Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sticky wickets, crisis for Christine and Kenton’s TV Times: a fractious week in Ambridge

Champion Rob despatches rivals to the boundary

The Ambridge annual Single Wicket Trophy was won in breathtaking style by Rob ‘Mighty Gladiator’ Titchener, who defeated Ambridge First XI stalwart Adam Macy and thrusting newcomer Toby Fairbrother on his route to glory.
Rob, the most popular man in Ambridge, was carried shoulder-high from the field by cheering villagers (are you sure? I thought no one could stand him. Ed), his lovely fiancée Helen Archer looking on proudly from behind a pile of washing-up.
But this was only the start of an excellent week for Rob. Stefan the milker, the sole witness to Culvertgate, found he suddenly had to return home after his grandmother broke her leg – and was so traumatised it seemed he could be contacted only by Rob.
‘If someone tried to save Borchester Land property at the expense of someone else’s, that would be probably illegal as well as completely immoral,’ warned a frustrated and grumpy Charlie.
‘La la la, fingers in ears, can’t hear you!’ replied Rob, who was off home to save even more of his bacon by getting Helen to give a talk at the Open Day on Berrow Farm’s thrilling new array of solar panels. ‘But everyone knows me as part of an organic family business!’ protested Helen, reasonably.
‘But you’re part of my family business now darling,’ replied Rob…. As indeed she is, up to her neck. Rather like Charlie in the culvert that Rob absolutely did not block and now there is no one to prove he did. Lucky Rob! 

Fun and games promised for Open Farm Sunday

Local farmers are throwing open their gates with more gusto than ever this year as they prepare to welcome visitors on Open Farm Sunday. Here’s a taste of the exciting events on offer:

Berrow Farm

• Five farm trail walks
• Educational talk by Helen Archer on Berrow Farm’s new solar array
• Get up close and personal with Adam Macy’s huge machine (arranged by C Thomas)
• Fabulous prizes: win a 4x4 driving day, family point-to-point tickets, tractor driving day
• Farmers’ market featuring Home Farm’s famous strawberries
• Tom Archer’s legendary hog roast
• No appearance at all by Stefan (for family reasons, arranged by Rob Titchener)
• Absolutely no dead calves

Brookfield Farm

• Teas and a few cakes, some of them home-made
• We would have had a hog roast, but Berrow Farm got there first
• Acorn farm trail, if we can find an acorn. But we’re really pushed because the kids have got exams and Eddie’s working in Borchester
• Erm, that’s it. But we’ve been here much longer than Berrow Farm, so we deserve your loyalty, even though we were going to move!

Ambridge flood claims yet more victims

Ambridge’s crack Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has warned against a spate of ruthless burglaries targeting homes left empty by the flood. ‘There’s been a few of them in Grange Spinney,’ he told Jolene Archer, landlady of The Bull (surely, a high-profile press conference? Ed).
Mrs Christine Barford of Woodbine Cottage was devastated to find the heartless thieves had even taken her grandmother’s wedding ring and her late husband’s walking stick.
‘Unfortunately, I was too busy organising barbecues and having lunch with my ex-lover to pop round and check Aunty Chris’s house was OK,’ said her niece Shula Hebden-Lloyd. ‘It’s such a shame. Look at all this post piled up in the hall.’
And there was fresh heartache for Lynda Snell, late of Ambridge Hall, whose hopes of finding her beloved dog Scruff were raised by a call from a rescue centre halfway across Borsetshire. Off she went with Lilian for moral support, taking Scruff’s lead, spare collar, vaccination certificates, squeaky toy (which did nothing for Lilian’s hangover) and treats. But it was not to be; the dog was not Scruff. ‘I’m grateful to you for keeping my spirits up,’ Lynda sniffed, waving away Lilian’s hipflask. ‘But Scruff has gone, and I have to accept he’s never coming back.’
What a long, sad shadow the flood continues to cast over the lives of so many in our community! 

High jinks at the Young Farmers social?

The new generation of British agriculture will be out in force at Borsetshire Young Farmers’ next exciting social event, a Treasure Hunt (God help us, Ed).
‘Don’t make the clues too hard; the Young Farmers don’t read books and stuff,’ Phoebe warned Josh, who was trying to think of something to rhyme with ‘duck’.
It looks like an opportunity for Ambridge’s young singles to mingle. Pip is desperate for a Fairbrother brother, preferably Toby, to partner up with her. But Toby may have his eyes on Kate (who’s not so young, and technically, not single) having been taken by her googlies at the Single Wicket. ‘I like a challenge; she looks like she’d be fun to take on,’ he said, much to Jolene’s disappointment.
Kate is certainly up for an adventure, as course work is upsetting her yin-yang balance and Phoebe, although she’s thawed slightly towards her mother, is proving to be a frustratingly sensible teen, working hard for her exams. ‘You should never use food as a reward,’ Kate said in despair. ‘Chocolate is self-indulgent and inward-looking. A night out clubbing is all about physical activity and socialising with people!’
But with Phoebe unable to partner her mum in the treasure hunt (because she knows all the answers), will Kate end up helping Toby find a rhyme for ‘duck’? And if so, will Pip push her in the pool at the after-party? Go Kate!

Kenton’s big screen: one step closer to bankruptcy?

While Ed and Will Grundy are getting on famously (for now, at least) time is not proving to be a healer in the rift between Kenton and David Archer.
With the FA Cup Final coming up, Kenton was organising a big event at The Bull, featuring a quiz, club colours and bunting (oh no, not bunting. Still missing). But thanks to Neville Booth trying to insert one of his dodgy videos, the big screen TV in the Flood Bar went bust.
Shula’s bright idea was for the family to club together and buy Kenton and Jolene a new one. But when Kenton learned of the surprise, he took the opportunity to tear into his little brother. ‘Where do you get off on all this do-gooding stuff? Why can’t you butt out of my life? Why do you keep treating me like a child? Where did my dummy go when I spat it out? I want MY POTTY!’
David, who was trying to bale hay and stop his mum from overhearing their row, gave in and got Josh to post the TV they’d ordered back to Amazon.
But Kenton wasn’t finished; he bought a 50-inch TV on credit he doesn’t have, and plans to go ahead with his event regardless. ‘You’ll see, you won’t regret it. By the end of the FA Cup Final the TV will be half-paid for already!’ he promised Jolene, who was quietly sending her last pair of hoop earrings off to GoldIsUs….


Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Bird Race, Culvertgate and the Wedding of the Year: a thrilling week in Ambridge

 Is the Drains Detective’s dragnet closing in on Rob?

A clandestine meeting in a Borchester greasy spoon blew the Case of the Blocked Culvert wide open this week. Stefan, a gravel-voiced worker at Berrow Farm, revealed to David and Jennifer that he’d seen someone – his boss Mr Titchener – dragging corrugated sheets and black plastic into the culvert just before the flood, to divert water away from the cattle sheds and into the village.
‘It was only after I thought about it; someone might have died,’ he said, before melting into the crowds, leaving Jennifer and David to find a nicer café to ponder what he’d said.
 Unfortunately, Stefan wasn’t able to shed any light on the missing bunting, but this canary had sung enough for David to go and confront Charlie Thomas with the evidence.
Appalled that the culvert in question was the one he nearly drowned in, Charlie took David’s word for it and quickly narrowed the suspects down to Raf, Becky, and Rob – who was first to be interviewed.
‘David not still banging on about the flood, is he?’ blustered Rob. ‘Give some people a bit of authority… There are conspiracy theories all over the place about the flood.’
‘Are there? Passed me by…’ said Charlie, frostily. ‘I don’t regard this as a waste of time… I nearly died in that culvert Rob.’
Rob at once downed tools and went crying to Helen about malicious rumours and staff with grudges. ‘They seemed to think one drain out of action would jeopardise the whole village,’ he said (not exactly a denial).
‘But that’s ridiculous! What kind of person would put the whole village at risk?” wondered Helen. She may be about to find about, all too soon…

‘Just a quick one for old times’ sake, Em?’

Will and Ed Grundy finally seemed to bury the hatchet at the wedding, after a week of intense diplomatic activity to persuade Will to be best man.
He agreed, but the small talk outside the church was a little awkward. ‘You can’t be as nervous as I was when I married Emma – but then, I had good cause to be,’ said Will, helpfully. ‘But I’m not saying I regret marrying Emma, not with George, and everything.’ ‘Erm, that's true, I couldn’t either,’ said Ed, bemused.
And a last-minute frisson ran through the bridal party when Will asked Emma to go for a walk in the churchyard before the ceremony. ‘I don’t think that’s a very good idea,’ said Neil, looking round wildly for a shotgun.
But as it turned out, Will only wanted to make his peace with his ex. ‘I’m sorry I’ve been so pigheaded. I want us to be friends,’ he said. ‘But can you and Ed be friends?’ Emma asked. ‘We’re getting there, Em,’ said Will. So it was all smiles on the day, but will the kid gloves come off once the honeymoon is over?

Jim, Robert and Kenton get the bird

It was a busy week for Will, as on Monday he took part in the Great Bird Race as driver of Robert Snell’s team, the Ambridge Aviators. It was a long day as they chased round the countryside in pursuit of wheatears and woodcocks. ‘A sewage works is not exactly where I expected to spend my evening,’ Will sighed, as Robert insisted on hanging on for an owl.
But their efforts were in vain, as they didn’t even manage to beat Jim Lloyd’s team, which imploded when Jim’s ‘secret weapon’ (Molly Button) reported seeing a red kite and sent Jim and driver Kenton off on a long detour, during which they ran out of petrol (is there much more of this? Ed).
Being abandoned by Jim, who continued his ruthless pursuit of birdlife in his Riley, did nothing to improve Kenton’s despairing mood, and Jolene had clearly been on the receiving end when she bumped into Ruth at the village shop.
‘You might have forgiven David for not moving, Ruth, but I don’t think Kenton can,’ she said, refusing to ask Kenton to reconsider David’s offer of a loan. ‘It’s gone too far now. Money won’t solve this. You’re going to have to stand by and watch us struggle; maybe that’s David’s punishment.’
‘Oah noah, you mek it sound soah hoahpless!’ wailed Ruth. So it was up to Pip to put a bit of cash in The Bull’s coffers, by asking them to run the bar at the next Young Farmers’ social. Whether she can persuade Uncle Kenton to spike the Fairbrothers’ drinks, so she can have her wicked way with one (or both) of them remains to be seen…    

An ode to Mr and Mrs Edward Grundy on their wedding day

 By Bert Fry

After all the dark days we have had,
On Friday the whole of Ambridge was glad,
As St Stephen’s bells rang loud and clear
For the finest wedding of the year.

Emma looked radiant, all in flowers,
Her dress had taken many hours
To make by Susan and by Clarrie,
But never did a more beautiful bride marry.

Now Ed and Emma have had their ups and downs,
With sadness, heartaches, tears and frowns,
But when her father walked her down the aisle,
The handsome groom was wreathed in smiles.

So Ed Grundy wed his lovely Emma
And in his voice there was a tremor
As he promised to love her all his life,
And she vowed to be a loyal wife (this time).

The sun shone on the happy couple
And on the day there was no trouble
For William did his best man’s task
Better than even his mother could have asked.

And then to Bridge Farm for a feast,
Not cooked by my Freda, for she is deceased.
But the guests pitched in, and everyone said
It was a most delicious spread.

And now Ed and Emma have gone to Devon,
Thanks to Peggy Woolley, a honeymoon heaven.
As they begin their married life
Was there ever a happier husband and wife?

Surprise Devon getaway for Ambridge couple

The marriage took place on Friday 22 May, at St Stephen’s Church, Ambridge, between Ms Emma Grundy (née Carter) and Mr Edward Grundy. The Rev Alan Franks officiated.
The bride, who was given away by her father Mr Neil Carter, arrived at church in a flower-decorated trap driven by the groom’s grandfather, Mr Joe Grundy, and pulled by his pony Bartleby. She (who? Bride or pony? Ed) wore a vintage-style dress made by her mother, Mrs Susan Carter, and the groom’s mother, Mrs Clarrie Grundy. The bride was attended by her daughter Keira and son George. The groom’s brother William, who is also George’s father, was the best man.
After a tearful exchange of vows, a cheering crowd greeted the newlyweds as  they left for the reception, which was held at Bridge Farm, courtesy of Mr and Mrs Tony Archer, and arranged by Ms Fallon Rogers of the Ambridge Tea Service.  The wedding buffet, which was donated by guests, included a hog roast from Mr Tom Archer and a dressed salmon from Mrs Jennifer Aldridge. Mrs Jill Archer made the wedding cake, and Mrs Christine Barford’s scones were a favourite with the children, who played cricket with them after tea.
The new Mr and Mrs Grundy will honeymoon in Devon – a surprise gift from Mrs  Peggy Woolley, her son Mr Tony Archer and family – and will make their home in Ambridge View, Ambridge, where they are staying with the bride’s parents. Congratulations to the happy couple from all at the Ambridge Observer!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Battling brothers, bird racers and a new bull: a twitchy week in Ambridge

Bad blood – but it’s still thicker than water

Simmering rows between two sets of brothers erupted and cast a shadow over Ambridge this week (can an eruption cast a shadow? Ed).
Hearing that Kenton is struggling badly at The Bull (he can’t afford to keep Callum on, give Meriel a decent birthday gift or even bar Barry the Crisp Packet Menace from the pub), David was prepared to offer a loan. But having drunk the pub dry of ‘bitter’, Kenton was having none of it. ‘What are you – Lord of the Manor? Where do you get off?’ he snarled. ‘You’re going to have to find some other way to keep your lousy conscience quiet!’
David beat a hasty retreat, while Jolene, who takes a more pragmatic view, was left weeping quietly into the last crate of mixers…
Meanwhile, against his better judgment, Ed asked Will to be his best man. All went well until Ed let slip he was really asking for Clarrie’s sake. ‘You just wanna come across as Mr Reasonable, and make me the bad guy like you always do!’ Will yelled. ‘If you don’t wanna do it, that suits me fine! I’ll ask someone I give a damn about!’ Ed yelled back.
But it wasn’t all fraternal feuding. Rex and Toby Fairbrother, the smart new goose farmers about town, are still a team despite being knocked back by Rodways, which quoted a ridiculously high rent for the 50 acres they hoped to take over from Ed.
‘Toby and I are very different; I like to finish a job, where he always wants to move on to the next thing,’ Rex told Ed (bad luck, Pip.). ‘But when the going gets tough, you’re always there for each other. That’s the whole thing about brothers isn’t it?’
Will the battling brothers patch it up in time for the wedding? Or will there be brawling at the buffet? It remains to be seen… but Fallon’s lucky bunting is still missing.

Bird racers are ready to fly

Twitchers of Ambridge are all of a flutter as they look forward to the Great Borsetshire Bird Race, which takes place next Monday. Among the fiercely competitive local teams are the Bull Birders, with Jim Lloyd at the helm, and the Ambridge Aviators, skippered by Robert Snell.
With gamekeeper Will Grundy as driver, and a snazzy new telephoto lens, Robert seemed to have the edge until Lynda put her foot down about loo breaks. Robert insisted that ‘strong minds and iron bladders’ were required, but Lynda was  determined to have a proper café stop. ‘We can’t just march in, use the facilities and march out again,’ she said. Hopefully they won’t need to take up Will’s suggestion of ‘nipping behind a tree’.
Meanwhile, having had to sacrifice his preferred team name (the Stymphalian Birds) to the god of sponsorship, Jim is intensely relaxed about the event. ‘Big telephoto lens, small tick list. I’m not at all competitive’, he said to Carol, who didn’t believe a word. ‘For me, ornithology is a chance to stop dwelling on my own petty concerns, stretch my eyes and appreciate the treasures of the world.’
But perhaps Jim has underestimated how far his birding banter has got under Robert’s skin.  ‘You don’t know what it does to a man; I’m starting to lose confidence in telling common waders apart!’ he pleaded to Lynda, who wanted to know why he’d spent their insurance money on a camera.
Lynda at once promised to cross her legs and stand by her man. Will this be enough to spur the Aviators to victory? Or will the Birders’ secret weapon win the day? It’s binoculars at dawn on the village green.

Thanks a bunch for lunch, Shula

The arrival of Richard Locke for Sunday lunch at The Stables set Joe Grundy musing: ‘Archer women! They’re never happy unless they’ve got an extra man running after them… but still, I’m surprised at young Shula….’
However, it was awkward conversation, not romance, on the menu as Richard and Alistair were forced to make small talk over olives while Shula made Yorkshire puds. ‘I went to Wareham once’ was as lively as it got before Daniel bounded in, all rippling muscle and newfound dining etiquette. ‘He’s a credit to you and Shula, Alistair,’ said Richard. ‘Yes, he is. Absolutely,’ Alistair agreed, slurping the last of the cheap Bordeaux Richard brought, to numb the hopelessness of his existence…

Goodbye Otto, hello Cooper!

Much excitement at Bridge Farm, where Tony and family celebrated the arrival of the new bull with a special dinner featuring Helen’s three-lentil bake (see Charity Appeal, below).  ‘He’s got a great pedigree, good stats, great conformation – what can possibly go wrong?’ beamed Tony, who clearly has a very short memory. However, Cooper, who is named after the model racing car that Peggy recently gave Tony (is there some point to this? Ed) trotted off the lorry and into his pen calmly enough. This gave Tony and Johnny the chance to chew the fat (surely cud? Ed) about life and love. Johnny is benefiting from his dyslexia support at college, and Caz, a nice girl on the horticulture course, thinks he’s brave to ask for extra help. ‘You’re more natural with girls than I ever was,’ said Tony. Let’s hope Cooper is a natural with girls too, or like Otto, he may find himself turned into burgers all too soon.

Berrow Farm mentor helps Ambridge hopefuls

It is always heartening to see senior local professionals share their experience with the younger generation. This week for example, Rob Titchener of Berrow Farm treated young farmer Pip Archer to a tour of the dairy unit, to help her prepare for an important job interview. ‘The biggest health risk to the herd is the staff’, he told a wide-eyed Pip. ‘People need twice as much watching as the stock.’
And only a day or two earlier, Rob took time from his busy schedule to put an arm round young contractor Ed Grundy. ‘You may need to be a little more careful; working for the estate involves a high degree of trust and confidence. So if you see something you don’t understand, best not to talk to strangers… I don’t think that needs much explaining, does it Ed?’ ‘No”, gulped Ed. And not only that: Rob and his lovely fiancé Helen are giving Ed and Emma a cheeseboard (not just Borsetshire Blue) for their wedding buffet.
With such wise and generous citizens among us, the future of Ambridge is surely in good hands! (please run this past Justin’s PR people. Thanks. Ed)

Charity appeal: forgotten victims of the flood

This week, we’re asking for your help to support Jack (Jazzer) McCreery,
Ambridge’s favourite pig man, milk man and ladies’ man (sometimes all at once). Flooded out of the comfortable home he shared with Jim Lloyd, Jazzer
is lodging with Pat and Tony Archer at Bridge Farm, where he is denied his traditional diet of pizza, deep fried Mars Bars and cigarettes (sometimes all at once). 
Jazzer has been eking out his fibre-rich but taste-free meals with custard doughnuts from the shop, but recently even these small treats have been snatched away (by Toby Fairbrother, according to sources close to Pip Archer).
And so, in a desperate bid to escape Helen Archer’s three-lentil bake, Jazzer is reduced to eating cheese pasties and steak and kidney pies in the Flood Bar, with only Barry from Penny Hassett, complete with mullet, skull tattoos and exploding crisp packets, for company.
Please send what you can to help Jazzer secure extra supplies from Susan and bring a little happiness into his life! As he says so poignantly: ‘Three lentil bake? One’s bad enough. You could put my boot in the microwave and get a better meal.’

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Bank Holiday bickering, missing bunting and who’s the best man? A confusing week in Ambridge

Bad blood on Bank Holiday Monday

Lynda Snell and her indefatigable team of organisers pulled off a remarkably successful May Day event over the Bank Holiday weekend – even though the day seemed set for disaster when the May Queen’s crown was stolen by the Button sisters and the Morris Men’s transport broke down.
‘We triumphed – and we needed a triumph after so much trauma,’ Lynda sighed with relief. ‘If you ignore the petty larceny,’ snapped Shula, whose day was already ruined because Richard Locke has pulled out of their lunch date.
Kenton was in a filthy bate too, as he had to accept David’s help in running the barbecue. ‘If you think you can make everything better by slicing a few burger buns, you do not understand the situation,’ he hissed, eyeing up the distance between the white-hot grill and his brother’s backside.
Luckily David is so thick-skinned he felt he and Kenton had made progress, and now plans to offer him a loan, to prevent Jill from dipping into her savings. Not that he is doing this solely for family harmony. ‘I don’t want to be responsible for the village losing its pub,’ he said. Let’s hope Kenton is suitably grateful for David’s largesse… 

First-time voters swing shock poll result

Local residents Philippa Rose Archer and Jack McCreery confounded the pollsters last Thursday and helped deliver a completely unexpected Conservative majority in the general election, the Ambridge Observer can exclusively reveal.
‘My ma wouldn’e believe it,’ said Mr McCreery, known locally as Jazzer. ‘I voted for yon wee ginger woman and got 56 MPs!’
‘I thought voting didn’t matter to young, cool people like me,’ said ‘Pip’ Archer, who is about to take her finals at Felpersham University. ‘But then a horrid man at the Hunt dinner told me he didn’t approve of gay marriage and I knew I had to take a stand.’
‘I was so pleased to help younger members of the community exercise their democratic right’, said Pip’s cousin Helen Archer, who guided the two first-timers through the process. ‘After all, my partner Rob let me out to vote, and told me what to do, so how could I refuse to do the same?’

Detective David delves into the drains

The mystery of the blocked culvert at Berrow Farm deepened this week when Rachel from the Environment Agency, who is tall, but knows her stuff, told David that her team would have checked and cleared the culvert last November. ‘It’s a mystery; we’ll probably never know what happened,’ sighed Ruth, who’s preoccupied because Pip has an interview for the job as a jillaroo in Queensland.  But that wasn’t good enough for David.  He ever so casually asked Rob at the farmers’ cash and carry if Berrow Farm had taken any ‘special precautions’ to prevent flooding (such as blocking the culvert to divert the water into the village.)
‘No, I was too busy rescuing your sister and aunt’, grumbled Rob, pretending to look at new riding gloves and trying to hide his ever-lengthening nose.

Who’s the best man: Eddie, Will – or Toby?

Toby and Rex Fairbrother, the young guns who are moving to Ambridge to farm celebration poultry, look set to cause even more of a stir than their father Robin did when he dallied with a young Elizabeth Pargetter back in the day.
This time it’s the turn of Pip Archer to catch Toby’s eye (Rex has a career-ending neck injury that cramps his style with the ladies). Having changed her plans so she could spend the day shearing with Toby, Pip wowed him with her sledgehammer-subtle flirting style. ‘I can take any physical challenge you can throw at me!’ she giggled, unaware of the lump of sheep poo in her hair.
‘I’m looking forward to seeing you in action!’ he leered back. ‘I could say the same about you!’ she replied, before they both got down to some hot and sweaty action (you mean catching sheep and rolling fleeces. Ed)
Meanwhile Charlie Thomas was suspiciously reasonable when Ed asked him if he could transfer his tenancy of 50 acres over to the bird-loving Fairbrothers. ‘Things are really looking up,’ smiled Ed. All he has to do now is decide who he wants to be his best man. He’s asked his dad, but Clarrie and Joe think it should be brother William – like Emma’s last wedding, but just swapping roles. Remembering how well that went, he might be better off asking Toby, who clearly thinks he is always best man.

Musical interlude shows the Grundys have still got it

Guests at Grey Gables were delighted by an inpromptu folk evening this week as Joe Grundy and his son Eddie practised their repertoire of country songs old and new in the lounge. The set began with ‘Fair maid of Edgeley’, which soon got the crowd’s toes tapping, followed by the raucous ‘Cobbler of Borchester’ and Joe’s own composition, ‘Bartleby’s no match for my Susan’.
‘We enjoyed it, although for some reason a younger man with them – Ed, I think his name was – was begging them to stop,’ said one guest. ‘It was better than those hunting horns the toffs were blowing at their dinner the other night.’

Missing bunting ties police up in knots

House-to-house enquiries and a fingertip search of the village green have proved fruitless in finding thieves who stole a valuable string of bunting between Bank Holiday Monday and Tuesday morning.
‘ I thought it would be safe up in the trees overnight,’ said Ms Fallon Rogers of the Ambridge Tea Service. ‘Emma and I made every piece of it by hand. It’s my trademark!’
Rural crime officer PC Harrison Burns appealed for witnesses to come forward. ‘I will donate a free road safety demonstration to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest in this distressing case, ‘ he said.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

May Day merriment, wedding plans and celebration poultry: an upbeat week in Ambridge

Stop press: Ambridge laureate salutes the Royal birth

Many thanks to Bert Fry, who sums up the feelings of all our readers (except Jim Lloyd) at the delightful news from Kensington Palace.

Ode to a newborn Princess

And so this is a happy day,
All in the sunny month of May
A baby princess now is here
To fill us all with pride and cheer.

Her mother Kate and father Wills
Will be feeling joy and thrills
As they take their new baby home,
So I thought I would pen this poem

To mark her arrival into the world,
Her little toes and fingers curled.
And so from Ambridge’s subjects loyal
It’s welcome to our newest Royal!

Lynda shakes her bucket in style

Thanks to the sterling efforts of local volunteers, Ambridge will crown a new May Queen (probably Molly Button) on Bank Holiday Monday, amid scenes of wild celebrations and unbridled revelry (steady on. Ed). ‘Occasions like this are the stuff of life,’ said Lynda Snell, who personally rescued the missing Maypole from Ginny Throckmorton’s double garage and restored it to glory with new ribbons and several coats of Sunburnt Stone emulsion. ‘They offer a sense of community, purpose and delight!’
Visitors will enjoy a barbecue and tea tent, provided by The Bull; Morris dancing, and a special appearance by Jennifer Aldridge, the internet legend known as the Boudicca of Borsetshire for her fierce defence of the local environment.
‘Can I just add that SAVE is a community-wide campaign, not an opportunity for people to bask in their own glory?’ said Mrs Snell. ‘I have disinfected the collecting buckets and I personally will be shaking one vigorously. Generals may lead, but battles are won by foot soldiers.’
Well done Lynda: more power to your bucket!

A culvert conundrum for David

A representative of the Environment Agency will be at the Bank Holiday event, and David, with his Flood Action Group hat on, wants to bend her ear. He’s puzzled about two culverts on Estate land, one of which was mysteriously cleared of builders’ debris after the flood. ‘Normally, during the flood, the culvert would have delivered huge quantities of water to the stream above Berrow Farm, and if the stream hadn’t been able to carry the water fast enough, it would have spilled over straight into the cows’ cubicles,’ he explained to Ruth, who was bad-temperedly slapping cutlery down on the table.
So was there some skulduggery to save the mega-dairy and divert the floodwater into the village? And has the evidence now been whisked away? And has Ed already broken his NDA with Charlie by mentioning it to David? And if so what does that mean for Ed? (enough silly questions. Ed. As in editor. Not Ed Grundy). 

Ed and Emma’s wedding day draws near…

Meanwhile, the wedding of Ed Grundy and Emma… um, Grundy will be a proper village affair, mainly because the village has been asked to supply the food. (‘It’s so easy, and saves a stash of cash,’ said Susan.) Guests will be feasting on Kathy’s Coronation chicken, Caroline’s salads, Christine’s scones, Pat’s potato pie and Nic’s lasagne. Kate is offering aubergine and tofu with cashew nuts: ‘I expect she can have that to herself,’ sniffed Susan.
However, both Jennifer and Lynda have offered a dressed salmon, where only one is needed. Susan prefers Jennifer’s, because she’s family (and a better cook) but is too scared to confront Lynda and has insisted Fallon break the news. Will the centrepiece go the way of the infamous dressed salmon at Rob and Jess’s party? It might take all of Fallon’s diplomatic skills to prevent it…    
Meanwhile, the happy couple can look forward to something special from Tony and Peggy, who are celebrating their new-found closeness by clubbing together on a gift.
And even Ed’s money troubles may be easing, thanks to young guns Rex and Toby Fairbrother, who just happen to be looking for 50 acres of level ground in Ambridge to start a turkey-farming business (celebration poultry. Ed) Ed hopes the Estate might agree to pass his tenancy over to the new arrivals, which means he could earn money for his hedge-cutting instead of just paying off his debts.
Only Clarrie is getting the rough end of the stick as usual; all her posh frocks went mouldy after the flood so she has nothing to wear for the big day. ‘It’s high time she had a bit of TLC,’ agreed Fallon and Susan. ‘Clarrie Grundy SHALL go to the ball!’ Will they be raiding Sabrina Thwaite’s charity dressing-up box? Time will tell…

… and Helen will be catching the bouquet

With all the delight of a lemming heading for the cliffs, Helen accepted Rob’s proposal this week, now it’s clear Rob is not the father of Jess’s child. (Still beats me how he got away with it. Ed). ‘Very soon I’m going to make you Mrs Rob Titchener,’ he purred. ‘Oh Rob, after so long I can hardly believe it,’ she simpered.
But Helen hadn’t heard his phone calls with the hapless Jess, in which he twisted the verbal knife in his soon-to-be-ex. ‘Why do you have to be so hurtful?’ she cried. ‘I so wanted Ethan to be yours. And we were together that night. You said you loved me. I’ll tell Helen.’
‘No one will believe the rantings of a mad woman,’ said Rob. ‘That night was a one-off and as science has proved, whatshisname has nothing to do with me. Now don’t call this phone again. My solicitor will be in touch about the divorce.’
And with that, Rob sent Helen, his ‘delightfully ditzy’ fiancée, upstairs to put on a beautiful dress ready to go out for dinner….

Students hear the secrets of locals’ success

Felpersham University hosted its popular Careers Fair this week, and this year, invited some local people in to give students the benefit of their experience. Here are some highlights from their presentations:

Joe Grundy (livestock farming): ‘Farming’s not an easy game; there are no days off, long hours and you’re at the mercy of the weather. The land will grind you down, you mark my words, my lad. But if you work hard, and you can cope with the darkness this life brings, you’ll come out a man.’

Kate Aldridge (wedding planning): ‘There are worse jobs, I suppose, but honestly, clients can be so stupid, refusing to have gluten-free cakes or eco-friendly napkins. And it’s all a waste of time; couples go through this whole ludicrous charade, then the rose-tinted glasses come off and soon they’re treating each other with utter contempt, and the physical side has fizzled out long before…’

Charlie Thomas (large livestock units): ‘I reckon young uppity graduates, especially those who crash other people’s dates, should go and explore worldwide opportunities to gain farming experience. Mexico, for instance. Or Mongolia. Look at Pip Archer. She’s an inspiration to you all.’

Eddie Grundy (turkey farming): ‘You’ll find there’s no call for Yuletide turkeys round here. And people don’t want them fancy geese or ducks neither – too much choice can drive a man mad. No, don’t get your hopes up, you try farming celebration poultry anywhere near Ambridge and you’ll find yourself crushed by Grundy turkeys like David was by Goliath.’

Adam Macy (arable farming): ‘Growing crops is a rewarding career, as long as you can avoid the rapacious scorched-earth methods of modern agribusiness and turn your fields into traditional herbal leys, without your grumpy old step-dad moaning on about the cost and the waste of wheat.’

Kenton Archer (publican): ‘My only piece of careers advice would be, make sure your double-crossing brother doesn’t betray you by making you spend all your money on a holiday and then pulling the rug out from under you, so you’re left with no cash to pay the phone bill and have to rely on your step-daughter’s home-made bunting and bloody Morris dancers to get you out of the mire. I say, is there a fee for this?’