Monday, 4 August 2008

1980: Farewell To Maurice Westrop...

In the spring of 1980, Maurice Westrop (Edward Dentith), head of NY Estates' Beckindale holding, had momentous news for his daughter, Judy (Jane Cussons). He started with a question:

"How attached to this place are you?"

"The village or the house?"

"Both. Either."

"More attached than I have been for a long time. We've moved about a lot since Mother died," Judy sighed. She had experienced many problems since the death of her mother.

"Is that what you want - a permanent home?"

"Oh, perhaps not. It's one of those things you tell yourself will put everything right. It won't, of course. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to go off on that tack."

"What you've just said is important. I hadn't realised when you were younger, moving on every couple of years to a new school, a different house..."

"It doesn't matter. It's just one of those things - plenty of people live like that. Anyway, what brought this on?"

"I'm moving on again. They want me over in North Wales, permanently."

"I see."

"It's not my choice."

"I know. When?"

"In a few weeks."

"Well, that's that then."

"If it's that important, I could get in touch..."

"No you couldn't. You're doing very nicely with NY Estates. And anyway..."

"And anyway I'm too old to change horses. You're right."

Judy made to escape the kitchen - "Today you're going to have a proper lunch. I'm doing complicated things to a chicken."

"We've got to talk this over. I hope you'll come with me."

Judy's mind was awhirl. Everything had changed in just a few minutes. "I don't know. I don't know." And she left the room, leaving an anxious Maurice behind her.

On a visit to Emmerdale Farm, Judy had a piece of good fortune.

"You still looking for a job?" asked Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne).

"Why?"

"Huxleys', the auctioneers in Hotten Market, they're looking for someone."

"To do what?"

Matt shrugged: "All I know is that I couldn't see Ben Huxley this morning cos he was interviewing somebody for it. Give 'em a ring."

"Oh, there's not much point - I've just been telling Annie that Dad's been posted to North Wales, he's going to manage the big estate up there."

"It's like the Army - moving you about from pillar to post!" commented Sam Pearson (Toke Townley).

"He wants me to go with him," said Judy.

"Well, how long before you'll be going?" asked Matt.

"Three weeks. If I go."

"I thought you weren't interested in't job because you were going?"

"I don't really seem too sure of anything," said Judy, forlornly.

Word travelled fast in Beckindale. The next day, at Home Farm, Maurice commented:

"I hear you've been looking round for jobs? I'm sure I could fix you up with something in North Wales."

"I've started to make friends here."

"You'd do that anywhere!"

"Do you realise I haven't any old friends? Oh, there are plenty of people scattered all over the place that I've known for a few months before moving on. Friends I'll probably never see again. If I come to Wales with you it'll be the same thing all over again. Christmas cards for a few years before we cross each other off our lists... Dolly and Matt. Annie Sugden. Henry Wilks...."

She told her father that Huxley's were looking for an assistant to the auctioneer.

She'd grown close to her father during her stay at Home Farm and the thought of parting was not easy. But she told Maurice she'd decided to visit Hotten Market the following day, which was market day: "I thought I'd just like to get the feel of it before I commit myself."

And so the next day she went to Hotten. She took a good look around the market, then went to the desk: "Do you know if the vacancy for an auctioneer's assistant is still open?"

Back at Home Farm, Maurice was waiting:

"You want to stay here, don't you?"

Judy told him that she had been to Huxley's and that the vacancy was still open.

"You're taking it."

"Well, I asked for a day or two to decide."

It was all very difficult. Maurice told Judy that he felt a sense of responsibility for her, belated though it was. Judy confided in Jack Sugden that she felt a sense of responsibility towards her father.

Jack had lots to say: "These women who turn their backs on a career and marriage to look after their parents don't get a lot of sympathy from me. No parent has a right to bring a child into this world and then deny it a life of its own. And no child has a right to opt for martyrdom. Not these days, anyway." He grinned: "How come whenever I talk to you I start preaching at you?"

"Perhaps I'm in need of conversion," said Judy.

"Yeah, well, don't quote me when you tell your father you're stopping in Beckindale."

"Who said I was?"

"You're not the stuff that martyrs are made of."

"How do you know- you don't even know me?"

"I'm a writer, remember? We like to think we can explain our fellow creatures to themselves."

"Can you?"

Jack smiled - and shrugged.

"Whatever you do, it'll have to be your decision," said Maurice later back at Home Farm. "And if you find you've made a mistake you won't be able to get back at me."

Judy took a deep breath: "I've decided to stay."

"I know," her father replied, quietly.

"How could you possibly know, I didn't know myself till this morning!"

"What you mean is that's the first time you've admitted it to yourself. I've known all along - from the look on your face when I first mentioned going to Wales. You've never been able to keep any secrets from me. When you were a little girl I had only to look in your eyes - your mouth was saying one thing, your eyes were saying another."

"Thanks very much!" Judy smiled.

"I hope you'll settle down at Huxley's. I think you will - it'll be an interesting job - going round all the farms."

"I haven't said I'll take it yet. I'm not sure."

"They'll be very disappointed if you don't - they're banking on it." Then, as Judy looked at him quizzically: "Oh, I was there yesterday about the Mashams. Ben Huxley's under the impression that you'll be starting next week."

"What have you been saying?!"

"Nothing. Oh, er, I may have mentioned that they'd find you an honest, careful and conscientious worker."

"You really are an old devil!"

"I hope I haven't been speaking out of turn?"

Judy looked at him anxiously: "Do you mind?"

"Well, if you're not coming with me, I'd feel better knowing what you're doing."

"That's not what I meant."

Maurice smiled: "We'll see each other."

"You'll really be all right?"

"Oh for heaven's sake, I'm not in my dotage yet! And I've looked after myself for long enough. You'd have never have stuck North Wales anyway! Three months and you'd have been off again - heaven knows where!"

Judy grinned: "You really do know me, don't you?"

Some days later, on a visit to Emmerdale Farm, Judy talked things over with Annie (Sheila Mercier) and Dolly (Jean Rogers):

"I don't think Dad's altogether happy about my staying on."

"Oh, he's bound to worry," said Annie.

"It's difficult to explain really. I want to stay in Beckindale, but it's more than that. It's time I stood on my own two feet again. That's really what's at the back of it."

There was one remaining practical difficulty: accommodation.

"I don't want to be a burden at Home Farm - people too polite to throw me out, but wondering why I'm still there!"

"There's a simple answer - Demdyke!" cried Annie. Joe (Frazer Hines) was away in America and wouldn't be back for a couple of months - Judy could stay there until she found a place of her own.

"Well, thanks, Annie, but I don't know that Joe..."

"It's simple! When he rings from America I'll ask him. There's only two answers!"

And, of course, Joe said yes.

On the eve of his departure, Maurice was sad. Annie had invited the Westrops for a meal at Emmerdale, and Judy commented: "We're going to be very early."

"I thought we'd call in at the Woolpack on the way."

"You're really feeling it, aren't you?"

"I didn't think I would... all these years, moving about from place to place. I'd rather hoped this was the last stop."

"You shouldn't have started packing so early!"

"Well, it's no good pretending it isn't going to happen. It's you as well, Judy. Leaving you behind makes it all the more difficult."

"I won't be the other side of the world. We'll still see each other."

"On high days and holidays!"

"Oh, more than that! And anyway, can that be bad? Before I came here we hardly saw each other at all. We hadn't had a real conversation for years."

"I've been spoilt!"

"Nobody ever died of that!"

"I suppose you're looking forward to Joe coming back?"

"Oh, it'll be good to see him."

"And that's all?"

Judy laughed: "Oh, Dad, stop trying to get me married off!"

"It's just a fatherly interest. I'm not prying."

"I don't know what'll happen. Oh, there was a time when I thought it might take off - somehow it didn't. But he's a marvellous friend - and that's what matters. Now come on - it's gloomy here, let's go. Amos can cheer us up with tales of his vegetable patch." For Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill) had just gained an allotment in Beckindale, and spoke of little else.

After an enjoyable stop-off at The Woolpack, the Westrops, father and daughter, set off for Emmerdale Farm.

Before the meal commenced, Henry Wilks (Arthur Pentelow) proposed a toast:

"Let's just say this is not a farewell dinner. Maurice has become a good friend over the last two years and I know he'll be coming back to Beckindale - Judy's staying here to make sure that he does..."

Surrounded by friends and with new horizons beckoning, Maurice felt a little happier.

The gathering stood up to drink a toast:

"TO THE FUTURE!"

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