The Darling Buds of May

11073763Upstanding and thoroughly uptight tax inspector Cedric Charlton pays a visit to the Larkin’s sprawling farm and junk yard – intent on discovering why a certain buff-yellow tax return hasn’t been returned to his office for inspection. Before too long he’s bewitched by the Larkin’s beautiful – albeit secretly pregnant – daughter, Mariette, and within a matter of days tax evasion becomes a distant memory. Pa and Ma Larkin quickly see the advantages of having Charlton on side and he’s soon seduced into a world of feasting and drinking amid the lush 1950’s countryside in the grip of a heatwave, when everything – even the strawberry picking – feels overwhelmingly sensual.
Food pays a big part in the Larkin’s generous household, where the TV is never turned off and there’s always a couple of geese in the oven and a slab of butter on the table. There’s no finesse or good taste attached to this gorging it’s more about the quantity, the tomato ketchup, the cocktails, the beer for breakfast, and the size of the joint. And there’s always a deal to be done, whether its taking an extravagant car in lieu of a debt, or something more personal… The slightly shifty, happy-go-lucky, belching Larkins’ are well contrasted against their neighbours; the shrewish church mice Edith Pilchester and Miss Barnwells, tiny Aunt Fans, and the impoverished Brigadier, constantly worried about his vast, crumbling estate. Never one to miss an opportunity, Pa Larkin offers him scrap value for it. The result is a kaleidoscope of colourful, original, larger-than-life characters coming together for the final scene in the Larkin’s meadow. Perfick.

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