Sunday, 28 June 2015

SAVE scent victory; Helen hears wedding bells; Pip and Kate hatch plans: a satisfactory week in Ambridge

‘No bore hole in Ambridge’: is Route B scuppered?

SAVE campaigners were confidently predicting victory this week as an independent report slammed two local councils for an ‘inadequate’ flood risk assessment of their preferred route for a new road through Ambridge.

The report, commissioned by SAVE to challenge the councils’ decision to approve ‘Route B’, sensationally reveals:
• there was no ground water reading for Ambridge, described as a ‘serious omission’
• the hydraulic model used was adapted from an old one when a new one should have been designed (what this mean? Ed)
the councils’ proposals assume Route B is in a zone 2 flood risk area, whereas Ambridge village is in a zone 3 area of higher risk
• the geophysical surveys show no bore hole in Ambridge (could have fooled me. Have you been to the Flood Bar lately? Ed.)

The report concludes that the road proponents’ flood risk assessment is ‘inadequate and insufficient’ to rule out an increased risk of flooding from building the road along Route B.
‘Honestly,’ said Jennifer Aldridge, the leading SAVE campaigner known as the “Boudicca of Borsetshire’. ‘It makes you wonder what the councils spend money on. Certainly not flood defences!”
‘Ummmmrgh’, said David Archer of Brookfield, who commented through a mouthful of his mother Jill’s famed lasagne.

‘Captain Fantastic’ triumphant as Ambridge humble Waterley Cross

By our special cricket correspondent, Charlie Thomas.

From the moment Adam Macy was confirmed as captain for Sunday’s match against Waterley Cross, victory was assured. The tall, lean, bronzed Adonis bestrode the pitch like a Colossus, his strong hands with their sensitive fingers caressing the ball, his keen blue eyes taking a cool measure of the opposition and deploying his troops like a latter-day, better-looking Duke of Wellington.
Adam won the toss with consummate skill and, with the wisdom and foresight that mark him out among leaders, sent young Tom Archer to open the batting. Sure enough, only 10 minutes later Ambridge were 38-3: a confident start against a Waterley Cross XI who just didn’t play fair.
After Titchener R struggled to reach 87, it was up to Adam to turn the game around, which he did with supreme style and aplomb. ‘A captain’s knock’ doesn’t do his superb century justice; his cultured stroke play was a vision to behold, and your correspondent could watch him stand up to a cocky bowler all day long.
Ambridge were finally bowled out for a magnificent 273, and it was up to Adam to display his magisterial strategic skills once again. He softened up the Waterley Cross opening partnership by choosing Johnny Phillips to open the bowling, and cleverly let them build up to 173 for 2 before unleashing the agricultural but effective Titchener R to take five wickets, including a hat-trick, with a final winning margin of 50 runs.
After the match Adam was carried shoulder-high by cheering team-mates and I felt privileged to offer him two Edgbaston Test Match tickets as a birthday present. Thanks to this performance by ‘Captain Fantastic’ Ambridge are now vying for league leadership with Darrington. Man of the Match was Titchener R. 


In this month’s ‘Submissive Brides’ Magazine:
• wedding dresses to cover you from head to toe
• your fiancé’s decree absolute: why you MUST believe him
• laundry special: only bright-white is right for cricket kit!
• social life – remember to check his diary first!
• your career: goodbye shop, hello kitchen sink!
• ‘My parents aren’t being prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive – so why can’t they be happy for me?’
• Bride-to-be of the Month: Helen Archer, Ambridge

New series: Your careers questions asked

With so many young entrepreneurs deciding to set up in the Ambridge area, we ask local high-profile businessman Kenton Archer, landlord of The Bull, to pass on some tips:

Q ‘Hi dude, My bro Rex and I can’t decide whether to set up a goose-rearing unit at Brookfield, where this fit bird Pip Archer has found us a shed and a field, or to head off to Newquay for some heavy waves. Whaddya reckon?’ Toby F.
A Brookfield? Did you say Brookfield? I’m telling you my man, once you’re part of the David and Elizabeth Archer benefit show you can never, and I mean never, win. That Pip’s a straight arrow but David will betray you and grind you into the dust quicker than you can say ‘four-bird roast’. Can I come to Newquay with you?

Q ‘I have a brilliant idea for a totally cool, holistic therapy centre with yurts and massage and candles and, erm, that kind of thing. It’s right up my Dharma. But my aunty Lilian says there’s more to a business plan than writing ‘Om’ over and over on a recycled paper napkin. Do you think she can ever share my vision?’ Kate M.
A Lilian? Did you say Lilian? She’s worse than David! Plenty of money for enough Botox to stun a heifer and an account at Fabrice of Felpersham, but she can’t spare a penny to invest in a thriving, dynamic, forward-thinking business like The Bull. She’ll come and drink your gin all night but pay up? That’s another story. Steer clear.

Q ‘I’ve got this great idea for posh picnic hampers to serve while we’re showing sporting events on the big-screen TV at The Bull. Crusty bread, ham, cheeses, crudités, chocolates, strawberries – people would love it. Because Lynda Snell was right wasn’t she? At the moment all we can offer is a grubby little bar with a microwave?’ Fallon R.
A Lynda Snell? Did you say Lynda Snell? She’s worse than David and Lilian! Completely in thrall to the evil axis of David and Lizzie Archer. Someone like me doesn’t stand a chance, no matter how hard I try to persuade them that holding the Ambridge fete in a car park is so much better than having it in the grounds of a so-called stately home. I give up. What’s the fee for this column, by the way?

Q I think that we should lamb our ewes in March next year, so we can finish them on grass instead of expensive concentrates. But my stepfather thinks I’m trying to tear up his business plan and return us to farming in the Dark Ages. He’s awfully batey about it. What do you think? Adam M.
A Do you really think I care? You’re lucky; at least your brother, sisters and mother aren’t trying to destroy everything you’ve built up over the years. Put me down for some cheap chump chops though, can you?


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Conspiracies, canapés and oops! Calamity Kate does it again: a divisive week in Ambridge

Leading Ambridge family in split over ‘Fete gate’

The fate of the Ambridge summer fete hangs in the balance this week as a bitter row threatens to quite literally tear the Archer family apart. (Steady on, Ed.)
Having missed the committee meeting where it was decided to cancel the fete, Kenton came up with a wizard plan to put it on in The Bull car park, with a fresh, funky range of events including:
• Dunk David in green gunge
• Pin the tail on Donkey David
• Guess the weight of Pig David
• Race Eddie’s ferrets up David’s trousers (OK, we get it. Ed).
But his treacherous sister Lizzie came up with an even more wizard plan to host the fete at Lower Loxley, since for some strange reason she isn’t holding another LoxFest this year.
‘It’ll be fine, darling; you can run the beer tent there instead!’ breezed Jill. ‘No, I can’t; we don’t have the staff!’ seethed Kenton. ‘Thanks a bunch, mum. If The Bull goes up the swanny it will be all your fault!’

Heaven knows they’re miserable now

Poor Kate and Roy! This week saw them plunge to new lows of despair, for which they have only themselves to blame (although that doesn’t stop them trying to blame everyone else).
Kate had to 'fess up to Brian and Jenny (though she tried to get Lilian to do it for her) that she’d left her university course after ‘a clash of vision’ with her tutor: his vision was for her to do some work, hers was to start a new social life. Brian, still smouldering after last week’s ‘borrowed’ burgundy incident, let rip. ‘You’re pushing 40! Time to get a grip, not behave like an overgrown teenager. What sort of an example are you setting for Phoebe? No wonder the poor girl wants nothing more to do with you!’
Kate turned to her mother for comfort, but found none. ‘We cushioned every blow for you but you have to take responsibility for your own life darling,’ said Jenny, glugging the secret stash of Chardonnay she keeps for a crisis.
Only Lilian was sympathetic. ‘You and me, we’re no good at plodding down the conventional path,’ she told Kate. ‘With a bit of help from your Aunty Lilian we’ll come up with a plan that will amaze them all!’
Meanwhile, Roy was unburdening his soul to Brenda, who’d returned to Ambridge for Mike and Vicky’s leaving party. ‘I had the perfect life and didn’t know it; I threw it all away,’ he reflected, hiding a plate of Susan’s avocado, Roquefort and Marmite canapés under a hedge. ‘Phoebe will be off to uni and I’ll lose her; Hayley, Abby, Mike and Vicky have all gone. I’ll be the only one left.’
But of course, Roy’s not alone, as Mike helpfully reminded him. He has his mum Betty’s ashes and special tree to keep him company at Willow Farm…
Will Lilian and Kate take off round Borsetshire on madcap adventures – like Thelma and Louise meets Rosemary and Thyme? Will Roy reduce his dependence on takeaways and build a new life away from reception at Grey Gables? Only time, the great healer (along with gin, according to Lilian) will tell…

‘Favourite prof’ retirement shock rocks college

Students and faculty staff have expressed sadness this week at the early retirement of Dr Colin Matthewson, much-loved and respected lecturer in international development at Felpersham University. Dr Matthewson said ‘student pressures’ were partly responsible for his decision.
‘In 30 years of teaching I have never had such a difficult experience,’ he said. ‘One female student in particular seemed determined to undermine my classes and authority. She cut up graphs and pie charts to make ‘dream catchers’, coloured in diagrams, refused to hand in coursework and, when I challenged her, said: “Chill, Daddio, and do something about that revolting comb-over.”
‘Now if you’ll excuse me I have an appointment with my trauma counsellor.’

Personal announcements

• Hey babe! Happy Buthday. 30 today! Bet you’re surprised to see this in the Ambridge Observer! And I know you hate surprises. But little ladies like you often say one thing and mean another, don’t they? So howsabout I take you into custody and take down your particulars? Your ever-lovin’ PC Burns.

• Happy birthday Fallon! Don’t tell everyone you’re 30 – don’t want folk guessin’ how old I am! Can’t believe you’re all grown up now (and if you ever get tired of that gorgeous hunk of policeman, you just let your old mum know!)

• Many happy returns Fallon – financial ones, that is. Congrats on your crowdfunding. Don’t suppose you could send a few quid my way? (Only joking!) All the best, Kenton (the only Archer who cares a flying fig about family loyalty).

Letter to the Editor

Mrs Jill Archer of Brookfield writes:

I’d just like to remind any of your readers who keep bees to be aware of ‘The June Gap’ in the flowering plant season, when bees may go short of nectar. To help fellow beekeepers I’ve asked my son David to record a short message: ‘Mind the June Gap’, which you can download to your phone or laptop as a reminder to give your colony a top-up of syrup. Happy hives everyone!

Ask the doctor

Q Thank you so much for your advice on my ‘fuchsia’ last week, doctor. I’m feeling a lot better and have accepted my friend Peggy’s invitation to move in with her. But I’m a bit worried about what happens if she falls ill, or if we have an argument? What would you advise? ‘Christine’, Ambridge.
A I would ask a friendly lawyer to draw up a simple agreement, covering important matters such as which shelf of the fridge you have, who can use the bathroom first, and who decides whether you watch ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ or Jeremy Kyle. In my experience, if you get these small details right, everything else falls into place. Good luck!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Kate causes carnage, a grim fate for the fete, and Adam's adamant about farming: a chaotic week in Ambridge

Stop press – Ambridge fete cancelled!

The Great Flood continues to wreak havoc in the village. This week, it claimed its latest victim: the annual Ambridge fete. Drainage works to be carried out over the summer will put the village green out of action for the season and the organisers fear another venue cannot be found. Enthusiastic new committee member Alice Carter said: ‘It’s such a shame! I was planning to borrow a Eurofighter Typhoon, the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft, from work for the day! The kids would have loved it!’

New series: Kate Madikane, My Ambridge Week

Party planner, hardworking student, cool mum and committed social activist: how does Kate Madikane do it? (Don't you mean 'Why'? Ed). Home Farm’s answer to Jemima Khan shares a week of her sparkling summer season with us:

Local community events, like Open Farm Sunday, are really important to me (especially if there’s a chance to chat up Charlie Thomas, Ambridge’s cutest mega-dairy manager!) But I never miss a chance to stand up for social justice, so when my soppy cousin Helen gave her little talk about solar panels I had to speak out. ‘You can’t believe Berrow Farm’s a nature reserve!’ I challenged her, waving my plastic cup of free Pimm’s (Pimm’s is vegan, right?). ‘It’s a massively subsidised industrial complex. You’re just spouting pathetic capitalist propaganda!’  I could tell the crowd was with me by the way they waved their fists, but my spoilsport bro Adam told me I was out of order. He wouldn’t treat Bianca Jagger like that!

Some family time with my lovely daughter Phoebe today (although we’re such good mates, everyone says we must be sisters!). Respect for your parents means everything to me so I was only too happy to help when Dad asked me to clean the purple dye out of the swimming pool. (Don’t ask how it got there – what a craz-ee party that was!)

Some great coverage in the Borchester Echo today – they printed a wicked picture of me in my Fairtrade hemp lingerie and Toby Fairbrother in his Calvin Kleins, having a wild time in our pool at the Young Farmers’ bash! Mum couldn’t see the funny side but I told her it’s all good publicity for her boring old SAVE campaign. ‘Chill, mum!’ I said. ‘Judi Dench just posed nude with a fish, and you love her!’

I went to a lecture at world-renowned Felpersham University this morning, where I’m studying on a highly prestigious, intense diploma course in International Development. My lecturer Dr Matthewson said it was a delightful surprise to see me in class, and I know he values my insights from my years in Africa. But I’m beginning to wonder if academia is really in tune with my dharma, and whether I need to find a new spiritual path. Kate Moss says… (is there much more of this? Ed)

Unfortunately, someone with my high profile and charisma tends to attract men like moths around a flame, and young Toby Fairbrother is no exception. The poor boy is completely smitten. I had to phone him 10 times get him to meet me, so I could let him down gently. I even graciously invited him to my party, but his brother Rex said: ‘Leave it, Tobes. She’s way out of your league.’ Or something like that. Sensible chap!

A highlight of the Ambridge social season tonight – my housewarming and smudging party! Everyone who’s anyone was there (well, apart from all my friends, who couldn’t make it) and it was a deeply spiritual moment when I began the incantation: ‘Spirits of sage, cedar and sweet grass; infinite power of the divine, protect and bless this house through time.’
As an expert party planner, I’m all about the element of surprise. So I was thrilled to see people’s faces when the fire alarm went off! And calling out the paramedics and fire service is a great way to get rid of your surplus vegan sausage rolls! Smoke inhalation is only Nature’s way of clearing out your chakras, anyway.  (An extra tip, girls: pretend you don’t know vintage burgundy from Vimto – then daddy can’t mind if you ‘borrow’ some of his bottles!)

Letter to the Editor

Adam Macy of Home Farm, Ambridge, writes:

I thought your readers should know that although I took my massive machine to Berrow Farm’s Open Farm Sunday event, my friendship with the manager Charlie Thomas has no bearing on my passionate views about the damage that high-tech farming methods are doing to the environment.
It’s about time someone spoke out about the way that big-scale farming is slowly wrecking the ecosystem, which will soon quite literally explode! We will end up farming useless, infertile dust, which won’t produce crops no matter how many expensive chemicals you put on it. Farmers who claim to love the countryside, like my stepfather Brian Aldridge, are slowly working the soil to death to pay for the next load of fertiliser and no matter how many lunches Charlie Thomas buys me, I will not change my mind on this. You may call my herbal ley a hare-brained hippy experiment, Brian, but I will not stand by and see Ambridge turned into a dustbowl of locusts, radioactive badgers and giant bald chickens with five legs….    (That’s enough, Ed. Justin Elliott’s not keen on this kind of thing and his advertising contract’s up soon.)

Ask the doctor

Our GP replies to a reader who first asked her advice last week:

Q Since you diagnosed me with ‘Peggywoolley Irritans’ last week, my friends have taken me out for the day to discuss my ‘fuchsia’. They insisted we go to visit a garden full of ‘fuchsias’ and even made me buy one, saying they would support me whichever ‘fuchsia’ I chose. How can I tell them it’s my future I’m worried about, not some stupid plant? ‘Christine’, Ambridge.
A Oh dear. At your age people do get hard of hearing; perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. But I suspect you’ve been a victim of ‘Metaphoris Unsubtlum’, which can be hard to treat. Tell your friends to forget about your ‘fuchsia’ and look to their own.

Classified advertisement

FOR SALE: Unique patented rat trap! Handmade and fully functioning (no bait). Plus sundry DIY equipment: wire netting, fence posts, saw chains, creosote. House clearance: our old mate Mike doesn’t need them because he’s moving, and although we promised to keep them for him, we’d rather have the cash. It’s what he would have wanted. Apply: Eddie Grundy and Neil Carter, c/o The Cider Club, Ambridge.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Ruth rushes north, high jinks at Home Farm and Grey Gables goes Glasto: a frantic week in Ambridge

Exclusive! Local hotel to lose 5-star status

Grey Gables, one of Borsetshire’s premier leisure destinations, is set to be stripped of its luxury rating following a damning report by an undercover hotel inspector. The inspector was so shocked by what he found during his stay this week that he broke cover to give the Ambridge Observer an exclusive preview:
‘I booked at Grey Gables as ‘Vince’, a delegate at a commercial property conference. From check-in onwards my experience fell short of 5-star standards.
The owner and receptionist seemed more concerned about a lost dog than their guests, and an elderly vagrant was allowed to wander about the lobby, muttering racist remarks about “swarthy thieves looking for cars to steal in the car park missus”.
‘I inspected the car park and found it had been squatted by an extended family in a shabby campervan, playing loud music and drying their laundry on the topiary. When I objected, a woman called Sylvia said “Back off baldy, it’s our Baggy’s birthday and we’ve come for the party!”
‘Later that evening, a distressed resident came into the lounge, saying she had been forced out of her room by ‘boom box’ music coming from next door. The family I’d seen earlier were escorted from the hotel, but it was impossible to escape the smell of stale lager and fried food wafting downstairs. Not at all in keeping with chef Ian Craig’s ‘A Borsetshire Night’s Dream’ summer menu.
‘Worse was to come the following evening, when I was accosted in the bar by a man called ‘Eddie Grundy’ who claimed he was a multi-millionaire country singer who lived permanently in a suite at Grey Gables with his wife and father. He cadged drinks off me all evening, then flagrantly suggested we defraud the hotel, as he could keep me and my fellow delegates supplied with cut-price alcohol and snacks. As ‘Vince’, I played along with him, to see how far he would go. The ‘snacks’, which were stuffed in his pockets, were of poor quality, not properly chilled and well past their sell-by date. The sausagemeat buffet bites are something I will not easily forget.
‘Hotel staff turned a blind eye to these unpleasant and illegal activities. And the last straw came the following evening, when a lady of a certain age was allowed to totter round the lounge, asking male guests to “buy a girl a little drinkie, darling? Gotta save my pennies for the magic Botox man!”
‘I shall be recommending that the hotel be downgraded from 5-star to 1-star (boarding house standard) with immediate effect.’
The Ambridge Observer tried to contact Caroline Sterling, Grey Gables’ owner, for comment, but we were told she was busy booking a holiday.

Kate pours cold water on Pip’s hopes of romance

Pip’s delight at securing the job with Webster International was dampened when her partner in the Young Farmers’ Treasure Hunt turned out to be Rex Fairbrother, not Toby. But she gamely got on with it, and soon she and Rex were motoring through Borsetshire, solving Latin clues and chatting about milk margins like old pals. Meanwhile Kate, who had bagged the hotter Fairbrother brother, was telling Toby how bendy she was. ‘I can get into all sorts of positions,’ she purred, subtly. ‘I wouldn’t mind seeing that,’ said Toby. ‘Which way?’ ‘Any way you like, Toby!’
Soon they’d abandoned the treasure hunt and headed back to the drinks and barbecue at Home Farm, where Charlie and Adam were earnestly discussing global agri-politics over a glass of Pimm’s. But the civilised atmosphere was ruined by over-excited Young Farmers, who threw Kate in the pool. ‘She’s a right laugh, your cousin!’ Toby yelled to Pip, stripping down to his boxers to join Kate for a swim.
‘Yes well, she’s got a lot of baggage; she’s probably over-compensating,’ sniffed Pip. ‘My brother is the kind of man your mum warned you against,’ said Rex, wistfully chewing a burger.
The YFs then threw some raddle dye in the pool, prompting Adam to throw them all out. The water was as purple as Brian’s face will be when he finds out how much the damage will cost. But Pip was spared seeing Toby and Kate sneak off for a closer look at her chakras. She was called back to Brookfield as Granny Heather has had a massive stroke…     

Ask the doctor

In the latest of our occasional series, a local GP advises two readers on health worries affecting the older generation:

Q ‘My mother in Prudhoe had a mini-stroke (my husband David says it’s called a ‘TIA’, and then this week she’s had a massive stroke. What does this mean?’ (From ‘Ruth’ in Ambridge).
A Well, ‘Ruth’, I’m afraid it means you will miss Open Farm Sunday and your mother-in-law will have to design the posters, which won’t be very good. Your husband will get very tired and grumpy and your daughter may have to give up the glamorous job in Brazil she has been offered. As your mother is so far away, I can’t give you a prognosis, but I believe her neighbour Mrs Watkins’ husband had a stroke, so perhaps she can advise.

Q I am an elderly, lonely widow whose home was recently flooded and then burgled. I am staying with family and can’t face rebuilding my life. I’m thinking of going into a care home, but my friend says I should pull myself together with cake and sherry. What do you think doctor? (From ‘Christine’.)
A You poor woman; it sounds as if you’ve had a bad bout of ‘Peggywoolley Irritans’. With everything you’ve been through, you are probably clinically depressed, and sherry will only make it worse. Could you find a nicer friend – maybe a gruff, kindly chap who likes bird watching – to confide in?

Letter to the Editor

Mrs Susan Carter of Ambridge View writes:

I just wanted to encourage everyone to go along to Berrow Farm on Sunday for their absolutely wonderful Open Day. I myself have been invited specially. Charlie Thomas says he wants me to have a display area, and talk about the importance of the Ambridge Community Shop. Charlie says it’s all about the principle of producer/retailer symbiosis. Charlie says it will be really valuable to have someone with my professional expertise and local knowledge there, and there’s a party after. Charlie says… (OK, enough. We get the picture. Ed).


Short of cash? Dash to DDS* today!

• Maxed out your credit cards?
• Got an urgent business expense, like a new printer for the pub quiz?
• Too proud to ask your double-dealing brother to help?

No worries! Our short-term loans are designed to get you off that cycle of debt and put your business back in the fast lane. Don’t listen to your wife! It’s your money – and your life!

* A trading name of Dodgy Debt Solutions. APR 1,29,666%. Our trained operatives will visit after one missed payment.