Sunday, 14 August 2016

Anna is frustrated, Shula is tormented, Rob is thwarted: a deeply disturbing week in Ambridge

Parish council puts paid to elves

In an extra-ordinary meeting this week, Ambridge parish councillors voted unanimously to support the following recommendation:
‘That the owners of the facility known as ElfWorld on Grundys Field shall be required to remove all plastic dayglo signage on the village green, the hand-painted bedsheet sign on the highway, and the advertising hoarding reading ‘Ambridge twinned with ElfWorld’ on the village boundary.’
The Clerk noted that Messrs Joe and Eddie Grundy had agreed to co-operate with the order
and accepted that their tourist attraction was no longer viable.  
‘Some of us felt a bit sorry for Joe and Eddie,’ said one councillor. ‘But ElfWorld couldn’t go on as it was. Joe’s idea to turn the grotto into a cottage hospital was a nightmare. Children were screaming with fright, their parents’ Volvos were getting stuck in the mud and Environmental Health were all over us.’
‘It’s true; ElfWorld has gone down the plughole,’ said Eddie Grundy. ‘But Dad isn’t taking it lying down. He’s got the elves stashed away somewhere, and he’s busy writing a play called “George Grundy and the Sycamore-Cursed Child”. There might be something in it, you never know.’

New series: Ask Aunty Satya

Are you struggling with a moral dilemma or stuck on a point of etiquette? With her warm-hearted wisdom and forensic legal skills, Usha Franks’s favourite aunty has the answers!

Dear Aunty Satya,
My granddaughter’s heart was broken recently, yet she is having a passionate relationship with a most unsuitable young man and when I tactfully asked her about it, she said it was ‘just a summer fling’. This young man’s father was a cad and I am worried about my granddaughter’s welfare. What would you advise? Jill A.

Dear Jill,
At times like this it is often wise to look to the ways of our ancestors. Perhaps you could take this young man on one side and threaten him with a shotgun. Or contact his father and urge him to cut his son off without a penny. But youngsters today are very headstrong. You may find it more effective to follow them around and burst in saying: ‘Hello you two!’ whenever they are alone.

Dear Aunty Satya,
I was desperate to confess to perverting the course of justice in order to help my cousin, who is facing a charge of attempted murder. But her lawyer tells me because I lied to the police once, I am an unreliable witness and my evidence about my cousin’s violent husband is inadmissible. I feel I need to be punished. What can I do? Shula H-L.

Dear Shula,
I believe there are places where ladies who feel they have been naughty can go to be chastised; my niece Usha once defended a gentleman who ran a ‘dungeon’ in Cricklewood, I think it was. But I digress. Dwelling on the past is unhealthy for your spirit. If you meditate on your present life – at your absent son, dull husband, thankless job and unrealised dreams of romance – you may well conclude you are being punished enough already.

Dear Aunty Satya,
I am running a business with my brother and reluctantly I have had to admit to myself that he is an an arrogant, lazy, selfish leech who is more interested in chasing skirt than being responsible at work or looking after his family. Our father recently had a heart attack and he has refused point-blank to help. Do you have any advice? Rex F.

Dear Rex,
I think if you read through your letter again, my dear, you will find you have answered your own question.

Dear Aunty Satya,
The legal case I am working on is giving me sleepless nights. A key witness – my client’s husband’s first wife – has refused to testify; my client still won’t tell me what really happened to her; her brother can only think about his Nuffield scholarship and my own mother is driving me mad, fussing over me. How can I make progress? Anna T.

Dear Anna,
In a difficult situation we should turn to family. When Usha was working on a tough case I made sure I was always there with a pot of tea and a pile of pakoras. I would recommend you take your mother’s good advice and eat your muesli. You cannot fight a devious psychopath with low blood sugar.  

The Trials of Rob Titchener

In the latest chapter of our summer saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero struggles with turbulent emotions as events begin to spin out of his control…

‘Congratulations captain – first round’s on me!’ Rob slapped Burns on the shoulder. PC Plod  lacked the Titchener will to beat Darrington at any cost, but at least he’d had the wit to take Rob’s advice.
‘Um, well actually Harrison, we’ve got plans…’ Fallon whispered urgently in her boyfriend’s ear, obviously making up some lie. Rob felt the pulse throbbing in his head. To think he’d forced himself to praise her grubby little tea room. Ungrateful cow.
‘No worries mate! We’ll have one for you, won’t we lads?’ But the rest of the team seemed to take their cue from their captain, making excuses and hurrying off. Suppressing his irritation, Rob burst into the changing room, where Adam Macy was still towelling himself off. ‘Adam! Come for a drink. Bring Ian!’ ‘I’m sorry Rob. You might as well know Ian’s agreed to be a character witness for Helen. So to be honest….’
Adam’s cool gaze was more than Rob could bear. Using every ounce of strength he had not to strike the man, he spat: ‘Honest? Your lot don’t know the meaning of the word!’
He turned on his heel, ignoring Adam’s outraged reaction, red clouds of anger swirling in his head….  


‘Henry. Stop that!’ Rob clenched his hands on the steering wheel. ‘I said stop kicking the seat, or I’ll take your new tablet away.’ ‘You said we were going to see Granny Ursula!’ the boy whined. ‘But I told you, we’re seeing an old friend of mine first. Now be patient.’
Damn. Where was she? Typical of her to mess him around, even if she wasn’t expecting him. At last, a woman and a buggy came out of the house with the red gate. Rob quietly put the  car into gear and followed her to the park. Once he’d had a word with Jess and baby Ethan, she’d be clear on what to say to that bitch Anna Tregorran…


‘OK Henry, let’s play the game one more time before we get home. What do you say to the nice social worker tomorrow, when she asks you about living with me?’
Rob kept an eye on the little boy in the rear view mirror as he recited his lines like a nursery rhyme.  
‘Daddy gives me sweets. Daddy lets me play in the mud. Daddy plays cricket. Daddy buys me a tablet with apps on. I have lots and lots of fun with Daddy and not with anyone else. Not Grandma Pat with her nasty food. Not dirty Emma. Not bad Mummy. Is that right Daddy? Can I have pizza afterwards?’
‘Yes Henry, you certainly can. Good boy.’ For the first time all week, Rob felt relaxed…

To be continued…

Recipe of the week

Cheers to Alistair Lloyd for sending us this celebration cocktail recipe. ‘Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make my wife Shula’s birthday party at The Bull as I was busy transporting veterinary-standard paperclips from Penny Hassett to The Stables,’ he said.
‘But I asked her twin Kenton to whip up this cheeky cocktail for her.’ Sounds like it packs a punch, Alistair!

St Shula’s Martyrita

1 large glass whine
1 measure tomartyr juice
1 measure dry martyrini
1 egg-white-on-face
Plenty of bitters

Mix all the ingredients together. Pour into an Old Fashioned glass, garnish with a sour cherry, top up with ice and drink through the last straw.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

I must protest in the strongest terms about your report of our beloved dog Scruff’s funeral service last week. I can’t imagine where your so-called journalist got his facts (although the fact that Scruff’s former owner couldn’t even be bothered to attend his memorial speaks volumes in my opinion. Shocking.)
Anyway, far from the disrespectful parodies of hymns you list, Robert read a very moving poem by John Galsworthy, and we played Enigma Variation #11, which was inspired by a bulldog called Dan. This was a thoughtful link to Scruff’s former owner’s son, which she completely ignored. And this from a pillar of St Stephen’s.
Please print a prominent correction at your earliest convenience.

Yours faithfully (unlike Scruff’s former owner)

Mrs Lynda Snell

We have apologised to Mrs Snell for any distress caused by our report, and have made a donation to the Eternal Paws Pet Crematorium in recognition of the fine work they do. Ed.     


  1. Oh, just wonderful. More Auntie Satya please. Followed by St Shula Martyritas..

    1. A big jug of Martyritas all round... with extra anguishtura bitters (courtesy of the brilliant @felisstee on Twitter)

  2. Are you absolutely sure Aunty Satya's still with us. Although her advice from beyond the grave would still be priceless.

    1. Happy to confirm that Aunty Satya is very much with us and we are in discussions with her agent about a regular column!

  3. Eavesdropping on Rob's inner monologue is about as appetising as watching the internal footage of his last colonoscopy. However, being privy to his inner thoughts has become a strangely addictive attraction, and I can only ask for MORE! Keep it up!

    1. After accessing Rob's inner thoughts Lavinia always asks for extra gin to help her recover...

  4. Simply brilliant, particularly drinking the Martyrini cocktail through the last straw.

  5. Had one too many martyritas there David? Thank you!!

  6. The Observer is BRILLIANT! I'm a first-time visitor to the site, but I'll be a regular from now on! How do I join in the fun?

    1. Hi BristolMagpie, thank you and welcome aboard! You can sign up by email to have the Ambridge Observer delivered to your inbox every week - saves missing an issue... see the box, above right.

  7. Brilliant as ever, loved the Shula wringing and cocktails!

  8. Brilliant as ever, loved the Shula wringing and cocktails!

    1. Thanks very much Darren; hope you've rustled up a Martyrita or two...

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  10. Since ElfWorld went underground, it's been growing stronger by the day. It's a home from home for elves - as Eddie intended it would be. The elves all seem to be doing well, when there's no busy body imps around.

    The elves' best move was to make fiction of their true identities and whereabouts so none of the stories about what goes on in ElfWorld can be successfully challenged by the likes of neighbouring farmers, local councils and tellers of big film tales.

    Eddie's happy that his good ideas will surface in good time but like Willy Wonker, he's a bit concerned about his cider making secrets going astray. There's no telling what'll happen in the future but he wants to hand over his recipe to someone he can trust and there's no doubt that elves are trustworthy ones. The Elves aren't exactly Oompa-Loompas rescued from a violently dangerous and terrible country but nevertheless, Eddie feels that they are Earth spirits and could easily go extinct if their field environment was upset or they lost their revenue stream.

    As a safeguard, rumour is that Eddie's been raising a bit of funding for ElfWorld by writing and selling Elf Books for children. His aim is to raise enough to keep their home preserved and safely away from any future developers.

    1. Grant, I think this is a masterly analysis. Let's hope Eddie is as creative as you, and that his ventures are richly rewarded!