Sunday, 17 June 2018

Fete shocker, Kate flounces and Freddie is free (for now)

Ambridge matriarch in Fete shocker

Ambridge was shocked to the core this week when a senior village figure appeared to undermine one of the community’s most cherished institutions.
Jill Archer, 87, of Brookfield told fellow committee members she would be late to a meeting ‘because there are some things in life that are more important than the Ambridge Fete.’
‘We were all rendered speechless,’ said Lynda Snell. ‘I can’t imagine how anyone would say such a thing. Especially when Fallon Rogers has come up with an inspired idea to make a Pets’ Talent Show the centrepiece of the Fete. Could there be anything more Ambridge?’
Contacted by the Ambridge Observer, Mrs Archer was unrepentant. ‘I needed to spend time with my daughter Shula,’ she said. ‘ Everyone knows I am the best mother in Ambridge and I could not have my youngest, Elizabeth, showing me up by being loving and tolerant about my granddaughter’s sexuality. Whatever that may mean.
‘I’ve been working hard all week to undermine my daughter-in-law Ruth in the grandmother department, and here was Shula telling family members that I had failed her. Now, she may have ditched her sacred marriage vows for a silly mid-life whim but I will support her come what may because that is what mums do, Elizabeth says. Would you like some carrot cake?’

Turbulence at Spiritual Home

The future of  Spiritual Home, Ambridge’s foremost holistic retreat and spa, hung in the balance this week as its owner Kate Madikane flounced off to sulk on the Kent coast (shurely, took some time out to consider her business options? Ed.)
‘Kate has returned home now, which is such a relief. We haven’t been so worried since she went to Glastonbury and came back with a baby,’ said her mother, Jennifer Aldridge of Home Farm. 
‘Of course, that’s not very likely this time as Kate is… well, let’s just say her peak fertility years are behind her. Unlike my son Adam of course. His little swimmers are in absolutely top form, did you know? Anyway… I’m sure Kate will calm down soon. She knows she’d struggle without me to make her blackberry tea and serve her beetroot hummus just the way she likes it!’
Brian Aldridge, who recently announced shock plans to sell off a parcel of land that adjoins Spiritual Home, said he and Ms Madikane had had a ‘difference of opinion’. ‘Kate believes that having tractors rumble past Spiritual Home all day will ruin her business, and I believe that she is a spoiled, over-indulged brat who hasn’t bothered to read the small print on the Home Farm partnership document,’ he said.
The Ambridge Observer reached out to Ms Madikane for comment, but unfortunately the statement she released was not appropriate for a family newspaper.

All bets off on Pip’s baby date

Bookmakers have suspended betting on the birth date of Pip Archer’s baby, after punters piled into Sunday June 17. ‘We had some money come in for Saturday June 16, which is her mum Ruth’s 50th birthday,’ said Lou Sittall of Borchester Turf Accountants. ‘But Sunday is not only the day of Ruth’s birthday party, but Fathers' Day. Studying the form, we reckon that Archer babies often arrive to cause maximum disruption and inconvenience. So we reckon a touching birth scene in the marquee at Home Farm is a no-brainer.’
Before the book was closed, decent odds were available on Tuesday June 19 (Fallon Rogers’s birthday) and Friday June 22 (Adam Macy and Chris Carter’s birthday).  ‘We even had a few brave souls who reckoned Pip could hold out until the Ambridge Fete,’ said Mr Sittall.  ‘But you could get 100-1 on that as Lynda Snell would never stand for it.’
Bets are still being taken on the baby's name. 'On the basis that parents often take inspiration from their surroundings, our favourite is Floral Pedestal Archer if it's a girl, or Jazz Quintet Archer for a boy,' said Mr Sittall. 

From the message boards

As Ambridge’s youngsters celebrate the end of their exams, we drop in on the AmTeens forum to see what’s got the online community buzzing:

• Hey guys!!!! No more exams EVA!!!! Who’s gonna hang at the Black Dragon for some cocktails and to watch me burn my pencil case? DJFreddEE

• Why Freddie boy, are you gonna smoke it? You and me got unfinished business, remember? I’m a couple of men down in my operation and I need you to shift some supplies, get me? ChemicalEllis

• Go away Ellis. I’m picking fruit at Home Farm all summer and then I’m off to South Africa. And anyway, you’ll get what’s coming to you. DJFreddieEE

• Sure, Freddie boy. What you gonna do, get your big butch sister Lily to rough me up? We all know about her and that Meredith girl, whoever she is. ChemicalEllis

• Guys, guys, take it outside, will you? You need to check out this week’s Borchester Echo, featuring yours truly as Bachelor of the Month! TractorBoyJosh

• Wow, cool! Bet you’ll get some hot dates out of that! DJFreddEE

• Too right, Fred. I’ve got three sales appointments this week already. And a sniff of a nearly-new baler in Penny Hassett. Anyone on here interested? TractorBoyJosh

 • Shut UP, Josh! Everyone.

Pet of the Week (not a pet, a working animal. This is a farming paper, you know. Ed.)

Name: Peppa Pig (yes, it’s stupid, but we can’t change it because of Poppy, bless the poor little mite)
Owner: Ed Grundy, Grange Farm
Likes: eating, pushing small girls into puddles
Dislikes: being prodded by judges at Borchester Show
Do say: ‘Ain’t he handsome? Think how much more he’ll be worth when he’s bigger!’

Don’t say: ‘You turned down £4,000 for him? Are you mad? With the luck of the Grundys, do you really think he’ll make it to his first birthday?’

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Kate sees red, Lily's in hot water and Shula cooks up trouble

US intervention steps up threat of trade war

Kate Madikane, owner of holistic retreat Spiritual Home, has walked out of summit talks designed to ease financial woes at Home Farm.
‘Kate says her father Brian Aldridge is weak and dishonest, and never told her he was selling the field surrounding Spiritual Home,’ says an insider.
‘If she’d got the email while she was away in Arizona, she would have come straight back to stop it. But she was on a goat yoga retreat and totally off grid.’
‘Kate has warned Brian there will be war over the sale, which would see tractors to-ing and fro-ing just yards from her yurts every day,’ said our source. ‘She means business since her US research trip. She went on a haircut healing course and had her hair permed into a huge blonde power quiff. It’s truly scary. Brian had better watch out.’

 Nice work if you can get it

The summer’s hottest reality TV show has inspired a local farmer to step up his recruitment drive for seasonal workers.
Home Farm’s strawberry picking operation has been renamed ‘The Polytunnels of Love Island’. Workers will compete to go on glamorous dates, such as carvery night at the Torn Scrotum in Felpersham.
‘My sister Kate gave me the idea,’ said Adam Macy. ‘She said we need to attract young, energetic workers and to get the place buzzing with hormones. So what better way than to inject some sizzling babes, booze and bantz into the mix?’
Mr Macy said new recruits would be issued with sparkly swimwear, shades and vouchers for cocktails, which they will enjoy on their breaks by the Home Farm swimming pool.
‘Each week the pickers will be coupled up, and we’ll have a ‘Fruitiest Guy’ and ‘Sweetest Girl’ contest,’ said Mr Macy. ‘It’s going to be hot, hot, hot in the Polytunnels of Love Island!’

The Trials of Lily Pargetter

In the latest chapter of our sensational summer saga, by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine plays a dangerous game to experience the ecstasies of love…

‘Ach, Liebling! Bei mir bist du so … sexy!’ Lily purred in delight and pressed the phone closer to her ear. ‘Revising with books is so bourgeois, darling,’ Russ had told her. ‘You and I speak the language of love!’
‘Ich auch!’ she said. ‘Sorry doll – you got a cold?’ Russ quipped. He was so funny. They’d even devised a secret code: if they were on the phone and Russ said ‘Hier kommt meine Frau’, it meant it wasn’t safe to talk. So clever of him!
Reluctantly ending the call, Lily went into the kitchen.
‘So Lily – how is Meredith? You’ve been with her nearly all weekend!’ her mother asked, a little too brightly.
‘Yeah Lily, how is… Meredith?’ Freddie asked, making quote marks with his fingers behind their mum’s back. ‘Shut UP!’ Lily hissed at him. ‘Oh, you know Meredith. Still got her verruca. She needs a lot of support. What’s for lunch?’
‘There’s fresh ham,’ Elizabeth said, expertly slicing a bloomer.
‘Oh no, sorry mum – Lily prefers an old ham, don’t you sis?’ said Freddie with a huge wink.
‘What on earth do you mean, Freddie?’ her mother turned a quizzical eye on them. Then her phone buzzed and she frowned. ‘Oh damn, it’s the photocopier sales convention organiser again. I’ll have to take this, darlings.’
‘Ha ha – saved by the bell! But mum’s on to you, Lily,’ Freddie crowed. ‘You’d better get your story straight if you want to carry on seeing sleazy old Russ...’
Lily stabbed viciously at a slice of ham, wishing it were her hideous brother…How dare he try to spoil the rare, precious love she had found with her deputy head teacher?


‘Well, you do look super-cool in your shades and summer dresses, dears!’ Aunty Christine waddled over the Green towards Lily and Elizabeth. ‘Do you mind if I join you?’
Lily breathed a sigh of relief. At least now Mum would stop dropping hints about her and Meredith, and how Clare Balding was one of her favourite TV presenters, and didn’t Lily think that Ruth Davidson was a talented politician?
‘Of course, Christine! We’re just enjoying a short break in the sun before Lily’s next exam,’ said Elizabeth. ‘She’s already turned down the chance to play cricket on Sunday to revise.’ Lily shivered inwardly with delight. On Sunday, she wouldn’t be playing cricket or revising with the imaginary  Meredith. She and Russ would be in their own little world in the car park of that quiet pub on the bypass… Christine’s quavering voice broke into her reverie.
‘But you do have breaks, dear!’ she was saying. ‘Jim and I saw you, with a tall chap, at that art exhibition in Felpersham!’
Lily went cold. She forced herself to smile. ‘Oh no, not me, Aunty Chris. I was revising!’
Christine looked puzzled. ‘But I was sure… you were wearing that lovely scarlet jacket of yours. But I might have been mistaken. Harrison and Fallon think I’m going gaga, you know. Just because I can’t tell a flapjack from a gluten free cookie. They’re all stale anyway, since they stopped using Tupperware like normal people.’
‘Yes!’ Lily yelped. Her aunt gave her a hurt look. ‘I mean… No, of course you’re not gaga, Aunty  Christine. I just meant yes, you were mistaken. I was revising with my friend Meredith… wasn’t I mum?’
‘Lily’s right, Christine. She’s always at Meredith’s these days. It must have been someone else.’
Lily’s heart, which had been pounding in her chest, began to beat more calmly. But her mother was giving Lily a long, thoughtful look. Oh, how long would she and Russ have to keep up this painful deception, before they could declare their love to the whole world?

To be continued….

Recipe of the week

Thank to Shula Hebden-Lloyd of The Stables for sending in her version of this weekday family favourite:

Spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread

Serves two (will freeze. In fact, quite likely to)

8oz minced words
Two strong onions (for crying)
Tin of you say tomatoes, I say tom-ay-toes, let’s call the whole thing off
1 cup stock phrases
Pinch of bitter herbs
Slices of stale regret
Butter (no parsnips)
Crushed garlic hopes. Sorry, cloves.

Serve with a bottle of Merlot while pretending to laugh at a video of goat yoga. Then have a row and slam the door on your way out.


Sunday, 3 June 2018

Ed has high hopes, Monty comes home and Alistair styles it out

Call for summer workers prompts international response

Adam Macy says he is ‘very pleased’ by the response to his publicity campaign to attract more seasonal fruit pickers to Home Farm. ‘We had to be creative this year to make up the shortfall of workers from Eastern Europe, and it seems we did the trick with my interview on Radio Borsetshire, taster sessions and posters all over the county,’ he said.
‘We even have one picker who’s travelled from America specially. He said he’d been keeping an eye on the Ambridge village website and saw this as a good opportunity,’ said Mr Macy. ‘I don’t know much about him – he keeps himself to himself and always wears a baseball cap and shades. But I think I detected a trace of a British accent, so who knows? He may have family connections locally, which would be nice.’ (Oh please, God, no. Ed.)

Lloyd: ‘Single wicket victory not awkward at all’

Former Ambridge cricket captain Alistair Lloyd said he felt ‘absolutely fine’ about accepting the Mark Hebden trophy from his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Shula Hebden-Lloyd, after a thrilling Single Wicket competition on Sunday.
‘People said it was awkward when Shula went in for a kiss but I offered a handshake – but that sums up our marriage really,’ said Mr Lloyd.  
‘To be honest, I would have been more embarrassed if I’d been caught in the slips by Molly Button, like Harrison Burns,’ he added.
But Susan Carter of Ambridge View said Mr Lloyd’s participation in the event was ‘a disgrace’. ‘There he was strutting about in his whites like John Travolta, when poor Shula was splitting finger rolls and trying to keep Lexi on top of the burgers,’ she said. ‘Alistair was showing off so much, you’d think he had a point to prove. Which according to Lavinia Rafferty, he does, if you know what I mean.’
Current Ambridge captain, PC Burns, said it was a ‘fair and exciting contest’. ‘I had something in my eye when I got caught out,’ he said. ‘It was actually a tear, because I’m upset about my fiancée Fallon’s campaign to go completely plastic-free. There are some people round here who call me a plastic policeman and I’m worried she’ll get ideas.’ 

Ed hopes Texel will excel

Grange Farm in Ambridge could soon have a champion in residence as Ed Grundy has high hopes for one of his Texel ram lambs. ‘He’s the best of the bunch by far – solid and square, and eats his head off,’ he said. ‘I can’t wait to take him round the county shows and see how he gets on.’
Mr Grundy said the ram is friendly and a great favourite with his niece Poppy. ‘She calls him Peppa Pig but I’d be a laughing stock in the show-ring, so we’ve chosen a name that means a lot to our family,’ he said. ‘The ram will be officially known as ‘William Paranoid Custody Battle Clarrie Worried Sick The Third.’

How to party the Aldridge way

Renowned social hostess Jennifer Aldridge, of Home Farm, knows a thing or two about organising parties – and she’s currently masterminding a glamorous 50th birthday celebration for Ruth Archer of Brookfield.  So The Ambridge Observer is thrilled to share Jennifer’s unique Party Planning Questionnaire, to help readers plan their own fabulous events!

1.     What is the catering theme of your party?
a)    Classic – a whole dressed salmon, vol au vents and pavlova
b)   The ‘Ruth Archer’ – frozen pizza, oven chips and Arctic roll
c)    Porridge (oops sorry, that’s Brian’s ‘Six months inside for pollution offences’ menu)

2.     What music would you like?
a)    Tommy Croker and the Swinging Zimmers
b)   Freddie Pargetter’s Pills & Thrills dance night  (comes with earplugs and stomach pumps)
c)    A silent disco (because David forgot to ask Ben for a Spotify list. Honestly, I ASK you!)

3.     Who would you like to bake the cake?
a) Jill Archer
b) Are you mad? You will never hear the end of it if you ask anyone else.

4.     What will you serve on arrival?
a)    Champagne
b)   Cava (no, sorry. I cannot allow cava to be served at Home Farm. Prosecco if you must).
c)    Margherita Margaritas – Ruth’s favourite: cheese and tomato pizza blended with Malibu and garnished with a cheeky wedge of Kiwi fruit.

Pet of the Week

Name: Monty
Owner: Lynda Snell
Likes: playing fetch; making deep, soulful connections with his eyes
Dislikes: not sure yet. Hopefully not shepherd’s huts
Do say: ‘How sweet, you’ve named him after Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, and not after the famous WWII British General, whom, to be honest, he more closely resembles.’
Don’t say: ‘Lynda, you’re going to need a bigger pooper scooper.’

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet

Warm-hearted country comedy in which we follow attractive but hapless vet Alistair and his business partner, feisty Glaswegian Anisha, on their rounds. All animal life is here, from a lame bull to a sheep in need of an emergency Caesarean. Their owners are terrific characters too, from luscious Lavinia and her sickly schnauzer to Shula, an old cow with a prolapsed uterus and a bad case of flu. (Are you sure? Ed).

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Jenny lets rip, yoga mix-up and Auntie Satya advises

Exchange of insults threatens Home Farm deal

A land sale that would help save an Ambridge farm from financial ruin was nearly derailed this week after bitter exchanges between two key players.
Borchester Land’s chairman, Martyn Gibson, said he was pulling out of a deal to buy 300 acres of arable land from Brian Aldridge of Home Farm, after he claimed his wife Pamela had been ‘grossly insulted’ by Mr Aldridge’s wife Jennifer.
‘Mrs Aldridge accosted my wife in Underwoods department store and told her her hairstyle looked like an electrocuted hedgehog,’ he claimed. ‘No one insults the wife of the new Borchester Land chairman in this way. The sale is off.’
Contacted by the Ambridge Observer, Mrs Aldridge did not deny the claim. ‘Pam Gibson started it by asking if I was in Underwoods looking for a job,’ she said. ‘The cheek of the woman! She’s just jealous that her husband wasn’t Borsetshire Businessperson of the Year, even if it was only for 24 hours.’
• Stop press: the land sale is now reported to be back on, after shuttle diplomacy between the two parties by peace envoy Justin Elliott, armed with tickets to a Nigel Kennedy concert for Mr and Mrs Aldridge, and a voucher for Fabrice of Felpersham for Mrs Gibson.

Women’s Institute members ‘outraged’ by fitness classes swap

Kate Madikane, owner of holistic retreat Spiritual Home, has apologised to Ambridge W.I. after a mix-up that saw their over-50s yoga class invaded by a herd of goats.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ said one member. ‘The goats were roaming round the hall, eating anything in sight – one lady nearly lost her green woolly leg warmers. The smell was terrible and I dread to think what they’ve done to the parquet floor.’
Ms Madikane said she would pay for any damage. ‘I had asked Californian fitness guru Nani Kidd to visit Spiritual Home to trial her goat yoga classes, but unfortunately the goat supplier sent the animals to the village hall,’ she said. ‘I can appreciate it would have been a shock if you had only just got used to a downward dog.’

Ambridge Village Shop: Product recall

Shoppers are asked to return any products they have bought in Ambridge Village Stores recently if they were not served with an appropriate insult at the time of purchase. ‘It’s a new policy,’ said manager Mrs Carter. ‘Now that my Neil is a manager, I see no need to hold my tongue if I disapprove of customers’ moral choices. Anyone who is doing wrong, in my opinion, will get a thick piece of my mind along with their ready meal for one or packet of chocolate Bourbons.  I tried it on Alistair Lloyd and felt much better afterwards.’

Coffee break with… Russell Jones

In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the deputy principal of Borchester College.

Q Thank you for talking to us, Mr Jones. Exam time must be very busy for you?

A Yes – but we’re very proud of our pastoral care here at the college. And call me Russ. All the students do; I like to relate to them more as a friend than a teacher, you know? I find young female students respond especially well to an informal touch.

Q Doesn’t that make it more difficult if there are disciplinary issues to deal with?

A Oh no. The better you know your students, the more you understand what makes them tick. I can usually make a student see where his or her best interests lie, and mostly we resolve any awkward situations between us, without having to bother the principal, if you know what I mean.

Q You teach art, but do you have responsibilities for students who don’t take your subject?

A Oh yes. I seek out young people who may be vulnerable – a female student who has lost a parent, for example. I’m no father figure – far too cool for that, though I say it myself – but I find I can make a connection that we both find very fulfilling.

Q  How you do balance your work and family life?

A  It’s tough, but teaching is a vocation and my wife is fine with that. She knows if I’m late home, it’s because I’m out counselling a student on a one-to-one basis. I find once you get them off school premises – to a country pub for instance – they really open up.  It’s very rewarding. And my wife has her hands full with the kids!

Ask Auntie Satya

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

Dear Auntie Satya,

Last week I had a one-night stand with a local vet – I’m not sure why, except my bridge club had been cancelled. A couple of days later, I rang him because my schnauzer was off-colour. But before I could say a word he blurted out that he wasn’t ready for a relationship and asked me not to contact him again! I couldn’t care two hoots about that – to be honest he was rather, shall we say, underwhelming – but it would be very inconvenient to find another vet. What would you advise? Lavinia.

Dear Lavinia,

I suggest you take your dog round to the surgery and insist that the vet examine her. If he looks nervous, suggest that he leaves the door open or asks his nurse to chaperone. This will reassure him of your intentions and put your relationship back on a professional footing.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I have recently separated from my wife and in a moment of madness, allowed myself to be seduced by a lady from the local hunt. She is a quite attractive blonde with a Range Rover Evoque but not my kind of woman and anyway I am not ready for another relationship. So when she rang me, I made that very clear. But I am worried I have upset her and I don’t want to lose her business (I am a vet). What would you advise? Alistair.

Dear Alistair,

I would ring this lady and say that, while you were spending time together, you couldn’t help noticing that her schnauzer was looking under the weather, and that you have an appointment free if she would like to bring the dog to the surgery.  When she arrives, leave the consulting room door open and ask your nurse to chaperone. This will be a clear signal to the lady that you would like your relationship to resume its professional basis. It may go more smoothly than you think.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I recently made the brave and difficult decision to tell my husband I no longer love him. It has been so hard for me as no one seems to understand how guilty I feel, even though I have to do what is right for me. Now he has betrayed me by having a one-night stand with a mutual friend, and says he is consulting a solicitor about divorce, even though I generously allowed him to move back into the spare room. Why do you think he is being so cold?

Dear Shula,

I am sorry to hear you are upset. But if you read through your letter again, I think you will find you have answered your own question.