‘No! No!’ cries Mr Qwerty, backing out of the kitchen, hands clamped over his ears. Kate, who is back in Ambridge for a relentlessly long visit, was the cause of Mr Q’s permanent exile from The Archers. In the fifteen years since her troubled youth drove him to despair, he’s heard only snippets of the programme, commenting occasionally as he flits past, ‘What’s happened to Richard Lock?’ or ‘That doesn’t sound like the real Hayley’.
Last week, I had to break the terrible news that Kate was back. He went quite pale. Now as soon as there’s so much as a whiff of dum-di-dums, he, like many a spouse, high-tails it out of the house, in terror of hearing Kate’s nasal whine. Fair enough. She is appalling. I’m only able to tolerate her myself if I have a large gin and tonic to hand, and if she’s counter-balanced by Hayley, saying sweetly, ‘Oh look! Phoebe must have liked that Mother’s Day card a lot, to get it for both of us.’
The script-writers must be in a particularly mean mood, for the other day they jammed both Kate and Helen in the same episode. Together. All that was needed for them to move seamlessly into the opening scene from Macbeth was for Pip to stroll in carrying a cauldron. Under the pressure, I finished one vat of Bombay Sapphire and cracked open the next. Helen was a-quiver with un-expressed resentment over Kate’s negligent uber-breeding. Kate meanwhile had come rather late to the notion that leaving her daughter on the other side of the world might have one or two minor repercussions.
I was surprised to find that Kate nonetheless had the very slight edge in terms of sympathy when pitched against Hell-en. When Kate said, ‘You were never that interested in children before’, one completely saw where she was coming from. It’s not time passing, Kate, I slurred, just a continuity error. Then I slumped under the table. Must buy some tonic water.
I’m very much enjoying the way that everyone acknowledges that Kate is an attention-seeking harpie. Even Roy, who’s become irritatingly protective of Kate, was pee-ed off she’d taken Phoebe for a piercing ‘rite of passage’ to a grimy low-life hovel favoured by Hells Angels. Each time Kate mentions how much something has changed, people snap, with barely-disguised annoyance, ‘Yes, well, what did you expect?’ Even Jenny (‘Oh Kate, Darling!’) has been a teensy bit exasperated.
And good old Vicky. I thought she’d been put on this earth to annoy Brenda, but now see she is multi-purpose and can wind Kate up too. Crikey, she’s good value. That moment when Kate proudly showed her the no-doubt hippy earrings she’d bought Phoebe, and Vicky ‘delicately’ revealed that Phoebe didn’t have her ears pierced was priceless. I was going to play it to Mr Qwerty on Listen Again to prove he no longer had anything to fear from Kate.
But then, oh, the horror! Kate was whining to Adam, and asking, with grim significance, if he was glad he’d moved back to Blighty from Africa. Say no, Adam, I yelled at the radio, knocking my drink to the floor. SAY NO! Say Africa’s where it’s at, man! But it was too late. Adam, that great oaf, waxed lyrical about what a terrific move coming back home had been, and Kate sounded wistful, and I ran screaming from the house to find sanctuary with Mr Q.
Posted by Qwerty. ( See all Archers posts here)