It’s never a good idea for soaps to stray far from their usual arena. At present we have the continuity announcer saying gamely, ‘and in just a minute, we’ll be heading off, not to Ambridge, but to Costa Rica’, and our hearts sink.
Dodgy Matt’s done a runner, dragging a reluctant Lilian in his wake. For every cockroach the size of a terrier that terrorises Lilian, Matt sees only a nice little pastry shop. He is as determinedly upbeat as she is down. It’s like two sides of a bipolar personality in one fractious relationship.
The long-distance phone calls between Lilian and her anxious sister Jennifer are splendidly done. Jenny’s primary role is to say, ‘Oh, LILIAN!’ and she can imbue this simple phrase with exasperation, sympathy or horror. Some yokel asked Jenny where Lilian and Matt were, and rather than admit to a country in Central America – soap opera code for ‘bail-jump’ – Jenny rather wonderfully found herself murmuring, ‘Oh, they’ve gone to one of the Costas.’
Poor Lilian hates the Costa she’s in. She’d rather be in Costa Coffee, as Matt pointed out, when she said she had nothing to do all day. ‘Do what you do at ‘ome!’ he snapped. ‘Go to lunch! Get your ‘air done!’
‘Twice a day’, retorted Lil, ‘Given this humidity.’ She sounded for a moment as if she would rather like to have her hair done this often.
Lilian’s been so stressed and shrill, she has managed to force Matt into doing something that Archers characters absolutely hate doing: namely, reveal the cost of something. Prices are never specified. It’s too vulgar. Even in the shop, when Susan dourly rings up purchases, we are not privy to exactly what the items were in the wire basket which led to the sum of £5.21. Generally, no sum beyond a tenner is ever mentioned. Which is why it was so shocking when Matt finally admitted to Lilian how much he was paying for their flea-hole in an insalubrious barrio. He hedged and flannelled in usual Archers style for a while. ‘Less than what we’d pay in England’, and ‘He’s charging a fair sum.’
I was barely paying attention at this point, toying with my tea and wondering if it was too early to pour in a slug of gin. Then, with a final push from Lilian, he suddenly said, ‘800 dollars a month.’ You could have knocked me down with a cockroach. I pushed my tea aside and grabbed the gin bottle. I don’t know what this means for the Archers, but I suspect it’s the beginning of the end for Matt and Lilian.
Posted by Qwerty