Monday, 14 August 2017

Phoebe and the Faulty Prophylactic

Lucy Morris (Phoebe Aldridge)

I think we can add Jill’s name to the list of characters not in favour of Justin’s proposed housing development, as she plans to present him with a book about preserving rural landscapes. Emma overhears this and Jazza also tells her that Pip and Susan – her own Mother – have been heard voicing objections too. Kirsty later makes a point of dropping in on Justin to talk to him about the development. She’s concerned that all the negative feelings will reduce the number of affordable homes available for fear of the development attracting ‘undesireables’ from outside the village. Justin thinks she or Ed should speak up at the parish council meeting, which might encourage people to accept the affordable houses once they realise it’s people like Ed and Emma that will be moving in. I think Emma will end up speaking, as she seems to be getting more militant, exclaiming later “Ed and me, we’re the outsiders – outsiders in our own village”.

It’s the day of the village fete and some genius has put Jazza in charge of organising the Bonny Baby competition (I’ve heard a drop of whisky in the milk does wonders). At least he’s not doing the ferret racing as well, so there won’t be a mix-up there. Brian’s in the Bull in search of the microphone and it’s left to Jazza to break the news that the PA’s broken. He presents him with the Town Crier’s outfit - complete with tricorn hat and hand bell. Any reservations on Brian’s part are overcome when Jazza and Harrison start talking about the Duxford sisters, and how anyone hosting the fete is sure to meet them personally. When he does eventually meet Lulu he wastes no time in asking if she’s married (apparently he wants to know if she’s a Ms. or a Mrs. for the introduction), but she seems a bit irritated and doesn’t take him seriously.

Jill happens across Lulu who is surprised to see her there, after their earlier altercation with the flapjacks. The Echo get a photograph of them shaking hands together and Lulu takes to the stage. Much to Jill’s delight, Lulu announces that her restaurant will be training the unemployed youth of Borsetshire. Quick-thinking Jill capitalises on this and announces to the crowd that any food waste from the Duxford’s new restaurant, Les Soeurs Heureuses, will be donated to the Happy Friends CafĂ©. The crowd applause but Lulu is not happy being ambushed like that. When Brian offers to get her a coffee she snaps at him, telling him to get on with his job!

Lulu catches up with Jill at the tombola and is forced to pay £1 for 3 goes for the privilege of remonstrating with her. Outraged by the suggestion that her restaurant will be wasteful, by someone who’s never even eaten in one of their restaurants, Lulu gives Jill a ticket for the gala opening. It’s not just any ticket though, it’s for a VIP table! Brian, still in pursuit of Lulu, who has clearly marked him down as some sort of creep and legged it again, arrives just in time and is most put out to hear this. Having finally completed his duties Brian’s running late for a Rotarian function at Grey Gables so Jazzer gives him a hand to undo the town crier outfit. But there’s a problem – the zip’s seized.

By all accounts the fete’s gone well until there’s a fight at the end between local lads and the fruit pickers. Ed heroically steps in to break it up before Harrison manages to get there. Jazzer then says what we’ve all been saying for a long time: “What the hell’s happening to this village”!

Pheobe’s picking strawberries with Lexi, and seems to be falling for Constantin, one of the other pickers. Lexi seems to be warning her off, and implies that he might have had something to do with the fight after winding up one of the locals. Phoebe seeks out Constantin (the gorgeous one with the eyelashes – apparently) at the BBQ, and asks Lily to cover for her by saying she’s staying over with her.

The next day Lily pops over to see how it went. Great apparently, apart from the fact that Constantin’s just told her there was a problem with the condom they used! Lily gets her in the car to take her to a very discrete pharmacy she knows (really?) for the morning-after pill. When Phoebe returns to strawberry picking Lexi remarks on how ill she looks. Phoebe blames it on Lily’s driving, but Lexi persuades her to let her drive her home. She confesses that it’s the morning-after pill that’s making her feel sick and she’s worried about what her Dad will say if he finds out. Lexi puts 2 and 2 together and works out that it was Constantin, and if she’s been throwing up the pill may not work and should get another. Lexi suggests taking her to a doctor too, as Constantin has ‘been a busy boy this summer’, and off they go to the sexual health clinic. They have a heart-to-heart in the waiting room and seem to be getting along very well, which makes me think Roy and Lexi getting together wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Changing the subject completely, Bert and Joe are on their way to see Oliver at Grey Gables. Bert casually wonders whether Joe will be able to keep growing his vegetables at Grange Farm once Oliver moves back in. This thought seems to take Joe unawares, and later Bert asks Oliver if he’s going to move back to Ambridge. Joe, fortified by 4 lumps of sugar in his tea, plays a masterstroke asking Oliver if he wants to move back in to Grange Farm - and live with him and the other Grundys. Oliver almost chokes and manages, very diplomatically under the circumstances, to decline the offer. Mission accomplished, Joe wants to leave, but Bert doesn’t and in any case, Oliver’s ordered cakes.

Matt is really getting under Alistair’s skin. He’s having to miss a lunch at Grey Gables with Oliver because of a backlog of work caused by Anisha taking time out checking Matt’s racehorses. Everyone’s getting worried about Alistair, including Jill, whom he let down over a promise to donate a raffle prize for the fete. Anisha tries to help when she says that Matt’s away all week so she can catch up with her practice work, then spoils it by saying he’s been paying Anisha on the day while Alistair’s behind with his own invoicing. Saved by the bell, almost, Alistair gets a call from David who’s been expecting him - the cows are all ready but Alistair’s late.

When Alistair gets to Brookfield he sets to work and everything seems fine for a while, but then he’s just about to give an injection of prostaglandin when David notices it’s the wrong cow, and to make matters worse it’s a pregnant one, which the prostaglandin could cause to miscarry. David’s concerned and rings Shula to ask if everything’s ok, and says, cryptically, that we all need to concentrate, just as the feed lorry arrives and David has to go.

Anisha confronts Shula about Alistair’s whereabouts lately, especially when he should have been on call last night but couldn’t be contacted. She also confronts him about his visit to Brookfield and why he’d undercharged David, and he confesses to the mix-up with the injection. He them blames his disappearance last night on a problem with his phone, but Anisha calls him from her mobile, which put’s that explanation to bed. Later, Anisha calls Shula and she goes over the near miss at Brookfield again, and asks if there’s anything wrong. Shula, who’s on her way to meet Oliver for lunch, makes excuses but the tension in her voice is rising.

When Shula returns home, she finds Alistair soothing a scald from an accident with the kettle. She tells him about David and Anisha’s worries, and about whether Oliver should move back in with them while he’s still grieving. Alistair loses his temper saying “if I could bring bloody Caroline back I would”, a comment he instantly regrets making as we hear Shula leave. She’s straight on the phone to her brother; “Kenton, I’m scared he’s starting again. I think it’s all happening again”.

As soon as Kenton gets back from a birthday weekend in London with Jolene, he goes straight over to the stables. Shula thinks that if Alistair’s started gambling again it will mean the end of their marriage as she hasn’t got the strength to go through it all again. Shula seems to have made up her mind up that that’s the reason for his absence, but Kenton’s not so sure and advises her to confront Alistair head-on to find out the truth. We then hear her wandering in on Alistair just as he’s on the phone making arrangements to meet someone that evening. She asks him who it was, and he makes an excuse about it being an old friend. She turns inquisitor and discovers that it was his old Gamblers Anonymous sponsor he was on the phone to, and whom he saw the other night.

To Shula’s relief it turns out that instead of gambling again, he’s seeking help not to. Apparently the trigger was the return of Matt Crawford and his threat to ‘out’ him to Anisha as a gambler and horse doper, which Alistair thinks will finish him and his business. I sensed a renewed strength in Shula then, and I think together, and with the help from other anti-Matt villagers, the tables might have turned.



Monday, 7 August 2017

Homes and Garden Fetes

Joanna van Kampen (Fallon Rogers)

Houses and homes seem to be the theme this week and we start by joining Fallon who is putting her furniture restoration skills to good use by doing up a ‘whatnot’ to fill an empty alcove in the house they’re hoping to buy. She’s still daunted by the financial commitment but then Harrison hears from his parents who have said they’re prepared to re-mortgage the family home so that Harrison and Fallon can buy Woodbine Cottage instead. But can either of them bring themselves to accept this generous offer from the Bank of Mum and Dad?

Later Fallon is at the fete committee and she’s struggling to concentrate on the problems of a broken PA system and should they have a Town Crier instead, when she receives a call from Harrison. He’s at cricket and can’t concentrate either, and has just been called out for a duck. It turns out they’ve both been worrying about nothing, because they both want to stay at Woodbine and accept his parents offer. Someone else who is delighted is Christine when Harrison calls round to tell her that they can now afford to buy it after all.

Emma’s got her eye on one of the seven affordable houses in Justin’s Bridge Farm planning application, but Susan’s worried they’ll attract ‘hard-to-house” families – what, like the Grundys? Lynda’s not in favour either, criticising the design and environmental impact, and says she would get it thrown out if she were still on the parish council. Bearing in mind it’s Emma she’s saying this to in the cafe, she should count herself lucky she didn’t get her camomile tea thrown all over her. Rex later tells her that there will be people speaking against the development at the next parish council meeting, possibly including Harrison, who thinks it will spoil the views.

So it doesn’t sound like it will be an easy process for Justin’s planning application, and there’s more trouble for the Matt/Justin/Lilian triangle when Lilian, after narrowly avoiding Matt outside the village shop, finds him turning up on her doorstep - when Justin’s not there. He tells her that he’s probably going to go back to Costa Rica soon and seems to be testing the water when he asks her if that’s what she wants him to do. She says “yes”, but it’s not going to be that simple.

Justin receives his decree nisi so Lilian makes a special lunch to celebrate. Justin pours the Champagne and they toast each other, but then Lilian drops the bombshell that the house is owned by a Trust which was set up by Matt. Apparently Lillian is the sole beneficiary but it does come as something of a surprise to Justin, who now wants to get them to sell the property – to him! Matt gets wind of this and suggests that Justin and Lilian meet him at Grey Gables. This nearly sends Justin over the edge but they go and see him anyway. Matt agrees to ask the Trust to sell the house and Lilian manages to spin it as a success for Justin.

Not content with making more mischief with Lilian and Justin, Matt reminds Anisha of the conversation they had when they first met about using her services to check his syndicate’s racehorses. He’s arranged for her to see 4 horses – 2 local and 2 near Newmarket – this week! Anisha protests as she’s so busy, but after Matt namedrops Latif Hussain, she agrees to give him 2 days of her time at the end of the week.

Matt disappears just as Alistair returns from the yard, and you can imagine his reaction, as he will have to take on more work to cover, and they argue about doing business with Matt. With Latif’s connections Anisha thinks it will be a good networking opportunity to win more prestigious business. Alistair’s still worked up about it when he gets home, but Shula sees where Anisha’s coming from and tries to talk him round. They’re in the middle of arguing about it, and in particular Alistair’s previous dealings with Matt, when Oliver walks in. Oliver thinks he’s getting in the way and Shula catches him packing, and tries to persuade him to stay. She goes to see Alistair and the arguments continue, coming to a head when she blames him for the atmosphere that she thinks is driving Oliver away. “You need to take a good, hard look at yourself”, she tells him. Oliver has been at a bit of a loose end and we wait to see whether he does move out.

When Matt turns up at the practice again, Alistair is enraged, and provoked further when Matt realises that he’s not told Anisha about his gambling past and therefore she doesn’t realise he’s a “dodgy partner” who could gamble the business away, or worse, that he’s been involved in horse doping. I think the bigger story is that the horses Matt’s been talking about actually exist.

In other news, Lexi pops round to Kirsty for another English lesson (I wish she wouldn’t – the dialogue’s so tedious). Roy comes home, expecting Lexi to be gone, but manages to agree a truce with her over informing the police about the graffiti, but still spectacularly fails to ask her out.

Finally we return to the village fete. Alice has an answer to the problem of the broken PA, and is at Home Farm looking for Brian. She tracks him down while he’s on speed-watch duty, and asks him to be MC for the fete. Alice persuades him by the prospect of meeting the Duxford sisters and getting his photo in Borsetshire Life. Saying she’ll get Kate to do next week’s speed-watch shifts for him seal the deal. What he’ll say when he finds out that not only is there no PA system but there will be limited opportunity to schmooze the Duxfords, awaits to be seen.