Who could envy Jamie Perks? Or: Philip Larkin* got it right
The Archers editorial team really have got it in for troubled teenager Jamie Perks. As if they had not devised enough for this lad to handle already, the latest turn of events looks set to tip him firmly off the straight-and-narrow.
Is Ambridge working up to a full-scale Jacobean tragedy? Consider the scenario – and please bear with me because it’s not simple [Archers fans can skip the next three or four paragraphs]:
Jamie is the only child of the marriage between widower Sid Perks, landlord of The Bull, and schoolteacher Kathie. Jamie enjoys a normal childhood – until Sid falls for the comely charms of songstress Jolene. [Remember the steamy scene in the shower? I thought not.] Kathy concludes the marriage is over and takes Jamie to live in a nearby cottage.
Jolene [a natural behind the bar] moves into The Bull with daughter Fallon. Kathy is raped in the village hall and subsequently gets together with Kenton Archer. Kenton develops a step-dad relationship with Jamie and Jolene is the kindly step-mum. In 2010 Sid dies in New Zealand and simmering tensions between Kathy and Kenton boil up. Kenton has a drunken one-night stand in Borchester. Kathy finds out and Kenton moves out. Jamie’s feelings of abandonment and rejection go through the roof when he finds out about Kenton’s one-nighter. He gets into some stupid stuff, drink and petty vandalism.
You are thinking plenty of kids manage to grow up through this sort of thing, but read on please.
What happens now but – wait for it, because this is where the boundaries of belief are stretched thin – but widow Jolene and now-free Kenton take a shine to one another. Jamie finds out accidentally and goes into shock but continues to visit step-sister Fallon at The Bull. Kathy tries to stop this and an unpleasant scene ensues with Jolene. Confused?
Let’s get this straight: Jamie’s Mum’s ex-lover has got together with his step-mother. Or, his late father’s widow is an item with his mother’s ex-partner. It’s the same thing. First his father and now his mother’s ex-partner have succumbed to the siren Jolene.
Any lad would be a bit upset.
* See Philip Larkin’s poem, “This be the verse” [“They **** you up, your mum and dad” is the best-known line]: Philip Larkin, “High Windows” published by Faber, 1974.