Village Hall curtains set for grand opening
Ambridge residents say they are ‘delighted’ with their refurbished Village Hall, which is on schedule for re-opening at Easter. ‘Everyone’s worked so hard,’ said Mrs Susan Carter. ‘The new curtains look lovely, the walls are freshly plastered, the parquet floor is beautiful. It’s a shame we had to have Jennifer Aldridge’s second-hand kitchen units. I think they’ve still got a whiff of mouldy venison casserole. But that’s probably just me.’
However, plans to involve junior villagers in decorating the hall have been cancelled at the last minute. ‘We asked the Brownies to express themselves with a wall of ‘street art,’ said Mrs Lynda Snell. ‘But once we let the Button girls loose with the spray cans, the results were appalling. Even Toby Fairbrother didn’t know some of the words. And he plays rugby.’
Pub saves village ‘Clean for the Queen’ campaign
A TV celebrity has praised Kenton Archer of The Bull for rescuing a litter-picking event to mark HM The Queen’s 90th birthday. ‘Everyone wanted to turn out on Sunday to help, but there was a problem – no litter!’ said Mr Archer. ‘Ambridge is far too tidy. So while everyone was enjoying our delicious Mother’s Day lunch menu, I nipped out and emptied the pub’s wheely bins all over the green. Result! It was like an Easter egg hunt, only more smelly. And the tills were ringing when punters came in for a drink afterwards.’
‘Mr Archer is a Royalist after my own heart,’ said Ms Kirstie Allsopp of Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. ‘Handmade rubbish: perfectly on brand! Let everyone carry out their Royal duty with a litter-picker and a bin bag!’
• Stop press: Ambridge will celebrate the Queen’s official birthday in June with two events, this paper can reveal. A ‘battle of the picnics’ between Lynda Snell’s Open Garden at Ambridge Hall, and a free-for-all on the village green, was declared a draw after it was agreed both parties should go ahead. ‘It threatened to get ugly for a while,’ said one resident, ‘but even Lynda had to admit that the whole village couldn’t squeeze into her shepherd’s hut. And apparently, Eddie Grundy’s made it so badly it’ll collapse as soon as Scruff cocks his leg on it.’
‘Missing teenager’ found safe and well
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) reported this week that a missing schoolgirl who’d been reported hanging round the bus stop in Ambridge had been reunited with her father.
‘People who’d seen Sasha Locke were concerned for her welfare,’ said PC Burns. ‘But fortunately Mrs Elizabeth Pargetter recognised her as the daughter of Dr Richard Locke, and drove her to his surgery in Felpersham.
‘Sasha had been subjected to extreme patronising by Mrs Pargetter but was otherwise unharmed,’ said PC Burns. ‘And Dr Locke was delighted as it gave him an excuse to nip round to Lower Loxley with a bunch of daffs and a winning smile.’
Recipe of the week
Ursula Titchener, who is staying at Blossom Hill Cottage, writes: ‘As no one in Ambridge seems to know how to make toad in the hole, especially my ‘unconventional’ daughter-in-law Helen, I thought I’d send my own recipe in. That’s reasonable, isn’t it, Editor?’ Absolutely, Ursula! Thank you.
Six meaty pork sausages*
A pound of beef dripping
1. Melt the dripping in a pan and fry the sausages in it. Ignore any silly suggestions to use less fat, or swap for olive oil. It might be healthier but won’t taste as good!
2. Forget to buy vegetables on purpose.
3. When the batter is ready, remember you need to go to the shop to buy vegetables. Instruct your daughter-in-law to take over.
4. Just before you leave, turn the gas up to 250 deg C.
5. When you get back, blame your daughter-in-law for burning the dinner.
6. Have a quick high-five with your son and open a tin of beans for supper.
* Not Bridge Farm sausages. I shouldn’t say it, but there’s something not quite nice about them. I prefer Waitrose.
The Trials of Rob Titchener
In the latest chapter of our romantic saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero is driven to desperate measures…
Rob couldn’t help smiling to himself as he sorted out the pak choi. What was it his old house-master, Mr Trafford, had said? ‘Delighted to have young Henry boarding with us, old chap, if he can throw a dummy pass like you!’ There wasn’t much chance of that with Henry – not with Helen mollycoddling him – but his own son! He was already kicking his mother like a fly half…
Rob was severely tempted to drop-kick one of Tony’s scabby organic cabbages into the café when Lynda Snell burst in, smirking at him flirtatiously. God, why did these hideous old cows all fancy him? ‘Lynda!’ he purred, flashing his most charming smile. ‘Oh Rob,’ she simpered. ‘You really must come to my Open Garden party in June. As the hero of the flood…’ Still smiling, Rob tuned her out. Hero of the flood! If only the silly mare knew…
‘What do you mean, you don’t like having mum here?’ Rob felt a cold fury rising in his brain. Why couldn’t Helen just shut up and do what she was told? Didn’t she realise how dangerous it was to make him feel like this?
He paced up and down in the bedroom, trying to block out his wife’s tremulous voice. Some rubbish about feeling stifled in her own home, about Henry not being her own little boy any more. Ha! As if anyone would want that whiny milksop anyway. He forced himself to look at Helen. She was twisting a handkerchief in her hands, and seemed defiant, which annoyed him, but also frightened. It was her fear that filled him with disgust. ‘Look what I ended up with!’ he spat. ‘You’re a wreck. I’m amazed you were ever allowed to bring Henry into this world!’
Suddenly Helen flew at him. ‘You utter bastard….’ She’d gone too far. All this time she’d kept on annoying him, provoking him, forcing him into a corner… His hand shot out as if it had a mind of its own. Helen crumpled onto the bed, clutching her face. Oh God, now look what she’d made him do. He loved her, didn’t he? Why did she have to ruin everything? He turned on his heel and left the room.
‘Rob? Rob?’ Helen’s gentle tapping on the door enraged him and he made his sobs louder. She came in. ‘Oh Rob, I’m so sorry… It’s my fault, I did try to hit you…’ This was more like it. Some contrition. The spirit she was so determined to crush in him rose again. ‘Oh, darling,’ he sighed. ‘All I wanted was to have my old Helen back. The one I saw alone, and vulnerable, and fertile, and wealthy. But how can we bring a child into this mess?’
‘Is there really something that wrong with me?’ Helen’s long hair fell onto her tear-stained face. He wanted to strangle her with it. ‘Yes, darling, I’m afraid so,’ he said gently. ‘It’s time we got you some proper psychiatric help.’
Leaving her to think about that, he went downstairs. Ursula would have the kettle on. To be continued…
Lavinia, this is dark stuff. Any hope of a happy ending? Ed.
I’ll see what I can do dear. Probably not yet. Lavinia.