Sunday, 29 May 2016

An arrival, a departure, a reunion and a romance: a super-emotional week in Ambridge

 Bridge Farm couple bury the hatchet

Ambridge residents were celebrating this week after news spread of a long-awaited reunion between one of the village’s favourite couples.
‘It’s so good they are back together,’ said Fallon Rogers of the Ambridge Tea Room. ‘Of course, it was awful what Tom Archer did; you should never humiliate someone by rejecting them like that. But he was under a lot of stress and acted without thinking. And there were harsh words said on both sides.
‘But with the crisis at Bridge Farm, they’ve both realised they can’t live without each other. All their friends are so pleased for them.’
Tom Archer said he was ‘delighted’ to confirm the news. ‘Yes, it’s true, Jazzer McCreary is back as pig man at Bridge Farm and we couldn’t be happier,’ he said. ‘It’s true he insulted my sister Helen and that was hard to forgive. But without Jazzer, I would have had to sell the pigs. So it was an easy decision to offer him his job back.’
‘Aye, right enough, I’m back with the great Sassenach plonker and my lovely wee girls,’ said Mr McCreary. ‘ I wasnae sure when Tom tried to give me a man hug, mind. The only things I’ll be kissin’ round here are they pigs!’
Kirsty Miller, Mr Archer’s former fiancée, said she wished the couple well. ‘I always knew I couldn’t compete with Jazzer,’ she said. ‘He and Tom both love those pigs more than anything. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s never to come between a man and his weaners.’

Elfgate: tensions rise ahead of Bank Holiday standoff

Villagers warned that Ambridge could be a ‘powderkeg’ over the Bank Holiday weekend, as tourists and landowners clash over the ‘elf village’ that has  sprung up in the Ambridge Millennium Wood (Aldridge. How many times? Ed).
 ‘This elvish nonsense has gone too far,’ said Mr Brian Aldridge of Home Farm. ‘The visitors are disturbing my game birds. And when it comes down to peasants or pheasants, the pheasants win every time. Rest assured, my gamekeeper Will Grundy will be guarding the wood with his shotgun loaded. Caveat Elf Tour, that’s all I’m saying!’ 
Mrs Jolene Archer, landlady of The Bull, said any hostile action was likely to cause uproar. ‘Mr Aldridge is threatening a fine old village tradition, started by my husband Kenton last Wednesday,’ she said.  ‘People visit the elves, then make a pilgrimage to the pub for a ploughman’s, a T-shirt and an ‘elfie’ with Joe Grundy in his green Gandalf outfit. ‘Locals will be furious that someone is trying to destroy their right to make money out of gullible tourists.’
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) said he was ‘concerned, but not worried,’ about the situation. ‘I might get along there, but to be honest I’m a bit busy helping my girlfriend Fallon with her Whitsun jumble trail,’ he said. ‘Anyway, this sounds more like a case for the Elf & Safety team. And as I understand someone has built a lavatory for the elves, investigators can’t say they have nothing to go on.’  (Oh, please. Shoot me now. Ed).



John Anthony Archer (to be known as Jack), born 21 May at a hospital that cannot be named for legal reasons, to Helen Titchener, née Archer, of Bridge Farm, and a man she wishes had had nothing to do with it.  A little brother for Henry, grandson for Pat and Tony and nephew for Tom. Attending Jack’s birth were his great-grandmother Peggy Woolley and two burly prison guards who mostly looked the other way. ‘Helen has named the baby after her late brother John, her father and my late husband Jack,’ said Mrs Woolley. ‘She chose the names herself, after three good men in her life, she said.’ Mother and baby are  doing well after a long labour and emergency Caesarean delivery, and will be leaving hospital later this week.

Gideon Robert Titchener (to be known as My Son), born 21 May surrounded by armed guards because his mother is a crazed psychopath, to Rob Titchener of Blossom Hill Cottage and the evil bitch who tried to destroy the baby and his father. A little brother for Henry (also known as My Son), grandson for Ursula and Bruce and nephew for Miles.  ‘Rob has named the baby after my late father, who meant such a lot to me,’ said Mrs Titchener. ‘If little Gideon turns out to be half the man he was, I shall be so proud. Of course, my Robert is half the man he was, thanks to that woman and her ghastly family. But it won’t be long before the baby is here with us, where he belongs.’

Note to news desk from classified ads dept: this seems odd; do you think there might be a story here?  Worth following up?

Poetry Corner

Thanks to Mrs Emma Grundy of Grange Farm, who sent in this poem, written by her husband Ed to mark their first wedding anniversary this week. ‘The first year is paper, and Ed couldn’t think of anything to get me,’ writes Mrs Grundy. ‘I said, well, money’s paper, but instead he wrote this poem and read it out loud at our anniversary party. Isn’t that romantic?’  Indeed it is Mrs Grundy. Congratulations from all at The Ambridge Observer! 

For Emma

Shall I compare you to a bale of hay?
You are more cuddly and less prickly,
And though you try to shake your head and say
‘Oh Ed, give over!’ I know where you’re tickly!
You’re now my wife, but long before we wed
I loved you, and that love has never dimmed;
For though you’re not too keen on them in bed,  
You’d never leave the ferrets’ nails untrimmed.
Now in the Ambridge Tea Room you’re a star,
And my green tractor won’t be repossessed,
and you and me and George and little Keira
know that what’s to come is still the best.
Though why you chose me I still fail to see,
I love you Em, and pledge my life to thee.

Summer fiction special: The Trials of Matthew Holman

In the latest chapter of our romantic saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero wrestles with an emotional dilemma…

‘Come on now Matthew; you’ve hardly touched Jill’s lovely lemon drizzle cake!’ Ruth beamed at him hopefully. David, tucking into a third slice, nodded furiously, spraying crumbs. Pip stared down at the table, blinking hard as if she was trying not to cry. Oh, why had he decided to come to Brookfield one last time? Why was Jill’s cake so much drier than he remembered? Pushing his plate away, he said brightly: ‘Come on Pip, show me these new cows of yours at Home Farm!’ ‘Good idea!’ said Ruth, visibly relieved. David gave him a thumbs-up and reached over to finish off his cake. ‘Take the quad bikes! Have fun you two!’ But fun was the last thing on his mind…


‘Why did you come here Matthew? You’ve already finished with me!’ Pip’s lip wobbled and her eyes brimmed with tears. He nodded over at the cows, who were kicking their heels and trying to mount each other in their excitement at their new herbal pasture. ‘Because this is your future Pip,’ he said wistfully. ‘Just as passing on the secrets of the Dutch five-step foot-paring method to dairy farms across this great land of ours is mine. We both love our jobs far too much to make this relationship work.’
‘But I love you Matthew!’ Pip cried. ‘I’d give it all up for you tomorrow, you know I would!’ ‘I couldn’t let you, Pip,’ he replied gently. ‘I thought when you left that job, it was because it turned out to be PowerPoint presentations in High Wycombe instead of riding the range in Rio. But now I know differently. Brookfield is in your blood Pip. And I can’t make you choose between me and your birthright.’
With a last tender kiss he left her, her tears dripping onto the electric fence. Riding back to Brookfield, he felt his phone buzz in his pocket, and stopped to answer it. ‘Yeah, it went OK,’ he said. ‘I’ll be back by midnight. See you later babes!’
Not to be continued….

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Peggy steps up, Pat regrets and Matthew bows out: a tense week in Ambridge

Net closes in on elf scam 

The ‘Elfgate’ investigation launched by Borsetshire planning officers last week has now been passed to Trading Standards, after reports of ‘elf-related merchandise of dubious quality’ being sold in Borchester Market.
‘We had a tip-off that two men, one wearing huge green ears and one in a green cloak, sitting on a wooden toadstool, were selling so-called ‘elf furniture’ inspired by the ‘Elftown’ in Ambridge Millennium Wood’, said a spokesperson. (Aldridge Millennium Wood. Ed.)
‘By pretending to be from the Borchester Echo, we managed to get a picture of the perpetrators and identified them as Joe and Eddie Grundy. It was a double result for us as they had already been reported for knowingly selling mushroom compost to Mrs Lynda Snell, a woman who suffers from multiple allergies.
‘We don’t know what else this Grundy family has been up to,’ the spokesperson  says. ‘We could have stumbled on a massive criminal fairy-ring.’

Issue of the week: have your say!

Drones are becoming a common sight in the countryside. But are they a boon or a threat to rural life? We asked local residents for their views…

‘Drones are so useful as a non-invasive way of surveying and treating crops. I remember a former colleague, Charlie Thomas, was very keen on them. We spent hours hunched over his joystick , out in the fields.. it was marvellous.. Excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye…’ Adam Macy, Home Farm.

‘Hey guys, that’s spooky! I’m using a drone right now to film a commercial for our Hollowtree hens. And they’re not the only birds in shot, if you know what I mean guys – it stars the delicious Pip Archer and I reckon I can get her to take her top off  - for the integrity of the role, of course. Ding dong!’ Toby Fairbrother.

‘Drones are all very well in the hive, but you don’t want too many. They don’t do any work and are just there for mating, after which they are evicted from the hive and die. Oh, I’m sorry – isn’t that what you meant? Would you like some lemon drizzle?’ Jill Archer, Brookfield.  

Food awards judges warn against ‘confused’ entries

Organisers of the Borsetshire Food & Drink Awards have warned that entries will be disqualified if the form is not completed properly.
‘We were perplexed by several entries in particular, all of which came from Bridge Farm, Ambridge,’ said a spokesperson.
‘Someone had entered Anna Tregorran in our ‘Barista of the Year’ category, but local coffee shops don’t know anyone of that name. And Tom Archer’s Black Pudding Scotch Eggs had been entered in the ‘Alcohol’ category.
‘We also had to rule Helen Titchener’s Borsetshire Blue cheese ineligible, as we understand the cheese maker is incarcerated and supplies may be uncertain.
‘This is very unfortunate for the farm concerned, but we do have to uphold the rules.’
Contacted by the Ambridge Observer, Mr Tom Archer said the confusion arose because he had delegated the Awards admin to apprentice Johnny Phillips. ‘Johnny was trying to do his best to support my sister Helen, but he got the wrong end of the stick,’ he said. ‘This week he’ll be mainly boxing lettuces, which is much more his thing.’

From the message boards…

This week we drop in on Ambridge Gransweb, to see what our seniors are talking about online...

Does anyone have any tips on being a birthing partner? I didn’t have one for any of my three, just the nurse, a wet towel to bite on and a large cigar when it was all over (though that might have been for the father, I can’t remember). I want to make the birth special for my granddaughter, especially as she’s in prison. Thank you grans! PeggyW.

Oh dear Peggy, how brave of you!. Our grandchildren are such a worry aren’t they? Take poor Pip for instance. That Matthew, who we all thought was so nice, has dumped her. Now she’ll never learn his five-step cow foot-paring method! She’s so upset, she couldn’t manage any of my lemon drizzle. I don’t know what else to do… JillA.

Don’t you fret Jill; Pip will settle down soon enough. Look at Emma; what a wonderful wife and mum she is now. She always makes George and Keira a packed lunch for school. ‘It’s a little bit of home in their tummies,’ she says. Isn’t that sweet? See, since she married the right man she’s not looked back and it’ll be the same for Pip, you’ll see. Does Matthew have a brother? ClarrieG.

It’s marvellous of you to support Helen, mum; thank goodness you stepped in, or Jenny or I might have had to do it! Jenny’s too busy planning her 40th wedding anniversary party and I couldn’t get through an ordeal like that without a stiff gin or two, which I don’t suppose they’d allow in jail! Jenny said at 91 you’re too old to be staying in a Premier Lodge with only hapless Tony for company but I said we’re not dead till we’re dead, and neither are you mum! Cheers! LilB

Summer fiction special: The Trials of Pat Archer

In the latest chapter of our romantic serial by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine looks back on a lifetime of regrets…


Pat’s eyes filled with tears as the calf slithered out of its mother, who bent her head to lick it tenderly. ‘It’s amazing,’ said young Johnny. ‘Gran, what’s a pig cycle, and can I ride it round the yard?’ In spite of herself, Pat smiled at the young man. So like his father, with his passion for pigs and speed! ‘Yes, Johnny, cows often manage to give birth on their own. We find it harder.’
And at once her thoughts were back with Helen, on her way to the mother-and-baby unit, about to calve down without her mother or anyone who loved her to help… oh, why hadn’t DS Madeley called her back? Time was running out…


‘Oh, Tony!’ Pat’s anguished cry brought her husband rushing in from the kitchen, a wooden spoon dripping lentil soup in his hand. ‘Come on Pat, lunch is ready. What’s wrong?’ ‘It’s DS Madeley,’ sobbed Pat. ‘She said even if I filled the forms in using my own blood and promised to sell my soul to Satan, she’d be minded to refuse my request to be Helen’s birthing partner! How is that justice? At every turn Helen is being punished… and it’s all my fault!’ ‘Oh love, it’s not all your fault!’ her kindly husband patted her shoulder. ‘OK, the soup’s a bit salty. But it won’t get better if you keep crying into it!’


‘Oh, Tony!’ ‘What is it now, love?” Was it Pat’s imagination, or was even her husband beginning to sound a bit testy? Yet she couldn’t keep silent when Helen was suffering so much! ‘I’ve let Helen down all her life, Tony! Right from when she was born with dislocated hips because I wouldn’t have a Caesarean…  and when John died, I ignored her and concentrated on myself…’
What was that Tony was muttering? ‘Yes, Pat, it’s always about you, isn’t it?’
So it was true! Her own husband was punishing her, just like everyone else. And now he was going off with Peggy, to live it up in a Premier Lodge and see Helen when her own mother had to stay at home. ‘Oh, Tony…’ she sobbed.
To be continued…

Sorry, Lavinia. I really had to cut this short. Bit more upbeat next week please? Ed.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Peggy visits Helen, elves visit the wood and Rob tells fairytales: a week of intrigue in Ambridge

Fame beckons for Borsetshire’s bard

Bert Fry, the popular ‘Borsetshire Laureate’, is to star in his own TV show after being talent-spotted at Hollowtree Farm.
‘We were there with Evie Thorn-Davies to do a piece about hens living in a caravan,’ said Tarquin Chase-Ratings, director of the production company behind Good Look at Borsetshire. ‘Evie was chatting up the farmer – smarmy guy called Toby something – and there was a pushy kid – Jock? Josh? – who kept trying to get into shot.
‘But I got chatting to this marvellous old chap who’d made a ridiculous egg-mobile and a Romany caravan for the hens, all with a couple of old axles and some cheap veneer. Then he showed me his poems and suddenly I thought: “Tarquin, there’s your BAFTA, right there!”  DIY and poetry – never been done before; a star in his 80s – ticking the Mary Berry box – and it’s all rural and sustainable. Like Fred Dibnah only greener. Pure telly gold!’
Mr Chase-Ratings said he was keen for his people to talk to Bert’s people as soon as possible and hoped to get ‘Build it with Bert the Bard’ on our screens by the autumn. 

Holistic entrepreneur claims therapy ‘miracle’

Kate Madikane, whose holistic spa at Home Farm in Ambridge opens shortly, (really? This century? Ed) says she will be offering a unique ‘text therapy’ that is already seeing results.
‘It was like, so amazing,’ said Ms Madikane. ‘My friend Lynda Snell had this terrible allergic reaction to something and had booked a ‘Healing Hands Experience’ – only £60, to include a glass of hemp juice.
‘But she’d sent me a selfie of her rash and to be honest, I didn’t fancy getting my hands on it. And anyway, I was at a meeting with a cool guy who makes vegan Prosecco, so I couldn’t drive back.
‘Then suddenly I felt a powerful healing vibe and I knew I could transmit it to Lynda. So I texted her! All I said was ‘Stuck in Waterley Cross, sorry, XX.’ But I just knew that would be enough. It’s like homeopathy, only more modern, and easier to spell.
‘Obviously, Lynda hasn’t actually seen any improvement yet. But as soon as she goes to the pharmacy and gets some weapons-grade anti-histamines, she’ll be right as rain.’
Ms Madikane says she plans to offer ‘text-therapy’ to all her guests. ‘That way, I can lie on a beach in Goa and send healing vibes, without lifting a finger. Win-win!’

Planners bring out the big guns against elves

Borsetshire Planning enforcement officers say they are ‘very concerned’ about illegal building works in the Ambridge Millennium Wood (note to subs: call it the Aldridge Wood or we’ll never hear the end of it from Jennifer. Ed.)
‘Officers had a tip-off that a rogue development code-named “Elftown” was being built in the wood,’ said a council spokesperson, Anna Stopp-Notice.
‘When we investigated, we found that this was in fact a model village built by Mr Ed Grundy of Grange Farm for his daughter Keira. Apparently her little face lit up when she saw it.
‘However, the principle is clear; the Ambridge (Aldridge. Ed) Millennium Wood is strictly protected from any development. And we were very concerned when we heard that Mr Grundy and his family may soon be made homeless. The next thing you know, those elves will be out on their ear and illegal dwellings will go up instead.’ 
Ms Stopp-Notice said worried residents must not take unilateral action against development. ‘We understand that the wood’s owner, Mr Brian Aldridge, has threatened to blast the settlement with a ‘teeny tiny gamekeeper with a teeny tiny gun,’ she said. ‘Those are not our methods but rest assured we will be making full use of our powers under the law.’

Fairytale fun for all the family

Children aged between four and seven are invited to Borchester Library at half-term, to hear some much-loved fairy tales given a modern twist.
The free story-telling session is hosted by Rob Titchener, who says he came up with the idea while telling stories to his own son, Henry, five.
‘It struck me that we can use fairy tales, which children love, to help shape their experience of the world,’ he said. ‘For instance, it’s not widely known that in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, nasty Mummy Bear hits lovely Daddy Bear over the head with the porridge pot in front of Baby Bear. Daddy Bear has to go to hospital and Mummy Bear goes away to be made nice again, but it isn’t Daddy Bear’s fault.
‘And the Big Bad Wolf is only trying to protect Little Red Riding Hood from her evil grandmother, who is called Pat. He only eats her up so he can look after Little Red Riding Hood all on his own.
‘I’m now unemployed and disabled, so I have time on my hands and feel I should give something back,’ said Mr Titchener.

The Trials of Peggy Woolley

In the latest chapter of our romantic serial, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine finds her reserves of courage tested as never before…

‘Oh Peggy, you’ve no idea how terrible things are!’ Pat’s face was red and blotchy and she was sobbing noisily; Bill was already under the sofa, his paws over his ears. ‘I had to get Tony to help me make cheese, and he was rubbish at it. And Fallon and Emma don’t even want any of Tom’s sausages midweek. I don’t think I can cope much longer!’
As usual, Peggy surveyed her daughter-in-law with a mixture of affection and irritation. If only she hadn’t come along and turned Tony’s head with her organic Welsh wiles, things might have been so different. But not even Pat deserved this torment. ‘Look dear, calm down,’ she soothed. ‘You’ll make yourself ill. That wouldn’t help Helen – and I don’t think the paramedics would come here again, after the false alarm with Christine’s dentures.’
Pat blew her nose loudly; Bill fled up the stairs. ‘You’re right Peggy; but what can I do?’ ‘Don’t worry dear. Remember, I survived the Blitz, and I have my investment – erm, I mean my family – to protect! Leave it to me!’  
Peggy managed to keep up a calm front as she saw Pat out, but inwardly she was in turmoil. She knew what she had to do… but was she up to it? And what would she wear?


Drawing herself up to her full height, Peggy straightened her suit and stalked through the barred gate, ushered by a stern warden. She couldn’t help hearing the giggling girls behind her: ‘Is that the Queen Mother? I thought she was dead!’
And they’d made her take her hat off. Such an indignity… but it was worth it, for Helen. The visiting room was harshly-lit and noisy, and she peered through the crowd. Had Helen got her message? Yes, here she was, her yellow tabard straining over her bump, which looked enormous on her slight frame. ‘Oh Gran!’ Helen’s eyes filled with tears as Peggy gave her the single permitted kiss on the cheek. ‘I hate you seeing me here – and I can’t even offer you a scone!’ ‘Don’t you worry dear; no scones in the Blitz, you know! Now, tell me how you are…’

On the way home, Peggy reflected on how right she’d been to worry so much about Helen. Why was she so desperate to keep Henry and the new baby ‘safe’ from Rob? It didn’t make sense, unless… it didn’t bear thinking about.
‘’Listen dear,’ she’d told her granddaughter. ‘Pat and Tony are doing everything they can, making a new batch of Borsetshire Blue, and Henry is fine. You must go to the mother and baby unit, and you have just one job to do there.’
Helen’s eyes widened. ‘Make flapjacks for the fete? I don’t think they’ll let me…’
‘No, Helen. You must remember you are an Archer woman, and Archer women are strong. Just like in the Blitz, when I managed to get the last bit of blackout curtain in the shop. I will bring that spirit to support you now. But you must fight. Fight for your children. Can you do that, Helen?’
Could she do it? As Peggy gazed on the rain-lashed train window, she wondered…

To be continued…. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Helen makes a plea, Pat makes an error and Miranda makes her entrance… a dramatic week in Ambridge

Village rallies round accused Ambridge mum…

Friends and family of Helen Titchener are launching a bold campaign to have her freed on bail by rebranding next month’s Open Farm Sunday as Open Jail Sunday.
‘We are all devastated that Helen was refused bail, especially as she finally listened to me and pleaded not guilty,’ said her brother Tom Archer of Bridge Farm.
‘But to be honest, it’s tough juggling a sister in prison with planting cabbages, keeping the pigs under control and eating up all the surplus stock from the shop. There’s only so many stale flapjacks you can stuff in when you haven’t got Jazzer the Human Hoover to help out. 
‘Luckily, people have rallied round to help promote our produce AND campaign for Helen. Open Jail Sunday attractions will include:
• ‘Frees-her Packs’ of Hereford beef from Brookfield
• ‘Hay, Bail Helen’ tractor rides round Bridge Farm
• Souvenir pens with the slogan ‘Our hens aren’t penned in; why is Helen?’ (sponsored by Josh Archer and the Fairbrothers)
• Karaoke featuring ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’ and ‘Tie a Custard-Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ hosted by Jolene Archer and Wayne Tucson)
• Goody bag with a slice of Jill Archer’s lemon drizzle cake containing a miniature marzipan file.

… but her mother must stay at home

In other shock news, Mr Archer revealed that Helen’s mother Pat can have no further contact with her daughter as she will be called as a prosecution witness at the trial, which is scheduled for Sept 5. ‘Of course, mum regrets telling DS Madeley about Helen threatening to kill Rob, after she’d been warned not to by our lawyer,’ he said. ‘But these things happen. And at the bail hearing, mum made sure Helen knew she was there for her, by miming that it didn’t matter that she hadn’t washed her hair.’

 Hens’ holiday nearly comes to a sticky end

A local poultry business faced closure this week as a flock of high-welfare hens was threatened with slaughter by DEFRA officials.
‘It was all going so well,’ said Rex Fairbrother of Hollowtree. ‘Josh Archer had posted pictures of our hens in their temporary caravan home on Facebook, and pretty soon ‘Hens on Holiday’ had gone viral. We were flooded with enquiries for our pastured eggs, and local TV wanted to come and film.
‘But someone must have heard my brother Toby in the pub, shouting about ‘viral hens’. The next thing you know, we were raided by guys dressed like Star Wars Stormtroopers, with a warrant to test the flock for bird flu! They were about to cull the whole lot until I showed them it was all a marketing stunt and our hens are disease-free.’
‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused, but we can’t afford to take risks with public health,’ said a DEFRA spokesperson. ‘However, with the referendum coming up, staff have had special training to distinguish between BSE (Britain Stronger in Europe) and mad cow disease.’

Sun shines on May Day celebrations

Ambridge residents turned out in force for the traditional May Day celebrations on the village green on Monday. The Ambridge Observer was there to report on the fun:
• Keira Grundy (five): ‘I did the May pole dancing and Mum said I was so good she might take me for proper lessons. Granny Clarrie said I was light on my feet. I said was that like Uncle Alf having light fingers and she said be quiet Keira.’
• Bert Horrobin (85): ‘I’m looking for a box of stuff that our Susan shouldn’t never have taken for the jumble sale. It had things what were of sentimental value. Like two vases I won on the shooting gallery at Borchester Mop Fair in 1986. Chinese-looking they were, have you seen them?’
• Henry Titchener (five): ‘I wanted a Coke but Granny Ursula said I had to have apple juice. I hate apple juice but she said don’t make a scene Henry, you know what happens. Granddad took me to see a kingfisher. It was beautiful and I saw the mummy catch a fish and smash it and kill it dead. But Aunty Kirsty said it might have been the daddy.’ 

Croxley crushes crocked cricketers

The Ambridge Cricket Club First X1 put up a dismal showing against Little Croxley on Sunday, losing by 10 wickets and demonstrating just how much they are missing last season’s key players.
‘It was tough, with Tom Archer and Johnny Phillips unavailable, and Charlie Thomas just a distant memory,’ said captain Adam Macy, clearly emotional. ‘We had to borrow the opposition’s 12th man and even with Bartleby in the outfield, and Barry Simmons exploding crisp packets as a distraction tactic, we were completely outclassed.’
‘The lads were looking forward to playing Rob Titchener – a general all-round hero and great coach to the young players,’ said Little Croxley captain Andy Legge-Spinner. ‘But he wasn’t in the team. Has something happened to him?
'Anyway, we tried to be sporting when that old guy in the yellow kit – David Archer, is it? – bruised his hand. We offered to play blindfold and bowl with scones. But Ambridge could still only manage 21 all out.  It’s a shame.’

At home with… Miranda Elliott

In the first of a new series, Miranda Elliott – socialite, horsewoman and wife of Damara Capital chairman Justin Elliott – graciously invites us into the Dower House, the power couple’s new home in Ambridge.

‘I was delighted to hear that Justin had rented this little bolthole; Ambridge isn’t exactly Chipping Norton, but it’s quite picturesque. And the planners are still being difficult about digging out the basement of our London house to provide an equestrian centre for my beloved Prince Dimitri Excalibur. Ghastly people.
‘So here we are! I must say, the little woman Justin found to do the house up – Gillian? Sylvia? – wasn’t quite what I expected. Fussing around as if she owned the place! And over-familiar with Justin, although frankly too old to be a worry…
‘Anyway, she’d found some lovely pieces, like this tiger maple table, and the two Chinese vases in the fireplace. Apparently she sourced them locally, and they’re particularly fine.
‘But there was far too much clutter; on that console table she’d put a load of old pottery she claimed was “Borsetshire slipware”. I said to Justin: ‘You can slip it straight in the skip!’ I must say, he didn’t see the joke. And a hideous yellow armchair was lurking in that corner. Thankfully, he took it off to his study.  
‘Of course, you have to lower your standards in the country. But I had to put my foot down when a hawker turned up in a van the other evening. This ‘Eddie Grundy’ (what a name! Talk about Thomas Hardy!) claimed Lilian had told him we were in the market for any old tat! Started bringing out wooden owls, plaster squirrels – the stuff of nightmares.
‘For some reason, Justin seemed to find this little charade quite amusing. I think the country air must be softening his brain. The sooner I get back to Chelsea, the better.’

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Henry goes home, Jazzer moves in and Helen gets mail – a frustrating week in Ambridge

Archer family in tug-of-love battle blow

At an emergency Family Court hearing this week, a judge ruled that Henry Titchener, five, must stay with his father Rob Titchener, pending further reports.
Stephen Knowhart, Mr Titchener’s solicitor, argued successfully that his client had full parental rights over Henry and that these took precedence over his relationship with his maternal grandparents, Tony and Pat Archer.
Mr Titchener, who is still recovering from knife wounds, was too ill to attend court but was said to be ‘pleased’ with the decision. His mother Ursula said: ‘Henry is happy with his daddy. He thinks his mummy is on holiday. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.’   
Pat Archer said she was ‘appalled’ by the decision and that the family would appeal as soon as possible. ‘Rob practically kidnapped Henry, and then said such terrible things about Helen,’ she said. ‘She is devastated that Rob has Henry. Unfortunately, she still won’t say what happened between her and Rob. Her barrister says she is too distressed to talk. But I’m beginning to think I may have been wrong to think the sun shone out of Rob's anaerobic digester.’ 

‘Write to help save Helen’, mother appeals

Ambridge residents are being urged to write to Helen Titchener to support her during her time on remand. ‘She is refusing visitors, but Helen’s barrister, Anna Tregorran, says letters from home are an important way to keep her in touch,’ said Pat Archer. ‘If people send letters to me at Bridge Farm, I’ll make sure Helen gets them. Although she probably won’t reply, as they’re keeping her away from sharp objects like pencils.’
As an example, Mrs Archer has kindly shared some of the letters Helen is set to receive this week:

Dear Helen,

Mum was doing the AI this morning and suddenly I thought of you - oh, sorry. I'm so, so sorry you’re in that awful prison. If I couldn’t stride up Lakey Hill with the wind in my hair and look down on Brookfield every day, I think I’d kill myself! Oh, sorry. Anyway, did I tell you I’ve bought some lovely cows? From my friend Ashley’s father in Penny Hassett. I drove such a hard bargain, he said I was trying to stitch him up – oops, sorry. But back to you Helen; we’re all thinking about you and hope you’ll be home soon. I know what it’s like to be so far from loved ones; I miss my Matthew sooooooo much!! Oh, sorry. Anyway, must go now! Take care, Love Pip xx.

Dear Helen,

We don’t know each other very well, but Pip Archer (isn’t she terrific!) said you wouldn’t mind me writing. The thing is, my brother Toby and I are launching a new brand of ‘pastured eggs’, which are high-welfare and a premium price, and I’m not sure what to call them. So far I’ve got ‘Upper Class Eggs Laid by Landed Poultry’. Pip – she is SO clever –  says you’ve got a real flair for retail and some time on your hands, so I’m reaching out to you. What do you think? I’d be really grateful for your feedback! Hope all’s well with you, best wishes, Rex Fairbrother. 

Dear Helen,

Everyone at The Stables sends their love (well, Jim’s moved back home now and I never see Alistair or Dan, but you know what I mean) and I’m praying for you daily, whenever I have a spare minute from organising the May Day jumble sale. People are saying they can’t understand why you …. well, you know …. but I’ve seen another side to Rob. I was there when he hit that hunt saboteur and made me lie to the police about it. Of course, I can’t say anything now; what would the Army think if Dan’s mum had perjured herself? But I’m sure the truth will come out somehow and you’ll soon be home. Much love, Shula.

Dear Helen,

We were all so sorry to hear that Henry has to stay with Rob and Ursula, but rest assured, when he’s at Bridge Farm on Sundays, we’ll go over and make a big fuss of him! In fact, I’m sure you’d love to hear about something wonderful I saw in the Millennium Wood. An elfin grotto! It has a little door into a room with a tiny table and chairs. Someone must have put so much work into it. Brian said I must have used some of Kate’s special mushrooms in the risotto but I know what I saw – and I’ll take Henry to see it just as soon as I can. Take care and stay strong.
Your very fond aunt, Jennifer.

PS Kate sends her love and says would you like a dreamcatcher for your… well, for your cell, darling. Just say the word!


Expert workmanship – now with added Grundy guarantee!

Do you worry that your shepherd’s hut will fall apart, your patio will flood or your garden gnome’s fishing rod will fall off?
Of course you do – that’s the mark of Grundy workmanship!
But now you need worry no more, thanks to Eddie’s Extended Warranty!
Once your job’s done, all you have to do is pay an extra £10 a month – for a year, two years or as long as you like!
Then, once something goes wrong– as it surely will – I’ll come and fix it for you, and charge no more than standard prices (subject to call-out charges, unexpected extras and VAT).
You won’t find a fairer deal anywhere in Borsetshire. So for the Grundy guarantee on YOUR next project, call us now!
(Note to subs: run this past Trading Standards before accepting advert. Ed).

Showing this week at Ambridge Rural Cinema : The Odd Couple

What happens when a crusty, classically educated curmudgeon meets a whiffy, witty pigman? Yes, it’s the return of the popular franchise ‘Jazzer and Jim’! In this latest instalment, Jim Lloyd reluctantly allows Jazzer McCreery to move back into newly refurbished Greenacres, and Jazzer swears he’s changed from hellraiser to ‘house elf’. To start with, it’s all shared pints at The Bull and cosy afternoons watching Countdown. But how long before Jim sees red over a tide of empty pizza boxes and dirty overalls? One thing is certain – it’ll be bantz all the way with Borsetshire’s funniest bromance!