Hollie Chapman and Wilf Scolding (Alice and Chris Carter)
In last week’s blog, Alice had the bright idea of getting Martha christened. No problem, you’d think - line up some Godparents, get the catering organised and away you go. And if you think that’s all there is to it, you haven’t reckoned with the Aldridges and the Carters.
A dog-tired Alice talks (or, more accurately, listens) to Susan’s ideas about the occasion; what can Susan do towards the catering? She’d like to know so she can start planning. The short answer is ‘nothing’, as Alice mentions that they will be getting Fallon to do the catering. OK then, has Alice been in touch with Emma about being the second Godmother? I’d like to digress here, as I have no idea who is the first Godmother - no doubt we (or I) will be enlightened soon. Alice says that they have chosen Fallon and Harrison Burns and Susan remarks that Emma is probably expecting a call and I’ll bet that Alice is now regretting the whole christening idea.
And so to the Aldridges. Kate is having a row on the phone with dad Brian, who is still more than somewhat teed off about her plans to move the Spiritual Home yurts into the Rewilding land. Kate complains to Jennifer and, in a sentence which screams ‘selfish, uncomprehending, spoilt little git’, asks her mother “How long will it take for him to get over losing the house - you got over it?” Yes, I can see how this could be something to be brushed aside as a minor inconvenience. Jennifer replied (no doubt through gritted teeth) “I just got over it.”
Jennifer is looking through recipes and Kate is annoyed that she is not paying attention - surely Fallon is doing the catering? Jennifer says ‘yes’, but adds that Fallon might be a bit busy on the day. Why so? Jennifer reveals that Fallon and Harrison have been chosen as Godparents. Kate is mildly incensed - nobody tells her anything. Mother and daughter then have a stand-up row, with each accusing the other of not listening, and Jennifer suggesting that Kate thinks before opening her mouth - an idea that has been something of a mantra running through this blog for years.
There is a meeting with Jen, Kate and Fallon to finalise menus for the day. Kate is at her most obnoxious, objecting to all suggestions. Jennifer says ‘what about quiche?’ Kate promptly says that Alice hates quiche and suggests that they ring her to find out. There’s no answer (we find out later that Kate is wrong - no surprise there) and, so toxic is the atmosphere, that Fallon walks out, saying that perhaps they can meet tomorrow and settle things. “Are you happy now?” Jennifer asks Kate, acidly, as Fallon leaves.
Later on, Kate is on the phone to Alice and gives her sister a very hard time. Alice defends her decision – no aunts or uncles have been asked to be Godparents; it’s not just Kate – but Kate hangs up in mid-sentence, little charmer that she is.
Meanwhile, Alice makes the mistake of telling Susan that she has to go and see somebody, so Chris will be on his own with Martha later on. Before Alice knows what has happened, Susan has arranged that Chris and Martha can not only come to tea (adding tactlessly that it will do Chris good to have some home cooking) and Martha can stay the night, as Susan doesn’t mind doing night feeds. Be careful Alice; Susan might have some adoption papers handy. Overwhelmed by the torrent of words pouring incessantly from her mother-in-law’s gob, Alice hands Martha over.
Sgt Burns runs into Alice and thanks her for inviting him and Fallon to be Godparents. During their conversation, Alice lets slip that she was drunk the other day and Harrison replies that he’s met lots of people who have fallen off the wagon, and if she ever wants to talk, he’s there for her. Alice says that she wishes that she could talk to Chris the way she can to Harrison.
It turns out that Alice’s appointment is with her alcohol self-help group, and it is an illustration of how effective the group is that Alice rings Sgt Burns from her car, drunk as a lord. Fortunately she has had the sense to pull off the road and he says he will drive out and pick her up, as she’s in no fit state to drive – or even stand up, for that matter.
Alice doesn’t want to go home – Chris won’t be there. She has, by now, reached the maudlin and self-pitying stage and tells Harrison tearfully that she’s never going to be able to stop drinking. Harrison tries to encourage her to keep trying, but she screams that she doesn’t want to be sober – drinking is the only thing that makes her feel normal. She’s a failure; she was going to join the RAF and design planes, but now she’s lost all that.
Harrison tells her that she’s still got her family and Martha, but Alice reckons that Martha will be taken away from her and that Chris and Martha would be better off without her, but Harrison counters this by saying that she’s got so many people that care about her – he cares about her. “You just have to keep trying, OK?” he says, and moves to help her put on her seatbelt. Misunderstanding his motives, Alice tries to give him a big kiss, but he brushes her off in horror, telling her to stop. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asks, angrily.
At the start of the week, we see Jazzer taking Tracy out for a spin in Jim’s Riley, visiting a stately home. “Is this the sort of place you took Jade to?” she asks. What do you reckon Tracy? Jazzer leads her to a seat on a hill, overlooking a grassy lawn. “This should give us a good view” he mutters, cryptically. “Of what?” Tracy asks, baffled. In answer, Jazzer hands her a flyer that he removed from a notice board earlier – it advertises a Civil war re-enactment, but, as Tracy points out, sadly the date is 2019, which accounts for the fact that there’s nobody else around. A crestfallen Jazzer confesses that he was just trying to impress her and he apologises. If you want to impress her, Jazzer, then learning to read might be a good start.
While they are hanging around, Tracy’s phone rings – it’s Susan, with a query about their father’s medicine. Tracy lets slip that she’s out. “Who with?” her sister asks, at the speed of light. “A girlfriend” Tracy answers, leaving Jazzer feeling a bit put out.
A couple of days later, Tracy calls on Jazzer to say ‘sorry’ but she wanted to tell her kids first, before the news that they were an item leaked out. How did the kids react? Tracy says that Chelsea still loves him to death because he gave her Jade’s spurned present from Jim and Brad was hopeful of getting some home brew – an idea that Tracy immediately nipped in the bud.
However, she did say that she would go and tell Susan the news. Susan is still a tad upset that Emma hasn’t been chosen as a Godparent. Who will Chris and Alice choose? “What about Jazzer?” Tracy asks, adding that it was he who delivered the baby. Susan cannot believe she is serious. “He’s bone idle” she says scornfully, digging herself into a hole. “He’s got two jobs” Tracy protests, but Susan gets in even deeper when she says “He’s hardly Godparent material, is he?” What, unlike Emma, who slept with her fiancé’s brother on the eve of their wedding and later ran off with him, you mean?
Tracy then casually mentions that she and Jazzer are going out and Susan is gobsmacked. Tracy describes him as “a really nice bloke, if you give him half a chance.” She adds, meaningfully; “People round here are so quick to judge.” She then compares Jazzer with Neil, but Susan protests; there’s no comparison. “They both like pigs” Tracy says, simply.
It wasn’t a good day for Susan as, while in the shop with Jim, she waxes lyrical about how sad it is that Neil is quitting the Parish Council – there will be no Carter legacy to mark his years of service. But then again, perhaps she could work a suitable tribute into her manifesto when she stands for election.
Jim is puzzled and tells her that, as Parish Clerk, he hasn’t received her application and the final deadline was a week ago. Surely he could slip it in, she suggests. No way! Jim tells her that everything has to be done above board and by the rule book. Well, there’s one thing that Jim doesn’t know – and Susan tells him about Tracy and Jazzer. Jim laughs – not only has he suspected it for some time (Tracy’s scent lingered when she stayed the night and also in the Riley) but it enabled him to win £10 in a bet with Alistair. A note of caution here – as a reformed gambling addict, should Alistair really be betting? After all, it could be a slippery slope - just look at Alice and her ‘just one drink’ scenario.
Let us end on a somewhat boring story – touching, possibly, but certainly boring – when Helen takes Lee to Bridge Farm and Lee starts questioning Tony about his model railway. Tony complains that you just cannot get OO scale Aberdeen Angus models (see, I told you it was boring), but with just a dab of black paint, he can disguise his Friesians as Anguses. Triumph!
Tony was inspired to create the train layout when he found (and repaired) a model of the Flying Scotsman that belonged to his late son John. Somehow it makes him feel closer to John.
Lee is genuinely impressed by the work that Tony has put into his layout and asks if he can have a go. It would have been interesting if he had taken a leaf out of Gomez Addam’s book and deliberately run two trains into each other. What do you mean, you don’t remember the Addam’s Family?
However, Lee is not going to be outbored by a wrinkly with toy trains and he counters with excruciating details about his collection of super-hero figures and tedious facts about the Marvel universe. For instance, did you know that, originally, The Hulk was grey in colour and only ended up green because of a mix-up at the printer’s? Be still, my beating heart – I wonder if Helen realises what she has let herself in for?