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.



  1. The last paragraph is a gem. But not nearly enough shrill screaming for Pat really. Can you up the angst ration next time please? Credibility is everything.

    I've bought Tony some organic locally sourced humanely reared ear plugs well in advance.

    1. That's very thoughtful of you Cathy. I suspect Tony will be moving into a camp bed in the barn if it gets much worse...

  2. Oh what a lovely, amusing light in the darkness these articles are. I enjoy them so much. Thank you again. :D

    1. Most kind, Athena. Thank you - and for your comment on Facebook too. Much appreciated :-)

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