temper and she is even more determined that everything will be spot on for Thursday. Amazingly, it is and Oliver says that the events of last week are forgiven and forgotten and he thanks Clarrie for allowing the memorial service to be held at Grange Farm. Er, Oliver, it is your house, remember.

There is much reminiscing about Caroline’s life – we learn that Peggy didn’t really like her when she first came to the village and how Caroline lost her faith when she was involved in the accident in which Shula’s husband Mark died, and which nearly killed Caroline. I didn’t hear Brian say anything, which is just as well, as he might reminisce about the affair he had with Caroline. There was not even an embarrassing cameo from Joe. Indeed, we never heard anything from him; perhaps they had him locked away somewhere.

At the conclusion of the event, Ed approaches Oliver he has mended Caroline’s vase and Oliver is amazed – you can’t see where it was damaged. Ed says that Caroline and Oliver never gave up on him, even when he went off the rails, and he is grateful. Pointing to the jug, Ed says “That’s what you did for me – you mended me. Now you can hardly see where the damage was.”

The day after, Oliver seems lost – he sits in the café for an hour over a cup of coffee and Emma rings Ed – she thinks Oliver needs a friend and could he come over? He does so and invites Oliver for a walk. Oliver admits that he doesn’t know what to do, or even where he’ll live. He couldn’t bear to be in Grange Farm without Caroline and ditto Italy. He doesn’t even know what he is going to do with Caroline’s ashes, which he brought over from Italy. Edward says that he doesn’t have to decide these things right now and, if Oliver ever wants to talk, Ed will be there for him.

There were developments in the Justin/Lilian/Matt story too. Justin is walking Ruby and he meets Brian. They talk about Matt’s comments on the planning website and Justin admits that his patience is exhausted. When Brian asks him what is he going to do, Justin replies simply “Get him fired.” Later on, Justin tells Lilian how annoying Matt is and he wants him out of the country and out of their lives. Lilian’s response is that Matt is trying to rebuild his life and he cannot repay what he stole from her if he’s unemployed in Costa Rica. Justin says that Lilian doesn’t need money now she’s marrying him and anyway it would be worth losing money “to get that wretched man out of our lives once and for all.”

The next day, Lilian goes to see Matt and tells him that it was Justin who scuppered the Investors’ Day and “he will make damn sure that you lose your job.” Why does Matt keep kicking a hornets’ nest when he knows that he’ll be the one to get stung? Matt says “I do it for you” – seeing her and Justin together reminds him of what she and Matt once had and she is way too good for Justin Elliott. Lilian’s answer is that Matt should apologise to Justin “it’s your only hope” she tells him.

Matt does indeed go to see Justin and, to the latter’s astonishment, he apologises, saying that he’s behaved like an idiot and he should have kept out of Justin’s business. “And why should I believe you?” Justin asks, icily. “Because you’ve won,” Matt replies, adding: “I didn’t realise how influential you were.” He also says that, job-wise, he thinks he’s living on borrowed time and might go back to Costa Rica. Justin slams the door in his face.

Talking to Lilian about the encounter later, Justin says that he’ll still make sure Matt is fired. She describes this as ‘vindictive’ and says “You’re letting Matt get under your skin - forget him and move on.”

Once again Lilian goes to see Matt. He is more optimistic about his job, as he has heard that, despite the poor showing on Investors’ Day, the take-up was good, so perhaps the danger has passed. Lilian says that, if Matt provokes Justin once more, he’ll finish him. The thing that Matt (and I) cannot understand is why did Lilian warn him about Justin in the first place and why is she there now? “Admit it – you still have feelings for me, don’t you?” Matt says. Lilian could have said that she does indeed – feelings of disgust, loathing and contempt – but instead she says that she can’t just stand by and watch Matt be mercilessly crushed. “I wish I could, but I can’t” she says. The obvious answer is to go away on holiday and come back only after Justin has set the Triads on Matt, or fitted him with concrete boots, or whatever he has planned. Please Lilian, you’ve got a good thing going – you’ve got a man who loves you and who buys you expensive presents, as opposed to one who stole all your savings and did a runner. I submit it’s no contest.

PCB and Fallon are still yearning after Woodbine Cottage and PCB goes to see his parents to see if they might help – after all, he’s never asked them for anything in the past. The trip is a disappointment – Harrison’s waster brother Marcus has moved back in, along with his pregnant girlfriend, and they are being supported by mum and dad. Resigned to losing Woodbine, PCB and Fallon put an offer in on a house in Borchester. Emma says she’s jealous – especially as they don’t know what’s happening about Grange Farm.

In recent weeks we have speculated about a possible romance between Roy and fruit picking team leader Lexi. Phoebe, who is working to get travelling money, tells her dad that she saw Lexi washing racist graffiti off one of the caravans. Phoebe suggested that Lexi tell Adam, but she doesn’t want any trouble. Roy decides that this isn’t good enough – these things can escalate and get out of hand, so he tells Adam. Lexi is less than impressed and goes to see Roy. She tells him that police came to Home Farm and she was interviewed by them.

Roy is adamant that he did the right thing and they argue, with Lexi saying it was just a silly incident with kids. Roy says it was more than that and that he was only trying to do what’s right. “You’ve made it worse for me,” she tells him, adding before she walks off “Leave me alone from now on.” Well Roy, that could have gone better, couldn’t it?

And now we come to something that, to me anyway, is becoming something of a growing irritation. Am I the only one to have noticed – and been annoyed by – the increasing incidence of background music being played when a scene is being acted out? The week before last we had Scott McKenzie’s ‘San Francisco’ as a background to one conversation and, last week, we had ‘Secret Love’ and ‘I Believe’ playing when Fallon and Emma were talking in the café.

Even Caroline’s memorial didn’t escape – when Oliver was saying how much he and Caroline loved opera, there was the overture to ‘The Magic Flute’ in the background. I also tuned into this Sunday’s episode and Lynda, Fallon and Susan were talking while ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ was playing. Stop it, stop it, stop it! I find background music irritating enough in real life and we don’t need it in the Archers – you can see how distracting it is by how I know what the songs are. I want to listen to the dialogue, not someone’s collection of old classics, so someone please make sure that the CD player in the café never works again, before I do something I’ll regret.

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