Interim synopses Nov 22

Chris Ghoti is away a’frivolling on and off for a bit. Synopses of a kind will appear here for the duration, from 11/11/2022. If you find them unsatisfactory, brace yourself and listen. Alcohol helps with that.

Please can people not post too much here, so that the synopses themselves are easily found? Thanks.


16 November 2022

Ruairi lines up a first date, while Brad has second thoughts

Characters : Elizabeth, Ruairi, Brad, Oliver, Paul
Credited scriptwriter : Naylah Ahmed
Director : Marina Calderone
Editor : Jeremy Howe

At Lower Loxley, preparations for the Hunt Ball are in full swing with Elizabeth overseeing the set-up when Ruairi arrives to see her. She tells him they need to make the ball the best yet. He is very interested to hear that there will be a casino and impressed when he learns that Flawed are the band - Freddie managed to book them. He tells Elizabeth it’s reading week and asks if Freddie is about. Freddie is busy about the place somewhere, which Ruairi says is the story of his life at the moment: everyone in Ambridge is busy with their own lives. Elizabeth asks him to stick around for a bit so they can have tea and cake in the Orangery, giving her a break and them both a chance to catch up. Ruairi asks whether they still have the rare breeds and learns that Jakob is down there at the moment with the new vet nurse, looking at Cranford Crystal.

So, this is where the magic happens, Brad says as he enters the food bank and finds Oliver. His mum has asked him to take in some items from the shop which Susan has donated as being close to their sell-by dates but still good. Oliver is appreciative and says he’s glad to have seen Brad: he’s booked his accommodation for the maths course next month, at a hotel close to the venue. Brad protests, saying’s been looking at hostels, but Oliver insists that he needs to get the full benefit from the course. It will be the first time Brad has been away from home his own, and he is nervous but looking forward to it. Oliver reassures him that he will have a whale of a time and says Manchester is a great city. Everyone is very proud of Brad’s academic achievements, Oliver tells him, predicting that further successes are in store for the future. But for now, would Brad mind helping unload some tins?

Paul is calming Cranford Crystal, who objected to Jakob’s examination of her hind legs, when Ruari arrives, ostensibly looking for Freddie. Paul has no idea where Freddie is and adds that Jakob had talked about getting some refreshments in the Orangery but then disappeared off with rare-breeds Reg. Paul is surprised to discover Elizabeth is Ruairi’s godmother and says that means he’s connected to pretty much everybody. Ruairi says Paul is looking pretty good considering he was out last night and adds that given the dull evening he ended up having at home, listening to Brian snore in his chair, karaoke and a Chinese buffet might not have been a bad choice after all. He then offers to walk Paul back to the Orangery.

As they sort tins, Brad is asking Oliver about the Hunt Ball, which must be the first since lockdown. Oliver says that is why everyone is looking forward to it so much: it’s something Brad might want to attend as a guest one day. Despite the lure of chocolate fountains, Brad thinks this unlikely: he doesn’t have a horse, or ride… Oliver explains that many people with very tenuous links to the hunt attend: it’s a real community occasion. So much has changed since Covid and the closure of Grey Gables, and Oliver feels the Ball is a way of bringing things back to life; and Caroline used to love it. Brad observes that Oliver seems really to love it too, which Oliver concedes, saying that’s why he wants it to be a massive success this year. They are raising money for the Air Rescue, while the takings from the casino will go to the food bank. Oliver then offers to drop Brad home.

Back in Elizabeth’s office, Ruairi is leaving a message for Julianne as Elizabeth comes in and asks if that was the ‘JW’ who has been trying to get hold of Ruairi; she noticed his phone going off several times and is curious about this persistent person: she could do with some good relationship news at the moment, although she isn’t too sorry to have seen the back of Russ. But then there’s Ben and Beth; the only couple that seems to being going strong at the moment is Jill and Leonard. She asks Ruairi if he wants to come to the ball. It sold out pretty quickly but she’s sure she could find him a ticket. Ruairi wants to pay, and he’d also rather like two tickets if possible: there is someone, not ‘JW’, whom he would like to invite. Elizabeth, intrigued, tells him to consider the tickets an extra birthday present and asks him to turn up a bit early on the night to be an extra pair of eyes for the final arrangements.

It turns out that Eddie will be driving Oliver to the ball in his limo. Brad reiterates that the occasion obviously means a lot to Oliver, who relies that it is the first thing he’s really looked forward to in quite a while. Once out of the car, Brad immediately tries to call Mia, who is not answering. He leaves her a voicemail saying they must talk, urgently.

Ruari, having caught up with him again, invites Paul to the Hunt Ball. Paul is not keen, having chosen a vocation which involves caring for animals rather than tormenting them. And he’d rather not be chased off the dance floor by anyone with a shotgun either, thank you very much, referencing Jordan Peele’s Get Out. [This suggests it would be on account of his skin colour rather than his sexual orientation. Possibly. Gus] However, Ruairi is persuasive: there will be great food and live music… When he hears that Flawed are playing, Paul changes his mind. But he’ll need to borrow a suit, so it had better be worth it. Don’t worry, says Ruairi confidently, it will be!

[Summarised by Gus]


17 November 2022

Hunt ball guests are slightly delayed, and Eddie’s limo loses a wing mirror. That’ll larn 'em!

Characters : Mia, Brad, Oliver, Eddie, Elizabeth, Ruairi, Paul, self-propelling road signs
Credited scriptwriter : Naylah Ahmed
Director : Marina Calderone
Editor : Jeremy Howe

With an hour to go before the Hunt Ball begins, Mia and Brad have slipped away from their posts and are positioning the first of eight road-closed and diversion signs. Brad expresses doubt as to whether they should really be doing this, but Mia assures him it’s nothing against Oliver, just a statement about the unacceptability of hunting in 2022. She finds the prospects of ‘losers’ in their posh frocks and suits going round in circles and not knowing what is happening highly amusing. They part company and will return to Lower Loxley separately on their bicycles once their work is done.

Elizabeth tells Ruairi how handsome he looks in his ‘tux’, like James Bond [which one? Gus], and thanks him for having come early. They discuss outstanding arrangements; it looks like rain: continuing the Bond theme Ruairi tells her the gazebo is not enough as provision for smokers, and Elizabeth decides to have chairs and tables placed on the terrace, under the awning. Oliver is due to arrive soon and will be selling raffle tickets to the guests as they go in. Then Elizabeth says that in half an hour, Ruairi can resume his role as guest and asks if he managed to invite his friend and says Ruairi must be sure to introduce ‘her’. ‘Will do’ is Ruairi’s less than informative response.

After encountering the first of the new road signs in his limo, Eddie tells ‘Cinderella’ Sterling it is just a diversion and not to worry: he will get him to the ball on time. Oliver feels that his tie clashes with Eddie’s pink velour trim, and Eddie tells him it’s very popular with hen nights and for proms: he got quite a bit of that kind of work in the summer. He then suggests Oliver should have brought a lady friend along to make the most of a limo ride. Oliver has no ‘lady friend’ and says he will just have to make do with Eddie, who is looking very suave in his suit, which it turns out dates from 1984 and was too big then but now fits like a glove. For some reason this prompts Oliver to tell Eddie he is ‘a very unique human being’. Eddie tells Oliver it is good to see him so chipper and Oliver confesses that getting the Hunt Ball back on the calendar has made him very happy. Eddie suggests Oliver crack open the cider from the drinks compartment, and says he’s heard stories about how crazy a crowd the Hunt Ball attracts; Oliver, though, will be bailing at midnight, before things get too wild. Eddie suddenly slams the brakes on: there’s a queue backed up to the bend. He is going to get out and investigate and then notices a road closed sign that was definitely not there earlier in the day. Most of the stationary traffic appears to be guests for the ball. Oliver says he will ring Elizabeth to let her know he has been delayed.

Oliver is cutting it fine, Elizabeth tells him when she answers. He explains about the road closure, which puzzles Elizabeth as the council would normally tell her about works in the vicinity. Eddie is overheard telling Oliver there’s a sign blocking the road saying it is closed due to flooding. Elizabeth tells Oliver to get there as soon as he can, and to keep her posted; she meanwhile will make enquiries.

Paul is the first guest to arrive. Elizabeth greets him and asks whether he is there with Alistair or Jakob; when Paul says it was Ruairi who invited him, Elizabeth explains that she’s roped him in to help, so Paul should get himself a drink and Ruairi will come and find him. Another call comes through from Oliver: far from being nearly there, as Elizabeth was hoping, the same thing has happened again: they’ve found another diversion which Eddie reckons will take them right back round to where they started. What the hell’s going on? she wonders.

Ruairi is trying to round up carpark attendants who have wandered off for unscheduled breaks when Paul finds him. Then he sees Brad and asks whether he is on carpark duty. No, says Brad, umbrellas, and Ruari asks what he is doing back here, then. Brad said he was asked to cycle round and check the back gates in case people had gone the wrong way, but the road is totally empty and the gate locked. Head back then, and tell anyone you see to get back to their stations, Ruairi orders, before saying to Paul that the situation is weird; did Paul notice anything on his way over? He didn’t, and Ruairi says they should get back inside as Elizabeth will be having kittens; Paul points out that is something he could help with.

Back indoors, Elizabeth is in a state of mild panic, putting a stop to any more champagne being poured before the rest of the guests arrive and looking for Steve and Kelly who were meant to be keeping the rest of the staff in check. No one knows anything about any roadworks in the area, the vans with seafood on ice haven’t arrived and the staff keep wandering off… Why would diversion signs appear on all the roads to Lower Loxley?

Flooding my eye! exclaims Eddie. Anti-hunt types, says Oliver: he knew it was deliberate. They have put the signs in the back of the limo and Eddie is telling other drivers to move on: the route should be clear now, but Oliver suggests they do one more round to be sure they haven’t missed anything. As they set off, a passing vehicle clips the front of the limo.

Elizabeth is relieved that Oliver has made it at last and he tells her about the loss of the limo’s wing mirror; Eddie is still spitting nails in the carpark. Almost everyone has arrived, Elizabeth tells him, and they are just going in to dinner and that he is at table 17 with Alice and Alistair. It’s the strangest thing, he muses, and the local anti-hunt lot have been pretty quiet for a while now; clearly someone was out to sabotage the night, Elizabeth says, and perhaps reviving the Hunt Ball has also revived them. Oliver says he could wring their necks, but Elizabeth tells him the panic’s over, things were only held up for 40 minutes and they can discuss the sabotage later; for now, he should just try to enjoy the rest of the evening. Ruairi greets her: he has sold all the raffle tickets and as a reward, she says, he can make the draw and present the prizes. Ruairi asks if she has seen Paul and Elizabeth apologises for having kept him from his guest; she tells him they are on table five with Lily, Justin and Lilian, which he doesn’t seem entirely thrilled by, and wishes them both a very enjoyable night.

Outside, Brad tells Mia he has been sweating buckets wondering where she was, and she explains she was waylaid over by the marquee; Brad tells her of his close shave with Ruairi earlier, but he doesn’t think he suspects anything. Look at them all, Mia gloats, milling about. Brad is sorry their plan didn’t work out completely but Mia is delighted with herself: it scared people into a panic for a bit and it really wasn’t bad for a first attempt. What do you mean? asks Brad, alarmed. We made a plan and executed it perfectly, Mia tells him: they may only have dented the beginning of the night and the Hunt are still going to get their crazy party, but Mia reckons she and Brad are too good at this to give up now. Gleefully, she asks him what shall they sabotage next?

[Summarised by Gus]

Impressionistic version

At LL, Mia and Brad are evading supervision and about to depart to implement their master plan, which turns out to be the deployment of road closed due to flooding & diversion signs. On their bicycles.
[My brane melted shortly after this, so please forgive just a few impressionistic brush strokes.]

Eddie appears to have been Oliver’s ‘date’ as well as chauffeur, since Oliver was worrying about his tie clashing with Eddie’s pink velour trim. Whether this was Eddie’s suit or the interior of his car was not clear, or not to this listener at least.

Ruairi might look very handsome and James-Bondlike in his “tux” (Elizabeth would never say that) but is certainly no gentleman. He sets his generous Godmother up for confusion and awkwardness by not making the sex of his date clear and then - ok, crisis crisis crisis but not really - abandons said date to own devices in an unfamiliar and potentially trying environment for quite a long time. When R said Elizabeth would be having kittens and Paul pointed out that now THAT he could help with, I took the boy to me bosom. I have decided to LIKE Paul. This is rare, so enjoy it while you can.

Oliver would never say “you are a very unique human being.” To anyone.

Apart from his talent for mathematics, Brad is a card-carrying halfwit. I hope Oliver retains his “wring their necks” sentiments when all is uncovered, which it will be. Mia’s throat, meanwhile, needs slitting. Or she could be hunted down with dogs; whichever.

Somewhere out there, hopelessly lost, there is a van with seafood, on ice…
Search parties, anyone?

[Not summarised, by Gus]


18 November 2022

The limo is being mended, but the rifts at Brookfield are not

Characters : David, Ruth, Oliver, Eddie, Leonard, Jill, boil-in-the-bag rice
Credited scriptwriter : Naylah Ahmed
Director : Marina Calderone
Editor : Jeremy Howe

In the Brookfield kitchen Ruth is cooking chile, which David says smells good, only to be met by a wave of resentment; when he says Ruth looks tired, she claims she is fine and asks him whether he wants the chile with rice or…? Rice will be fine, and he approves boil-in-the-bag as simple, and gets told that he knows what he can do if he wants complicated. David defends himself, saying he only meant that even he couldn’t mess that up, and not everything people say is a dig at Ruth. He’s sick of being pulled apart between Ruth and his mother, which Ruth says was spoken like a true Archer: let’s make this about you, shall we? David says both women are stubborn and he feels like piggy in the middle. Without the boys there, at meal times all he can hear is the scrape of cutlery: why can’t Ruth and Jill just speak to each other. Ruth points out that she tried and Jill didn’t give an inch and the only reason for awkward silences is David’s failure to stand up to Jill. Has he even been listening to a word Ruth says? David doesn’t know where to put himself: Ruth thinks he should talk to Jill, and Jill insinuates he should talk to Ruth. Ruth claims she’s done nothing wrong, David brings up Monday’s row, and Ruth says he made it clear that he thought Ruth to be in the wrong when he told her to stop. Reasonably, David explains that Jill and Ben have a relationship independent of both David and Ruth and that it is up to those two to sort that out. Ruth says they are not equals: Jill knows what a pedestal Ben keeps her on, she knew what her words would make him feel, and it was a selfish act. Go shouting the odds to her again then, David suggests, and see how much peace that brings to the household. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself, Ruth counters, even when it comes to Jill Archer.

At Grange Farm, Oliver is helping Eddie replace the missing wing-mirror with one Eddie found at a scrap-yard near Birmingham. It’s purple, but a spray and a bit of finesse should sort it out. He could throttle the idiots who knocked it off and didn’t even stop, and Oliver agrees that was disgraceful, and says that the entire fiasco with the signs was ‘pretty aggravating’; in turn, Eddie agrees but says he can’t help thinking there was also a little touch of genius in the sign placement. Oliver wonders who would have had the time, let alone the desire, to plan and execute the scheme. It was somebody clever, Eddie opines, adding that according to Mia things at the Ball got back on track fairly quickly. Oliver says it was thanks to Eddie’s rapid realisation that the road signs were bogus that the delay wasn’t worse, and bemoans the stress Elizabeth must have been under: whoever did it deserves to be punished. Eddie is more sanguine, saying that disaster might have threatened momentarily but in the end everything turned out just fine. Now, can they get this mirror attached before dinner?

At Brookfield, Leonard comes in and tells David and Ruth that Jill has gone up to have a little rest; Ruth murmurs bitchily that she must indeed be exhausted with all their outings. Leonard says he is worried about Jill and knows that there had been a little ding-dong earlier in the week, but that she doesn’t speak about it and is rather quiet in general. He wonders whether they might find common ground, kiss and make up… Ruth goes for him, saying it is not just a little tiff, and does Leonard mean she should apologise? Because that’s what David thinks too: according to him, Jill can say and do whatever she wants and everyone else just has to let things slide for the sake of family peace. David asks Ruth what she is doing. What she is doing, says Ruth, is making it clear that this is a family matter and that Leonard should keep out of it. Leonard says he realises it’s not his place to say anything and goes to wait in the other room for Jill to come down. David observes that tearing chunks out of him and Jill isn’t enough for Ruth, clearly; she’s now started on Leonard too. Ruth is sick of people making light of what Jill has done. But what does she want, asks David: to make Leonard feel unwelcome in retaliation for Ben not coming over any more? I’m sorry, Ruth whines, and David rightly says it’s Leonard she needs to tell that to, not him.

Eddie’s not having much success attaching the mirror and Oliver wonders whether it might not be a job for a mechanic. Eddie is not prepared to fork out for that as well as the part and the petrol expended in the search therefore. Oliver suggests Will might help, but Eddie doesn’t want to disturb his time with Poppy and Mia; poor Mia, she’s doing so well now, and the Grundys are relieved that she hasn’t stopped regarding them as family after the death of her mother. Mia’s turning out to be an astute young person, Oliver says, [clearly failing to smell the giant tofu rat lurking in the background. Gus] adding that it was great to see her and Brad and Chelsea working together at the Ball. Eddie says a bit more in her praise - one day it’s lentil collages, and next thing you know she’s studying and working and preaching veganism. Oliver is in constant awe of the resilience of young people, and Eddie tells him it is great what he is doing for Brad. He’s the one with the brains, even though he tries to hide it under a bushel, says Oliver; Brad’s alarmingly bright. Sometimes a young person only needs a little push at the right time to believe in themselves; Eddie predicts that with role models like Oliver, the kids will steer clear of trouble and make the most of what they’ve got.

Ruth has sought Leonard out and is apologising to him; he says, correctly, that he had no business sticking his oar in, but he does know Jill feels bad, even though she doesn’t say much to him. He makes to leave, but Ruth beseeches him to stay and share the chile, which she believes is most likely ‘edible’ [Aye, that’ll be right. Gus]. Leonard asks if, in that case, he should go and fetch Jill, and Ruth says of course, and she’ll plate up.

The chile is very warming and the spices work well, Leonard and David agree. Then David remembers the land agent called this afternoon and there is some interest, including one prospective purchaser looking to buy quickly. The sooner the better, Ruth intones, suggesting David call back first thing. Jill butts in asking what this is all about, and the Leonardly oar is again deployed, telling her David and Ruth are selling some land at Hollowtree. Jill tells David his father would turn in his grave to know David was even thinking of selling land - and all to cover Ben’s mistake. Ruth starts up with ‘here we go again’ and Jill explains that Ruth may not understand it, but land is vital: if land were sold every time one got into bother, there would be no farm. Attempting to placate her, David says it really is the best way to get Vince off their backs, but Jill is incensed that they will not be teaching Ben anything: Mum and Dad will always cover his mistakes. Hollowtree is where your father and I had our first proper home, she quavers, and Ruth cries that she and David are not Phil and Jill! Jill’s not having any of it; it is Wrong, and since her feelings and opinion don’t count, she thinks she should leave: they can sell the whole of Brookfield if they like, but she won’t be there to watch them do it!

[Summarised by Gus. Chris Ghoti, come home!]


20 November 2022

It’s Day Two in the Bigger Brother’s pub, and Kenton is not happy.

Characters : Neil, Eddie, George, Kenton, Jolene, Ruth
Credited scriptwriter : Daniel Thurman
Director : Peter Leslie Wilde
Editor : Jeremy Howe

Neil has gone to Grange Farm to seek out George. As he chats with Eddie it becomes clear that though knowledge of the Hunt Ball chaos is widespread no one has any idea who perpetrated the diversions. Neil is planning a Christmas Choir, with Fallon as vocal director. This miffs Eddie, but he agrees to join anyway, and says that Ed, former soloist ‘with music in his blood’, should be persuaded to sing too. Lynda is far too busy with the Christmas Chronicles flapdoodle to get involved and Neil fears he lacks her persuasive skills, second only to those of the Spanish Inquisition. George emerges, asks suspiciously who they are talking about, and then turns Neil down flat in the charming manner we have come to expect.

At The Bull, Kenton is stressing about electricity bills: the lights in the cellar were left on all night. Jolene doesn’t want to turn all the lights off every night in the bar, as they make the place look welcoming, and Kenton, in a rare burst of clarity and sense, asks what the point is, if they’re closed. The reason he is antsy is that Jill has moved in, along with her cooking pots, and they have no idea what’s going on, apart from a big row at Brookfield. Unlike Jolene, who as ever is gagging to go along with anything that her husband is not happy with, he’s not at all sure that having Jill there is a good idea. She’s doing Stir-up Sunday in the kitchen as they speak. Kenton puts a call through to a snippy Ruth, who knows exactly why he is calling.

Eddie has bearded George in his lair to have a word about his attitude to his other grandad: George hurt Neil’s feelings by preferring to shadow Martyn at Berrow, and he’s done it again, and Eddie is not happy with him. When George learns that Fallon will be involved with the Christmas Choir, all thoughts of his street cred being damaged by carol singing are forgotten as he makes a very unsubtle volte face. For the sake of Neil’s feelings, of course. [Does the weird little creep imagine Fallon gives his existence a second thought? That Boy is a Problem. Gus.]

Ruth and Kenton kvetch merrily on the phone about how what Jill said was Unforgivable and Cruel and about how Dreadfully Upset poor Ben is; the long and the short of it is that until Jill dons sackcloth and ashes and demonstrates perfect contrition to Ruth’s satisfaction, Kenton can keep her. He is not pleased. Jolene then twists the knife quite mercilessly, saying that she’s had a lovely afternoon with Jill and how she wants her to be comfortable there. Kenton, to get shot of his mother, wants bridges to be built within the family; emotions are running high at the moment, Jolene says, but she’s sure everything will settle down and Jill will see the error of her ways and apologise. Kenton tells Jolene he gives it a week until she will be begging him to send his mother home.

[Summarised by Gus]


21 November 2022

Fallon is unique in wanting George to breathe, and Alistair is ‘helpful’ again…

Characters : Neil, Fallon, George, Kenton, Alistair, Jolene
Credited scriptwriter : Daniel Thurman
Director : Peter Leslie Wilde
Editor : Jeremy Howe

Fallon tells Neil she is flattered to have been asked to help with the Christmas Choir and is really excited about the project. Neil reckons they’ll make a great team, especially with George on board. What is George’s role? Fallon asks; yet to be determined, but he says he is good at all sorts. A bit of a Renaissance Man, then, Fallon teases him. Neil wants to discuss the vision and Fallon the repertoire: she feels they should include contemporary classics, to appeal more to younger people. That is where George comes in, to drum up support among his mates, Neil says; George tells Fallon he can’t sing. She reckons there’s a lovely voice in there somewhere, apologises for making him blush, and suggests that him joining the choir would give his friends even more incentive to get involved. She offers private lessons, starting right now, and Neil opts to disappear for half an hour to give them some space. George welcomes this development.

At The Bull, Kenton is serving Alistair and asks how the new nurse is shaping. Alistair says Paul is bright, good with the clients and has brought some pep to the practice. Jolene butts in to say she is popping out for a bit because Jill wants more baking ingredients: she’ll run her into Felpersham. Kenton is peeved at the short notice and wonders why they can’t go to the village shop, or gotomorrow, suggestions which Jolene counters in a spirit of saccharine reason. Anyway, Emma’s coming in, so The Bull can cope. As Kenton continues to protest, Jolene assures him that she meant what she said: while his mother is under their roof, she is going to be there for her. She won’t be long.

Fallon is telling George that it took a lot of courage to do what he just did and that he has a very interesting voice. He says she might not have said it was rubbish, but she thought it, and she concedes that, from what she could tell from his rendition of a Dro Kenji rap, which wasn’t much, his tone and vocal range need some work. They can’t do much in half an hour, but let’s start with some basics, she says, encouraging him to take his jacket off to feel more comfortable. She suggests beginning with some exercises and George is thrilled as he works out in his room - both his rooms - with weights and can do 100 push-ups; he shows off his biceps. Unfortunately for him, Fallon meant vocal exercises and tells him to take a deep breath. And again. He’s only utilising his upper lung capacity whereas he should be breathing from his diaphragm or, as George would have it, his six-pack. [Fallon continues her very irritating and unwise giggling throughout. Gus.]

I love my mum, Kenton is assuring Alistair, and there’s a lot to admire about her despite her stubbornness, but being with her 24/7? Alistair tells him he’s just acclimatising. Kenton doesn’t want to acclimatise. Alistair says he is sure there will be a reconciliation with Brookfield but Kenton wonders how long that will take. A week? Six? Six months? He feels that Jolene trying so hard to make Jill feel at home might make his mother decide she doesn’t want to go back to Brookfield anyway. Alistair is sure that Jill will want to go back to her home eventually, but in the meantime, isn’t this a bonding opportunity? Kenton is unimpressed, and Alistair then says how well things have worked out for him living with Jim - sure, there are irritations, but they have become much closer and he still benefits from Jim’s wisdom and continues to find out new things about him. Kenton seems to resent Jolene not having had the stereotypical anti-mother-in-law reaction, and Alistair thinks that’s admirable. Thanks, Alistair, says Kenton, strangely omitting to bar him from the pub for good.

Has Fallon worked her magic? asks Neil. They’ve been breathing from the thoracic diaphragm, says Fallon, and it’s really helpful to spend time just focused on the body. When asked by his grandfather, George declines to give a demonstration and goes out to wait by the car. We’ll do this again, Fallon promises George. Neil thanks her and hopes it wasn’t too painful. Not at all: George responded well to instruction, and Fallon assures him she enjoyed it too. Neil reckons she’ll do a brilliant job if she can inspire someone like George.

Back at The Bull, Jolene apologises for having been so long, but they dropped off at Leonard’s on the way back; he was good form, laid on drinks and nibbles, and it was lovely. And on the journeys there and back Jill was talking about an idea for something they could do for the community at Christmas, which Jolene says is very different from Lynda’s usual offerings without giving any further details. Kenton says he is just glad they had a nice time together, that he appreciates all the effort Jolene is making, and that Alistair has helped shift his perspective about having his mother stay with them. Jolene apparently finds this change of heart unwelcome and, as Kenton goes off to serve someone, tells Alistair that she is surprised at his stance, considering how things were when Jim broke his leg. Shula told Jolene it was a nightmare for both of them, so it’s a good thing Alistair didn’t mention any of that to Kenton. All water under the bridge now, Alistair says weakly.

[Summarised by Gus. CG’s passport has now been impounded]


22 November 2022

Jolene and Fallon plan to stop village home fires burning, while Paul’s and Alistair’s hearts are yearning

Characters : Tracy, Jolene, Alistair, Paul, Elizabeth, Kenton
Credited scriptwriter : Daniel Thurman
Director : Peter Leslie Wilde
Editor : Jeremy Howe

In the shop, Tracy greets Jolene and they agree the weather is bitter. Tracy is stocking up on cut-price teabags and says she is looking forward to the evening Shift. Jolene is pleased that she is so eager, but Tracy says that while she loves the job and (most of) the customers, the best bit about working at The Bull is that she gets to stay warm for the evening - at home, they’re trying to leave the heating off as long as possible. Jolene expresses concern and Tracy explains that she is dreading the next bill: despite the price cap, who knows what they are going to be charged? The place is getting like an ice box and Bert is complaining but Tracy makes sure he always has a brew in his hand, a hot-water bottle and a pile of blankets; but she knows plenty of people are in the same boat. I just wish more could be done to help, says Jolene; me too, Tracy concurs - but as long as the fire’s on for her shift tonight, she’ll be happy.

At Lower Loxley, Alistair tells Paul he has done a good job with Rex’s pigs and their PPV vaccines. Paul reckons he has a special connection with pigs: super-intelligent as they are, he feels they meet on the same intellectual level. When Alistair observes that they don’t get many pigs in the surgery, Paul says that’s why he was so glad he was brought along; and it’s a very different set-up from Berrow. Elizabeth greets them; she’s just about recovered from the Ball. Alistair guesses she isn’t talking hangover, and he’s right: it was the stress and the madness with the traffic. Although disaster was averted, Elizabeth would love to know who tried to derail the event and Alistair says it must have been hunt saboteurs. Then it strikes Alistair that he had better check that Rex is on top of his biosecurity because of ASF - African Swine Fever, as Paul explains for Elizabeth’s benefit - and tells Paul to wait for him. Elizabeth asks how he enjoyed the Ball. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of drama, Paul asks; in this instance, not Elizabeth! He didn’t stay late, Elizabeth learns, not even for the bands; Paul says he’d have been dancing on his own, or even with Alistair. When Paul tells her he hardly saw Ruairi all night because he was too busy running around trying to organise everything, Elizabeth is at first surprised, and then sounds contrite.

At The Bull, Jolene is irritated as Kenton won’t stop what he is doing to listen to her bemoaning the plight of Tracy - one of their staff! - and others similarly placed. He agrees more should be done to help people like the Horrobins, to help everyone in fact, and Jolene suggests opening up The Bull to them so they can take advantage of its heating. Kenton reasonably points out that they do that already, what with being a pub and all, but what Jolene meant was ‘without them necessarily having to buy anything’. Kenton is incredulous: they are a business and not, as Jolene counters, a haven. Has she seen the energy bills? They need paying customers! We’ll still have our regulars, she insists; not if they haven’t anywhere to sit, Kenton retorts. Jolene says she was thinking of the Flood Bar, and could Kenton stop putting obstacles in the way? He protests that it makes no business sense and when Jolene suggests perhaps they could do it on one or two of the quieter days each week, Kenton tells her they are only ticking over as it is after surviving the pandemic, and they might have to close on the less profitable days as it is. This place is the heart of our community, Jolene protests, and it’s the run-up to Christmas, and they ought to be showing a little kindness; also, his mother thinks it’s a lovely idea. Why is Kenton always like this? Like what? he asks; stressing and panicking, she counters. He says that if he was stressing yesterday, it was because of his mother… but Jolene’s not going to drop this, is she? All right, go ahead, he concedes, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, and is rewarded with a kiss and an ‘I love you, Kenton Archer’ for his compliance with her whim.

Elizabeth tells Paul she feels terrible that he didn’t enjoy his evening more, and he says that he understands she needed all hands on deck, and anyway, it was an experience. She still feels she should have found someone other than Ruairi to do the raffle, but he did a brilliant job, got sucked into helping - even on the bar for a bit, Paul points out - and was really useful. But that didn’t help Paul. He says maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Anxiously, Elizabeth enquires if they have spoken since, but no: they’ve exchanged a few texts and that’s it. Paul reckons Ruairi might have been happier selling raffle tickets than hanging out with him and that Elizabeth probably did him a good turn keeping him busy. She’s sure that’s not true: her godson has always been a lovely, sensitive person, really special, and when Paul says perhaps he is just not Ruairi’s type, says it is pretty clear to her that Ruairi likes Paul and vice versa; she really hopes they get the chance to see each other again before Ruairi goes back to uni. Alistair arrives back, and he and Paul make a move.

Jolene greets Tracy as she arrives for a shift, telling her she’s just put an extra log on the fire in her honour, then calls Kenton over to help tell Tracy the news. Their conversation earlier got Jolene - and Kenton, she adds - thinking about how a lot of people are struggling to keep warm this winter and that something local needs to be done to help. ‘Like mother, like daughter’ Tracy observes, and says she’s just had Fallon on the phone about it. Because she’d heard Tracy and many others complaining about bills, Fallon wanted Tracy to be the first to know that she will be offering the tea-room as a warm haven over the winter. That is what Jolene was going to tell her, wasn’t it? Fallon stays behind at least one night a week baking and others might as well share the warmth. Brilliant, isn’t it?, she exclaims, and goes to hang her coat up. Can you believe that? Jolene asks Kenton. Great minds think alike, he says, adding that the pair must have a psychic connection; and, it lets them off the hook: if Fallon’s running this scheme at the tea-room, The Bull won’t have to bother. But Jolene isn’t having any of it: both establishments can do it, and that way they can help as many people as possible.

At the surgery, as they are saying goodnight, Alistair asks Paul if he’s doing anything this evening. It’s his turn to cook for his parents so he will be going the full Nigella in the kitchen, Paul tells him, though he’s not a great cook - more Nigella on an off day. Alistair wishes him luck and asks Paul to give his love to his mum. And dad. But before he goes, Paul has a question for Alistair, if he doesn’t mind him asking: what does he think of Ruairi? Alistair doesn’t know him that well, but he’s always seemed like a very nice boy lad - but didn’t Paul go to the Hunt Ball with him? Paul tells him he probably spent more time with Alistair than Ruairi because of him helping out. Alistair says Elizabeth really needed the help, and Paul agrees; but he did just want to hang out. Alistair says Paul should consider meeting up with Ruiari again, but Paul is nervous of starting anything with Ruiari, or anyone: most guys he meets turn out to be lame, and he been ghosted so often. In the words of queen Olivia Rodrigo, ‘it’s brutal out there!’ A lot of guys just want hook-ups but Paul prefers to feel a connection with someone; that’s how it works for him too, Alistair agrees. When asked about his own relationship status, Alistair says he is divorced, then doesn’t deny that there might be someone on the horizon but asserts that it is ‘complicated’; he doesn’t want to get into it. Paul offers his own history. He really thought he’d found love with the last one, Robbie, and moved to Reading to be with him and really thought it was going to work, but things just fizzled out and they ended up like flatmates: talk about disappointment! Alistair’s advice is that Paul should give Ruairi another chance. If you like him, and if you’ve got a good feeling, go for it! Alistair confesses he hasn’t always lived by his own advice, but perhaps he should have done. Paul thanks him, then asks about ‘this woman’ - Alistair’s not going to let her get away, is he? Alistair protests that this isn’t about him, but whether or not Paul is going to contact Ruairi again. Paul thinks he might just go for it.

Summarised by Gus, because CG was going to bed


An heroic job Gus


I am full of gratitude and admiration.


& peppermint?


Gosh, yes, do you want one?


No ta, just fin-pulling.


[puts away the tiny trebuchet]


Seconded, all brilliant.

(Though I do confess to liking the impressionistic version best. Please may we have one of those every day, Gus?)



Not Pygmalion likely! There could be occasional appearances. Maybe.

CG does these damn’ things six days a week, every week! A true labour of mild dislike;- )


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