Richter Scale-smashing shock waves seem set to devastate Britain's favourite farming community tonight, writes Daisy Fields, Agriculture and Celebrity Infant-Trafficking Correspondent.
The BBC have had devotees of long-running Radio 4 soap The Archers - set in the fictional Midlands village of Ambridge - salivating on tenterhooks for weeks in anticipation of the 60th Anniversary Episode to be broadcast this evening.
And all that tenterhook-hooked salivation is sure to have been worth it, and then some, according to a source close to a such a demi-world of patronising stereotypes where the complex intelligent people are all middle-class whereas the working-class characters are rustic yokel-buffoons put in for unfunny comic-relief that the whole thing might have been inspired by Shakespeare, except that he could write.
My source - who is close to Joe Grundy's farmer's lung - revealed some startling plot-revealing revelations to me yesterday, and I was, to put it mildly, mildly astounded. To put it less mildly, I was astounded.
Astounded then, and I mean, not mildly, but actually rather strongly astounded, I listened to the seismically-stunning revelations that my source - who is close to Ruth Archer's appalling Geordie accent - revealed to me, and I really was quite strongly astounded. I don't know why I ever thought of putting it mildly in the first place. I'm only glad that I was able to spot the error of my ways in this matter so quickly. I mean, if I hadn't seen the error, there would have been a real danger that I might have soiled the build-up to the earth-shattering revelations that, revealed to me yesterday by a source close to Titcombe, the mysterious, non-speaking head gardener at Lower Loxley, I now, in my turn, am about to reveal to you, ever-patient reader. Gosh! Did I write "might have soiled the build-up" just then? I believe I did. Of course - though a little soiling is perhaps appropriate in an agricultural milieu, I did of course mean to write "spolied". No, "spoiled". Me and my typing! Tush!
But no matter. Once again, I have been able to identify my little slip-up in a fashion timely enough to obviate any dramatic tension-reducing issues. So, without further adieu, let us proceed to the meat, the earthquakingly-momentous meat of my message. Yes, I know, ever-vigilant reader, I did write "adieu" just then. I don't think I need to point out that I really meant "ado", as in Shakespeare's (why does he keep cropping up?) play "Much Ado About Nothing", so I won't mention it, relying as always upon your good judgement to see us through.
Now where were we? Ah. I met my source - who is very close to Jack Woolley's former invisible (I know they are all invisible, it being a radio series, but it just seems to make more of a difference when it's a dog) dog "Captain" - in the snug bar of the Smug Travesty hostelry not far from BBC Headquarters near Middlezoy, Somerset (or so my source - very close to Kenton Archer's terminal immaturity - assured me).
My source - close to Susan Carter's delusions of grandeur - was very informative indeed, so long as I kept him well-lubricated with pints of Old Curmudgeon's Cloudy Brain Cudgeller, a traditional "scrumpy" cider he seemed to enjoy. Wearing what he claimed to be a 'full scale replica o' old Walter Gabriel's turmit-mungerin' smock', he swayed in his seat like a diseased lime in a November squall, and revealed the following geologically-gigantic revelation:
'Ah, see, it be a real toe-curler, this 'en, ah. Arr, yes, it be, d'ye see, now, aarr?' When I confessed that I could make neither head nor tail of this, and asked him why he spoke in such a ludicrous accent, he claimed, mysteriously, that it was 'meythod arctin', d'ye see?'
'Method acting?' I asked. 'You mean, like Marlon Brando?'
He swayed from side to side. 'No, like Walter Gabriel. But, if you get me another pint, I'll speak English for you.'
I was more than happy to oblige. Perhaps I needn't have mentioned this, but I felt that it would be an important piece of scene-setting, of word-painting. Get you right in there, the atmosphere, and all that. Perhaps I was wrong. But, again, at least I have spotted my error - and skilfully extricated myself from what might have been a fatal incomprehensible rural accent situation - in good time. So at least the narrative drive of my story hasn't suffered at all.
'Well, what they've decided to do for the 60th Anniversary episode, you see, is bring in a massive celebrity', said my source - who is close to a ludicrous farrago that comforts the simple-minded urban middle classes by peddling a stereotyped childish travesty of what is in reality the grim landscape of British agribusiness. 'They were wanting to bring Elizabeth II in, but she couldn't find the kennelling for the corgis at this time of year. So they got the next best old Queen - Elton John.'
I was astounded. Not mildly astounded. No, I was quite strongly astounded. I gestured to him to continue, though he had stopped, as he was obviously aware of my more-than-mildly astounded state.
'What they've done, you see, is they're going to have Elton passing through Ambridge on his way to Portsmouth, where he likes to hang around cruising the docks of a weekend. He always likes to go via the country roads, in his restored 1963 MK 1 Humber Sceptre car, with a supply of Capstan Full Strength cigarettes in his Brown Patent Handbag. Anyway, he's driving through Ambridge, when he realises that his waters are breaking (his pal, David Furniture, had warned him about driving through a fictional rural backwater in a 1960s car when heavily pregnant, but would he listen?).
'Elton's desperate, it's like Niagara on the Sceptre's bench seat. He needs to get out of the car. The Sceptre's overdrive isn't much use in this situation, though usually Elton loves it. At least the Humber's 10-inch front disk brakes (unusual for the period) help ensure safe parking.
'So Elton's stranded in Ambridge, with his waters breaking. He tries the posh places like the Aldridges and the Archers at Brookfield, but they can't help him as they think he's a transvestite tramp believed to be haunting Borsetshire.
'In the end, close to giving up and having the baby in a pigsty, an exhausted Elton turns up at Grange Farm, where the notorious Grundys are the only ones to show compassion. In a stunning parallel to the famous story about Baby Jesus and the Manger, Elton finally gives birth in the Grundy Turkey Shed, handily now empty after Christmas.
'Despite being a martyr to his farmer's lung, old Joe Grundy acts as midwife, while his son Eddie is out selling tickets.
'Soon, all the community turn up to see the new babe. However, something is not quite right. Nobody dare say anything, and it takes token mad Jock stereotype pigman Jazzer McCreary, who is drunk, to point out that the "baby" is in fact a Mini-Me style Elton John Doll.'
My source - by now close to the floor - ended his revelations with the somewhat mystical phrase 'It'll do for the Archers what James Corden has done for Jonathan Swift's vicious satires on the human condition, will this episode. Mark my words.'
This was all I was able to glean from my source. When I left him, he was close to the fireside rug and even closer to a drunken stupor.
As I drove away from the car park of the Smug Travesty Inn, I was still astounded. Not mildly astounded. Strongly astounded.
And two things were bothering me:
- None of these revelations, or indeed anything about the whole experience of meeting my source, seemed at all believable or likely to be true in any way
- I was not going to be able to get my story out before the Archers anniversary episode went on air
- I bet Elton John has a Cesarean when it comes down to it
These were my thoughts as I left Middlezoy and headed for the bustling streets of Westonzoyland in search of the M5. One girl reporter not a million mules from yours truly had a lot of explaining to do when she submitted this piece of copy.
Hang on. Did I just type "mules" back there? Oh yes I did. Silly me! Still, at least I spotted the misteak in time to prevent it spoiling the ending of the story.
Hold on. Yes, I did type "misteak" there. Oops! And of course the "two" things bothering me on the A372 were in reality three. It seams I just won't be able to win with this particular tail!