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…. 


  1. Very amusing, but with a real tear-jerker at the end.

    1. Yes, even grizzled old reporters were wiping their eyes. But whether Peggy got through to Helen remains to be seen...

  2. Very amusing, but with a real tear-jerker at the end.

  3. A tear jersey at the end, but very amusing.

    1. Hello Unknown, I'm not sure what a tear jersey is - sounds like something Ed Grundy would wear. But thanks!

  4. A tear jersey at the end, but very amusing.

    1. Surely a tear jersey, impregnated with sorrow, is Kate Madikane's field of expertise. Knit it, ceremonially burn it, and bingo! No more tears.

  5. Brilliant. So funny and most appreciated. Thank you.

    1. You're very welcome Athena; thank you for reading!

  6. Do you know where I can get organic Welsh wiles? And do you think they are better as a starter or for a light luncheon? Wine suggestions would be much appreciated.