223 & 224
Original -- May 15/16, 1984
Showcase -- May 5/8, 2000
Wendy Strehlow (Sister Judy Loveday)
Emily Nicol (Chloe Jones)
Lisa Crittenden (Heather)
Don Reid (Gordon Swift)
Max Meldrum (Arnie Hodgekiss)
Some great quotations from the culturally aware Esme:

Regarding Shirley's yellow robes -- "I can't say the colour suits you." Shirley replies, "It's the colour of holiness." "Is it? I always thought holiness was blue."

Seeing a photo of Shirley's guru, "A dark gentleman! Like that one from The King And I."

When telling Cookie about Shirley's "gnu", he corrects her, saying "Guru. A gnu is an African beast." She responds "I think this one was Indian."

Best scene:
Esme stoned. No doubt about it!
The Wandin Valley Wanderers beat the Burrigan Bombers.

Frank's attempts at Shirley's new name: Siddyhoohaa; Siddyhumbug; Siddywhatsit.


Plotlines, characters, dialogue quotes, hospital name, house image, show photos, & show-specific details JNP Productions. The wording and presentation of the information on this site and all of the ACP graphics 1998-2003 Kitty MacAlpine (unless otherwise noted).

Thanks to Lousie O. for the description and information for this episode.
"Tug of War"

Bob meets Gordon Swift after a local football match. Gordon bought the old Foley farm and has recently moved up from the city to try his hand at farming. Bob and Gordon discuss football - Gordon used to play for a Sydney club. Bob introduces Gordon to Vicky, who was also watching the match, and she makes arrangements to come out to his farm to see his cows. Frank drops in on Molly. He tells her that Shirley is due back from India and Nepal on the weekend. Molly is sure that Shirl will be different on her return, but Frank hopes not. He also mentions that the council has finally approved construction of a footbridge, to be built near the school. Bob sees Arnie Hodgekiss at the pub. With Johnno out of town (in Melbourne this time), Arnie is feeling the pressure of the extra responsibilities he has to bear. Vicky comes home to find Simon treating Heather, the clinic's temporary receptionist, for a cut on her leg. Heather fell off her bike just outside Vicky and Simon's flat. She also has a bandage around her arm (from scalding herself on the steriliser) and another on two fingers (which she jammed in the filing cabinet).

Simon talks to Vicky about Heather. He seems completely oblivious to what is obvious to Vicky - that Heather has a crush on him. Judy and Brendan complain about the attention given to football by the locals. Judy claims that even the council is football obsessed. She can't believe that people voted for Arnie Hodgekiss, but Brendan reminds her that he was just a pawn of Muldoon, put on the council to keep Shirley out (see episodes 143 - 144). Now he is a pawn of Johnno. Vicky delivers one of Gordon's calves by caesarian section. She suspects that there will be problems with the births of the whole herd. Gordon's cows were born during the drought, and so are smaller than normal. Now that the drought has broken, the calves are large. Gordon didn't count on these problems and is worried about the veterinary cost. When Simon comes into the clinic in the morning Heather asks for a consultation. She has a rash on her arm, and Simon suggests she get a cream from the chemist. She seems disappointed in how quickly he finishes with her. Molly and Chloe catch tadpoles in the creek. Nearby, some surveyors are taking measurements for the footbridge. Molly tells them that it should be further down, near the school, but they say they are acting under the direct orders of the council. The current location will provide bettern access from the football field to the pub.

Molly bursts into Arnie's office to tell him about the footbridge. He replies that Johnno convinced the council that the town would be better served with the footbridge near his pub. Molly practically accuses the council of corruption, but Arnie assures her the decision is final. Simon and Terence discuss Shirley's imminent return, and her replacement. Simon says that while Heather is an excellent receptionist, she is constantly getting injured. Terence, like Vicky, believes she does it to get Simon's attention, but Simon thinks that since most of the injuries are quite painful she must just be accident-prone. Gordon tells Bob about the problems with his cattle. He considers going back to his old profession (medicine) to earn enough money to keep the farm going. When Bob hears this, he asks him to be the official doctor for the football club, as neither Terence nor Simon take much interest in the sport. Molly rushes into the hospital to tell Brendan about the footbridge. Both he and Judy agree to help organise a protest, but Brendan suggest leaving Arnie to Shirley. Frank prepares a steak dinner for Shirley's return. She walks in the door wearing yellow safron robes, and bows towards him, saying "Peace to you, my husband."

Vicky tries to talk to Shirley about her trip, but she responds to every question like a Buddhist monk. To Frank's consternation, she has taken a vow to abstain from mean, animal products and alcohol. She also insists on being called her 'soul's name', Siddaloca, which means "a planet of perfect beings who can control time, space and gravity." She gives insence candles to Vicky, and scrolls of wise saying of the holy men to Frank, to put up at the police station. Molly organises a protest meeting amongst the mothers. Brendan receives a letter from Matron Sloan, who says she will be returning soon. Shirley tries to instruct Vicky and Frank on the anti-material world. Frank becomes jealous when he hears about the holy man she met, until he sees the photo of the very old, bald Indian. Frank goes to bed, leaving Shirl to sit and meditate (loudly). Heather tidies up the clinic before Shirley arrives. While Simon tells Terence about Shirls' transformation, Heather quietly leaves. Arnie speaks to Johnno over the phone. He won't be returning for at least three months. Heather staggers into the hospital, doubled over in pain.

Simon has difficulty examining Heather as she is thrashing around so much. He thinks she has an ovarian cyst and asks Judy to set up for a laparotomy. Terence leaves the clinic to help Simon. He asks Shirley to cancel the rest of the day's appointments, but she wafts on about physical apin being in the mind. Frustrated, the waiting patients leave. Esme asks Shirley about her trip, at once fascinated and disapproving. Arnie watches as construction of the bridge begins. When Molly argues with him again, he tells her that as he has power and she doesn't, she should stop wasting his time. After the laparotomy, which showed no cysts or other abnormality, apart from several surgery scars, Simon is frustrated and confused. He can't find a reason for Heather's symptoms, and decides to keep her in for observation.

Simon and Vicky share lunch at the flat. He goes over Heather's case again, and she suggests he put it in the back of his mind. They talk about Shilrey's new image. Vicky doesn't think Eastern mysticism has a place in small country towns in Australia. "We've got to face it Simon. My mother's a loony." Gordon introduces himself to Brendan at the hospital. He asks Brendan if he thinks the town could support another doctor (Brendan is reluctant to comment), and gets a tour of the hospital. Judy checks Heather's temperature when Dr. Swift walks past her room. She panics and tells Judy that she doesn't want him anywhere near her.

Molly and Vicky go to the bridge site to speak to the builders. When Arnie arrives in his Cadillac they insist that the bridge must be moved near the school, as originally promised, but he reminds them that he has the power and they have none. Brendan discusses Dr. Swift with the other doctors. Swift has asked permission to use the hospital for his own patients. While Terence and Simon have the right to veto the hospital board's approval, they would look pretty insecure if they did so. Judy mentions Heather's behaviour when she saw Dr. Swift earlier. At the club, Esme complains about Drs. Elliott and Bowen. She believes they don't take her 'delicate condition' seriously enough. Dr. Swift happens to be there, and is introduced to her. She talks to him about her nerves, and he suggests she make an appointment to see him. Heather is released from the hospital. The doctor believes she was suffering from a viral infection of the lymph glands and stomach, but that it was relatively benign. She thinks there must be more to her condition, and is reluctant to leave.

Frank is becoming increasingly annoyed with Shirley, who sits under her pyramid humming a mantra (loudly). He tries to tempt her with a juicy steak, but she only wants brown rice. He tells her about the bridge protest, sure that she will be keen to help Molly, but she replies that the small troubles of Wandin Valley are insignificant relative to the universe. Cookie advises Esme to stick with the old doctors rather than trusting herself to Dr. Swift so readily. However, she isn't impressed with them, or the strange turn that Shirley has taken. Arnie comes in, complaining about his sinuses. He claims the doctors are no help. Esme recommends he see Dr. Swift. After hearing about Swift's footballing past, Arnie decides to invite Wandin Valley's celebrity to the bridge opening. Simon comes home for lunch. When Vicky asks about Dr. Swift, Simon admits that he doesn't like having competition, but there isn't anything he can do about it. Vicky doesn't think he will pose much of a threat anyway. Molly drops by the Gilroy place to inform Frank that she is organising a protest at the bridge opening. She is annoyed at Shirl's apparent apathy about the situation, and doesn't think much of spiritual enlightenment if this is the result. Frank warns her that since many of the men in town are on the football team, her protest could pit husbands against wives. Heather staggers into the hospital vomiting blood. Esme sits at the club looking stoned. She has been put on Valium, by Dr. Swift in preparation for an operation - for her "women's trouble". She is upset that Terence and Simon ignored her for so long when Dr. Swift picked up the problem immediately. Terence and Simon discuss Heather again. They couldn't find any sign of a bleeding ulcer. Her temperature, pulse and blood pressure were all normal when she was examined, but all were elevated only three minutes later. Brendan comes into her room to take her temperature again. When he leaves the room briefly, she rubs the thermometer vigorously between her hands, so that when he returns it has a high reading. Back at the club, Esme is still doped. Cookie tells Terence about the Valium. Terence admits that he isn't happy with her treatment, but ethically he can't involve himself in another doctor's patient. He asks Cookie to encourage Esme to get a second opinion.

Molly teaches Chloe how to interpret the news by taking notice of what newspapers don't say. Bev calls with a list of women who want to be involved in the protest. Molly calls the Burrigan Examiner, and requests that a photographer be sent to the bridge opening. Bob and Cookie suggest to Esme that she get a second opinion before going ahead with the operation. She is very upset at their implication, as she trusts Dr. Swift. Molly talks to Bob about the protest. As coach of the football team, he can't be seen taking her side, but she asks him for a favour. Dr. Swift mets Simon in the hospital and asks to see Heather. After walking past her room, he confirms that he treated her himself once. She then used the name Helen Briggs, and has other psuedonyms. She has a long history of faking symptoms - a psychiatric condition called Munchausen's syndrome. Dr. Swift admits that he took out her appendix before he realised what was going on. Simon confides that her latest trick was swallowing chicken blood. After seeing Dr. Swift again, Heather realises that she's been caught. She grabs a glass from the bedside table, smashes it, and uses one of the shards to slash her wrist.

Arnie saws a few centimetres of each leg of one of the chairs in his office, so that whoever sits in it is noticeably lower than himself. Seeing that Frank is about to enter, Arnie conducts a fake telephone call with a government minister. When he is finished, he tells Frank that he has heard about the protest, and wants police reinforcements to be arranged. Frank doesn't think she will get any support, though. Simon and Brendan discover Heather, covered in blood. Brendan is angry with her but Simon just sets about stitching her up. Bev calls Molly again to tell her that some of the women have backed out. Simon sends Heather to a psychiatric hospital. Her name is on a health department warning list with two other aliases. He admits that he owes Dr. Swift for picking up her condition. Terence tells Simon about Esme's treatment, and they both realise in horror that with Esme in hospital, they won't be able to escape her! At the footbridge site, men and women have lined up on opposite sides yelling at each other. Frank calls for quiet, and says he has decided that there will be a tug-of-war to solve the problem. The winning team will have the bridge built on their site. There are a few defections on each side for the sake of family harmony. The photographer arrives, and just as a young boy (Melvin Muldoon!) is about to hand Arnie the scissors, Molly arrives on horseback, complete with Australian army uniform, to cut the ribbon with a sword.

Frank makes Bob volunteer to help the ladies' side in the tug-of-war, and then it begins. Shirley tries to speak to Bev, but she isn't at the switchboard. Esme comes in to see Terence. For once Esme and Shirley see eye to eye, as they are both spaced out! The men are winning the tug-of-war until Bev arrives (only her big army boots are on screen). In one pull she wins the contest for the women. The men accept defeat goodnaturedly, and agree to build another footbridge for the kids. Arnie isn't happy with the result, however. Terence, Simon and Vicky discuss Munchausen's syndrome. Terence explins that it develops from chronic insecurity, and a need for attention. Frank meditates crosslegged, in a poncho, shoes and police socks. Shirley says he look ridiculous. He chants a long-winded sentence that essentially means, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Suddenly Shirl snaps out of it, laughs and hugs Frank.


Where to now?