Sunday, 29 November 2015

Rob takes liberties, Ruth takes off and Roy takes some persuading: an action-packed week in Ambridge

Ambridge hero breaks world horn-blowing record

Huntsmen across the UK said they were ‘in awe’ of Ambridge resident Rob Titchener after he managed to blow his own horn for an entire week. ‘It wasn’t just that Rob won the horn-blowing competition at the Hunt Ball, and bagged the most birds at the Home Farm shoot,’ said one.
‘He also managed to take all the credit for the Bridge Farm shop, while appearing to heap praise on his wife Helen. He got the Borchester Echo to run a feature on his journey from Berrow Farm to family businessman, and pretended the journalist harassed him into it. (that rag will print anything. Ed). He booked a surprise private scan for Helen, which made his mother-in-law go all gooey but is really to check they’re having a son.
‘He claimed to have been offered the job at Greenbury Farm Services but turned it down to take care of Helen, when we’re pretty sure he never even went for the interview.
‘And you had to take your hat off to him at the Hunt Ball. He managed to get Jennifer tipsy and spill the beans about Adam’s fling with the fruit-picker, and sowed doubt in Justin Elliott’s mind about Charlie Thomas’s competence while bigging up his own performance.
‘Anyone who wants to try horn-blowing should take lessons from Rob. He’s a master.’

Calendar Girls director pulls off daring casting coup  

Local impresario Lynda Snell promised ‘art reflecting life, reflecting art’ with her production of Calendar Girls, and she’s certainly achieved that with the controversial casting of Roy Tucker as John, the husband of leading lady Annie, played by Elizabeth Pargetter.
‘Just in case anyone didn’t know that Roy and Elizabeth had a real-life affair last year, they certainly will now!’ said Mrs Snell. ‘The chemistry between these two just fizzes. Who cares what people think? Art gives us the licence to rise above such petty concerns!’
‘Roy and I are grown-up enough to ignore any silly sniggering,’ said Mrs Pargetter. ‘Anyway, it’s a very small part, perfect for Roy – and I should know.’
‘Elizabeth certainly has nothing to be nervous about in the nude scene, if you know what I mean!’ said Mr Tucker. ‘And my character dies in Scene 3. Though my daughter Phoebe will probably kill me before then. Mortified. She’s got an interview at Oxford, did you know?’
• Mrs Snell and Jennifer Aldridge said this week they will not press charges for voyeurism after venture capitalist Justin Elliott gatecrashed a rehearsal for their nude photo shoot. ‘I only went into the barn to congratulate Mrs Aldridge on her sumptuous venison stew,’ said Mr Elliott. ‘As soon as I realised what was happening – after about half an hour or so – I revealed myself to the ladies and we all had a good laugh.’ (Can you check Justin’s PR is OK with this? Ed).

Social services in desperate housing crisis plea

Borsetshire’s social housing team said this week they were struggling to cope with a sudden peak in demand from families with special needs.
‘Obviously, we can’t name individual service users,’ said a spokesperson. ‘But our emergency housing team is being tested to the limit. One family, about to be thrown out of their temporary hotel accommodation, requires a care facility for a 94-year-old man with a bad back and farmer’s lung.
‘Our assessment also shows the family needs space for ferrets and a pony, and somewhere to slaughter and prepare several dozen turkeys.
‘We hate the thought of splitting a family up just before Christmas, but there may be no alternative. The old gentleman is putting a brave face on it, but honestly, this job breaks your heart sometimes.
‘We’d ask any readers of The Ambridge Observer who could offer this family somewhere to stay to contact us. For example, if you are a wealthy couple who are spending the winter in Italy, and need long-term house sitters for your sprawling farmhouse because you have recently been burgled, we’d love to hear from you.’
 • Over to you, readers! Can you think of anyone who might fit the bill? Ed.

Special festive quiz

Christmas can be a tricky time of year, when the heady mix of parties, family and mulled cider often brings simmering tensions to the boil. So why not try our quick quiz to test your emotional intelligence, and pick up some tips for sailing serenely through the festive season?

1.Your wife seems unhappy and has booked herself on a solo trip to New Zealand. Do you:
a) book yourself a ticket and tell her she can’t go without you?
b) make her feel as loved and needed as you can before she goes?
c) confront her with your daughter and accuse her of making some kind of statement?

2.  Your wife complains she is left out of decisions on the farm. When two of your cows fall sick, do you:
a) cancel her trip because you need her expertise?
b) promise to send her health updates on the herd every day?
c) treat the cows with your daughter and agree not to tell your wife?

3. You are concerned that you and your wife are drifting apart. Do you:
a) remind her that she would be nothing without you?
b) have a heart-to-heart and agree to work harder on your relationship?
c) confide in your mum, who tells you not to worry?

How did you answer?

Mostly A:
You love your wife but are perhaps a little too controlling. Have you been taking advice from Rob Titchener?
Mostly B:
You seem caring and considerate. Are you sure you belong in Ambridge?
Mostly C:
You have the emotional intelligence of an ironing board. Are you David Archer?

Café offers seductive selection

Fallon Rogers and Emma Grundy this week unveiled the menu at The Ambridge Tea Room at Bridge Farm, which will be opening soon. ‘My partner Harrison has been a great inspiration,’ said Ms Rogers. ‘Although it’s completely untrue that we ‘christened’ the café like we did our new home at Woodbine Cottage. Rob just happened to see me trip over one of Tony Archer’s new tables, and Harrison fell on top of me, that’s all.’
The tearoom’s Naughty Winter Treats menu features:
• Cheeky Chelsea buns
• Kissmas cake
• Fondant fancies-you
• Rumpy-pumpy babas
• Hot, hot , hot chocolate with whipped cream
• Egg snog
(That’s enough winter treats. Feeling a bit queasy. Ed).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Ruth-less Brookfield, car-less Helen and bra-less photo shoots: an eye-opening week in Ambridge

It’s Archer vs Archer in bitter industrial dispute

Ambridge was reeling with shock this week as one of its leading farmers announced plans to sue her own family for constructive dismissal.
Mrs Ruth Archer of Brookfield claims she has been ‘forced out’ of her role on the farm by husband David, daughter Pip and mother-in-law Jill, since she had to take time off to care for her mother.
‘It started with little things, like not telling me they were spending me mam’s inheritance on cows, and making jokes about getting scurvy from my cooking,’ said Mrs Archer. ‘Then it was Jill and Pip drinking champagne without us, and Jill rearranging the cereal packets. And the mug tree. And inviting Carol to Christmas lunch. And David was patronising to me about the calves.
‘But the last straw was about my special role on the farm. As the only Geordie in Ambridge, it’s my job to say ‘way aye man’ to the cows every day. I’ve had refresher courses up North and everything.
‘Then I found out David had replaced me with a ‘way aye man’ from an agency and was paying £30 a cow! It was completely humiliating.’
Mrs Archer’s solicitor, Usha Franks, said she would be seeking ‘exemplary compensation’ in view of her client’s distress. ‘Mrs Archer is going to New Zealand with the Felpersham Dairy Discussion Group, and will pursue her case on her return, unless she meets a widower with nice eyes and a family-run beef unit outside Auckland, and decides to stay,’ she said.

Ambridge ladies vote for all to bare 

In a daring ultra vires move in his role as chair of the Parish Council, Neil Carter forced a vote among the cast of Calendar Girls requiring actor-director Lynda Snell to join them in a nude photo shoot.
‘We’re all in this together, ‘said Mr Carter. ‘Well, not me obviously – although I must say there’s been a bit more chilli on the menu at home lately. Acting makes Susan quite frisky! But all the ladies agreed with me that Lynda should take part, especially as her own husband is taking the photos.’
Mrs Snell said she was ‘happy’ to appear in the calendar, which will be shot at various Ambridge locations this week. ‘It’s all about the bonding process with one’s actors,’ she said. ‘Robert is looking forward to it too; he’s been polishing his massive new lens all week. I just hope he’s more successful than the ‘Life study’ photography club he used to go to in Borchester, where the pictures were never good enough to show me, for some reason.’
Meanwhile, Ambridge’s bakers are being called upon to cook up giant cakes and pastries for the production’s props department. ‘We need big buns, monster muffins and colossal cream horns to preserve our ladies’ modesty,’ said Mrs Snell.

Braking-distance boffin shines in test

A local 17-year-old who hopes to go to Oxford University has scored the highest ever marks in the driving theory test. ‘We were surprised when the candidate ignored our multiple choice questions and wrote essays,’ said Melvyn Crossley of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. ‘But to be honest it was quite refreshing. I’d never thought about the impact of the Chinese rare minerals industry on roundabout etiquette before.’
The high-IQ highways boffin was revealed as Phoebe Aldridge of Home Farm, who said she was too busy revising to comment.

The Bull is ready to charge this Christmas

After weeks of renovations the new-look Bull will officially re-open on December 4, to coincide with the grand Ambridge Christmas lights switch-on. And in a novel twist, customers will be cooking their own festive meals as hosts Kenton and Jolene Archer haven’t yet recruited a chef. ‘We were too busy sorting out where Freda’s memorial rose will go in the garden,’ said Mr Archer. ‘But customers understand and are rallying round.
‘For instance, Ian will be cooking the wedding breakfast when he and Adam celebrate here on December 14. Adam was lovely about it. "It will be great food, and gives me time to have a bash at ‘It should have been me’ with Charlie Thomas on the karaoke", he told me.’
Other festive events planned for The Bull include:

• Christmas quiz
• Christmas disco
• Christmas party
• Christmas carol-oke (one for the churchgoers!)
• Christmas stockings night (one for the gentlemen!)
• Christmas tree festival (one for the tree surgeons!)  
• Christmas Carol Tregorran
(That’s enough Christmas events. Ed).

Local family relives violent farm tragedy

Pat Archer of Bridge Farm has described how she feared a repeat of the horrific accident to her husband Tony that happened a year ago this week.
‘It was bad enough when Tony took on Otto, our new and temperamental bull, which nearly killed him,’ she said. ‘But when I saw him arguing with Rob Titchener about café tables my heart was in my mouth. I was so worried Rob would be upset! He hates having his retail design skills challenged. And when Rob said Tony’s rustic tables sent out a message of ‘organic mumbo-jumbo’ I cheered!’
‘But luckily, they both backed off, the tables look lovely, and we were able to focus on looking after Helen. She had a car accident, poor love, and Rob and I agreed she shouldn’t be driving at all. Not since pregnancy removed her brain. Rob always knows the right thing to do.’ (Subs: can you check these quotes are right? Doesn’t sound like the real Pat Archer at all Ed.)

Fairbrothers plan a perfect match

Young guns Toby and Rex Fairbrother claim they will ‘shake up dull old Ambridge farming’ with a novel sports and business promotion event.
‘It’s, like, a no brainer,’ says Toby. ‘We’ve got geese, and now Pip’s swung it for us to have some cows with Adam as well. So, with all my contacts, what better than to put on a rugby match – geese versus cows? We’re calling it ‘Feathers will Fly.’ It’ll be hilarious! Of course, the geese are likely to come off worst, but that’ll save us some processing costs – and spectators can take their own Christmas roast home with them!’

Old timer finds a new home for Christmas

Villagers were thrilled and relieved this week to learn that an old, homeless resident will soon be making a fresh start. ‘Yes, I can confirm that my old kitchen units will be used in the refurbished village hall,’ said Jennifer Aldridge. ‘To be honest, I still think they are a bit too good for charity. I bet Susan Carter will kick herself for not taking them, every time she's on WI tea duty. But that’s her problem.’

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Grundys in crisis, Ruth in despair and another case for PC Burns: a turbulent week in Ambridge

Vicar promises a ‘radical Nativity’ this Christmas

The Rev Alan Franks, vicar of St Stephen’s, has announced a ‘contemporary and bold reworking’ of the traditional Nativity play in Ambridge this year.
‘Instead of children dressing up in tea towels, and Shula bringing that dreadful donkey, we’re going to have real Ambridge residents playing the Holy Family,’ he said.
‘Eddie and Clarrie Grundy will be a homeless couple, looking for somewhere to sleep over Christmas, leading Eddie’s father Joe, 94, on his faithful old pony Bartleby.
‘We’ve got Kathy Perks as the innkeeper, turning them out of Grey Gables on Christmas Eve to make room for the three kings from the East, played by Justin Elliott and his two Polish oligarch friends, Ignazio and Wojciech. And of course Hazel Woolley was born to play King Herod.
‘As there is no room for the Grundys anywhere, churchgoers will find them on Christmas Day in Bartleby’s old stable at Keeper’s Cottage, led there by a cabbage over the door (kindly donated by Ian at Grey Gables).
‘I’m sure this will shake Ambridge out of its cosy Christmas complacency,’ said Rev Franks. ‘Of course, no one will actually offer the Grundys an affordable home, but Bishop Andrew will be delighted at my radical approach. We might even get on Midlands Today.’ 

Police service goes high-tech

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) unveiled a new high-tech weapon in the fight against crime this week, as yet another Ambridge home fell victim to burglary.
‘We’re going to be swapping our notebooks and pens for tablets,’ PC Burns announced. ‘It’s just as well, because Fallon writes little love letters all over my crime reports. Look, here’s one she scribbled on my notes on the theft of Ed Grundy’s cattle. It’s got hearts and… oh, maybe not look at that one. Oops! Censored!
‘Anyway, I’ll soon be able to issue crime numbers on the spot, which might help victims of burglary like Caroline and Oliver Sterling at Grange Farm,’ he said. ‘Frankly, that’s about all I can do. Forensics aren’t likely to find anything and whoever put graffiti all over their walls didn’t even have the decency to sign their name. Criminals, eh. What are they like?
‘Our hands are tied – which funnily enough, is one of the little games Fallon and I like to play…. ‘(That’s more than enough policing. Ed.)

The Trials of Ruth Archer

In chapter 4 of our exclusive Autumn serial, by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine looks deep into her heart for answers…

With a heavy sigh, Ruth ended her phone call and headed to the yard, where David was scraping muck. He was concentrating, his tongue stuck out, just like the home movies Jill loved to show of him playing with his toy farm as a boy. ‘David – I’ve just paid the bills me mam ran up at Marvin House. You know, eye tests, chiropody, hair dressing and that,’ she said, her voice breaking.
‘Well, they turned out to be a waste of money, didn’t they love?’ David said cheerily – then stopped as he saw his wife’s stricken face.
‘I’m so sorry Ruth,’ he said, drawing her towards him with a large, muck-covered paw. ‘Thoughtless of me. But it’s time to think of the future. How much of Heather’s money have you spent? Because Pip’s going to need a heap to pay for her share-farming with Adam …’
Suddenly, the yard swam in front of Ruth’s eyes. Share-farming with Adam? ‘But… I thought Pip was going to a swanky new job in Brazil!’ she gasped.
‘Good Lord love, how long have you been in Prudhoe?’ David shook his head and chuckled. ‘No, silly, she’s going to graze ewe hoggs and farm 150 store cattle with Adam. Didn’t we tell you?’
‘I suppose… well, it would have been nice to be in on the discussion!’ Ruth snapped, stalking off into the house, her anger hiding her deep sense of sorrow  that yet again, she was a stranger in her own home…


‘Yes Rex, if you want to do up this old place for your goose processing, you go right ahead!’ Ruth tossed her head, with its short, tousled crop, and stamped her Wellington boot on the rough floor of Hollowtree Barn. It felt good to make a decision for once.
‘Wow, Ruth, I never knew you could be so assertive!’ said Rex, his hazel eyes dancing appreciatively. ‘Don’t you even need to ask David?’
‘Ask him? What for!’ Ruth’s laugh sounded convincing, even to her.
‘Oh yes, of course. You two are so close; you think as one, so you don’t need to ask,’ said Rex ruefully. ‘I wish me and Tobes were like that. He’s always promising stuff we can’t deliver.’
‘Ah well, you can’t bluff your way in farming,’ said Ruth sagely. But her defiant mood was suddenly as dead as Rex’s geese would soon be. If only this handsome young man knew the truth: no one seemed to need her any more. And when Jill returned to Brookfield on Sunday, David wouldn’t even notice whether she was there or not.
Thoughtfully, she brushed a wisp of straw off Rex’s rugby-shirted shoulder and told herself not to wonder if it would be a good place to cry on…


In the marquee at Lower Loxley, Dan’s 21st birthday party was in full swing. Ruth sat at an empty table, swigging neat gin from the tankard she’d so carefully chosen as Dan’s gift. Now, like her, it lay discarded and ignored. On the dance floor, Alan, Jim, Jenny and Lily were dancing Gangnam-style, but the ridiculous sight couldn’t even make her smile. In the corner, David had his back to her, talking to Phoebe, whose stunning up-do was nodding as she explained something earnestly to him and Brian. The dry-cleaning ticket was still attached to David’s suit, but Ruth was past caring. After all, her own red dress had never quite recovered from that New Year’s Eve calving emergency in 1989.
What was it Kenton had said, as he proudly came to repay the first 50p of the £26,000 he owed them? ‘David is a rotter and a chiz, as any fule kno!’ he’d said. ‘He always gets what he wants…’
‘Penny for them?’ Usha sat down next to her. In a clever nod to east vs west, she had teamed a gold sari with a Country Casuals cardigan. ‘Oh Usha, I feel so stuck on the outside of things,’ Ruth wailed. ‘I’m not sure David knows who I am any more, or even if we’re still right for each other. And I’m the only woman in Ambridge Lynda hasn’t asked to be in Calendar Girls! What can I do?’
To be continued…

Personal announcements


Adam Macy of Home Farm and Pip Archer of Brookfield are delighted to announce their engagement to share-farm Adam’s herbal leys with a herd of up to 150 store cattle. ‘We’re looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship,’ said Mr Macy. ‘Pip and I are both ambitious, hard-working, and in a privileged position where we can afford to set up new farming ventures, unlike poor Ed Grundy and those feckless Fairbrother boys.’
‘No couple likes to start off with a mountain of debt, so I’m lucky that Dad has promised me cash from Granny Heather’s legacy to pay for my share of the cows,’ said Miss Archer. ‘I’m so glad I walked out of my job in High Wycombe now. With my hoggetts, stubble turnips and now this wonderful new life with Adam I’m the happiest girl in the world!’

Dear Editor, please can you tack this next announcement on the end for free? And can you put it in smaller type so Charlie Thomas might miss it? He’s already worried that Justin Elliott might be about to sack him. Thanks, A. Macy.

Ian Craig and Adam Macy are delighted to announce that their wedding will take place on December 14.  No, you tightwad. Pay separately. Ed.


Talented, resourceful herd manager, skilled in managing teams, processes and budgets, experienced with all types of farm machinery and drainage systems (especially culverts). Definitely not looking for a job. Far too busy pursuing personal and family interests in Ambridge. Potential employers need not apply. Just back off, will you. R. Titchener, Blossom Hill Cottage.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Grundys lose their home, Fairbrothers lose their chance and is Helen losing her mind? A troubling week in Ambridge

Conspiracy claim over Ambridge disease outbreak

The local farming community was rife with claims of ‘shocking misinformation and conspiracy’ this week over the botulism outbreak at Berrow Farm.
‘It’s appalling,’ said one farmer. ‘Everyone knows it was Lynda Snell’s dog Scruff that contaminated the silage. Eddie Grundy heard it in The Fox, so it must be true. But no one has got the guts to tell her.’
‘That story we were given about chickens, foxes or ferrets getting into the feed is rubbish,’ said another, who asked not to be named because his wife is in Calendar Girls and he fears reprisals. ‘Nobody wants to upset Lynda Snell – even though she’s still going round with that blasted petition to shut Berrow Farm down! It’s outrageous.’
But other residents said they were ‘reassured’ by this week’s public meeting, at which silage supplier Adam Macy and vet Alistair Lloyd set out the background to the outbreak. ‘I feel much better now,’ said Berrow Farm’s manager Charlie Thomas. ‘Adam explained it all so well, and he’s got a lovely speaking voice. All I have to worry about is telling Justin Elliott that we’ve lost £150,000 – but if Adam holds my hand I’ll be OK.’
Brian Aldridge of Home Farm, who chaired the meeting, said he was ‘hugely relieved. There’s only one thing worse than botulism – and that’s letting those Fairbrother boys within a mile of your farm. Thank God Adam saw sense and told them where to go with their share farming. Business plan my … ‘ (that’s enough. We get the picture. Ed).

New-look shop prepares to welcome first customers

The new shop and café at Bridge Farm are expected to open soon, after family members pitched in to help with last-minute decorating.
‘It’s shame we haven’t got professionals running the café, instead of a couple of village girls selling vintage tat,’ said project manager Rob Titchener. ‘But you can’t have everything. It will still be my shop selling my products from my farm.’ (Surely ‘my in-laws’ farm’? Ed)
Helen Titchener, who launched the project with her brother Tom, said she was happy to be taking a back seat. ‘I’m having a baby, you know, and Rob says I need to focus on ‘young Master Bump’. Isn’t that sweet? Of course, the baby might be a girl, but I can’t think about that now…
‘Where was I? Oh yes, well, I’ve been feeling a little stressed lately; I even sleep- walked and imagined I’d left a pair of shoes in the garden. It must be my hormones going haywire, like Rob says. He says I might be heading for a breakdown if I’m not careful. And Rob’s always right. I’m beginning to see that now.
'And he’s very reasonable. He didn’t insist on the Bridge Farm Café instead of the Ambridge Tea Room. He respected my opinion, and only gave me the silent treatment for two days for undermining him in front of my mum. So everything’s wonderful, really it is. The shop is in very good hands.’

Officials praise ‘safety first’ Bonfire Night

Ambridge’s Bonfire Night celebrations, which were held on the village green for the first time in many years, passed off without major incident, officials reported this week.
‘One young child, Henry Archer – or Titchener? my notes aren’t clear – was taken to Borchester A & E after suffering a minor burn to his hand,’ said a first responder. ‘He was fine, although his mother was distraught. Kept saying it was her fault and looked terrified. And his father wasn’t best pleased with Susan Carter, the neighbour who’d been looking after the boy.
‘Otherwise, our only concern was a possible child welfare issue. A young boy was seen approaching adults, dressed in a feathered baseball cap and making strange guttural noises. However, it transpired he was a mascot, helping his granddad promote his Christmas turkeys.
‘We had a quick word with Mr Grundy and there was no further trouble.’

Police probe cinema threat

A screening of the classic film noir Gaslight at Ambridge Rural Cinema was cancelled this week after an anonymous poster threatened violence on the cinema’s Facebook page.
‘If you want to show a film about a murderer and thief who lures a young woman into marriage and tries to convince her she is going mad, go ahead – but don’t let your projectionist go home alone,’ said one post.
‘We couldn’t risk the safety of staff, no matter how remote the threat,’ said a cinema spokesperson. ‘After all, Gaslight is fiction: it’s hardly likely to give anyone ideas, is it?’
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Burns) said he would pursue the case but was not hopeful. ‘I can’t think of anyone who would not want this film to be shown,’ he said. ‘Fallon and I were looking forward to it – we’d be in the back row of course…’ (that’s enough policing again. Ed)

Property to let

Keeper’s Cottage, Ambridge. Delightful home in conservation area, newly renovated to an extremely high standard. Tuscan limestone flooring throughout; handbuilt kitchen, luxury bathrooms. Would suit City family looking for long-term rural getaway in idyllic village. Previous tenants need not apply; that means you, the Grundy woman and your grubby brood. Contact: Hazel Woolley, c/o Hart, Less and Mean Letting Agents, Borchester.

Personal announcements

Hey gorgeous, happy anniversary! Can’t believe it’s two years since you were foolish enough to marry me. Sorry I forgot to clear the drains and insure your pub and nearly ruined the business; sorry I spent a fortune I didn’t have on a holiday and then had a bitter row with my brother; sorry I stayed out all night, drank myself into a self-pitying stupor and was rude to our customers. But everything I do, I do for you, Jolene! Thanks for the monogrammed hankies. And I knew you’d be thrilled with my present to you – my new tattoo! It’s all about you babe. Your ever-lovin’ Kenton.

Ruth Archer: it’s not our anniversary or anything but I just wanted to say how special you are, love. You’ve been through a hard time, but you’re still willing to consider feeding silage straight from the clamp. And when Josh shrunk your best   sweater you didn’t strangle him with it. You’ve even invited my mum back to live with us – which just shows how kind, generous and desperate for a home-cooked meal you are. And now, thanks to your wonderful mum’s legacy, I’ll soon have half a million reasons to love you even more. Big hugs, David.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

We, the undersigned, are sure we speak for many readers when we say how sorry we are for the Grundys of Ambridge, and particularly Ed. Everyone says he is a born farmer and talented stockman, but he seems to have no luck at all – losing his beef herd to rustlers being the latest blow.
Could we suggest that the Ambridge Observer adopts ‘Some luck for Ed’ as your Christmas Appeal this year? We are sure readers would rally round and donate cash (or cows) to get Ed back on his feet again.

Yours faithfully,
The many friends of Ed.

We sympathise, but unfortunately we can’t take up the cases of individuals for our Christmas Appeal, as it would set a precedent. There are so many hapless, hopeless people in Ambridge. Where would it end? But of course we’ll be delighted to report on the Grundys’ fortunes and hope something turns up for them soon.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Calendar Girls cast is unveiled, Helen is undermined and Kirsty is concerned: a revealing week in Ambridge

Save the date for Christmas Calendar Girls!

Villagers can look forward to seeing the ladies of Ambridge in a whole new light as local impresario Lynda Snell unveiled (tired of double entendres already. Ed) details of her Christmas production.
Calendar Girls is all about new beginnings and making something positive out of adversity,’ said Mrs Snell. ‘That’s why it’s perfect for Ambridge this year. It’s art reflecting life, reflecting art, reflecting life… where was I again?’
The production is being held in the Women’s Institute’s centenary year, and stalwarts of Ambridge’s own WI will be taking starring roles.
After initial misgivings, Susan Carter says she is ‘thrilled’ to be playing Chris. ‘I shall be preparing very thoroughly, using the Stanislavski Method,’ she says. ‘So until curtain up I will be serving Post Office customers completely nude, apart from two first class stamps and an old tax disc. Neil’s quite looking forward to it, actually.’
Jill Archer plays aristocratic Lady Cravenshire. ‘I’m living in a stately home just now, and I have no housework or cooking to do, unfortunately,’ she said. ‘But at least Lynda needs me for something… can I make you a casserole?’
Jill’s daughter, Elizabeth Pargetter of Lower Loxley, takes the leading role of Annie. ‘Yes, as a widow myself, it was an emotional decision, ‘ she said. ‘But since the whole of Borsetshire saw my charms when I was romping with Roy Tucker at Loxfest, I feel ready to move on,’ she said.
Calendar Girls has several roles for older women, which the cast said was a refreshing change. Carol Tregorran (Jessie) insisted she had no problem with on-stage nudity. ‘I often go sky-clad in my garden at Glebe Cottage,’ she said. ‘It’s so liberating – although it gave Bert Fry a turn the first time he surprised me in the veg patch.’
WI members will be helping backstage too. Christine Barford has been tasked with making the all-concealing buns and cakes for the production. ‘We’re confident Christine’s buns won’t crumble or collapse,’ said Mrs Snell. ‘Solid as a rock; just what we need to save our actors’ blushes.’
Proceeds from Calendar Girls, which takes place at Lower Loxley in December, will go towards rebuilding Ambridge Village Hall. Plans to produce a 2016 calendar featuring the cast were shelved after local farmers said they would stick to the Borsetshire Fatstock Society’s annual ‘Best of Breeds’ version.  

From the Agri-Ambridge message boards

Our pick of what set the local farming community buzzing online this week:

• Morning farmers! Our mixer wagon broke down recently so we had to start feeding silage in the yard and concentrates in the parlour, just like my old dad did. And guess what – yields went up. Yep, we’re wondering why we bought that expensive machine for feeding TMR now. Anyone else found this? Toyfarmer.

• Hey, Toyfarmer, that’s totally cool; thanks. We can use that in our new beef cattle business. So you don’t need to feed the moo-cows their Tinned Mince and Rice on the same plate? That must save a load of work. Awesome. And another tip, guys: find yourself some hot farming totty to write your business plan! I’ve got her number if you need it… Tobes.

Can I put the record straight on here about events at Berrow Farm? The outbreak of Type C botulism was traced to a decomposing dog in the silage. The toxin takes time to eradicate so we’ll lose more cattle, unfortunately. It’s been a terrible blow but thanks for your support and the donations of feed, guys. Especially you, Home Farmer. You’re a wonderful friend. Charlie Browneyes.

  Oh, ere e is, puttin the record straight – bringin in filthy diseases and keepin is job while our Ed lost all is cows and as to work for nuthin on is edges… you big farmers all stick together an us Grundy’s is left to starve. There’ll be a judgement, you mark my words. Turkeyman

Go home, Eddie Grundy, you’re drunk. Charlie cares about his animals just like you do. He’s a very brave and special person. And I’m going to call a meeting so Lynda Snell can find out in public what happened to Scruff, rather than being told quietly. Home Farmer.

New series: Ask Aunty Satya

Everyone needs an Aunty Satya! Her advice is as refreshing as a mango lassi and as comforting as a plate of hot samosas. And she has a spooky way of bringing people together, as this week’s postbag shows:

Q My mother-in-law moved out of our home at my request to make way for my mother, who sadly died at a motorway services en route. Since then our cleaner has left, so the house is filthy, and we all have scurvy because we’re living on takeaways. I would cry tears of joy if she came back, but will she think I only want her to run the house for us? Ruth A, Brookfield.

A I may be able to help you Ruth; see the letter below. But please take better care of your mother-in-law than you seem to have done of your mother, poor lady.

Q I moved out of my home to make way for my daughter-in-law’s mother. I am living in my daughter’s stately home, but I feel that her late mother-in-law doesn’t want me there and is haunting my room. And I can’t bear to see my grandchildren’s dirty, hungry little faces. I would love to go back, but will my daughter-in-law think I am insensitive? Jill A, Lower Loxley.

A I may be able to help you Jill; see the letter above. But please don’t mention the ghosts of mothers-in-law when you move back. Unless you want to become one yourself.

Q My friend is having a baby and I should be really happy for her, but when we talked about it she said her husband was ‘over-protective’ and started to cry. Should I try and find out more? Kirsty M, Grey Gables.

A Yes Kirsty, I think you should; see the letter below. But my advice would be to try to talk to her alone, without her husband present. And stay away from culverts.

Q I am having a baby and should be really happy, but my husband is taking over my money, my business and my son. He even wanted to show my parents our baby scan pictures without me. I feel frightened and alone. An old friend recently came back into my life. Should I confide in her? Helen T, Ambridge.

A Yes Helen, I think you should; see the letter above. But my advice would be not to let your husband know about it. Wait until he has taken your little son out hunting over high hedges on a spirited stallion. I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.