Down On The Farm

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If ever a story could be honestly said to reflect every one of life's many and varied sides, then surely that story must be Crossroads.  Even if it does seem at times as if the whole world revolves around the Motel, everyone who watches and enjoys ATV's ever popular serial will point out that there's plenty going on down on the farm as well.  This month we talk with Ed and Benny, the Crossroads farmers ... 
It's easy, what with all the exciting comings and goings at the Crossroads Motel, to forget that King's Oak is actually in the middle of the country, however much its big neighbour Birmingham does hover grandly in the background.  And when you're in the country, what's more natural to find than a farm.  And if Crossroads is the topic, then fans everywhere know that this isn't just any old farm.
Strange though it may seem, the two world's of the Farm, where we meet Diane (Sue Hanson), Ed (Thomas Heathcote) and Benny (Paul Henry) and that of the Motel never actually meet.  As Noele Gordon lamented, 'I'd love to see Meg visiting the farm, but somehow she never has the time.  Perhaps one day she'll manage to get over there.'  For Crossroads viewers who've had the privilege and pleasure of visiting both sides of the King's Oak world, Noele's certainly missing out on plenty of action.  Even if it isn't always wholly enjoyable.
As both Thomas Heathcote and Paul Henry don't mind pointing out, Ed and Benny don't have the easiest of lives.  And Diane's past, as Crossroads fans know well, has hardly been a bed of roses.  If the Motel has its share of dreams and difficulties, there's no denying that the Farm has had its problems to face too.
If there's any one thing that ties the Farm folk together it must be the simple fact that cimpared with the more worldly inhabitants of the motel, Ed and Benny find that life in today's fast-moving complex world can sometimes become a little more than they can cope with that easily.  As Paul Henry explains, "Benny is like a stray dog that arrives and you start giving him little titbits and then suddenly its there all the time, living on the doorstep, sleeping in the barn..."  And 'stray dog' is certainly one way of looking at Benny, undeniably Crossroads' most continually sympathetic character.    
But there's more than that to Benny.  Sandy Richardson may have his physical difficulties, but even the most charitable would have to admit that simple Benny finds life tough from a purely mental point of view.  Which doesn't help his relations with others.  Paul Henry says "To start off with, you'd have thought that he was mentally deficient, but it's not that.  He's sub-normal at the moment, but that's only because no-one has ever bothered to take care of him before.  But given the right attention he's alright.  Just a bit slower than normal, but he's not an outcast of society."

Down On The Farm ... continued