Sunday, 5 April 2015

Heather visits, an inspector calls and Kenton gets even: a tetchy week in Ambridge

 Emotions overflow at village flood meeting

Feelings ran high at last Thursday’s action meeting as villagers counted the cost of the flood. Many residents were moved to tears by the massive crack in Christine Barford’s kitchen floor, and local historian Jim Lloyd was appointed to make a record of all the villagers’ experiences to begin a process of closure before moving forwards.
A committee was elected to progress the action plan, including Jennifer Aldridge, Lynda Snell, Mr Lloyd and David Archer, who convened the meeting, as chair.
Kenton Archer, the popular mein host at The Bull, said: ‘Despite my best efforts, my darling brother David is chairing the committee. He should be cast out like a pariah, not be welcomed with open arms and allowed to boss everyone just like he did when we were little – um, I mean, just because he now claims to love the soil of Ambridge. It’s a rotten swiz, it really is. And I won’t talk to him. So there.’

An inspector calls at Bridge Farm

Now that he’s back hobbling round Bridge Farm, Tony was in twitchy mood, nagging Tom and Johnny to clear up the yard and telling Helen off for parking her car badly. They thought it was to impress customers to the new village shop, but Pat knew better; he was dreading the visit of Mr Wallace, the HSE inspector. Tony even fretted about the name of his solicitor, thinking ‘Ruby Ponting’ didn’t sound professional enough.
The younger Bridge Farm generation are in good spirits though; Helen is relieved that Rob is going to take the DNA test, and Tom is excited about colonising a corner of the new shop for his sausages, Tony’s beef and Helen’s cheese.
Even Susan agreed, though she was distracted by the prospect of Hazel Woolley sizing up the old shop and Fallon’s flat, possibly for redevelopment into an upmarket bondage dungeon and fetish club.
When Mr Wallace arrived, he interviewed Tony at length and clearly would have liked to interview Otto the bull, but it was a bit late for that. Tony did his best, given his memory lapses, but didn’t feel it had gone well. ‘It’ll be a substantial fine and another terrible stain on the reputation of Bridge Farm!’ he wailed. ‘Oh noo, Tooony!’ Pat wasn’t commiserating; Tony had stamped on her foot with his crutch.

Heather: not surprised that Hadley Haugh is off

Ruth’s mother Heather arrived for Easter this week, bringing with her no marmalade (‘I’m not up to standing at the stove these days pet’) but a heap of homespun Northumbrian wisdom. Although the proposed move to Hadley Haugh was for her benefit, it turns out Heather is the only person involved who never thought it would happen. ‘I thought Ruth and David were kiddin’ theirselves,’ she confided in Jill. ‘David’s too firmly rooted here. I never quite believed it.’
After several months protesting that she needed to be near her mum, Ruth also confessed she was pleased to be staying put. ‘It’s difficult to stay mad at someone you love when they’ve been such a hero, saving animals and rescuing people from their homes,’ she told Heather, handing over the sheltered housing brochures she’d ordered, with Post-its lovingly placed on the cheapest ones..
But Heather isn’t going down without having her say on family matters. She suggested that Ruth invite Jolene and Kenton round on Easter Monday for a make-up afternoon tea. But it turned out this attempt at diplomacy was doomed.
‘There’s no way I’m sitting down in the same room as them, playing happy families!’ Kenton fumed at Jolene, who had put her tin hat on specially. ‘I don’t want to have tea with my smug, double-crossing brother. I don’t want anything to do with him, ever again!’ 
Oh well. All the more of Jill’s home-made hot cross buns to go round, then. 

Where’s the beef, Brian?

It was a trying week for Brian Aldridge, thanks to his inconveniently opinionated children. Adam is convinced that much of Borsetshire is turning into a dustbowl, thanks to Brian’s short-term, rapacious farming methods. Brian protested there were plenty of beetle banks and wide field margins to sustain the ecostructure, but Adam is not convinced, accusing Brian of refusing to acknowledge the impending environmental disaster and muttering about organic matter.
But there was more organic matter hitting the fan at Home Farm when Jenny revealed that Kate had offered to do all the cooking, vegan style, over Easter.
Horrified at the thought of missing out on Jennifer’s luscious lamb roast or juicy venison haunch, Brian put his foot down. ‘I didn’t spend a fortune on this kitchen so Kate could cook us all rabbit food!’ he roared, much to Jenny’s amusement; she will be far too busy writing tedious articles for the Echo and thrusting SAVE leaflets at tourists to care. ‘Vegan food cooked nicely can be quite tasty and nutritious,’ she ventured; but Brian wasn’t having it. ‘You won’t get Ruairi eating vegan unless there’s a couple of sausages on the side!’
Will Kate take over controls at the Albion or will it be lamb tagine at The Bull all round? It remains to be seen…

Save the date: Village supper, Friday April 17

David and Ruth Archer of Brookfield Farm are preparing to welcome the whole village (except David’s brother Kenton, who is washing his hair that night) to a special supper to celebrate the community spirit that Ambridge showed during the flood. Thanks to generous donations, a delicious menu is on offer:
• Herefordshire beef roast (Brookfield)
• pulled pork rolls with Susan Carter’s chilli relish (Bridge Farm)
• tofu quiche and salads (Usha Franks and Jennifer Aldridge)
• hot double-cross buns, hard cheese and sour grapes (The Bull)
And the merriment doesn’t end there! Pip Archer and the Young Farmers will be hosting a Barn Dance, Fallon Rogers will be providing her legendary bunting, and the raffle prizes include a fabulous day’s ferret shooting at Grey Gables, thanks to Caroline Sterling and Justin Elliot. (Are you sure? Ed.) Don’t miss it!

Letter to the editor

Mr Wilbur M Cornstalk of West Virginia, USA writes:

When are you people in Borchestershire going to do something about the crazies who run Grey Gables Hotel? Wilma and I thought things couldn’t get any worse after we stayed back in March, so we recommended it to my buddy Sol Berkowitz for a stopover on his golf tour. Boy, were we ever dumb!
The way Sol tells it, he was polishing his putter in his room one afternoon when he heard a scritchin’ and a scratchin’ behind the baseboard. He called reception and the next thing you know, the Three Stooges show up – an old-timer in furry white slippers, a kid with a fishing net and a creepy lookin’ guy in a cowboy hat.
 They reckoned they were from maintenance, or pest control, or some such – but Sol didn’t stick around to find out. He checked out so fast he left his second best sand wedge behind.
And the worst part is, Sol blames me and Wilma for sending him to a flophouse. She’s been banned from the Ladies’ Labor Day fundraiser and I can never hold my head up in the Great White Lake Sitting Bull Lodge again. Shame on you, Ambridge!


  1. Yes indeed. Bit of a quiet news week this week - had to take a few stories off the spike!