When we observed in passing that Tobeeee had been enjoying Daft Punk bright and early before his gin sesh with Kenton last Monday, reliable music-detective @bramblybarb was right in there: “I love that song! Reminds me of a fab holiday in Turkey. Daft punk pretty much sums up Toby.” And she’s got a point. Well—two actually (which is three more than Toby and Pip combined….) “Get Lucky” was always destined to be a classic party anthem, and Toby really is a daft punk. (That is: “punk” in the sense used in West Side Story more than that pertaining to the Sex Pistols.) In so many respects, it’s an entirely likely music choice for this player-of-players, whose reliable-partner act isn’t fooling anyone except Pip. “Get Lucky” in this sense—with its insistence on the feel-good factor and a “be who you are, do what you like” mantra—is surely an ideal theme tune for this neoliberalist twerp.
And he clearly loves the song, because only three days later he said he’d given a “rousing chorus” of it while collecting the all-important marshmallow leaves with Carol “The camomile tea pusher” Tregorran. And Pip’s notion that the song might not have been appropriate was perhaps the most useful thing she’s said all year, since many a listener might have suggested he try “Casta diva” instead, the soulful ode to the moon sung by the eponymous and tragic heroine in Bellini’s Norma (1831).
To hear Toby for a moment as Norma herself would be an intriguing idea—the druid priestess has two secret children by the leader of the Roman occupiers, and is forced to throw herself on a sacrificial pyre when the deception and betrayal are exposed. The long-standing speculations that the Gin King of Ambridge has a secret family in Brighton were not abated by the “confession” of a heroin-addled ex, and to a keen music-detective like myself, these marshmallow moments only bring the possibility of another generation of Fairbrethren back into focus.
Less transvestitically (Is that even a word? Ed.), Toby might remind us of the Roman, Pollione. This guy is a total jerk—also secretly the progenitor of the two sprogs, he has the added bonus of being on the side of the brutal invaders, and also a two-timing toss-bag, as he can’t seem to decide between Norma and her bezzie-cum-apprentice-priestess Adalgisa. Pip, alas, doesn’t seem to have any friends, with the exception of Alice, and although she went through a patch of REASSURING EVERYONE that SHE AND CHRIS WERE TOTALLY FAITHFUL in ways that threatened to foreshadow an affair, it all went a bit anticlimactic.
It takes a bit more of a leap to get anywhere near proper operatic on this one…from Toby to Carol, through John to Jennifer, and so to Brian and young Ruairi. And in the weaving and squinting that one has to do along such an operatic amble through Borsetshire, and in the incongruity that moments like Custardgate bring to this everyday tale of country folk, we find ourselves faced with the fundamental question about The Archers: is it, has it ever been, could it ever descend as far as being…a soap opera?