This woman is worth a read

Thanks. Chris’s splendid synopsis doesn’t mention it being a woman, and I certainly have no memory of that. I’ll have another listen later.

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The sex of the telephone bidder was not mentioned. In fact they were so cagey about who or what it was (which is not true to life, since the seller would certainly be told who the buyer was) that I ceased to believe in it at all, particularly when it was for a vastly inflated price. The BBC synopsis refers to the person as “a telephone buyer”.

“A lady on my right” was in the room, not on the phone.

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Thanks for that, particularly for saving me from listening again. I didn’t think I would have missed it but you never know.

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I suspect, however, that Charlotte Higgins is working not from the episodes themselves but from official (advance) synopses.

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Except that she writes only about what has happened, definitely past tense, plus speculation/wishes based on it. And it is clear which bits are the latter.

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It might just be carelessness - she referred to Heather Woolley after all.

I thought she did pretty well this week - I liked the idea of Jill pulling down Brookfield with her bare hands and she clearly found the pony story just as ridiculous as most of us did.

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2024-02-06T09:00:15Z

Even death hasn’t stopped him from ruining Helen’s life. Meanwhile, Peggy Woolley’s cat is causing mayhem

Natasha has been audibly tip-tapping here, there and everywhere this month: sashaying into the tearoom to insist on Fallon and Emma playing crap music, sticking her shiny Louboutin-clad foot in it with Helen Archer. (OK, her boots are probably from Felpersham Russell & Bromley, but it’s only a matter of time before the upgrade, given her lust for world domination). She has also been sporting her waterproof mascara at Dawn’s Zumba class, erecting foully tasteless arches of artificial wisteria around the tearoom door, and reminding hapless hack Rebecca Price that she is paid to provide advertorial, not to uphold a free press and local democracy by actually doing some reporting. (Such is the sad decline of the Borsetshire Echo – not that, unfortunately, Ms Price is a great advertisement for the ethics of journalism.)

Grey Gables, finally edging towards its soft reopening, feels as if it might need a name change: those gables don’t feel very grey any more, what with the super-luxury spa, the ballroom with its retractable stage and the soon-to-be-opened bistro. Lily Pargetter is about to do a work experience placement there; you might more accurately call it an industrial espionage placement, owing to the drain of staff from her family pile of Lower Loxley towards those newly Gleaming Gables.

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“We have already established what you are, madam…”

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I thought it was pretty good this month. I like ‘slightly less evil’.

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2024-03-05T06:00:01Z

Violent gangs! Attacks by American XL bullies! Posh boy Harry caught by cops having a drunken slash! This rural radio show is humdrum no more

Sometimes The Archers is as ordinary, and reassuringly humdrum, as the tall nettles growing over the rusty plough in Edward Thomas’s poem – the very poem, in fact, that Emma Grundy studied in her literature class.

Not this month. A lot has happened. Jolene, the landlady of the Bull, is being threatened by the leader of a violent gang from the Black Country (which might as well be the hellmouth as far as Ambridge is concerned), after an American XL bully dog in the gang’s possession attacked her husband, Kenton, in the pub car park. Kenton, on crutches, discharged himself early and has been staying in the mysterious accessible B&B room at the Snells’ that has never been mentioned before. Alistair the vet is definitely in love with Denise the veterinary nurse, and has even told Jazzer about it. That’s all very well except for the fact that she is married to someone else. (Though: “separate lives.”) There’s also the small matter that her son Paul is a veterinary nurse at the same practice, and seems blithely unaware of, or in denial about, the state of his parents’ marriage. Even the fate of Hilda, Peggy Woolley’s former feline companion, seemed uncertain this month. Having infiltrated herself into the Bridge Farm dairy, causing a health and safety crisis, it was touch and go whether someone might actually wring her neck – or at least put her into the dock in some modern version of a medieval animal trial. Less cat, more demon in feline form, as Tony Archer said.

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As far as I recall, the words XL Bully were not uttered, certainly not by anyone in a position to know. And I doubt if Kenton would recognise one if it bit him on the bu – oh, hang on…

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2024-04-09T08:50:42Z

Lovers Alistair and Denise are busily smooching in every corner of the veterinary surgery, but it looks unlikely to end well. And will George Grundy stop being grumpy about TikTok?

The agony of Alistair Lloyd, veterinary surgeon and secret admirer of Denise, veterinary nurse, is over. Sort of. After months of painful attraction, after a nearly-kiss at Christmas, after hours of workplace longing and frustrated desire over the scalpels, swabs and sutures, it’s out there. He has told her he loves her. She has reciprocated. They have kissed (no sound effects, thankfully – a merciful edit). They have kissed again, and again – passionate bouts of snogging in the medical supplies cupboard, almost discovered by Denise’s son and colleague Paul, the practice’s other vet nurse. The course of this true love is not going to run smooth. As it is, Alistair has already threatened twice to leave the practice – once when he thought his adoration was unrequited, and once when he mistakenly understood Denise to say that she wanted to work on her marriage. For yes, Denise is still married (separate lives!) to Paul’s dad, currently in the Caribbean tending to his dying mother. Paul keeps bleating on about his father’s needing Denise, and why doesn’t she go out there to join him. For a sensitive soul, he hasn’t noticed the obvious. For the moment. I foresee storms.

The Crabbe, or is it Goyle of Ambridge, George Grundy, may have passed through his full-on Andrew Tate phase, but has not yet, it seems, shed the signs of being a malicious little so-and-so. This month he’s been full of spite to Hannah, his erstwhile boss at the pig unit, whose chief crime against him was being a woman. He’s also been wonderfully ungracious about the fact that his uncle, farrier Chris Carter, joint chief contender for hottest man in Ambridge along with Swedish vet Jakob, overshadowed him in some tedious TikTok he was making about the ancient Grundy family pony, Bartleby. He’s also got himself banned from the Bull, after a grim little incident in which he was outrageously rude to Jolene. Emma, George’s mum, has resigned as a bartender in protest at her son’s treatment. That doesn’t seem the wisest of moves, financially, when she and her husband Ed are about to launch a tree surgery concern, part funded by Ed’s brother Will. That, by the way, is a bit like Cain and Abel going into business together – if Cain and Abel had once been sleeping with the same woman (the aforementioned Emma herself). Be that as it may, I declare a shot to be drunk whenever one of George’s deluded family members refer to him as “a good lad”.

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The only bit below the fold is this, so to save you leaving clicks on their advertising logs…

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2024-05-07T05:00:07Z

Oh dear – Ms Carter, née Aldridge, had been flourishing and off the drink. But after a sexual slip, she succumbed to the siren call of a bottle

The Furies who had been circling for Alice Carter, née Aldridge, seemed for a time to have retreated. After the various catastrophes of her alcoholism, she had been flourishing in recent months: off the drink, managing the riding stables, pulling through her mother’s death, and successfully co-parenting her daughter Martha alongside her ex-husband, sexy Chris the farrier. But just as in Greek tragedy a single decision can change the course of a life, so it is in Ambridge. Alice, I suspect, was doomed the very moment she decided to “help” her recent love interest, the awful Posh Harry (not to be confused with her friend, unposh and wholly delightful Harrison the policeman), to extract himself from his own drink problem, a secret affliction of which she became aware only after they had begun to fall hard for each other. At that juncture, Alice did the right thing: she walked away. Still, the situation was not without its complications, notably, an intervention by Harrison the policeman that led to the latter’s almost losing his job, saved, at the last moment, by Harry’s speaking up for him, Harrison, at his disciplinary hearing. Apologies: the Harry-Harrison medley, or muddle, is not of my making.

The irony! It was Harry’s flash of decency at that hearing that weakened Alice’s resolve. Since then, she has been taking his befuddled midnight telephone calls, accompanying him to support groups, edging him towards rehab, while all the time putting impossible strain on herself, which involved messing up a veterinary inspection of the stables, lying to everyone about why she’s so distracted, palming off Martha on to various family members, a bit of a sexual slip with Harry and – of course, inevitably – succumbing to the siren call of a drink. The fateful moment was articulated wordlessly, through a series of incredibly florid sounds: cupboard door opening, deep breath for the stash retrieval from the back, chinking of glass against work surface, throat clearing, sighing, screw cap removal, pouring, deep breathing and – at last – full-on glugging. Poor Alice.

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This woman needs an editor.

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2024-06-11T04:00:33Z

Three near-drownings and a dodgy sewage virus in Ambridge this month, and all the horses are dying off, too. So Much Plot

Nothing happens in Ambridge for months, and then everything happens. Early in May, on a bridge just outside the village, two cars collided, exploding plotlines and almost drowning three characters. The erratically driven vehicle that caused the swerve that resulted in a car and its passengers in the Am? It was Alcoholic Alice’s. But she was not at the wheel at the time: that was George “he’s a good lad really” Grundy, who found her blind drunk in a layby and decided to drive her home. Swiftly at the scene were vet Alistair and vet nurse Denise, who had been on their way to consummate their forbidden love. During their rescue mission, George freed Fallon from the submerged vehicle. He also managed secretly to shift the unconscious Alice from the passenger’s to the driver’s seat, creating the impression that she had been the cause of the catastrophe.

And the crash’s consequences? Denise has developed a virus from the waters of the Am, which are presumably infused with raw sewage thanks to 14 years of the Tories. Will she be the first, and unexpected, casualty of The Events? Her love is a deadly secret from her son Paul, who also happens to work at the vet practice, and for whom an elaborate series of lies has been invented to explain that nocturnal car journey. I fear this will not end well.

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