Sunday, 20 December 2015

Adam and Ian tie the knot, Rob twists the knife and David is deserted… a sensational week in Ambridge

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

The Ambridge Observer will be taking a festive break next Sunday; the team has booked front-row seats for Calendar Girls and will be chomping our way through Justin Elliott’s most generous Christmas hamper. We’ll be back with all the news that’s fit to print on Sunday January 3rd!

Ambridge prepares for Christmas!

With the festive season well under way, The Ambridge Observer asked some leading local residents about their plans for Christmas Day:

David Archer: ‘Christmas won’t be the same this year as my wife Ruth is staying in New Zealand, with her new friends. I expect she’ll Skype when she has time, although I gather there’s lots to learn about hobbit-herding, or something. So I think I’ll have a gloomy drink with Ron and Vera Medlar, who are giving up dairying in the New Year. Did you know that £200 billion trillion has been taken out of the rural economy? It’s terrible… (that’s enough gloom. Meant to be a Christmas feature. Ed).

Pip Archer: 'It will be a bit sad with mum not here at Brookfield, but I'm hoping our contract milker Matthew will come for dinner. He's promised to teach me his 5-step Dutch foot paring method. And I'd like to know if he's a breast or a leg man!'

Clarrie Grundy: ‘We’ll be at Grange Farm, and it will be the best Christmas ever! Susan and Neil Carter are coming for dinner and I’ll be able to treat the kids to a few extras, when Toby and Rex Fairbrother have paid me for helping to dress their geese. I dare say we’ll all shed a tear when Joe starts singing The Borsetshire Carol round the fire. It’s about time we Grundys had some luck at last! We’re ever so grateful to Oliver and Caroline.’

Shula Hebden-Lloyd: ‘I will be at The Stables with Alistair and Jim, but it may be a little quiet as Dan will be either on duty or courting Dorothy from Haybury. So I might just pop round to Keeper’s Cottage with a hot mince pie and some brandy butter for Doctor Locke. Just to be neighbourly, you understand.’

Brian Aldridge: ‘My sister-in-law Lilian is still with us for Christmas, God help us, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on the cellar keys. My son Ruairi will be telling us what he’s been up to, as none of us has seen him all year. I expect Phoebe will be joining us for a 10-minute break in her Oxford revision. As long as Kate takes her vegan nut roast off to her new yurts, and leaves me to enjoy Jennifer’s legendary Christmas spread, I’ll be happy.’

Rob Titchener: ‘My wife loves to spend Christmas Day with her family at Bridge Farm, so that’s why we’ll be staying here at Blossom Hill Cottage, just the four of us – Helen, me, Henry, and our baby son. Helen forgets sometimes that her sole purpose in life is to give me a healthy heir in 2016. So I may have to give her a few reminders. It’s for her own good. Merry Christmas!’    

Festive Fiction Special: The Trials of Ian Craig

In Chapter 2 of our romantic saga by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, the joy of our hero’s wedding is shattered by deceit and betrayal…

‘I love you Adam. And I can’t wait to make an honest man out of you!’ Ian patted his partner’s vibrant, orange and pink polka dot shirt affectionately. ‘But don’t dance; people will think you’re the light show!’
It was the stag party Ian had dreamed of: surrounded by family and friends, the Guinness, champagne and shots flowing freely. Tonight, he could even smile at Barry and his exploding crisp packets. True, it was a surprise when Rob Titchener had turned up, and Charlie was there, looking like he’d lost a heifer and found a hamster. But tomorrow he and Adam would be married. And at last, any doubts about his commitment would be washed away on a tide of joy and love…. 
‘Ian – have you got a minute?’ He turned to find Rob standing a little too close for comfort. ‘I just wanted to say, you know… Adam…Pavel… Charlie… open secret… even Helen saw them kissing…’
Like a mongoose mesmerised by a python (surely cobra? Ed), Ian was rooted to the spot, unable to stop the flow of poisonous gossip into his ears. ‘…so, anyway, congratulations old chap!’ Rob slapped him too hard on the back and melted back into the crowd.
Desperate for air, Ian staggered into the pub garden, nearly uprooting Freda Fry’s memorial rose. And who were those two in the shadows? ‘Oh, er, Ian! Hi! Charlie’s had too many shots. I’ll be in in a minute.’ Adam smiled at him.
Shots! Yes, Ian felt as if he’d been shot, straight through the heart.  ‘I’ll see you at home then,’ he stammered, his whole world falling apart….


‘Are you sure you want to go through with this?’ Ian’s heart was breaking as he looked at Adam, so handsome in his suit, while his own… he pulled his waistcoat down and ran a finger round his too-tight collar. The perils of being a professional chef, he sighed inwardly. Why was he so greedy with the tasting spoon? No wonder Adam preferred Charlie, who was as slim as a snake. …
‘Of course!’ Adam’s lovely warm voice reassured him. ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Let’s get married!’
Arriving at the register office, Ian’s emotions were in turmoil. Could he and Adam really start a new chapter in this poisonous atmosphere of betrayal? And talking of betrayal… here was Helen, wearing a hideous purple frock and thrusting a rose at him. ‘Buttonholes!’ she smiled. Ian turned away. His best friend, yet she’d known about Adam and Charlie for nearly a year and said nothing! It cut like his sharpest Japanese kitchen knife. He’d wondered what she saw in Rob Titchener, but it was clear now. They were made for each other.
And now she was taking a picture of Adam and Charlie together! How could he bear it? He stumbled into the register office, still not sure if he could go through with it…. 


All eyes were on Ian as he stood up to make his speech. Somehow, he had got through the ceremony, though he’d almost choked on the vows that he and Adam had written together – was it really such a short time ago? Now this happy crowd was expecting jokes and happiness… he threw his prompt cards on the table. ‘Look, I hope when we get old we’ll look back on today and know we did the right thing…’ his voice tailed away into an awkward silence. Then suddenly Rob stood up  - Rob, who’d been watching him coolly, enjoying his pain.
‘Could you join me in a toast to the happy couple!’ said his arch-enemy, raising his glass and fixing Ian with a cruel, triumphant smile. Ian turned away, towards Adam, who was looking at Charlie’s empty chair. Would he ever be happy again?
To be continued…


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Letter to The Editor

 Dear Madam,

I’d be very grateful if you could let your readers know that the Christmas production of Calendar Girls now features Jean Harvey in a starring role as Jessie, following Carol Tregorran’s withdrawal due to a family crisis. Jean Harvey is really awfully good, you know; her Gondoliers won an award and I understand her Gertrude had to be seen to be believed (though for this production she will be wearing a scarf). While by no means a diva, Dame Jean (as she likes to be known) can get a bit batey if she feels under-appreciated, and my Lyndy is under enough stress, what with putting on the play and finding organic, gluten free Stollen for little Mungo at Christmas.
Thanks ever so,
Robert Snell, Ambridge Hall.


  1. A fab read,as always. Thank you.

  2. A fab read,as always. Thank you.

  3. Brilliant, as always. Happy Christmas from Mister Christmas!

  4. In a nutshell, lovely, thank you x x x x

  5. Another cracking issue, keeping us up to date with the latest shenanigans from our favourite rural retreat.

  6. Gets better & better with each new edition. Should be up for Newspaper of the Year Award ...

  7. But what about Dr Locke and Scoundrel Tichner? Or is that a treat for the New Year?

  8. Thanks for your lovely comments everyone and hope you are having a very jolly Christmas break! Pinkie, our reporters investigated a link between Dr Locke and Rob Titchener but couldn't find anything, except that the doctor conducted Rob's DNA test in a thoroughly proper manner. But who knows what 2016 will hold?

  9. What a treat this is! Who knew Theresa May has been paying close attention to the Ambridge Observer and has passed a law designed especially for Rob Titchener? Will he be a test case? Send for Usha (unless she's busy sorting out Jean Harvey's GBH claim against Lilian). I like Lilian. Pass the gin.