If you are over a certain age, you will recall the weird, interstitial era that came between the halcyon days of dialling 192 for free directory enquiries and the full onset of the Internet Age. In those liminal days, if you wanted to find a phone number, one of your options, other than flicking through a telephone directory, was to call 118 118, which a TV ad campaign aggressively encouraged you to do. These ads featured two skinny blokes – apparently twins – wearing 70s facial hair and running vests numbered “118” who’d jog around to a version of the Ghostbusters theme (“Who ya gonna call?”). In my imagination, the Gleeson twins – universally known in Ambridge as “One of Them” and “the Other One” – resemble the 118 118 characters, committed runners that they are. Possibly they circle the village ceaselessly, locked together like Francesca and Paolo in Dante’s Inferno. They never speak; they were cheerfully hailed this month by Tracy, but answer came there none. Once upon a time, we learn, they were champion ballroom dancers, until One of Them injured his ankle and the Other One gave up his glorious career in solidarity. Now they are reduced to eating eggs benedict at Grey Gables and being the subject of gossip between Ian Craig and Susan Carter, the most unlikely friendship in the history of Ambridge.
Moving on. I don’t mean to make a trite comparison here (OK, maybe I do) but the stage we are at in the Chris-Alice divorce now seems to me to resemble the moment in about September 2020 when it began to dawn on the populace that, despite the prime minister’s airy pronouncements back in the spring that Covid would All Be Over in 12 weeks, we’d be lucky if we’d be out of it in two, or even three, years. I suppose there is the faintest chance that Chris’s one-night stand with Alice’s best mate Amy (and I’m still shuddering at the mention of the word “bra” on Radio 4 outwith the safe space of Woman’s Hour) will precipitate a grand reconciliation, but I doubt it. Were one to plot Chris and Alice’s personal trajectories on a graph, you’d see that their lines have now, fatefully, crossed. He’s plunging, she’s rising up, increasingly magnificent and implacable (and sober). She’s even faced down Susan in the shop – not bad when you consider that she chucked a brick through its window in a drunken rage only months ago. All she wants is Her Baby, which is all he wants, too. The gods of Ambridge will be plotting the courtroom drama even now.
I will not be discussing those appalling goldfish, Kate and Roy. I love animals but they both need to die.