Sunday, 1 March 2015

Betrayal, a birthday and another way for Peggy’s will: a tense week in Ambridge

Can she forgive him?

It rained all week in Ambridge, but the atmosphere at Brookfield was as frosty as one of Ruth’s ‘signature’ pizzas as she struggled with David’s life-changing decision to stay. He was quite chirpy, supported by Shula and Lizzie, who took the news remarkably well. ‘Stop apologising, David! The most important thing is I’ve got my big brother and his family back!’ beamed Lizzie, while Shula chewed her lip and did her best to agree.
David was relentlessly upbeat. ‘One day we might look back on this whole upheaval and see it as a great thing. We must start thinking outside the box!’ But for Ruth his use of business-speak, on top of his failure to consult her on the move, was the last straw. ‘I feel the whole bloody Archer clan is lined up against me!’ she wailed on Usha’s shoulder. And then of course there is her mum Heather, marooned in Prudhoe, waiting patiently for the boat to come in. ‘How can I choose between me mum and me family? How can I do that Usha?’
If Ruth decides she cannot forgive David’s betrayal of trust and leaves, it will be a devastating blow for him; good livestock managers are hard to find. But at least Jill, who has been irritating Ruth beyond measure by tiptoeing round her, offering tactful cups of tea, would be back in charge of Brookfield, where she belongs. Although strictly speaking, she isn’t an Archer either. 

Happy birthday Tom Archer!

Good news from Felpersham Hospital, where Tony is now performing on the parallel bars (you sure about that? Ed). He’s due home in a couple of weeks, so the Bridge Farm clan were in high spirits, celebrating Tom’s birthday. Jazzer especially welcomed a pint or two, as he’d spent the day with Johnny, moving pig arcs in full Highland dress. Neil was also on good form, as his partnership with the sage, considerate business leader that is Tom Archer goes from strength to strength. ‘Your dad will be proud of you when he hears your plans, Tom. You’ve kept your vision,’ he said as the young genius agreed to another of his ideas. With chilli now a permanent fixture on the menu at home, Neil splashed out on dinner at Botticelli’s for his and Susan’s anniversary. Congratulations to the Carters!

Will they drop the shop?

The future of Ambridge Organics, one of Borchester’s most popular retail outlets (not lately. Ed) was in doubt this week as Tom, Helen and Pat held a summit meeting. Pat was in waspish mood, having drenched her trousers in a puddle (or at least, that’s what she said).  ‘Do you think you’re the only person who’s ever faced this dilemma?’ she accused Helen, who was bleating about the difficulties of juggling work with one small child and a man who likes his steak Diane on the table promptly at six.
But Tom was an unlikely supporter of Rob’s plan for Helen to close down the shop. ‘Maybe organics isn’t quite as fashionable as it was, maybe it’s online shopping… it might be better to cut our losses and get out now,’ he said, not adding that a useless manager and a counter full of rotting cheese might not have helped much either. It remains to be seen what Tony thinks, but once Tom explains it in his respectful, considerate way, how can he not agree?

No comfort for Phoebe in Tuckers’ war

The mood board for the new look
at Kate's Kool Kottage
The week started badly for poor Phoebe, who was being forced to consider migraine-inducing colour schemes in Kate’s Kool Kottage. It got worse when Hayley came round to break the news that she will be staying in Birmingham, divorcing Roy and retraining as a teacher. ‘Loving someone isn’t the same as wanting to share your life with them,’ she told Phoebe, who went to see Roy to see if this could be true. Luckily, Mike had been round earlier to clear up the pizza boxes and dirty underpants, and had got Roy into the shower, so he looked quite presentable when Phoebe turned up, but his message was the same. ‘No sweetheart, I don’t think there is a way,’ he said, chewing on a stale chapatti and sending Phoebe in floods of tears to Mike. ‘I really thought mum would forgive him, and I want things to be back the way they were,’ she sobbed to her grandfather, who did his best to mop up but could offer no solution. Unlike Kate, who thinks that a fun fur throw and a DVD of Modern Family can cure all ills. 

Legal notices

‘I, Margaret Woolley of Ambridge in the County of Borsetshire, being of relatively sound mind, do hereby revoke my previous Will and Testament, which caused my son Tony to have a midlife crisis and nearly caused his demise. I now bequeath my estate to be divided equally between Tony Archer, Jennifer Aldridge and Lilian Bellamy, with the provisos that Tony does not buy another bull and Lilian does not spend it all on gin. I make no provision for my granddaughter Helen Archer or my great-grandson Henry Archer as their security will be assured by Helen’s marriage to that lovely man, Robert Titchener.’

New series: Money matters

Let our personal finance guru help with your money worries. In this week’s bumper postbag:

Q ‘I used my credit cards to pay for a holiday of a lifetime in Australia with my wife. I was expecting to cover it with a windfall from my brother. We’ve now learnt that we won’t be getting the money after all. What should we do?’
A Contact your creditors and ask for a managed repayment plan. In the meantime, do you have any ways of boosting your income? For example, if you ran a pub, could you start watering the beer? Or if your wife was a singer, could she go out busking? Good luck!

Q ‘My ex-partner has disappeared to Costa Rica and has emptied all my bank accounts. I am down to my last pashmina. What would you advise?’
A In your longer letter you tell me that your sister has taken you in and you have a portfolio of investment properties. Under the circumstances the Citizens Advice Bureau is unlikely to be able to help. I would advise steering clear of internet dating sites in future.

Q ‘My parents are refusing to invest in my career by paying my tuition fees. All they’ve given me is a free cottage with hideous varnished furniture and floral curtains. My father doesn’t even want to pay for a decorator! Please help! (P.S. I am 37).’
A Oh for heaven’s sake, is this the best you can do? (We’ll find you some real problems next time. Sorry. Ed).

Next week: the pros and cons of setting up a chintzy tea room in a run-down area of Darrington, and hedge-cutting: how many miles do you need to do each year to pay the rent on 50 acres?