Sunday, 29 March 2015

Paternity, a public meeting and a poem for Freda: a lively week in Ambridge

Shock revelation at crisis meeting

St Stephen’s Church was shocked to the rafters on Wednesday as David Archer of Brookfield told a packed meeting: ‘I am a farmer’. Angry residents had to be restrained as Mr Archer spent several minutes explaining that he and his wife, Ruth, made their living from farming and had done so for some years now. ‘I didn’t choose it; it’s who I am,’ he insisted as villagers demanded to know what this had to do with preventing another flood.
Adam Macy of Home Farm entertained the meeting with a slideshow of his time farming in Africa. ‘I really think you know… yes, it would be awfully nice if we looked after the land,’ he said, to wild applause.
Lynda Snell, who lost her home in the flood, praised the emergency services but warned against the building of a second anaerobic digester at Berrow Farm. However, Rob Titchener told Mrs Snell in no uncertain terms not to bring up digestion, as Helen had put too much onion in his salmon pasta bake again.
Councillors Morgan and Sykes, who were guests at the meeting, said they were delighted that Ambridge was now firmly in favour of a new road following route B, as eloquently expressed by Susan Carter.
‘I’m sorry, I’m too busy to comment,’ said Rev Alan Franks, who chaired the meeting. ‘Could you give me a hand with all these packets of soup mix?’

A hellish week for Helen

Poor Helen Archer. Her week hit a low point when Rob couldn’t finish the pasta salmon bake she’d made, even though he usually wolfs it down. Then the curds that make Borsetshire Blue cheese turned sour in their moulds as she found out that Kirsty had been to visit Pat. ‘I’d love to have seen her,’ she wailed, forgetting that Kirsty hates her even more than Tom for failing to warn her about his pre-wedding nerves. Helen recovered gamely, trying to blame Kirsty’s departure for the downfall of Ambridge Organics, but much, much worse was in store.
On the drive to pick up Rob’s car from the garage, he confessed that he had a ‘payroll problem’: the CMS is about to start docking his wages to support baby Ethan. ‘There’s only one way to stop Jess destroying everything we’ve built up together,’ Rob said.
Helen was about to hand him the pearl-handled revolver she keeps in her handbag, but Rob had other ideas.
‘I’m going to prove I’m not the boy’s father. I’m going to take a paternity test,’ he said, his manly knuckles turning white on the steering wheel.
Easter may be a time of miracles, but it remains to be seen how Rob will manage this feat of escapology….

Pop up for a pint at The Bull

Fuelled by bitterness towards his treacherous brother Dave, Kenton was determined to get The Bull back on its feet this week and began furiously shoving pansies into hanging baskets. Jolene, who knows about facelifts, said it was throwing good money after bad, but Fallon was much more optimistic. Her idea is for a Heads-Up Hen Easter egg trail, which leads across the Green to a marquee housing a pop-up Bull (not to be named ‘Otto’). She even plans to replace Freda Fry’s Simnel Surprise Stew with a lamb tagine from the caterers.
‘You’ve had a big glass of pick-me-up juice!’ said an approving Kenton, who needed something stronger himself, after a majestically hungover Lilian knocked back his embarrassing request for cash. But a rejection from the bank couldn’t dampen Fallon’s spirits; her vision for the Ambridge Tea Service is as bright as ever, and even prompted PC Burns to get out his chequebook. Go Fallon!

A good week for the Grundys

Even though they are all homeless, things could be worse for the Grundy family. Joe is living the life of Riley at Grey Gables, earning himself a reputation as the Vivienne Westwood of Ambridge with a range of bizarre outfits from Sabrina Thwaite’s charity box. Eddie is pretending to care about Scruff and Mediterranean gulls, in a bid to persuade Robert Snell to let him loose on the ruined conservatory at Ambridge Hall. Ed is now known as the Dirty Digger, working all hours to hide the evidence of neglected ditches. He even managed not to spill the beans about his secret mission to an inquisitive Jim, and was rewarded with a surprise pint in the Flood Bar, paid for by a thoughtful Kirsty. However, he may regret telling all to Emma, who caught him off guard with a Victoria sponge. Will Emma prattle to her mother Susan about the estate’s dereliction of duty? Probably….
Only Clarrie (or ‘the Grundy woman’ as Hazel Woolley refers to her) has little to smile about. Her pantomime villain of a landlady seems more interested in joining the estate’s shoot than in speeding up repairs to Keeper’s Cottage, which is fit for habitation only by Joe’s ferrets.

Situation (not really) wanted

Look guys, my dad made me place this ad, OK? So here’s the deal; I’m willing to work for a few hours a week, as long as I can still get to my bikram yoga classes and lectures (except the ones by that sad creep with the combover). I can’t do manual work because it upsets my chakras, I’m allergic to hostile auras and need regular breaks for meditation. So as long as your place is vegan-friendly and has been fully feng shui-ed, I’m your girl! Reply to Kool Kate, PO Box 666.

A fond farewell to Freda

Mourners at the funeral of much-loved Ambridge resident Freda Fry on Monday were moved to tears as her husband Bert read a poem he’d composed specially for the occasion.  ‘It was so powerful; it was obvious he meant every word,’ said old friend Mrs Carol Tregorran. The Observer can think of no finer tribute to Freda than to reproduce it here, with kind permission from Trevor and the family.

A rose always in bloom

They say that you will never see
a poem lovely as a tree,
but there was never oak nor cedar
lovelier than my dear Freda.

She was my rose always in bloom,
who brought the light to any room;
she could read me like a book
and tell me off with just one look.

I never thought my blushing bride
would be famed for her cooking, far and wide;
Her pastry was light, her pies were savoury;
She loved her job, never thought it was slavery. 

From the first time I saw her face
there was no one could take her place.
We went on honeymoon to Llandudno;
she told me not to take her picture, but I did though.

We were so happy in our bungalow;
she loved mock orange, lavender and mallow,
but if I was too handy with the shears
I had to watch out; she’d box my ears.

We spent sixty wonderful years together
until that flood separated us forever.
And whatever time now is left to me
I’ll spend alone, with no company.

So, my dear Freda, rest in peace,
as I am praying on my knees
that we will meet in Paradise
and everything will be really nice.


  1. I believe Bert is working towards his first collection, which may appear at Christmas... :-)

  2. Having attended the funeral, and eavesdropped on many conversations, I was amazed to discover that Freda had seemingly been the life and soul of Ambridge. I'd always found her quiet as a mouse!

  3. I thought I saw you there! Yes, Freda didn't open up to everyone. Or indeed, anyone.