Sunday, 13 December 2015

Pot luck for David, bad luck for Charlie and good luck for the Grundys: it's all change in Ambridge

Controversial Berrow Farm manager to leave Ambridge

Speculation is rife in Ambridge this week about who will take over as manager of the mega-dairy at Berrow Farm, after Charlie Thomas confirmed he is to take up a role at another Damara Capital estate in Perthshire.
Rob Titchener, who left Berrow Farm earlier this year, refused to confirm rumours that he was to replace Mr Thomas.
‘Look, we all know I could manage that place better than Charlie,’ he said. ‘I’m a proper man, for one thing. But I’m too busy winning touch rugby tournaments, managing Bridge Farm shop and trying to stop my mother blabbing all my secrets to my wife.’
Mr Thomas’s tenure at Berrow Farm has divided opinion. ‘He was to blame for the botulism, and now the company is quietly moving him on,’ said Mrs Lynda Snell. ‘It’s how these corporations operate. I’ve seen it all before.’
But Jennifer Aldridge of Home Farm defended him. ‘He is a fine young man; we’ve all taken him to our hearts and we will miss him,’ she said. ‘My son Adam seems especially upset about it, which is odd, as they didn’t seem to get on at first. But recently they’ve become close. It’s a shame. But I expect Adam will get over it. After all, he’s marrying Ian next week. Do you like my new hat?’

Appeal for forgetful wine festival goer

Borsetshire Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) is calling for someone who lost personal property at the Lower Loxley Wine Festival to come forward and claim it.
‘Various items were found in shrubbery near the house, and were handed in,’ he said. ‘They include two one-way rail tickets to Perthshire, a guide to romantic Scottish hideaways, and a presentation box with a gold ring inscribed with the words ‘C loves A 4ever’.
‘It looks as if these items were discarded in a hurry but we are sure someone is missing them,’ said PC Burns. ‘If not, I might get the ring changed to read ‘H’ and ‘F’. It would make a lovely Christmas present for the little lady.’

Winning short story is Christmas magic

Congratulations to George Grundy, aged 10, who has won the Ambridge Observer Children’s Christmas Story competition. ‘His heartwarming family tale sums up the magic of Christmas,’ said the head judge, award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater. ‘A real work of imagination, as stories like this just don’t happen in real life.’
George’s prize is a rugby shirt and a Christmas goose for his family, courtesy of Toby and Rex Fairbrother. Well done George! Here’s his winning story: 

Once upon a time there was a granny and granddad who lived in a cottage with an old man called Joe, a pony called Bartleby and some ferrets. One day the flood came and washed their cottage away. So they moved to a hotel, but the people there were cross with them because the old man walked about in his long johns and the ferrets ran everywhere.
They wanted to move back to their cottage but the Wicked Woolley Witch cast a spell on it and turned it into a palace, so only a rich prince could live there.
The granny and granddad tried to find somewhere else to live, but they could only afford a small flat in a faraway town, and old Joe was put into a hostile, (surely ‘hostel’? Ed) where Bartleby and the ferrets couldn’t stay, so they were all sad.
Then one day just before Christmas they were killing turkeys in the cider shed when their Fairy Godfather Oliver rang them up and said they could live in his house, because he and Fairy Godmother Caroline were having such a lovely time in Italy.
The granny and granddad and Joe all cried with joy. ‘We can keep a little pig in a pen by the stove, just like the old days, when I lived there with my Susan!’ said Joe. ‘Come on everyone!’ said their little girl Emma. ‘We can celebrate with these mince pies; the filling’s leaked but they taste OK!’
So Bartleby had a carrot, the ferrets bit old Joe so he did swears, and they all lived happily ever after. The End.

Christmas Fiction Special

The Trials of David Archer

In Chapter 1 of our festive fiction feast, by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero finds himself deserted, disabled and in despair….

‘Quite right Brian,’ said David, sighing inwardly. ‘Oops –sorry about your carpet Jenny,’ as another forkful of peas and gravy shot off his plate.
Curse this broken arm! He felt so useless – and so lonely. Why was he having to endure Brian droning on about the CAP? He should be at Brookfield, with all the family, and his mum spoon-feeding him her famous treacle tart. But Pip was out playing rugby with the Fairbrothers, and of course, Ruth was in New Zealand, doing who knows what with… Thinking of his wife in the arms of a hunky All Black, he stabbed at a carrot, which landed in Brian’s lap. ‘And how are you going to treat Ruth for your anniversary?’ wittered Jenny. How indeed? Somehow a new pair of chest waders didn’t seem quite enough. But would Ruth even be at home for their anniversary? He slumped in his chair, and held out his good arm for another brandy…


 ‘You’re right Matthew. Damn! How could I have missed this?’ David looked at the sick calf, with its runny nose and staring eyes. What was he thinking, lounging in the kitchen, finishing off his mum’s cake mix? ‘It’s pneumonia. I’ve only got a bad arm; I could have checked the stock.’
Furiously, he phoned Pip, who was busy slaughtering geese with the Fairbrothers. ‘You stupid, stupid girl!’ he yelled at her. ‘Why didn’t you tell me something was wrong?’ ‘Don’t blame me dad!’ she yelled back. ‘If mum was here, she would have spotted it. And why isn’t she here? Because you drove her away!’
Wearily, David ended the call and dialled Alistair’s mobile. Pip was right, of course. He’d had another sleepless night, feeling so lonely in the big bed, which was usually full of Ruth and her herd fertility reports. How could he ever have thought he could manage without her? But as he stroked the sick calf’s head, a glimmer of an idea occurred to him… perhaps he could show Ruth how much he cared after all…


Against the odds, David had quite enjoyed the Lower Loxley Wine Festival. It was good to talk about his bad arm, the pneumonia, how badly the herd was performing, and how much he was missing Ruth. There’s nothing like sparkling small talk to get a party going, he congratulated himself as Adam and Ian drove him home.
For some reason, they didn’t want to come into Brookfield for a coffee, so he waved them off with his good arm. In the hall, his eye fell approvingly on the gift he’d ordered for Ruth. A bronze-effect cow and calf, lovingly handcrafted in Thailand, and his for only six monthly instalments of £49.99 (plus postage). He was sure she would love it! 
As if by magic, the phone rang. ‘Hi love, it’s great to hear your voice!’ Somehow, Ruth sounded so dear and so close, not 10,000 miles away. ‘Oh hi David! Just calling to say I’m going to stay a bit longer. In fact I don’t know when I’m coming back. I’m loving it here! Sorry – got to go; we’re going on a Lord Of The Rings tour!’
The connection was lost and David was left alone in the dark. The cow and calf seemed to be mocking him now. How long would it be before he saw his wife again? And was it too late to ask his mum to make him some cocoa?
To be continued….

(Ed darling, do I get a Christmas bonus for reading all those ghastly kids’ stories as well as this? Lavinia. No. Ed.)

Teen prodigy to give geo-political lecture

Borchester Business Forum is delighted to present a New Year lecture on ‘South Africa: conflict between the pressures of globalisation and the aspirations of the post-colonial state’ by Phoebe Aldridge of Home Farm. ‘We heard that Ms Aldridge has an original and thoughtful view on this hot topic, which deeply impressed Oxford fellows at her recent interview,’ said a spokesperson. ‘It seems her insights from Wikipedia, the Daily Telegraph and her grandfather’s dinner table conversation wowed them in Oxford and we’re sure our members will appreciate it too.’

Personal announcement

Elizabeth Pargetter and Roy Tucker would like to announce that yes, they did have an affair last summer, and yes, it is slightly awkward that they’re playing husband and wife in Calendar Girls, but honestly, they are just acting and really, isn’t it time everyone just grew up and got over it? It’s ancient history now, especially as Roy is making cocoa for Kirsty Miller and Lizzie has got her eye on Dr Locke, who’s moving to Keeper’s Cottage. Thank you.  

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

I would just like to say how lovely it is to have the community shop open again. Without it, it was as if the heart of the village had been ripped out. I like the new staff uniforms too. Mrs Snell’s striking orange necklace (she told me it was inspired by the Masai Mara) set off her Paisley tabard a treat. And unlike my friend Jean Harvey, I don’t mind Susan Carter’s new way of greeting customers. She can ‘Call me Madam’ any time she likes! Well done to the team!
Mrs Mallard, Manorfield Close.


  1. Laugh out loud funny, as usual. I always look forward to these now. :-)

  2. Brilliant! Thank you. It makes listening almost worthwhile.