Sunday, 13 August 2017

'It was a farce': Lynda Snell slams fête. Plus: how stressed is your vet?

Ambridge fête lurches from farce to fights

There were chaotic scenes in Ambridge on Sunday as the new organisers were accused of putting on a pantomime instead of the summer fête.
‘I was mortified,’ said Lynda Snell. ‘I thought I could trust Fallon and Emma to respect my legacy, fête-wise, but they must have mixed up the events. It was like watching a dreadful dress rehearsal of Cinderella. Miriam and Lulu Duxford were stomping about like the Ugly Sisters, with Brian Aldridge dressed as Baron Hard-Up, chasing them round with his massive bell.
‘Jazzer made a terrible hash of the Bonniest Babe in the Wood scene and the Community Choir was completely out of control as the Chorus. Whoever let them near the Scruff Gin has a lot to answer for.
‘Thank goodness for Ed Grundy, who excelled as the Knight in Shining Armour, defending the Ruritanian peasants (surely, the much-valued seasonal workers? Ed) from the Racist Rabble of Grange Spinney. The stage-fighting was very realistic, I admit, but that is the best I can say of this production.’

Catering news

Tom Archer of Bridge Farm is off to the USA this week to observe how New York delis market their fermented foods. ‘If I can make kimchi there, I can make it anywhere,’ he says.
Celebrity chefs Miriam and Lulu Duxford have withdrawn the offer they made at the Ambridge fete to train unemployed youngsters at their new restaurant, Les Soeurs Heureuses. ‘On reviewing our aspirations we found they were incompatible with legislation on modern slavery,’ their spokesperson said. ‘We hope to find another way of exploiting… um, sorry, engaging with the community so our guests feel better about paying £20 for a bowl of tomato soup.’
Joel Hipster, manager of the Happy Friends community café in Borchester, is moving on. ‘I felt it was time to take the next step on my spiritual journey,’ he says. ‘And when Jill Archer gave me all the takings from the fête, the path became clear. I believe the Universe wants me to be really, really rich, so I’m shutting the café and starting a bone broth and macaroon bar in Felpersham.’

Senior citizens update

Jill Archer, whose flapjack-throwing exploits made her the most sought-after activist in Borsetshire, has launched a new charity. ‘I had so many requests for help I was quite overwhelmed,’ she says.’ But my young friend Kirsty put me right. I’m going to focus on bees and feeding the homeless and I’m starting a new campaign for the W.I. called Stay in a Hive.’ (sorry. Ed).
Bert Fry and Joe Grundy have set up a bereavement service specialising in counselling elderly widowers. ‘Ain’t nobody knows what it is to lose your life partner like me and Bert do,’ says Mr Grundy. ‘So we’ll come round to see you, eat all your food and fight over who had the biggest marrow at the 2002 Flower & Produce Show. We tried it on poor Oliver Sterling and it must have worked a treat ‘cos he said he wouldn’t need to see us again.’

Poll of the Week

This week’s topic was prompted by the barbecue Fallon and Emma organised to show Ambridge’s support for the fruit pickers at Home Farm.

What was it that made Phoebe Aldridge so sick that she couldn’t keep down her morning-after pill? Vote now!

O Jennifer Aldridge’s baked apples
O Clarrie Grundy’s cheesecake
O Lynda Snell’s Black Forest gateau
O Constantin’s spotted dick
(That’s enough options. Ed.)

How stressed is your vet?

Is your local vet showing any of the following symptoms:

1.     Being horribly thoughtless about your recent bereavement
2.     Nearly injecting a pregnant cow with prostaglandin, which would have caused a disastrous miscarriage
3.     Turning his phone off when he should be on call
4.     Jumping like a scalded cat when anyone mentions Matt Crawford
5.     Refusing to drop in to look at Peggy Woolley’s Hilda Ogden

If you ticked more than one (especially 5, which is the most troubling), contact your vet's Gambling Anonymous sponsor immediately.

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: The Outsiders.  

Hard-working young couple Ed and Emma find themselves caught up in a bitter feud between two rival gangs: the Rough Sorts from Darrington and the Nimbys from Ambridge. Will they manage to move into an affordable home of their own when even their own family members are too snobbish to support them? (yes, you, Susan Carter). A gritty slice of Kathy’s lemon cake (surely, rural life? Ed).

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Stop press: The Ambridge Observer goes tabloid!

It's all change for The AmOb

After more than two years as a broadsheet, The Ambridge Observer is moving with the times and this week emerges as The AmOb – a brighter, lighter, snappier, happier (yes, get on with it. Ed) version of your favourite Ambridge weekly.
‘These days we need to fight for readers’ attention and we know they lead busy lives,’ said marketing manager Will Shiftmore. ‘So we’ll be reporting the news in bite-sized chunks and formats that younger readers love: listicles, polls, slideshows and emojis – well, maybe not emojis as we couldn’t find one for  "anaerobic digester".
‘To save readers time we’ve even shortened our title – so it’s goodbye to The Ambridge Observer, and hi to The AmOb! It’s gone down really well with millennials in focus groups and we’re all very excited. But readers can still expect the same standards of unreliable reporting, disregard for the facts and frankly, lamentable journalistic ethics.’
The first edition of the new-look AmOb hits the newsstands today, Sunday August 6 – still weekly, and with a special monthly supplement for our friends over on Facebook

New fête attractions announced

The Human Fruit Machine (three blokes in booths holding up random pieces of fruit) is not the only unusual stall at this year’s Ambridge fête. Also on offer in keeping with the ‘tradition with a twist’ theme are:

Human Speak-Your-Weight Machine
Susan Carter makes personal remarks and asks intrusive questions about your friends and family until you pay her to stop. Donations to the women’s cricket changing room fund.

Human Coconut (Flapjack) Shy
Relive the celebrity chef experience as Jill Archer throws her famous traybakes at your head. Don't forget to Duck-sford! As heard on Radio Borsetshire. Donations to the Happy Friends Café.

Human Bookstall
Listen to Lynda Snell read from her favourite books including Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Get Off My Land, a Nimby’s Manual by Xavier Greene-Belt. Donations to Speedwatch.

Human Kiss-Me-Quick Hat
Tracy Horrobin… (that’s enough stalls. Ed).

News Justin (surely, just in? Ed)

Jill Archer is a late call-up to represent Great Britain in the women’s shot put at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in London. ‘After my arrest for throwing a flapjack I had a few offers to help with campaigns to bring back rural buses, end the badger cull and stop fracking, but this seemed to be the most interesting,’ says Mrs Archer, 86.

Lexi (Surname? Oh, sorry, foreign so not important enough to have one. Ed))
has launched a vlog on YouTube with amusing anecdotes of her experiences learning English while fruit picking at Home Farm. ‘Over the hill or over the top – what is difference?’ says Lexi. ‘Everyone I meet in Ambridge is one or other.’

Matt Crawford has been seconded to the White House to support the communications team while Donald Trump is on vacation. ‘The President met Matt on the golf course a while back and they clicked,’ said Tuesday’s press spokesperson. ‘These are two guys who think the same way and Mr Crawford will fit in real well on Capitol Hill. He says he’s pretty big on Lakey Hill back where he’s from.’

 Meet the professionals: Rupert Leachworthy

The senior partner of solicitors Leachworthy, Fiddler and Crook takes a few moments to explain the complex world of trust law:

Clients often ask me: "As an habitual criminal, how can I ring fence my million-pound house by setting it up in a trust with my ex-partner as sole beneficiary, while also being one of the trustees?"  To which I always reply: “Well Mr Crawford, you and I go back a long way so I would say it is highly unorthodox, but doable. All it requires is the transfer of monies (or a 'bung' in legal parlance) from yourself as the first party to ourselves as the second party. Sweet as."

Poll of the Week

Thanks to Emma Grundy of Grange Farm for this week’s question. Vote now!
Which do you think is more important:

O Housing pigs in the massive new pig unit that no one's bothered about
O Housing me and my family in a new development that people are complaining about even though they're sorted (yes, you Fallon with your mortgage from the Bank of Harrison's Mum and Dad) 

Emma plans to present the results at the next Parish Council meeting, when Justin Elliott’s plans to build seven affordable houses, including one with a cute corner garden just right for the kiddies' trampoline, on land adjacent to Bridge Farm will be discussed.

Pet of the Week

Name: Hilda Ogden
Lives at: The Lodge, with Peggy Woolley and Christine Barford
Likes: Lurking in asters, ripping human flesh
Dislikes: Everything else
Do: Wear oven gloves
Don’t: Call her Ena Sharples

AmOb Classifieds 


Whatnot, partially distressed. Ideal to fit in awkward alcove in not-very-nice house in Borchester that we really weren’t keen to buy. Apply: Fallon Rogers, Woodbine Cottage.


Woodbine Cottage, Ambridge. This property has been withdrawn from the market as the owner, Christine Barford, is arranging a private sale to its current tenants. Apologies to the nice young couple from Birmingham who were gazumped, but you're just not right for Ambridge I'm afraid.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Summer away day for the Ambridge Observer

The Ambridge Observer has taken itself over to Facebook this week as the reporters said they wanted  a week off and why couldn't the editor drag herself out of the pub and write a feature for a change?

Normal service will be resumed on Sunday!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Protests, farm partnerships and plans for Caroline – feelings run high in Ambridge

Beware of radicals, residents warned

The Borsetshire branch of Prevent, the Government’s anti-extremism programme, has warned Ambridge residents to look out for signs of family members becoming radicalised.
The unprecedented statement came amid growing tensions about the closure of the Happy Friends Community Café in Borchester to make way for a luxury restaurant.
‘We have received credible evidence that anti-capitalism militants are planning direct action against Les Soeurs Heureuses and its owners, Miriam and Lulu Duxford,’ a Prevent officer told a hastily convened press conference.
‘We know there is already a cell of activists (Kirsty Miller) in Ambridge and believe she may be recruiting more,’ the officer said. ‘We ask local people to be vigilant. Symptoms of radicalisation can include banging on about social injustice, preaching to friends and expressing disapproval of others’ lifestyle choices.
‘Look out too for telltale statements, such as: “There’s more to life than fresh coffee and lemon drizzle,” or “I can’t help it if the Brookfield cake tin is empty”.
This is an extremely alarming symptom. If you hear anyone say this in Ambridge, contact our hotline immediately, although it may already be too late.’

Food producers slam ‘unfair’ awards

Borsetshire food and drink producers have made an official complaint about the judging at this year’s Food & Drink Awards, the Ambridge Observer can reveal. 
‘It seems very suspicious to us,’ said Poppy Porrett of Penny Hassett Popcorn. (are you sure? Ed).
‘The awards are supposed to be for the whole of Borsetshire, yet three of the award-winners – Helen Archer, the Bull and Grey Gables – are in Ambridge. What are the odds of such a small village doing so well?’ said Ms Porrett. ‘It’s no coincidence that Justin Elliott, chairman of the sponsors Damara Capital, lives in Ambridge.’
A spokesperson for Mr Elliott denied the claims. ‘The judging is completely independent and fair,’ she said. ‘Any suggestion that Mr Elliott is planning to turn Ambridge into the foodie capital of the West Midlands, to boost demand for his new housing development, will be referred to our lawyers.’

Thanks for Sterling support

Grey Gables owner Oliver Sterling has thanked the local community for their ‘touching friendship and support’ since the sudden death of his wife Caroline.
Mr Sterling returned to Ambridge this week following a private cremation service in Italy, where he and Caroline were living.
‘We are planning a celebration of Caroline's life at Grey Gables, where we were married,’ said Mr Sterling. ‘She was a committed atheist, so Alan Franks has promised not to mention God. Many people have asked to take part, to pay their respects. Shula and I were especially touched by the Button sisters’ offer to stage ‘Circle of Life’ from The Lion King, featuring Lynda’s llamas. Caroline would have loved it, but health and safety is an issue.
‘And Tommy Croker’s grandson says he’ll get the band back together to do ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ from Hairspray. It’s going to be a lovely event. Such a shame Caroline will miss it – although I am keeping her close to me, in this rucksack.’        

Business special: Family Farm Partnerships

Giving every family member an equal voice in the running of your farm is an increasingly popular way of ensuring a smooth succession for the business.

The Aldridge family of Home Farm recently set up their own Family Farm Partnership Agreement, and kindly let the Ambridge Observer report on their first meeting:

Jennifer Aldridge: Now come along everyone, these cheese straws won’t eat themselves!
Kate Madikane: Are they vegan?
Brian Aldridge: This isn’t a cocktail party! We’re here to discuss buying a forage harvester. Ruth – you’re here as young Ruairi’s attorney. What do you think?
Ruth Archer: I’m no pushover Brian! Ruairi doesn’t like cheese straws and you can’t expect me to roll over and say he does!
Adam Macy: Look, have you read my presentation? The case for a new forage harvester is very strong.
Alice Carter: Maybe, but you’re rubbish at Power Point, Adam! No one uses that lame ‘blue wave’ template any more.
Jennifer: Oh, I don’t know, it’s rather sweet. If only you hadn’t covered it up with all those figures, darling.
Brian: This is ridiculous. Let’s put it to a vote. I’m against. It’s much too expensive. I take it that’s unanimous?
Adam: No way! I’m not voting against my own idea! I’m in favour.
Kate: Whatevs… I’ve got Shamanic Cleansing with the W.I. at 3.
Alice: I’m with you, Dad – we should be spending the money on more drones. Have you seen my new brochure?
Brian: Thanks Alice. What about you Ruth?
Ruth: Ruiairi’s voting against too Brian, but I’m warning you – you won’t get it all your own way. Especially if you don’t come up with better snacks.
Jennifer: Oh Ruth, how could you?

Your week in the stars

Local astrologer Janet Planet reveals what fate has in store for Ambridge residents this week…


Single Aquarians are finding that fate has a way of tearing up your dating spreadsheet and whisking you off your feet! Romance with an international dimension is in the air, and soon you won’t be lost for words as true love can break down language barriers (even between Borsetshire and Bulgaria).


It’s all about birds for lucky Cancerians this week, and we don’t just mean the feathered variety! You may have high hopes for a sizzling new relationship with a feisty Leo, but don’t count your chickens (or goslings) when it comes to long-term romance.


Feisty, independent lady Leos are slow to let love into their lives, but it seems someone has got under your skin and will run away with your heart if you let him. Will you be a loyal lion or will he hear you roar? Only time will tell…


Financial matters will weigh heavy on the minds of Sagittarians this week.  Beware of people who appear to have your best interests at heart. They may flatter you that you are a bloodstock expert and promise you the earth, but don’t be tempted to sell your cottage and give them the proceeds to invest.  No, look love, this astrology business is rubbish, but really, please don’t do it.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

I’m writing to protest in the strongest possible terms about the opening of the Duxford Sisters’ new restaurant, Les Soeurs Heureuses. It makes me angry and ashamed to think they can charge £20 for a bowl of tomato soup when there are people queuing up at food banks all over Ambridge. And the waste! I’ve heard they cook ten meals for every one they serve, and throw away that aren’t absolutely perfect. No wonder they have to charge £20 for a bowl of tomato soup. And those sisters are so arrogant and self-obsessed! Have they no idea that everyone I know in Ambridge has to make £20 feed a family of six for a month? And they have the nerve to charge £20 for a bowl of tomato soup! And don’t get me started on celebrities. I really must…. (continues for 94 pages).

Yours furiously,

Mrs Jill Archer, Ambridge.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Shock overshadows a birthday surprise and a foodie prize – an emotional week in Ambridge

Celebrity chefs ‘anxious’ about Ambridge opening

Miriam and Lulu Duxford have requested bodyguards to protect them when they open the Ambridge fete next month, the Ambridge Observer can exclusively reveal.
The celebrity chefs are said to be concerned about possible protests against the opening of their flagship restaurant, Les Soeurs Heureuses, in Borchester. 
‘We have heard that there are food activists in Ambridge who will do anything to stop Mimi and Lulu,’ said a spokesperson. ‘But the girls are so brave. Nothing will spoil their dream of bringing hand-dived Québecois scallops with haggis foam to the people of Borsetshire.’
Ambridge residents Kirsty Miller and Jill Archer volunteer at the Happy Friends Café, which currently occupies the restaurant site. They said they ‘have no plans’ to organise any protest action at the fete. 
‘The sisters are not welcome in Ambridge, but we are completely opposed to violence,’ said Mrs Archer. ‘Though I would advise them not to wear their fancy designer outfits. It would be such a shame if someone mixed up ‘Dunk the Vicar’ and ‘Dunk the Duxfords’.
But not everyone in Ambridge is opposed to a high-end restaurant taking the place of a pop-up kitchen that relies on food donations.  
‘I know that the Duxford sisters believe in snouts-in-the-trough eating, and so do I,’ said Mr Brian Aldridge. (Surely, nose-to-tail eating? Ed). ‘I’m going to their opening night gala, even if Jill Archer is stretched out on the red carpet and I have to step over her.’  

Bridge Farm stars at Food and Drink Awards

Helen Archer carried off the top prize at the Borsetshire Food & Drink Awards for the second year running, as Bridge Farm’s Borsetshire Blue cheese won the ‘Best Artisan Product’ category.
In a moving speech, Ms Archer said: ‘I thought it was bad enough not being here to collect the award last year, because I was in prison charged with attempted murder.
‘Little did I think that my brother Tom would try to ruin my day this year by banging on about his fermented foods (only joking, Tom!) But this is my award – be quiet, Tom – and I’d just like to thank – I’m warning you, Tom – all the judges and of course our wonderful customers! – Shut UP Tom or I’ll stab you with this ceremonial cheese knife – oops, oh, sorry. Thank you.’

Holiday special: Handy Bulgarian Phrasebook

It’s that time of year again, when Ambridge is overrun with immigrants (surely, welcomes seasonal workers from the EU? Ed.)  Reader Roy Tucker has contacted the Ambridge Observer for tips on how to break the ice and get to know our visitors better – especially Lexi, from near Sofia. We hear you, Roy! Here are some useful phrases:

• Romanian, Bulgarian – they’re the same, aren’t they?

Rumŭnski, bŭlgarski, te sa edni i sŭshti, nali?

• I am not a racist, I just don’t like foreign people.

Az ne sŭm rasist, prosto ne kharesvam chuzhdestrannite khora

• Can I buy you a drink, even though I voted Brexit?

Moga li da vi kupya napitka, vŭpreki che glasuvakh Breksit?

• I would like to take control of your borders.

Bikh iskal da poema kontrola nad vashite granitsi.

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal brain, Auntie Satya is here to sort out all your emotional and practical dilemmas.

Dear Auntie Satya,

My boyfriend wants us to buy a house together, using his savings for the deposit. I said that wasn’t fair because I don’t have any savings, and that when we got divorced it wouldn’t be right if I took half the house. Then he said he wasn’t talking about getting married! Why am I confused? Fallon R.  

Dear Fallon,

In your longer letter you say you are worried that if you got married you would get divorced, like your mother and father. So it seems to me your young man is offering the perfect solution – no marriage! I would snap up his generous offer quicker than you can say ‘starter home’. You can always do extra housework if you feel guilty about not contributing.  

Dear Auntie Satya,

I had a wonderful 70th birthday, sharing a bubble bath with my fiancé, slipping into the silk French lingerie he gave me, and enjoying a small party with my loved ones. Even when my ex gave me a puppy, to try and drive a wedge between us, my fiancé said we should keep her because he has bigger balls and serves all the aces. And now he’s bought us tickets for Hair – you know, the musical where you all dance nude at the end? Is he too good to be true? Lilian B. 

Dear Lilian,

I’m afraid I cannot answer your question because your letter has put pictures in my head of such a nature that I am finding it impossible to concentrate. My apologies.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I was campaigning to get our cricket club captain sacked because he deceived the team over women players being allowed to play. Then my godmother died suddenly, and I started to think this wasn’t important any more so I told him our feud was over. But now I’m worried that I’ve ruined my reputation as a small-minded, misogynistic git. Did I do the right thing? Will G.

Dear Will,


Tributes pour in for ‘much-loved’ Ambridge lady

Ambridge residents were shocked this week to learn of the death of Caroline Sterling, a much-loved member of the community, who had lived in the village for nearly 40 years before moving to Italy with her husband Oliver in 2015.
The funeral will be held in Tuscany, but Ambridge will have the opportunity to commemorate her life at a service being arranged by her close friend, Shula Hebden-Lloyd.
Borsetshire Laureate Bert Fry has composed an ode for the occasion, which the Ambridge Observer is pleased to reproduce here as a tribute.

A poem for Caroline

And so farewell to Caroline Bone,
Or Sterling, as you were to become known.
The village of Ambridge will miss you sorely,
And no one even knew you were poorly.

Though your husband Oliver will mourn you bitterly,
You died in peace, at your home in Italy.
It was where you loved to drink wine and eat peaches,
A place where you both had found your niches.

Your life was always busy and full,
From your first job in Ambridge, at The Bull.
Jack Woolley could see that you were able,
And made you manager of Grey Gables.

You were never one for airs and graces,
Despite your connections in high places.
As Lord Netherborne’s niece, you didn’t fret
When you had to host Princess Margaret.

You were so happy as Oliver’s wife,
But not always lucky in love or life.
You had your passions, I recall,
It would take me too long to name them all.

There was Matthew the doctor, and Robin the vet,
And Cameron Fraser – one to forget,
And even – it’s rumoured –  Mr Brian Aldridge,
But that’s all water under the bridge.

You found true love with first husband Guy,
Though much too soon, Mr Pemberton died.
But never one to mope and moan,
You carried on bravely all alone

Until you met your soulmate Oliver,
And from then on life could not be jollier.
Not blessed with family of your own,
To foster children you opened your home.

And young Will Grundy always knew,
As his godmother, he could rely on you.
Eddie and Joe often tried your patience,
But you were always kind and gracious.

So Caroline, Ambridge loved you dear,
And we all wish you were still here.
And though you lie in foreign parts,
You will always live on in our hearts.