(Series 8, Ep.22) Lorraine Donnegan’s accountant has told her she needs to slash the Waterloo Road budget by 30%. That’s a lot of slashing, so she decided she’d start by moving into Michael Byrne’s office. Has it suddenly become much larger? I’d swear it used to be a bit more snug, but maybe he used to have a false wall in there to make it smaller so Sian Diamond would have to wriggle past him for staff meetings. Now he’s on a pipe-and-slippers domestic footing with Jane Beale, he has no need of such stratagems and the extra space has come in handy for Cockney Lorraine and her ergonomic desk chair.
Further savings were to be found by making Michael do an honest day’s teaching instead of slumping over his desk all day waiting for disasters to happen. To make sure he could still hack it on the shop floor, Nikki Boston was dispatched to watch. If Nikki observed all the teachers, Lorraine (dress code: leather and black lace) reasoned, she’d be able to spot teachers who were not adding value, who could then be Drastically Cut.
The prime candidate for that sort of thing would in normal times have been Grantly Budgen, a man with such a gift for teaching he makes Steph Haydock look like Dead Poets Society. But these are not normal times for Grantly, what with having rapidly deteriorating kidneys and that. It’s put a dreadful burden on Maggie the Dinnerlady, who was faced this week with the added pressure that Lorraine wanted to slash the canteen budget as well and made Maggie compete with local takeaway owner The Prince of Spices for the honour of serving the school meals.
The tiresome Verruca Salt, who had her eye on the son of the Prince of Spices (a Scottish version of Tamwar from EastEnders), messed Maggie around by nicking her spreadsheet and giving it to the PoS so he could undercut her figures. Dastardly! Poor Maggie, she was so disheartened by this point that she was even reduced to going to the staff room to ask around whether anyone had a spare kidney they were willing to give Grantly. Tom Clarkson looked like he might be tempted, and I wondered whether his exit storyline might be that he dies on the operating table while donating one of his vital organs to his old colleague and shop steward. It would be a fitting end for a man whose default setting is Tearful.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What were the Barrys up to while all this was going on? Barry Barry, who always looks like he’s ready to start snapping his fingers and going into a dance routine from West Side Story, spent 50% of his time rolling his eyes in the general direction of his sister/brother Kacey/Robbie, and 50% entering into some kind of car financing deal with Pale Connor. Michael Byrne doesn’t think it’s right that Emo Imogen stays under the same roof as Connor overnight (he doesn’t know they’re married), so Connor had the sensible idea of getting a camper van they could use as a little bolt-hole on wheels, if only he could afford such a thing. The fact that the vehicle Barry “sourced” was a truck with no roof on the back didn’t dim Imogen’s enthusiasm for it. Possibly they can pitch a little wigwam on the back part.
In other news, the teacher with the pointy face’s African boyfriend has apparently been given a general handyman role. Not even a whiff of a CRB check, either. Sonya “Slightly Less Cockney” Donnegan has her eye on him, but he only has eyes for the teacher with the pointy face. Sonya was showing him around the school, and pointed out the computer room. She didn’t think he’d have that sort of thing where he came from. “I’m from Malawi,” he said, “Not the Stone Age.” That’s her told.
So now to the shock finale. Maggie the Dinnerlady, having made up with Verruca Salt and won the catering contract back again, snuggled up with Grantly as he settled in for another night of at-home dialysis. We saw him smiling contentedly, but she was looking worried. Then we saw her waking up suddenly, discovering an apparently lifeless Grantly next to her, and then he was rushed off in an ambulance. Is Grantly dead? Is it too late for Tom to donate a kidney and die a hero? The little preview of next week’s episode was no help, as it all seemed to revolve around Dynasty Barry proving she’s a hot-shot at chess and a mysterious “Steve-o” turning up. I bet Steve-o isn’t a hot-shot at chess. He looked like Trouble to me.
Posted by PLA (More Waterloo Road here)