Sunday, 10 February 2019

Aldridge has his day in court 

Mr Aldridge on the steps of
 Borchester Magistrates' Court
Disgraced Ambridge farmer Brian Aldridge said he wants to ‘put the past behind him’ after being fined £120,000  at Borchester Magistrates’ Court for polluting the river Am.
Mr Aldridge was greeted by angry protestors and had paint thrown over him as he arrived at court, flanked by his family.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of knowingly permitting a water discharge activity, relating to a leak of toxic chemicals dumped on his land in the 1970s. He has already sold his home to pay for the clean-up, which is believed to have cost more than a million pounds.
‘I’m glad it’s all over and I’m grateful for my family’s support,’ he said. ‘My priority now is to get out of this terrible cheap  jacket, which my son Adam bought from Top Bloke. It’s only got one button. I can’t imagine a worse humiliation.’

Letter of the Week

This week’s star letter comes in verse form, thanks to Borsetshire Laureate Bert Fry, who wanted to draw readers’ attention to problems at one of our most popular local attractions. 

Lament for Lower Loxley 

As Lower Loxley’s senior guide
My job has given me great pride.
But lately things have gone awry
And the other guides are asking why.

For example, Lady Henrietta’s bureau
Is closed for cleaning, as all should know.
But the website isn’t up to date 
And visitors got in a dreadful bate.

So the other guides said that I should go
And let Elizabeth Pargetter know.
They said that I’m a man of letters
And used to talking to my betters.

I told her, politely as I could,
That things aren’t working as they should.
I tried to tell her about the rota
But she wouldn’t change it one iota.

I did my best to make her see,
But she just blamed it all on me!
And Elizabeth seemed so distressed
I didn’t know what to do for the best.

So we guides don’t know what we’re doing
And the estate is going to rack and ruin.
So although it pains me to have to say,
I’d advise your readers to stay away.

A lawyer writes

This week, Will Chargemore of local solicitors Hassell and Payne answers your family law questions.

My partner and I have an agreement with a wonderful Bulgarian woman to help us have a child by being our surrogate. I am the baby’s biological father and we used a donor egg. Our surrogate has decided to spend her pregnancy in Bulgaria and return for the birth. With Brexit looming, what are the implications for our family if the baby is born in Bulgaria, or if his or her mother decides to stay in the UK after the birth?  

Yours is a most unusual situation and I have throughly researched international law and precedents to find you the answer, which is… not a Scooby. Sorry.

Our widowed mother has announced she has a man friend, who at 80 is some years younger than her. He seems pleasant enough, although frankly he knows nothing about pigs or dairy farming. We would like her to be happy in her autumn years, of course, but should we be worried in case she changes her will?

No, but if they are as close as you say, I would strongly suggest a pre-nup.

Q  My husband and I are going through a divorce and have just received our  degree nisi. Recently though, we’re getting on much better and because he has run a half-marathon and is getting his business back on track, I’m beginning to fancy him again. Legally, can we get back together?

A  Yes, of course; you can apply to have the decree nisi rescinded and your divorce petition dismissed. Any lawyer would be happy to take your money – I should say, offer their professional services for the reinstatement of marital harmony. 

Be my Valentine…

Love must be in the air in Ambridge, as this year we’ve received a bumper crop of Valentine’s messages from our readers. Our editor’s off to buy a wedding hat!

From the gin king:
Rosie’s our baby, you’re her lovely mum,
And I know you think I’m a lazy bum.
But now I’ve paid Emma to clean the cottage,
Will you let me play hide the sausage?

To my hunky karate teacher: 
Make a move on me and I won’t defend myself (unlike that time in court when I had to…) Anyway, you give me butterflies despite your terrible taste in shoes and your love of fart jokes. Say you’ll take me up Lakey Hill soon! 

From Wales with love:
I knew I wanted to share my spreadsheets with you when I saw your PowerPoint at the Nuffield. Now all you have to say is ‘veg box’ and my money-maker starts tingling! With my brains and your slavish devotion it will be win-win all the way, boyo!

To my dapper Valentine:
My family are worrying about my morals,
But life is fun since we met at The Laurels. 
So polish your dancing shoes and buff up your dentures 
And let’s set off on some glorious adventures.

To my favourite bird:
Before I met you I couldn’t tell a marsh warbler from a blue tit. Now you make me twitch and there’s no one I’d rather hide with. Come and nest with me in the Beechwood and we’ll make sweet music. 

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Veteran vet is back on top 

Ambridge vet Alistair Lloyd says he has been ‘given a new lease of life’ by his triumph in the Felpersham half-marathon, where he and Philip Moss raised more than £700 for charity by running the race in a pantomime horse costume.
‘It’s remarkable,’ he said. ‘Before the race, I felt I was on a downward spiral: my marriage was over and my bosses thought I was past it. All I was good for was seeing to Lavinia Rafferty’s Schnauzer, and that wasn’t much fun.
‘But the experience of running the race in a hot, itchy and, to be honest, smelly furry costume was incredibly liberating. Just the memory of it was enough to help me deal confidently with Joe Grundy’s pony Gem, tackle my boss about my role in the practice, and free the trapped leg of one of Bridge Farm’s new Montebéliarde cows.’
Mr Lloyd says that when he’s out and about in Ambridge now, children often follow him singing  ‘Top Vet – he’s effectual; Top Vet; he’s intellectual… He’s the most tip top – Top Vet’  to the tune of the popular cartoon Top Cat
‘It’s very pleasing, but I’m just doing my job,’ he says modestly. ‘I’m wondering now if wearing furry costumes could improve other areas of my life. I believe some ladies are interested in this too. Of course, I would never have dared mention it when I was married to Shula.’

Councillor defiant on website blunder

Parish councillor Emma Grundy faces questions this week after gossip about Ambridge residents appeared on the council website, instead of the agenda for next week’s meeting.
‘I couldn’t understand it,’ said Hilary Noakes. ‘I thought they were supposed to be discussing the budget, but the page was full of an article called “I just thought you’d like to know what people are saying about you.”. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had no idea that Lexi Victorova was carrying a baby for Adam Macy and Ian Craig, and that some people are claiming she’s doing it for the money. Absolutely appalling – although I must say it gave us plenty to talk about at the Knit & Natter meeting.’
Contacted by The Ambridge Observer, Mrs Grundy apologised for the error. ‘I offered to post the council agenda myself because Jennifer Aldridge, who usually does it, was too busy making a game pie,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately, I posted some of my private files instead. Our family makes a point of never spreading gossip and this was not my intention. I have apologised to Lexi, who is a comrade of mine at the chicken factory. But I will not apologise to the Aldridge family who yet again have shown their aristocratic oligarchical contempt for the bodies of working-class women who they see as chattels and use for their selfish, entitled…' (continued on p94. Ed.)

Your week in the stars

Our resident astrologer, Janet Planet, reveals what fate has in store for readers this week:


Motherly Capricorns whose loved ones have been through a lot may be worrying that their child’s new boyfriend wears tracksuits and box-fresh trainers and only talks about martial arts and stuffed crust pizza. But take a moment to reflect on how fond you were of your children’s previous partners. How did that go? Discretion may be the better course here, Capricorns!


Taureans facing life-changing decisions, such as moving in with their partner or changing jobs, will need their friends for support this week. If possible, choose people who will listen to you and sympathise, rather than bang on about their new boyfriend and snap at you for suggesting you’re not supporting them enough. You deserve better, Taurus!


Lions with a house purchase in the offing will be roaring with excitement this week, but don’t forget that others only want to help, even if they don’t share your taste in ‘global nomad’ interior décor. Family harmony may suffer if you reject design suggestions from older generations, so try not to turn your nose up at the offer of, for example, ‘my Susan’s old mangle’ or wallpaper with a ferret motif.  


Scorpios are known for being secretive and vengeful, and having kept a few secrets in your past you may now feel the need to ‘have your day in court’ and take revenge on those who have found you out. But listen to those who are older and wiser, even if they may be poor and have a whiff of ferrets. Sometimes proud Scorpions need to draw their claws for the sake of loved ones, although putting others before your ego will be a first for you.  

From the Message Boards

We drop in on the Ambridge Teen Forum to see what’s got local youngsters chatting online this week:

• Hey, you guys. Valentine’s Day coming up? But Love sucks, yeah? My homie Ruairi and me are having an anti-Valentine’s party with like, torn-up love letters and broken hearts. In my dad’s old caravan. Are you up for it guys?  BennieBoy.

• Not guys, you idiot. Girls! We want girls! ‘Cos, like, we’re so over dating and all that trying to impress the ladeez stuff. We just want girls to, er, discuss feminism with. With cider.  Ruairi.

• Sounds great, mate, but I think Bella will expect something a bit more classy, just the two of us. I’m going to show her how I muck out the Montbéliardes and then we’re going for a kebab at the van on the bypass. I’ll get her a red rose to make it special. CowboyJohnny.

• OK Johnny, well maybe Bella could tell her friends?  It’ll be like, totes wicked, sick and dope… BennieBoy

• No dope, slurry-for-brains! Have you forgotten Freddie Pargetter can’t come? Ruairi.

That’s enough Message Boards. Ed.

Lost – and found?

Do you recognise any of these items?  A poncho, a set of dentures and a cactus (or possibly an aloe vera) in a pot are just some of the lost property found at Grey Gables in the past few months.
‘It’s amazing what people leave behind them after their stay,’ said deputy manager Roy Tucker. ‘We’re not sure what the hairy item is – we think it’s a wig, but no one dares get close enough to find out.’
Unless claimed, the objects will be off to charity shops and the recycling centre. 
‘We invited Borsetshire’s rural crime unit (PC Harrison Burns) to inspect all the items in case any of them were stolen property, but he reported nothing of interest, and still no sign of the missing bunting,’ said Mr Tucker. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Brian ups the ante and Jennifer puts her foot down: tensions rise in Ambridge

Aldridge plans courtroom costume drama  

How Mr Aldridge might look in court
(artist's impression)
Brian Aldridge, beleaguered owner of Home Farm, shocked associates this week by revealing he is going to attend his upcoming court case dressed as a pantomime horse.
Mr Aldridge said he will plead not guilty to charges of knowingly polluting a water course by allowing toxic waste to be buried on Home Farm land 40 years ago.
‘The law is a horse’s ass and I am going to prove it,’ he announced to a hastily called press conference. ‘It’s about time someone took a stand on behalf of the little people like me – down to my last few hundred acres and barely a million in the bank – against the faceless bureaucrats of the Environment Agency. 
‘Having my case heard in the Crown Court, with a jury of my peers – well, not quite my peers of course, but more ordinary people – is my chance to see exactly what evidence they have against me. Not that I’ll be able to see much wearing a horse’s head. But I will be wearing the saddle of truth and the bridle of righteousness, not forgetting the spurs of justice. The truth will out!’
The hearing is scheduled for February 5.

Coffee break with… Natasha 

In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the dynamic young businesswoman who’s making a big impact at Bridge Farm and is known to everyone as just ‘Natasha’.

Hi, Natasha. Sorry we couldn’t meet for an actual cup of coffee. But you’re so busy these days!

Yes, today you’ve caught me driving from deepest Wales, where I live because I’m very Welsh,  to Shropshire, where one of the little people who supplies my fruit juice business is based. It’s all go! But I’ve always got time for the media. The media is the message, and the message is the media, I always say.

And we hear you’re behind the new commercial fruit tree operation at Bridge Farm?

Oh no, that’s all down to Tom Archer – he’s brilliant at doing exactly what I tell him. All I do is a bit of encouragement here, and a bit of coaching there, then it’s just hard work. Inspiration is perspiration, and perspiration is inspiration, if you know what I mean? And actually, as I said to Tom’s mum Pat, I’ve got a brilliant product for controlling excessive sweating. Got rid of her underarm damp patches in no time, it did. 

That would be from your first successful business in cosmetics? And now you’re branching out into organic beef production? That’s quite a leap.

Yes – as I said to Tom, you’d think I’d had enough of ugly old cows in the beauty business! But his dad loves his Anguses, and to be fair, they do look tidy. Can’t go wrong with a black coat. So we’re going to breed them and sell the beef in Bridge Farm’s all-new app-based farmers’ market in a box franchise concept. As I always say, the problem lies in the solution, and the solution lies in the problem. Sorted, isn’t it? Bye!

The Trials of … Jennifer Aldridge

In the latest chapter of our passionate family saga, by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine must make a heart-rending choice between love, honour and family…

‘Oh, Adam, darling!’ After weeks of misery, managing on just four electric rings and a microwave, and then that mortifying business of chopping through Kirsty Miller’s telephone cable (no doubt  poor quality), it seemed to Jennifer that Fate was smiling on her at last. 
‘LEXI’s having a BABY! For YOU and IAN! That’s so marvellous!’ She flung her arms round her son’s neck, heedless of the crowds, crushing her Felpersham Half-Marathon programme.
‘Be quiet, mother!’ Adam’s manly jaw set in a firm line and his steel-blue eyes flashed. ‘Everyone will hear you. You’ve got to promise to keep it completely secret, until – well, until I’ve had time to come round to the idea.’
 ‘But Adam…’ Jennifer searched his troubled, handsome face. ‘It’s what you’ve wanted for so long – and once you hear his or her little heartbeat and Lexi feels him kick… a little grandchild! Oh, I’m so looking forward to it all!’
‘Yes, well, about that, … Lexi’s going to Bulgaria for the pregnancy. It’s what she wants. Sorry.’ 
At once, the winter sun seemed to go in, and Jennifer felt crushed once more.
‘Oh well, if that’s what you’ve decided, darling,’ she said, blinking back tears.
 Jazzer McCreary thrust a rattling collection tin under her nose. ‘What’s up, hen? You look like you’ve lost a haggis and found a mouldy bannock!’
But not even his cheerful Scots banter could cheer her up now…


Jennifer surveyed the anxious faces squeezed round the Melamine dining table in Willow Cottage. 
‘Make this brief, Jenny,’ Brian growled. ‘Yes, what is it mum?’ said Alice. ‘I say, is this vodka?’ She slurped her water and made a disappointed face. 
Jennifer took a deep breath. ‘I have convened this emergency partners’ meeting because Brian intends to plead Not Guilty at his court case,’ she said. 
‘What? But they’ve got you banged to rights, pet,’ Ruth said in her down-to-earth way.
‘Who says so?’ Brian thundered. ‘Things were different then. It’s their word against mine and I want my day in court. And you’ll all support me. It’s about family loyalty.’
‘Cheers dad! Way to go! That calls for a drink!” Alice waved her water glass hopefully. Everyone ignored her.
Jennifer stood up, feeling sick and shaky. ‘I have told your father that if he insists on this ruinous path, our marriage is over,’ she said.
 ‘Good for you, Jennifer,’ said Ruth. ‘If that doesn’t make the old goat see sense, nothing will. Right, I’m off. There’s a haggis with my name on it at The Bull.’
‘I’m coming with you. Mine’s a large one!’ said Alice, following her out.
‘And I can’t listen to any more of this. You’ve finally lost it this time, Brian.’ Adam stormed out of the house, slamming the door so the thin walls shook. 
Jennifer looked at her husband, who was pouring himself a stiff whisky. A heavy silence hung between them.
Jennifer sank back into her chair. She closed her eyes, then jumped at a loud banging on the wall. Kirsty, no doubt protesting at the slammed door. She sighed. Would this nightmare never end? 
To be continued…. 

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Humiliation for Jennifer, hubris for Brian and Susan Carter's week

Aldridge ‘a shadow of former self’

Friends of Brian Aldridge, former boss of Borchester Land, say they are worried about his wellbeing since his dramatic fall from grace following the toxic chemical spill at Home Farm.
‘He used to stride about Ambridge like a Colossus in a cravat, chairing board metings and signing off on massive investment plans,’ said one. ‘Now, he’s pottering around the garden, getting into spats with the neighbours or waiting in for the telephone engineer. I even heard he made Jenny a cup of tea, although I must say I didn’t believe it.’
‘It’s a shame,’ said another. ‘The change has been so noticeable that the chaps at the golf club are calling him Brino – Brian in Name Only.’

Recipe of the Week

Apologies to readers who were expecting Alice Carter’s recipe for Robotically Picked Strawberry Soufflé. Instead, here are her tips for creating a sensational Strawberry Surprise:

1.    Arrange to run a trial of your company’s new robotic strawberry picker on your brother’s farm, without asking your brother.
2.    Have PR materials printed and broadcast news of the trial on Radio Borsetshire.
3.    Discover that your brother isn’t growing strawberries this year, so the trial can’t take place.
4.    Have a tantrum, accuse everyone of hating you, cry hysterically and hit the booze. Surprise!! 

My Week, by Susan Carter

The manager of Ambridge’s popular community shop and Post Office describes a busy week at work and at home. 


Jennifer Aldridge – we’re family, you know – came round to borrow a stepladder from my Neil. Seems the shrubbery round Willow Cottage needs pruning. I must say, I never thought I’d see the day when she and Brian are living in a rented semi, while Neil and I have our own ranch-style, detached property. I feel sorry for them, of course I do. I said to Jennifer: ‘Be careful on the steps, we don’t want to be saying “How are the mighty fallen!”, do we now? But she didn’t seem to get my little joke.


People’s shopping habits can be very revealing – but of course you have to be discreet. For example, one customer – a Bulgarian lady, but she can’t help that – has suddenly started buying decaff coffee. And the way she turned her nose up at my mug of Kenco? She’s in the family way, I said to my Emma, and she’s just split up with her young man, too. Such a shame. That was at The Bull, where we had a slap-up meal to celebrate her and Ed getting a mortgage on their first home. It was my treat, and I let them have starters and everything. We had a lovely time until my Neil got nabbed in the Ploughman’s by Bert Fry, and we decided to call it a night.


Shula Hebden-Lloyd came in for her copy of Horse & Hound and to send a parcel off to her son Dan, who’s in the Army. She was telling me about a new life-drawing class she’s started, which she’s enjoying more than karate. She left a sketch pad behind and I ran after her with it, but of course I couldn’t help looking. Talk about a shock. I’ve never seen Nathan Booth in that state before and I never want to again. You can’t tell me that’s a normal hobby.   


My Chris came in for his lottery tickets and packet of chocolate Hob Nobs as usual. He was proud as punch of Alice for doing an interview on Radio Borsetshire. He bought a bottle of fizz for her to celebrate, and then he bought another one, and a half-bottle of rum. ‘Ooh Chris, are you having a party?’ I said. ‘No mum; I just hope this gets Alice through dinner,’ he said. He does like a little joke. He gets that from me!


Lynda Snell came in this morning with some news: Brian Aldridge’s court case is set for February 5. Emma, Lynda and me were having a good chat about it when Jennifer came in to bring the ladder back. It was a bit awkward, but I don’t think she heard Emma say it was about time the Aldridges got their comeuppance. I do feel sorry for them losing their home of 40 years, of course I do. After all, they’re family – did I mention that?    

New series: Books of the Week

Thanks to Borsetshire’s Mobile Community Library – which visits Ambridge on the fourth Thursday every month, weather permitting – for telling us about the new releases on their shelves:

Mistress of Lower Loxley
A page-turning Gothic tragedy about a mother who is trapped in her stately home and slowly losing her grip on reality as she struggles to come to terms with her jailbird son, daughter traduced by an older roué, and the pressures of running a hospitality business without an alcohol licence. Will her concerned siblings come to her rescue before the bailiffs arrive? Perfect for fans of Les Mis  and Poldark

I, Brian Aldridge
A powerful contemporary fable of a man who is threatened with losing his home, his liberty and – most important of all –  his reputation, by the Kafka-esque machinations of the Environment Agency’s enforcement procedures. Can one man prevail against public opinion and the faceless agencies of the State in a dramatic courtroom setting? If you loved Twelve Angry Men, you’ll love this!

Classified Advertisements


Polytunnels, fairly good condition, some wear and tear through heavy use over the years. 
Will swap for baby clothes and nursery equipment, and/or books on growing quinoa and other high-yielding, high-protein but low-input crops native to South America.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

It's a new year, but how much good cheer in Ambridge?

High-tech boost for Bridge Farm

Tom Archer of Bridge Farm has kicked off 2019 with a bold new marketing venture that he claims will double turnover in his veg box delivery business.
‘Detailed analysis of our customer base has revealed that all 23 of them are aged 70 or over,’ he said. ‘And we know that our demographic isn’t ready for non-traditional dairy products, like the kefir that we discontinued last year. So my fantastically business-minded girlfriend Natasha came up with a brilliant idea: why not sell them non-traditional vegetables instead?
‘She showed me these great pictures in Waitrose Magazine of agretti, mooli, purslane, rutabaga and broccoleaf (what they? Ed) All we have to do is grow them in an app so people can order a bespoke veg box straight off the internet!’    
Mr Archer said he has been trialling the app and so far it’s a great success. ‘There was one glitch when we delivered a veg box to a 90-year-old who thought she’d booked the mobile chiropodist. But young Johnny trimmed her trotters while he was there, so that was fine. All part of the service.’ 
Dennis and Kay Huggett of Penny Hassett said they were impressed with the new scheme. ‘It saves time, as we can just throw everything in the recycling straightaway instead of taking out the potatoes and hunting round for more than one carrot,’ said Mrs Huggett.

Canterbury Tales cast in pub snub

The landlord of The Bull has said he is ‘not bitter’ that the after-party for Lynda Snell’s triumphant production of Canterbury Tales was held in the barn at Brookfield rather than in the traditional venue of the village pub.
‘All I can say is, my brother David is going to have to wait even longer to get his loan back if he insists on hosting a party rather than have the cast spend their money in my pub,’ said Kenton Archer.   
‘Anyway, I hope they had a great time. Someone said the guest of honour was a massive fake arse, which surprised me as I thought Russ Jones had already gone back to Manchester with Lily.’

From the vicarage fireside

The Rev. Alan Franks, vicar of St Stephen’s, has a New Year message for readers.

Hullo! New Year is often a time when we think of how we can help our fellow man – sorry, person! The other day I was sharing a Thermos and a chinwag with one of my flock – let’s call her ‘Shula’ to spare her blushes – about some wonderful work she’s doing with the memorials in the churchyard. I had a lovely letter from a gent who was thrilled that we’d kept his dear old mum so nice and tidy. ‘Shula’ and I then chatted about family matters, and whether we should pop in to see her sister, who’s been ill and under huge mental strain lately. I said I might, one day, but ‘Shula’ said she’s telling everyone she’s very busy and doesn’t want any fuss. So we agreed it's the thought that counts, I broke out the Hob Nobs and we had another cuppa.
Next month: are you a dipper or an all-in dunker? What biscuits tell us about our faith.

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is back to sort out all your practical and emotional dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

My new neighbours are insufferable. Last week they had a noisy party and blew cigar smoke into the kitchen where I was trying to cheer up my friend Helen – a thankless task at best. And then we had a stand-up row over the recycling bins. I do despise them as fat cats who would happily destroy the planet to make a profit – but I’d like to avoid daily unpleasantness if I can. What would you advise? Kirsty.  

Dear Kirsty,

I suggest you rise above their inconsiderate behaviour and be the better person. In your longer letter you tell me there is already bad blood between you, and indeed they blame you for their reduced circumstances: squeezing into a two-bedroomed semi-detached cottage and having to be inventive with magnetic knife-racks, space-saving waste bins and just the one tagine. Why not research what support might be available to them – housing benefit, food banks and lunch clubs for the elderly, for example – and drop in some leaflets with the offer of a friendly cuppa? I’m sure this will break the ice in no time.

Dear Auntie Satya,

My son and daughter-in-law will be moving out soon to buy their first home. We’re delighted for them and the kiddies, of course, but we don’t know how we’ll manage without   the rent they pay us. If we have to leave our home, I’m worried it will finish off my old dad, who thought he’d end his days here. Do you have any ideas for us? Eddie.

Dear Eddie,

You mention that you will have two spare bedrooms when your family moves out. Coincidentally, I have received another letter about an older couple who have had to downsize recently, and who are having trouble with their neighbours. Why not contact them and ask if they’d like to lodge with you instead? It sounds as if you have lots in common and I’m sure they will agree that sharing a bathroom with your elderly father is a small price to pay for more congenial company.    

Dear Auntie Satya,

I’ve met a lovely woman who has two sons and is full of fascinating anecdotes about cheese. We really connected over cappuccinos at the local care home. In fact, she kissed me, which was great. Then she said it was complicated and she never wanted to see me again. Now she says she likes me and has suggested a country walk – I believe she mentioned taking me up Lakey Hill? I’m aware she’s not dated for a while, but I’m a bit confused about why. What do you think? Lee.

Dear Lee,

You know, romance is much easier for young people nowadays. You have so many resources available to help you find out about a prospective partner before embarking on a relationship. Why not type this lady’s name into a search engine and see what pops up? I do hope the results put your mind at rest and at the very least give you plenty to talk about.