Archers의 Charlotte Higgins: crack cocaine hits Ambridge

mbridge underwent a mystical union with Walford this month. “Just leave it, Brian!” urged Jennifer. “Yeah, just leave it,” repeated their daughter Alice, venomously. Brian was advising alcoholic Alice to recall her marriage vows after she’d picked up some guy whose name she couldn’t remember, 어느, as she pointed out, was a bit rich coming from the adulterer-in-chief himself. 사실로, the entire shaky Aldridge edifice looks like it’s in slow-motion collapse: its complicated web of children, stepchildren and out-of-wedlock children is going to make the inheritance question in King Lear look positively straightforward. Borsetshire’s landscape does not tend heathwards, blasted or otherwise, but expect Brian to be rampaging around Lakey Hill soon, calling upon thought-executing fires to singe his white head.

Ruairi – the out-of-wedlock child in question – has announced himself as Ambridge’s first bisexual, and he is clearly having a lot of fun with Troy, his friend-with-benefits. Also having that kind of fun are Vince and Elizabeth, the only people in Britain to be using the word “staycation” to mean “having a holiday at home” rather than “having a holiday somewhere in the UK”, an accurate usage of which village pedant Jim Lloyd would no doubt approve. But Lily Pargetter has outdone them all with her “sexathon” with her workmate Solly, causing an unfamiliar emotion to rise in the breast of this listener, at least – pity for her boyfriend, creepy Russ. Lily is another one of those characters who has been compelled back to Ambridge either by its invisible forcefield or by the requirements of the scriptwriters, when, by rights, she should really be doing a degree at Manchester. Someone – perhaps those indefatigable researchers into Ambridge, Academic Archers – should do a study into troubling university drop-out rates in rural Borsetshire.

Et in Arcadia ego! It turns out that you can get crack cocaine in Ambridge. “Drugs are everywhere, Jennifer,” imparted Ed Grundy solemnly. “I could get a delivery by teatime whenever I wanted.” Is there any more potent word in the Am valley than “teatime”? “Another flapjack?” asked Peggy of Chris, in her best Celia Johnson accent. “Slice of lemon drizzle?” It’s an Archers in-joke, lemon drizzle, the ultimate signifier of ancient rural rituals (though the recipe was introduced to Britain by Evelyn Rose in the pages of the Jewish Chronicle in 1967).

Peggy has been having flashbacks to what is referred to darkly as “the sanatorium”, a Gothic-sounding institution in Scotland where her own alcoholic spouse, Jack Archer, expired in the early-lemon-drizzle era of 1972. Jennifer thinks the Alice situation “has hit rock bottom”. Peggy – along with the entire Archers audience – knows there are further depths to plumb.

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