Sunday, 25 January 2015

Doormats, desertion and wild, wild women – what a week in Ambridge

Carry on, constable!

Jolene’s week got off to a fine start when she surprised PC Burns in his birthday suit in the bathroom at The Bull, where he and Fallon had stayed because of her dodgy heating. Regular readers will know that Jolene has form when it comes to shower scenes, but fortunately this time decency prevailed, and Harrison fixed the lock smartish. This didn’t stop Jolene recounting the saucy tale to Lilian, who gamely played up to the farce. ‘No wonder you’re in a lather darling; I bet you didn’t know where not to look!’ she snorted, with the laugh that can unblock a drain. ‘Ah well, here’s another old boiler that needs a fix. Same again please darling….’
But it may be a while before Ambridge hears that laugh again, as terrible news awaited Lilian at The Bull’s dance practice night …

David throws his toys out of the pram…

The news at Brookfield is that the Great Move North will be delayed by at least three months, while they build a spiffy new milking parlour to house the robots. 
Jill was pleased, because she’s still sorting out the attic, and Ruth reassured the family that her mum Heather, who hasn’t had a cup of tea since Boxing Day, won’t mind a bit not getting one until Whitsun now.
But David, who’s already jittery about the cost of the move, went all twitchy at having to call Justin Elliot to ask if they can stay on for a while after the sale.
And he completely lost it when Lynda confronted him in the lambing sheds over his reluctance to contribute to the SAVE jumble sale.
‘It’s all very well for you; you’ll be safe and happy in your new farm with millions in the bank, while the rest of us are left to stay and fight as best we can to save the village we love so much!’ citizeness Snell thundered, whipping her Britannia headdress and shield out of her handbag. Luckily, Jill arrived just in time to stop David ‘going Otto’ and flattening Lynda against the barn wall. But he’s refused even to look at the box of childhood toys that Jill has carefully preserved. ‘Get rid of them. Do what you like with them’, he snapped at his mum – a worrying sign of inner turmoil. 

… and Ed needs a fairy godmother

It was a tough week for Ed Grundy. The Estate has threatened to throw Ambridge’s unluckiest farmer off his grazing land because of rent arrears, and other bills have piled up too, to the tune of about £5,000. It was a shame Ed didn’t think to mention this before he and Emma took on No1 The Green, but at last he saw sense and turned to renowned business guru Eddie Grundy for advice. For once, his dad’s rescue plan didn’t involve garden gnomes, campsites or turkey tableaux; instead he quite sensibly suggested Ed sell four of his cows. As Ed pointed out, this would get him out of the slurry short-term, but means a drop in milk income. So as Borchester Livestock Mart isn’t licensed for magic bean salesmen, it’s looking a bit grim, unless Emma can boost her earnings from Fallon’s second-hand tat business (NB subs: ‘retro lifestyle empire’).

A low blow for Neil from Susan

Not the man Susan Carter married
Perhaps it’s the stress of dressmaking; perhaps she was nettled by the profile of über-successful Justin Elliot in the Borchester Echo (‘that Fascist rag’, according to Kate). But something this week made Susan turn on poor Neil, who’s vexed that Tom is undermining his role at the pig unit.
‘Don’t undervalue yourself; you’re a highly skilled and experienced pig man – erm, livestock manager!’ she scolded. ‘If you act like a doormat people will walk all over you!’
Neil was so shocked, he nearly put his mug down without a coaster. ‘I am no doormat!’ he protested. But Susan wasn’t finished.
‘In a few weeks’ time, you’ll be walking your daughter down the aisle. Don’t you want to be able to look her in the eye and say “I’ve done my best for you; no one gets the better of Neil Carter?” ‘
Who knows how Neil will respond to his wife’s tough love (or mean-spirited rant). But if Susan is worried about Neil letting Emma down, what will she think when she finds out her son-in-law is about to be turfed off his land? Will she call off the wedding, even though that means the world will never see her ‘Carter couture’?

‘How could you, mum?’

With one parent wallowing in squalor and self-pity, and the other acting out a mortifying mid-life crisis, Phoebe is having a horrid time. Kate keeps dragging her out to meet her uni friends (‘Jake got a parasite drinking river water in Borneo and had to spend a week in hospital; that’s SO cool!’); her school marks are going down and her friend Rachel is being nasty to her. It was up to Jenny to take on the mothering role, although Kate even managed to spoil this moment, sending a drunken selfie wearing pink pussycat ears to her long-suffering daughter. Let’s hope agony uncle Tom cheers Roy up with some more blokeish cricket banter, and he gets his act together, father-wise. 

More bull at Bridge Farm?

Tony’s recovery reached a milestone this week, when Pat at last felt he was strong enough to handle the news of Otto’s demise. ‘It was an emotional decision,’ she sniffed, not mentioning that she had the abattoir on speed-dial even before the ambulance arrived.
But Tony’s near-death experience seems to have taught him nothing about his bull-wrangling skills, and he’s up for another as soon as he gets out of hospital. ‘I’m not giving up. It’s not too late for me to start again, is it?’ he asked the empty air, as Pat ran screaming down the ward….
Meanwhile, Helen’s cold didn’t stop her fretting about Ambridge Organics, where sales are still on the slide. Luckily, Rob stepped in, giving Tina a stern talking-to on the phone and insisting that she call him (not Helen, who is just the owner, after all) if she has any problems. This gave Helen more time to mull over events on New Year’s Eve, and naturally, she told Rob all about Adam and Charlie’s snog in the shrubbery. ‘Don’t say anything darling… Ian would be absolutely devastated if he knew,’ she said, completely unnecessarily as Rob is already several steps ahead of her. Quite how he uses this information to his evil advantage has yet to be seen…. 

Time to face the music for Lilian  

All week, Lilian had been pretending – to Jolene, Harrison, Pat and Jenny – that Matt had just nipped out to buy a paper, even it was rather an expensive paper, requiring the removal of most of their joint assets.
By Friday, she’d almost managed to convince herself, and was having fun at The Bull’s dance practice night, playing Ginger to PC Burns’s Fred. Even Kenton didn’t spoil the mood by asking rather crassly if she would sell her share of the pub to him and Jolene, and when a text arrived she was cock-a-hoop. ‘I know my old Matt, my old Tiger; I know he wouldn’t leave me!’ she beamed. But it seems that she doesn’t know him quite as well as she thought, for Matt has legged it to Costa Rica, leaving only a heartbroken Lilian, a trail of debts and many disappointed Ambridge Observer readers behind him. Ambridge will be very flat without Matt.

And finally... this week's handy tip

Expecting a new arrival in the family, and can’t agree on baby names? All you need is a set of alphabet bricks! Just throw them in the air, see where they land and hey presto: baby has a unique new name everyone will love.
Thanks to Mrs Jill Archer of Brookfield, and her twins Bulrgh and Lojkoz, for this super idea. Keep them coming folks!  

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Paternity, parlours and a PR disaster: it's all kicking off in Ambridge

Who’s the daddy? Take the test!

What’s that dark shadow over Blossom Hill Cottage? It’s Rob’s chickens, all coming home to roost on the roof. Helen was even relieved of cooking lunch so that Rob could confront Jess over her maintenance claim for her baby. ‘He’s called Ethan, and he’s absolutely adorable,’ said the proud mum. ‘He’s got your nose – and your mum thinks he looks just like you too.’
The row rumbled on all week, fuelled by the Child Maintenance Service, which for some reason wouldn’t take Rob’s word for it that he isn’t the baby’s father.
Helen, of course, is standing by her man, even though Pat, who is worried about her neglect of the shop, tried to sow a seed of doubt (or reason) by suggesting that if Rob is not the father, the DNA test would sort it quickly enough. Helen even dared to mention to Rob, ever so gently, that they would never be free of Jess, ‘that clearly deranged woman’, unless he does take the test.
‘I Am Not Dancing To That Woman’s Tune,’ snapped Rob. ‘This is absolutely outrageous… blatant harassment. I am not the father of Jess’s wretched child…’ How long can he keep up the hurt innocence before the deep, dangerous anger breaks through? Helen had better hide the knives …

David and Ruth, cast out of the Garden of Eden…

This week David and Ruth went to visit two more milking parlours: one robotic, and one traditional. (For full report, see our Farm Tech supplement, page 94).
Jill had a wobble because she thought Alan’s sermon, about farmers who don’t cultivate their garden, was having a go at her family. ‘People think David and Ruth are letting the side down, and they talk about me in the village shop,’ she worried to Shula. But Ruth was delighted that one of the parlours, on a farm called Eden, was self-cleaning, which gave her ideas for the kitchen at Hadley Haugh. David took the bold decision to invest in robotics, and Ros and Steve offered £70,000 to help pay for slurry storage. And everyone was so relieved that the new tank would be badger-proof, it was celebrations and shepherd’s pie all round.

Tell your Uncle Tom all about it …

A spell on the prairies sure can change a person. Tom, who went to Canada a selfish, bitter and broken man, has returned all twinkly and empathetic, dispensing crackerbarrel philosophy to anyone who’ll listen.  This week, he shared manly home-truths with Roy: ‘Women seem to manage these things so much better, but don’t give up hope Roy. When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.’  Then he not only gave Johnny some handy tips on spotting a chubby heifer, which should come in handy at the next Young Farmers’ bash; he also diagnosed the young lad’s dyslexia and cured it in his lunch hour, just by printing out Johnny’s farming textbook on a piece of brown paper. No wonder Tony is improving so fast: one more visit from Tom and he’ll be playing volleyball with the nurses. 

Fallon and Harrison make sweet … marmalade?

Jam today and marmalade
tomorrow for the happy couple 
Sensitive readers might like to turn the page, as this week we report from Fallon’s bedroom. PC Burns finally took down her particulars, with much damage to Fallon’s eye make-up. The lovebirds had a playful tiff over marmalade (he’s a fan, she’s a plum jam/chocolate spread girl) but they both agreed that their love-nest was too chilly. The heating is on the blink; it seems Fallon’s old boiler needs servicing. Meanwhile, down at The Bull, Jolene was concerned about Kenton’s plans to buy out Lilian’s share. Not because Kenton has already spent the Brookfield windfall at least three times in his head, but because of Lilian's affection for her childhood home. Little do they know that The Bull will soon be the least of Lilian’s problems…

No cast-offs for a Carter 

She might be a second-hand bride, but there’s no way Susan Carter’s daughter is walking down the aisle in a second-hand frock. Emma herself is quite happy to wed in a charity-shop or Ebay number: ‘I’m marrying Ed; he won’t care if I turn up in my pyjamas,’ she said, Ed clearly being less fashion-conscious than, say, Rob. But Susan was appalled, and so was Clarrie. ‘It’s that Fallon’s influence,’ she said, with a vicious swipe of the yogurt-labelling gun. So the two mums have hatched a plan to dig out their old Simplicity patterns and make Emma’s dress as a wedding present. Twiggy is modelling on one of them, so Emma may get her vintage wish after all….

Justin's puff piece upstages Jenny’s plough

It was too much for Jenny. She’d sent a picture of the SAVE team with an antique plough to the Borchester Echo, only to find she’d been scooped by a double-page spread interview with Justin Elliot. The Dark Lord of Ambridge was even photographed leaning on a five-barred gate in a squeaky-new Barbour, professing his love of the countryside. Jenny’s contempt for the running dogs of the lackey capitalist press boiled over. ‘It’s blatant propaganda,’ she fumed to Shula. ‘So much for unbiased journalism. It’s a fawning sycophantic piece of fiction.’
Never fear, Jenny! The Ambridge Observer is proud to run your exclusive about Justin's plans for a massive industrial distribution hub, even though it’s based solely on a tipsy chat Jim had with a builder at the Local Enterprise Partnership do. Publish and be Damara, we say.
Meanwhile Jenny could expect little support from Kate, who refused to help with the SAVE jumble sale (‘so last century – it’s all social media now’) and retired to meditate until Jenny’s home-made vegan carrot cake was ready. Despite being accepted by Felpersham University for her course (having passed the gruelling ‘cheque-clearing’ exam) it was a frustrating week for Kate: her attempts to bond with Phoebe by borrowing her eyeliner and suggesting skating trips are falling on stony ground. She eventually persuaded her to sit down and watch Modern Family, blissfully unaware that poor Phoebe is already living in an episode of Modern Family – without the life-affirming celebration of social diversity. Or the jokes.

Who’s sat on Pusscat’s Matt?

Lilian had an unhappy homecoming from her jaunt to Madeira. She returned to the Dower House to find the safe open, paintings gone and no Matt. At first she suspected burglary, but soon found that he had done a runner with nearly all their money and even worse, all the wine. The only clue, sniffed out by PC Burns, was a note saying ‘Sorry pusscat’.
A weaker woman might conclude that her partner had found love in the arms of another, and reached for the gin. But not Lilian. ‘He must be in bad trouble if couldn’t even admit it to me’, she told Harrison, now her rather unlikely confidant. ‘Matt and I stuck together through thick and thin and I’m not giving up on him now. One way or another I’m going to find him and we’ll sort this out together.’ Whether it’s too late, and Matt is already propping up a motorway somewhere, having crossed the Russian mafia once too often, remains to be seen…

Diary Dates

25th Jan: Burns Night at The Bull. Jazzer McCreery, Ambridge’s very own hairy Hibernian, delights with his bagpipes (or will stop if you buy him a pint).
14th February: ‘We’ll meet again’ – 1940s themed Valentine’s Day Ball at The Bull. Freda Fry serves up her famous Woolton pie! (Dance lessons: Mike & Vicky Tucker. Costume hire: Fallon Rogers).
17th February: Shrove Tuesday at The Bull! Pancake races for the little ones and a grown-ups’ pancake party hosted by Fallon and Harrison. Choose your favourite topping: marmalade, plum jam or chocolate spread.
15th March: Mothering Sunday. All mums (and dads) are invited to a special lunch in the village hall  with our guest of honour, Ambridge’s newest mum: Mrs Jess Tichener!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Slurry worries and a baby bombshell … anxious times in Ambridge

Holiday talk on tick

Holidays were in the air in Ambridge this week. We learned from Brian that Lilian is off in Madeira, putting the fun in Funchal, but has left Matt moping in the Dower House. Adam and Ian are in Miami, while Charlie treated himself to three whole days at the Oxford Farming Conference. ‘Charlie and Adam may have fallen out professionally, but there’s no personal animosity,’ observed Jenny in one of the understatements of 2015 so far.
But the most exciting holiday plans are at the Bull, where Kenton is about to whisk Jolene away on a business-class trip to New Zealand and Australia. Not surprisingly, having just seen Nathan Booth hitching up his trousers, and Sabrina Thwaite clearing up after her labradoodle, Jolene is keen on a change of scene. ‘You gorgeous man!’ she purred at Kenton, who is funding all this luxury with his credit card, thinking to pay it back when the Brookfield millions come in…

But will slurry worries sink the sale? 

David, Ruth and Pip had an entertaining trip to Franchester (no, never heard of it before either) to see a robotic milking parlour, courtesy of Pip’s college friend Fran. David was skeptical, but nearly swooned when Fran revealed that the automated system increased yield by 12% and reduced mastitis by 50%. ‘Don’t the cows miss the human touch?’ he asked wistfully. But it turns out that the ladies prefer laser-guided teat location to Eddie Grundy’s horny-handed ministrations. Funny that.
All was not so rosy back at Brookfield though, where slurry at Hadley Haugh is causing a stink. It turns out that Ros and Steve (the vendors) had kept quiet about a storage problem that is going to cost David and Ruth £140,000 to fix. This especially upset David because it brought back memories of the marauding badgers that sabotaged the Archers’ own slurry tank. ‘Flipping badgers!’ he cursed, which seems a bit unfair on new Pip, played by Daisy Badger.
Ruth though is more concerned about the cash: ‘We’re starting to leak money left right and centre. How much more is going to drain away before we can move north?’

Freda’s surfeit of Pontefract cakes

1967: Freda's home perm kit
went badly wrong
Ruth isn’t the only one to fret about the Brookfield plans. Bert confided to Carol that he and Freda are worried that Justin Elliott might turf them out of their bungalow – so much so that Freda ate a whole packet of Pontefract cakes and made herself ill. ‘It’s affecting her nerves something awful – not seen her like it since her home perm kit went wrong,’ he said, wisely turning down Carol’s offer of camomile tea.
But it could yet get worse for the Frys: Kenton is planning a new chef for the Bull as part of a Brookfield-funded makeover. Faced with eviction from her home, the sack from her job, and a future as Bert’s amanuensis, while he composes his lengthy poem cycle, A Borsetshire Boy, poor Freda is caught between a rock and a hard place.  But this week, thanks to all those Pontefract cakes, she was just caught short.

Roll out the vegan Barolo

Phoebe’s week didn’t start well, when Pip returned the embarrassing hat she’d been trying so hard to lose since New Year’s Eve. It got worse when Kate tried to teach her and Pip how to meditate, and threatened to tie Phoebe’s hair in cornrows.
But the final straw was a cosy lunch at Botticelli’s, involving Kate, a bottle of vegan Barolo, a lot of self-pity and Phoebe as an afterthought.
‘Phoebe, you’ll be hurt all your life if you don’t realise that men can be fun, fascinating and exciting, but also a source of negative energy,’ Kate slurred. ‘Now I’ll just have one more glass while we talk this through…. (slurp). Your father has good points, but he has a very unbalanshed schpiritual core…’
This was too much even for Phoebe, who is beginning to look more kindly on Roy now that Kate is the alternative parenting option. ‘Give me your car keys mum, I’ve called a taxi to take you home,’ she calmly told a protesting but hapless Kate, whose daily intention seemed to change from ‘Be here now’, to ‘Be off my head by teatime’.

Little shop of organic horrors

Showing just a hint of the sensible businessperson she used to be, Helen took a look at the Ambridge Organics books this week – and got a shock. Christmas sales and profits were well down. What had gone wrong? Tina the manager blamed the Jetstream, lack of clear instructions, incompetence at Bridge Farm and Kelvin the sickly casual. She also hinted that she’d been encouraged to ‘take risks’ with the ordering, which Helen didn’t remember saying.
Helen foolishly told Tom about her worries, which brought out the Tetchy in Titchener. He put the blame on ‘time bombs Kirsty left in the order books’ and tried to put Helen off from getting more hands-on in the shop. ‘If you think Tina will work better being hovered over, it’s up to you, darling,’ he said, before going upstairs to do his scary troll voice for Henry.
Helen then gave Johnny a rocket for sending too much rocket – well, pak choi and mizuna – to the shop. ‘You sent eight trays, not three,’ she chastised the poor boy, whose self-esteem is already in a tailspin, thanks to his exam failures. But could someone have changed the 3 to an 8? And given Tina the wrong instructions? Surely no one would want to sabotage the shop business so Helen can’t work there, would they? Rob?

Tony takes a turn for the better

It was Pat’s birthday this week, and she received ‘the only present I ever wanted’ – the sight of Tony sitting up in an armchair in hospital, taking a lively interest in all matters Ambridge. Not only that – the old charmer had managed to persuade a lovely Irish nurse to stop saving lives for half an hour and go and buy Pat her favourite perfume. ‘Before the surgery, I remember you telling me not to leave you … and I always do what the boss says’. Not a dry eye on the ward – but who will be the one who dares to tell Tony what’s happened to Otto?

Baby bombshell at Blossom Hill Cottage

Rob began the week continuing his creepy campaign to get Helen to conceive again. ‘Poor old Henry seems so alone,’ he wheedled on a freezing country walk (Henry, meanwhile, was perfectly happy strangling Squiggle the squirrel, his new best friend.)
But Rob's plan for Tiny Titchener no 2 was soon derailed by the arrival of a letter from the Child Maintenance Service, in which Mrs Jess Titchener names Mr Rob Titchener as the father of Tiny Titchener no 1 and claims financial support accordingly.
‘Bitch!’ Rob nearly spat out his Shiraz. ‘I never thought she’d stoop as low as this!’
‘But Rob…’ wailed Helen. ‘It’s not your baby… this must be a mistake! Rob?’
The Ambridge Observer predicts that Henry will not be the only one to hear Rob’s scary troll voice in the next week or so…

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Well,hello 2015! Ambridge rings in the new ...

24-hour party people

Not to be outdone by the War & Peace marathon on Radio 4, Ambridge celebrated New Year's Eve with the longest party – in fact four parties – in the history of radio soap. The young folk – Pip, Phoebe, Josh, Johnny and Dan – drank tequila slammers and played games with ice cubes at the Young Farmers' Apres Ski bash, while Brookfield played host to Carol and Lizzie for an evening of Jill's salmon vol au vents, Carol's lethal cocktails and Twister. Down at The Bull, Fallon and Harrison celebrated with a cheesy moonlit snog. Kenton has offered Fallon a chunk of the cash he's expecting from David, so she is looking forward to her 'best year yet' – and has joined the list of those who will be marching on Brookfield with flaming pitchforks once the sale falls through.   
But the hot ticket in town was the Lower Loxley Ball, which made the last days of the Roman Empire look like a picnic at the WI.
First though there was the little matter of Helen acquiring a new personal stylist ...

'Who knew that mauve was my colour?'

Rob presents his new women's daywear collection
It's not true that Rob wants to keep Helen pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen – she's allowed out, as long as he chooses her outfits. He treated Helen to a spa day, Michelin-starred lunch and shopping trip, partly as a Christmas present, partly to reward her for 'stealing the show' in Blithe Spirit. (She didn't; thanks to Tristram 'the Hatchet' Hawkshaw we know that Susan and her tea tray did that, offering a 'masterclass in physical theatre'.)
In Borchester's finest ladies' outfitters, Rob turned his nose up at every party frock Helen suggested, finally insisting on a mauve, high-necked, long-skirted job that would prevent her being leered at by 'drunken louts' at the ball.
'I don't think there will be many of them at Lower Loxley', said Helen - wrongly, as it turned out, although it wasn't Helen they would be ogling…

'Fake snow, fondue and fit girls

What's not to like?' That was the verdict of dashing Captain Dan, back from Sandhurst for the holidays, catching up with cousin Pip at the Young Farmers' party. We learned that Dan has a girlfriend ('nothing serious, she's a fellow cadet') Let's hope he soon brings her to the Stables for a trial-by-Shula's-lamb-casserole.
And sadly, Pip has left Spencer to plough a lonely furrow, as they don't share the same values: she wants to travel the world, 'getting inspired and perhaps transforming the way we do farming .. and that.' But Spencer is content to farm the way his parents do, and would be happy enough if Pip turned out like his mum. Poor Spencer. 
Josh and his hair gel drank too much, threw up in the toilets and got tangled up in would-be girlfriend  Sadie's hair extensions. Phoebe speculated that he's emotionally upset by the impending move north. 'He's got the nicest family - his mum and dad are out of an advert,' she told Johnny. 'My mum is so embarrassing - she keeps asking my mates to be friends with her on Facebook.'
You ain't seen nothing yet, Phoebe. Kate, having knocked back the vodkas at the Bull, charged off to Lower Loxley 'on a mission to get off her face' as her brother Adam delicately put it.
Kate had already dropped one bombshell on the Aldridges by announcing that she had applied for a place at Felpersham University to continue her studies in international development, and would be staying for at least a year, leaving her children with the long-suffering Lucas. 
'Is there some kind of job at the end of this?' grumbled Brian, who was already testy because Pat had bought him a hideous jumper for Christmas.
'You're missing the point, Dad', said Kate.  'Phoebe needs me – and by the way, can I live in my old cottage?'

'Wearing a skirt is so freeing, isn't it Charlie?'

But we found out later (several bottles of Champagne later) that as usual, Kate had been economical with the actualité.
'I met someone, a young guy - we did sleep together a few times, but when Lucas found out it pushed our relationship over the edge', she confided in Adam, expecting him to join in her pity party.
'What is it with me and kids? I have them and do my best to love them, but it all goes wrong ..' she wailed, before spotting 'gorgeous man' Charlie and dashing off for some country dancing and flirting about his kilt.
Thanks to Kate, we know that Rob is also 'very good looking, but quite intense and serious-looking'.
Not surprising, as Heathcliff of the Heifers had a lot on his mind. Having softened Helen up with hot stone massages and allowing her just one glass of fizz at midnight, he pounced. 'I'd like us to have a baby,' he purred - 'so that we're a real family, not just a couple with a child.'
No doubt Helen was about to ask him why he wants to have a baby when they aren't yet married and he already has a perfectly good baby with his not-yet-ex-wife.
But she was distracted by a phone call from Tom, which she went out into the garden to take, where she saw ….

'I've waited for this for so long …'

Adam wasn't even planning to go to the Lower Loxley Ball. With Ian at work, he was anticipating an evening of single malt, cheese platter and Jools Holland's Hootenanny.
But Jennifer made him take Kate along, and what do you know? There's Charlie, looking all winsome in his family tartan and making it clear to Adam (by way of some convoluted metaphor about a job interview) that Charlie is a man who Goes With His Gut and Gets What He Wants. And he does, in the romantic, darkened grounds of Lower Loxley, where Helen stumbles across them…
'What the hell is going on?' she yells, but it is a question the Ambridge Observer cannot answer as our reporter had to make her excuses and leave.
Will Adam make his early flight to Miami, for two weeks' well-earned holiday with Ian? Will Helen say yes to having a titchy Titchener? Will Phoebe find Kate passed out in Jennifer's walk-in wine fridge?  So much to look forward to in 2015! 

Roy Tucker's New Year's Eve

Approx 8.30pm: 'Phoebe - Phoebe, it's your dad. I expect you're out somewhere, but I just wanted to wish you Happy New Year… Bye bye Phoebe; see you soon I hope.'

Approx 11pm: 'Hayley - Hayley, are you there? It's me (sob). I just want to say I'm so sorry… (sob) I'm sorry, I really am'

Approx 12.30am: 'Elijjabeff? Lijshsbuff? It's me, it's me….' (wail).

Happy New Year Roy!