In these times of economic hardship, with stock-markets making regular wall-of-death plummets and unemployment levels making regular, uh, Eiffel Tower climbs, one can’t help but wonder: how do people in The Archers manage for money? Storylines that ring true in financial terms are rarer than hens’ teeth, which Hayley can tell you are pretty rare. This is why I fainted several months ago when Lillian and Matt actually mentioned a figure when discussing house prices; normally The Archers are on the far right of coy when it comes to talking cash.
How are Eddie and Clarrie managing for instance, now Clarrie’s resigned from the dairy? (How clearly you can hear in Pat’s voice her despair that it was Clarrie rather than Susan who’d brought the lergy to Bridge Farm. Her impatience with Susan isn’t thinly disguised so much as out, proud and having a good old day trip.) Anyway, when E&C lost the farm back in the day they were barely clinging on, and Clarrie’s many jobs surely only pay tuppence ha’ppeny. Eddie’s patios and casual work aren’t going to keep the fox from the bin, and nor are Will-yum’s patronising handouts. ‘Oooh Will-yum! That’s too much.’ HOW MUCH IS IT, I cry in vain. From Clarrie’s gasp-levels I estimate maybe £200? But could be anything from a tenner to a grand. Will-yum’s swimming in loot from some legacy so I don’t need to worry about how he copes on his doubtless minimum wage gamekeeper’s salary and Nic’s pin money from the Bull. Talking of the Bull, anyone remember that a few short months ago the pub was on the verge of a precipice, with Jolene planning to sell up, and a campaign to support it and t-shirts and everything? But since Jolene’s been shagging Kenton all that worry seems to have faded away. We’re supposed to imagine that the punters have been brought back by Jolene’s happy post-coital glow. No wonder Kenton’s so blinking smug.
A couple of characters have realistic conversations about money, such as Alice and Christopher for instance, with all this stuff about bank loans and selling extra strawberries and houses as guarantees. I’m sure it’s all very true to life. However I always fall asleep with terminal boredom whenever Alice opens her mouth so I can’t be completely sure. And heavily-accented Elona is having to move out of the area because she can’t afford to rent a three-bedroomed house. The only surprise to me is that on a carer’s salary she has hitherto been able to stump up for a two-bedroomed one. I imagine her two girls are involved in some dubious business to make ends meet, which is why they need separate bedrooms.
But mostly people’s income is a mystery. Take Harry and Jazzer. No, go on, take them. Am I mistaken or are they spending like lords while doing little more than a couple of hours a day on the milk round? Clearly I am in the wrong job. I suppose Jazzer’s signing on actually, so that explains his situation. And we still don’t know what Harry’s Secret is yet, so maybe it’s escort work, or drugs-running, or managing a Costa Coffee franchise.
Tom sells a few sausages, and Brenda, well I have no idea what she does at Lillian’s pretend playhouse of a business. Makes coffee and tells everyone she has a marketing degree, I guess, but is there hard cash in that? I think not.
Pat, Tony and Helen: even before the Great E. coli Debacle I was puzzled as to how they not only made a living but also did rather well. How much moolah, truly, can there be in cheese? But now – when every other episode is about how much produce they’re not selling – there should at least be a hint that their supper beans are Tescos value rather than Waitrose organic.
Neil messes about with pigs, and Susan has the same kind of village-based portfolio career that served Clarrie so well till recently. I estimate N&S make about 25p a week, so how does that work?
The biggest mystery of all are Linda and Robert. Yes, she has a receptionist job in Grey Gables, but surely that’s only part-time and isn’t going to pay much more than, what, £10K? And Robert used to earn well at some blokey computery thing which allowed him and Lindy to live in fine style with lamas and gazebos and a whopping great mortgage. But since he’s been unemployed I think he’s only put up one set of shelves in his new incarnation as handyman, yet they live the life of bloody riley. How are they managing?
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be bored senseless if the characters all started to reveal their economic mojos. But very occasionally I’d like to hear someone other than Matt put a price to something; like to know the amount Will-yum considers a suitable parental bung; and I’d love to know what Hell-en’s going to do when she can no longer afford organic baby-wipes for Henry’s little botty. Suicide must surely be a possibility?
Posted by Qwerty. See all Archers blogs here.