Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Scales Fall From Oliver’s Eyes

Michael Cochrane (Oliver Sterling)

Oliver Sterling came back to the UK a day earlier than planned, as Caroline’s cremation was moved forward a day. At Grange Farm, Clarrie is in a state because the B&B guests have chipped a jug that was a favourite of Caroline’s. No worries, says Eddie – he will glue it and no-one will notice. The B&B guests will be on their way in a couple of hours and Oliver isn’t due to arrive back until tomorrow, so what can possibly go wrong?

As this is the Grundys we are talking about, the answer to that is ‘how long have you got?’ Let’s face it, their track record of schemes and scams has not exactly been a catalogue of successes, has it? More like a litany of total failure if we are honest. Oliver decides he’ll take a walk to Grange Farm, as it’s such a lovely day and Eddie and Clarrie are appalled to see him standing by the gate, holding Caroline’s jug. Oliver is incensed and demands to know what’s been going on in his house? Joe let him in – well, it is Oliver’s house, after all – and there were two strangers sitting in the drawing room. Are the Grundys running a B&B operation at Grange Farm?

Eddie tries to bluff it out, telling Oliver that he did discuss it with him and, anyway, the current guests are the last, but Oliver is beyond angry; he found the broken jug and says it is obvious that strangers have been sleeping in his and Caroline’s bedroom. He and Caroline trusted the Grundys with their home and they have been repaid with thoughtless, insensitive and presumptuous behaviour (you forgot ‘devious’ and ‘underhand’, Oliver). “Caroline had reservations and I think she was right” Oliver says. With his unerring instinct for saying the wrong thing, Eddie says that he will mend the jug. Oliver’s voice rises maniacally as he screams “The jug? You think this is about the jug?” and he smashes the vessel on the ground. “See if you can mend that!” he yells at Eddie.

Later on, Eddie is looking on the bright side, when he tells Clarrie that at least Oliver didn’t say anything about taking the house back. Of course he didn’t – he was too bloody angry for that. Clarrie is mortified and says “we’re going to leave anyway – how can we look him in the eye?” “Where will we go?” Eddie asks, but Clarrie is distraught at their betrayal of Oliver’s trust, saying “Oliver was so angry – when did you ever see Oliver angry?” Eddie says he’ll talk to Oliver, plus he has got all the pieces of the jug. Clarrie is exasperated and says to her husband “Don’t you understand, Eddie? There are some things so broke that they can’t ever be fixed.” Another stunning triumph for the Grundy family!

Oliver surprises Shula by saying that he’d like Alan to lead the celebration of Caroline’s life – not as a vicar, but as a friend, and preferably without the dog collar. Oliver seems to be coping with the loss of his wife very well – almost too well, Shula thinks – but he did make a rather strange remark about the memorial celebrations, saying that it was a pity that Caroline won’t be there, as she loved a party.

We had developments on the romantic front last week, with Lexi turning up at Roy’s for her English conversation lesson with Kirsty. But Kirsty has double booked and has to go help with the packing up of the Happy Friends Café. Never mind – she tells Roy that he can talk to Lexi. The conversation is very stilted and Lexi says that perhaps she should leave, but, as she turns to go, she notices a Stephen King novel in the bookcase and it turns out that both she and Roy are massive fans. With the ice broken, the pair talk and Lexi is still there when Kirsty comes home. As Lexi goes, Kirsty teases Roy – perhaps he should add Lexi to his dating spreadsheet!

The other romantic development was between Rex and Anisha. Anisha tells Alice that Rex has cancelled two running days this week, saying that he’s got to work, but Anisha isn’t so sure, as Rex met a girl on his birthday. Alice teases her, saying “you like him, you like him!” Later on, Rex and Anisha do go for a run and the talk turns to the girl, with Anisha saying “you can sleep with who you like.” Rex replies that he didn’t sleep with the girl – he got her a taxi home and he didn’t even go in for coffee. He prepares to go home, but Anisha invites him in for a shower and a coffee. I don’t know how quick Rex or Anisha are at running, but they are no slouches when it comes to sex, as the next thing we know, they are in bed together. Neither of them wants to rush into a relationship and Rex suggests that they just see where it leads. Anisha obviously has a good idea where it’s going and invites him to stay in bed. I thought he was up to his ears in work? I’m pleased for them both and hope it works out.

Another relationship that’s apparently going along nicely is that of PCB and Fallon, although the house-hunting is depressing as, in comparison with Woodbine Cottage, everything else seems either unsatisfactory or so ordinary. Chris learns that they are looking for a house and says that, when they’ve gone, she doesn’t think she could face having new tenants in and will probably sell the place. Oh yes – and there’s an Estate Agent coming round today at 1pm. It turns out that Woodbine is worth twice what she was expecting, which would seem to suggest that either Christine hasn’t got her finger on the pulse of property values or that house prices in Ambridge are booming way over the national average. Christine says that Fallon and PCB can have first refusal, but, as Fallon tells Jill later on, the only way that they could afford it is in their dreams. I suspect that something is going to happen and that PCB and Fallon will become the new owners of Woodbine – perhaps Harrison has an offshore bank account.

Things are getting nasty between Matt and Justin. Monday was the day of Matt’s important Investors’ Meeting at Grey Gables and there was a large number of no-shows. Neither Matt nor his boss Hugo are very happy and Matt is reduced to inviting Christine and Peggy to sit in and listen. Christine is flattered because Matt says Hugo asked her because of her extensive knowledge of horses. Peggy says she’s not going, but Christine says at least it means a free lunch. “There’s no such thing” Peggy observes wisely.

The ladies are joined for coffee by Justin and they remark that he looks so very happy. Is there a reason? “It’s just a perfect day.” He tells them. Justin is still smiling the following day and, when Lilian asks why, he says that it is because Matt’s day was such a damp squib. Lilian describes it as ‘karmic justice’ and the pair drink to that. Later on, Justin and Matt have a chance encounter at the Bridge Farm shop and Matt says that he spent some time last night running through the list of no-shows. Ignoring Justin’s digs about how sad and empty Matt’s life must be, Matt says that he discovered that all the no-shows had had business dealings with Justin. Not so much Karmic justice, as Justin’s justice, it would seem.

From here on, the conversation gets more personal and slightly nastier. Justin says that he knows Matt tried to sabotage the Bridge Farm land sale and thanks Matt for saving him £100k “although I doubt that was your intention.” Justin goes on: “A word in your shell-like; it’s not a good idea to irritate me. If you want to play with the big boys, you have to learn the rules.” “Are you threatening me?” asks Matt, to which Justin replies “Just offering advice. Stay away from my business affairs and my private affairs, then, if you are very lucky, I’ll stay away from yours.”

Matt ignores this advice and posts what Lilian describes as ‘a drunken rant’ on the planning website, vehemently protesting about the proposed development on the Bridge Farm land. (Rumours that Tom wanted the development to be known as ‘Kimchi Corner’ cannot be substantiated). Lilian asks Justin if he sabotaged Matt’s meeting – something to which he readily admits, saying “Of course I did, but that’s nothing compared to what I’ll do next.”

Justin is very angry about what Matt is saying, describing it as “the final provocation – I should have acted sooner. Lilian describes Matt’s comments as ‘vexing’, but is Justin overreacting? Is it jealousy that’s motivating him? “This isn’t jealousy, it’s payback” is Justin’s answer and he adds: “I’ve been too patient for too long – I intend to teach Matt Crawford a lesson he sorely needs; I’m going to crush him.” So, no birthday card then, Justin?

Let’s leave this feud simmering nicely and turn to the Messianic-like fervour with which Jill is embracing the cause of not wasting food. Not only does she make repeated (unsuccessful) attempts to get Brian to cancel his table at the grand opening of the Duxford sisters’ new restaurant (even asking Rooooth to bring up the subject at a meeting at Home Farm), but she lectures the Fete Committee on the sisters’ unsuitability to open the Fete. The rest of the committee disagree and believe that it will be a great coup for the event but, probably to shut Jill up, they agree that the fete takings should go to the Happy Friends Café.

Kirsty has an idea to protest at a Duxford’s PR event next month and Jill wants to join in. Kirsty suggests that she might be a bit too old but Jill is adamant that she’ll be there. To show you how far things have gone, a peckish Rooooth reaches for the cake tin in Brookfield’s kitchen and, shock, horror! It’s empty! “I’ve got more important things on my mind at the moment” says Jill, somewhat testily.

To be honest, Jill’s obsession with waste is getting on my nerves and God alone knows what it must be like at meal times at Brookfield – imagine if Ben left a sprout on his plate! Another example of Jill’s obsessive zeal came at Matt’s Investors’ Day, when Peggy remarked about all the no-shows and Jill immediately said something about the shameful waste of food that this meant. Lighten up Jill – if Brian wants to spend hundreds on a meal, that’s his business – and you can’t feed the world, or even Borsetshire, come to that.

Finally, a word of warning for Christine. Matt seems worryingly attentive to her and was all over her like a cheap suit at the Investors’ Day – and this was before he even knew that she was contemplating selling Woodbine. If she goes ahead and he gets a sniff that she has capital to spare, will he put pressure on her to invest in his racecourse, as she loves horses so much? I fear for her financial well-being, but let’s look on the bright side – perhaps Justin will crush Matt before this happens.

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