As I’ve told you before, John and Elly seem to have it fixed into their tiny, self-serving brains that forcing their children to spend time on a farm is somehow magically supposed to cure whatever perceived imperfection that most bothers them. They, of course, vary in what imperfection needs to be addressed: Elly wants to cure her children of liking people that threaten her and John needs obedience from his children to silence the dying voice in his head that tells him that he’s an insensitive, selfish, dishonest, entitled worm who never did a God-damned thing to earn the respect that he demands.
As with all of their other great big schemes, this redemption-through-exposure-to-horses thing came a rather ridiculous cropper. Instead of the wise farmhands who’d guide their children on the path to righteousness television led them to expect, Mike and Liz found the sort of people John spent his youth plotting to get away from: abrasive loudmouths who exist to cut down tall poppies like train-obsessed dentists and the rocket-jawed wives they married. Not only that, there’s nothing to do and no one to do it, they can’t talk to their friends and any attempt they get to find a sympathetic ear is smirkingly rebuffed by their cousin-turned-babysitter.
The end result of this is to make them amplify and distort the hardships of country living. Were we to look at Dan and Bev’s place, we’d see a rather homey little spread that’s almost out of a postcard; Mike and Liz shudder in horror at the memory because they remember it as being the holdover from the late Victorian era depicted in Stone Season. If you’ve ever wondered why a farm in the early fifties was described in terms that made you think that Harvey Rood took Sheilaaarrrrrghhh back to the 1880s in his time machine, you’ve got John and Elly to thank for it.