Saturday, 26 November 2016

Rob’s got a grievance, Pip’s got the blues and David’s got a problem: a wild week in Ambridge

 Snell reveals exclusive pantomime previews 

With rehearsals under way for Mother Goose, producer Lynda Snell has released some exclusive extracts of the pantomime in advance. ‘Tasting sessions seem to be all the rage this season,’ she said. ‘Eddie and Joe Grundy are inviting people to try their Borsetshire Beauty single-variety cider, and Toby Fairbrother is being generous with free samples of his gin – which he’s naming Scruff, isn’t that lovely?
‘So I thought, why not have a taster session of the pantomime? I wrote it, and it’s all in rhyme!’ (Oh God, I hope it’s better than that. Ed.)

Act 1 Scene 4

Colin (Tom Archer) meets Colinette (Kirsty Miller) in the orchard.

Colin: Oh Colinette you are so fair,
I bet that you would never dare
To leave your pa and marry me!

Colinette: ‘Not likely, sunshine; once before
You jilted me at the church’s door
And never will I love you more.
(That night after the trial didn’t count.)

Act 1 Scene 6

Queen Eleonora of Gooseland (Susan Carter) tries on a new gown.

Eleonora: Mirror, mirror, tell me, pray
Does this dress have too much décolleté?
If so, there is no help I fear
But to stick stars on like we did last year…

Act 2 Scene 3

The Good Fairy (Lilian Bellamy) is helping the Demon Squire (Justin Elliott) with his accounts

Good Fairy: Sire, please tell your servant Rob
To go away and shut his gob
For he has learned of our affair
And I fear will lay our secret bare!

Demon Squire: Fairy dearest, do not fret
I’ll have the better of him yet.
Or we both risk a sharp back-hander
From my not-so-understanding wife, Miranda.

Act 2 Scene 4

Comedy Bailiff 1 (Eddie Grundy) is at home with Comedy Bailiff Wife (Clarrie Grundy)

Comedy Bailiff 1: The proudest moment of my life
Was to bring you home as my dear wife.
Thirty five years have gone so fast –
To think your dad said it wouldn’t last!

Comedy Bailiff Wife: ‘Yes, dearest, it was such a treat
For you to whisk me off my feet
And take me to Barmouth in the van.
You can still surprise me, you lovely man!’

Act 2 Scene 5

The Squire’s Man (Rob Titchener) visits the Holy Friar (Alan Franks)

Squire’s Man: Now look here, my friendly Friar
My wife’s made me out to be a liar!
The doctor’s report says I’m to blame –
Women and Archers – they’re all the same!

Holy Friar: I would advise, try to forgive,
Change your ways, live and let live –

Squire’s Man: Enough with all your platitudes!
I’m sick of Ambridge attitudes!
You’re all against me, that is plain –
But I’ll get my boys back again! Mwah ha ha ha ha!

*Squire’s Man disappears through the floor in a puff of sulphurous smoke.

That’s enough pantomime extracts. Ed.


The Trials of Pip Archer

In the latest chapter of our romantic saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine is forced to choose between family ties and a wild passion over which she has no control…

Pip looked out of the kitchen window, her arms up to the elbows in suds. Toby was such a mucky pup, getting botanical stains all over his jeans. But looking after her man was easy when he was so good to her. Like when he took that £20 note out of her wallet to buy gin supplies. Didn’t he give her back the change and say ‘Buy yourself something pretty, toots!’? If only her father and grandmother could see how lovely he was! But there was Jill in Brookfield’s kitchen, stirring the Christmas pudding with Josh and waving her wooden spoon crossly at Pip across the yard. ‘I’m beyond all that childish stuff now,’ Pip told herself.
Toby was calling her, with that wicked twinkle in his voice. ‘Hey, gorgeous! Something’s come up and it needs your attention right now!’ Giggling, Pip dried her hands and headed for the bedroom…    

‘I’m telling you Pip, it’s no go!’ Adam’s anguished face was wet with the rain that was lashing down on the pasture. Even the cows seemed to catch his mood, chomping listlessly on the sodden grass. ‘But what do you mean, Adam? We’ve spent so much time and money on the mob grazing and the herbal leys!’
‘I know, Pip!’ Adam yelled over the gale. ‘We’re pioneering here, trying a viable alternative to the unsustainable high-input arable methods that underpin the current system, keeping management costs low and enriching the soil while improving measurable outcomes such as healthy stock growth!’        
‘That’s easy for you to say!’ Pip was beside herself. ‘But it’s Brian we need to convince. Why won’t he listen?’ Adam spat back at her. ‘Because he doesn’t want to be an airy-fairy half-baked woolly guinea pig. Can you believe it? Face it, kid. We were out there, changing the world, for a moment. But it’s over.’
Watching him roar back down the field on his quad bike, Pip got out her phone and called Toby. Now, more than ever, she needed the love and support of her chosen life-partner. ‘Hey there, it’s Tobes – I’m out having far more fun than you are! But leave a message if you owe me money…’   Pip rang off without speaking. Tears mixing with the rain on her face, she began shifting the electric fence…


‘See Pip? Dr Fairbrother always knows what works!’ She could just hear Toby above the noise of the bar, but smiled to hear the warmth in his voice. No wonder he didn’t answer earlier; he was out marketing Ambridge Aerial Films to a group of art students, and then visiting some small local distilleries! Why couldn’t her family see this side of him – the hard-working, diligent Toby she loved? ‘Tell you what babe,’ he purred. ‘I’ll order a Thai now then you can pay when they deliver it, OK gorgeous? No, not you Annabel! Sorry about that Pip, gotta go!’
Later that evening, when Toby finally got home, Pip warmed up his Tom Kha Gai and they had curled up on the sofa to watch one of his favourite action movies, when suddenly there was a hammering at the door. ‘Pip. Pip!! Open up!’ ‘Dad!’ she cried, letting him in. ‘What’s wrong? Has Gran lost her special mixing bowl again?’ But he wasn’t listening, his eyes wild, fists flailing as he pushed past her. ‘Did you really think I wouldn’t find out, you low-life waste of space?’ he roared at Toby. ‘Thinking you could set up a still and sell gin in my brother’s pub? How stupid are you?’
‘But Dad, it’s not what you think – we’re going to get a licence!’ Pip pleaded with her furious parent. ‘Yeah, cool your jets, daddio – we’re going legit once we’ve had a few more tastings,’ said Toby, smiling. ‘Sit down, try some Toby Gin!’
David’s contorted face, already red, turned a frightening shade of purple. ‘All I’m saying is Pip, you get rid of that still or I give you notice to quit Rickyard. Simple as that.’ He turned on his heel and left the cottage, slamming the door. ‘Blimey!’ Toby said. ‘Don’t worry babe; he’ll be fine. Look – the best bit’s coming up.’ He sat down and patted the sofa next to him. But Pip remained standing, looking out towards Brookfield. The freezing wind David had let into the cottage made her shiver…
To be continued…          

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Lynda makes peace, Rob makes tracks and Toby makes a plan… a week of many parts in Ambridge

Snell tipped for leading Brexit role

An Ambridge resident has been approached to join the team of top civil servants and diplomats preparing for the UK’s exit from the European Union, the Ambridge Observer can exclusively reveal.
Whitehall headhunters have been tasked with securing Lynda Snell’s services for the years of tough negotiations with Europe that lie ahead.
‘The word has come down from Downing Street,’ said an anonymous insider. ‘The PM heard how Mrs Snell has rescued the Ambridge pantomime – persuading the Grundys and the Carters to take part when they’d flatly refused, stalking Kenton Archer until he finally agreed to play Mother Goose, and even flattering Justin Elliott into taking on the Demon Squire. Mrs May said that compared to talking Susan Carter out of a fit of pique, hammering out trade deals with 27 separate countries will be a walk in the park.’
Commenting from Ambridge Village Hall, where rehearsals for Mother Goose started this week, Mrs Snell said she was ‘honoured’ by the opportunity, but would turn it down. ‘I cannot leave the production at this crucial stage,’ she said. ‘If I turn my back for five minutes, Kate will let the Button sisters and Nathan Booth give us their version of ‘Two Ladies’ from Cabaret. And that will never happen on my watch. I’m afraid Brexit will just have to wait.’

New vet sparks controversial business plan

Much-loved pets and prize livestock may come back to life many years into the future if a new Ambridge business venture takes off as planned.
Joe and Eddie Grundy of Grange Farm are to set up a cryogenics facility, where animals will be deep-frozen until veterinary science is able to cure their diseases.   
‘It was our new vet, Anisha Jayakodi, put us onto it,’ said Eddie Grundy. ‘She reckons she can cure Bartleby’s arthritis by putting his blood in a blender and injecting it back into him, or some such. That got us thinking about medical miracles, and then we saw a film about cryogenics on the telly and we thought, why not? We’ve already got Clarrie’s old freezer in the cider shed and we can pick up plenty more at the tip.’
Eddie’s father Joe said he thought local people would value the service. ‘I’d like to think of old Bartleby good as new and chomping apples when I’m long gone,’ he said. ‘And even if it doesn’t work, let’s face it, no one’s going to be around to want their money back, are they?’
Mr Grundy added that as an introductory offer, they would be giving away six bottles of Borsetshire Beauty single-variety cider to each new customer.

New series: Toby Fairbrother’s Lightbulb Moments

There’s no stopping young entrepreneur Toby Fairbrother! He’s so full of money-making schemes (surely ‘full of BS’? Ed) that he’s agreed to share some of his best with readers each week. ‘I’ve got so many ideas I can’t pursue them all,’ he says. ‘So if others can make them work, good luck to them! Except to my brother Rex, of course.’ Toby’s top tips this week are:

• A salad bar for cows
My girlfriend Pip put me onto this. Buy up bags of salad past their sell-by date, spread ‘em in a field and charge farmers to let their cows graze them. Genius.

• Rent-a-cow flash-mob events
Pip came up with this too – what a girl! Load your cows up in a truck and hire them out to add that unforgettable stampede experience to weddings and parties. Brilliant.

• Worm hire
Adam Macy gave me this tip. Farmers like plenty of worms in the soil to show their mates it’s healthy. So before a farm walk or open day, dig up a couple of bucketfuls and sell them on. Job done – handsome profit.

• Speakeasy
OK, this is my big idea, so no nicking this one, chaps! Make some bathtub gin and flavour it with stuff you’ve picked out of a ditch for that ‘hedgerow aroma’. Completely illegal of course, so you have to sell it to people under the table. Which they soon will be. If they don’t go blind or die. Winner!   

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

Channel 4 has just commissioned a new series of its popular reality show, First Dates, and we’re inviting Borsetshire singletons to audition. We’re especially keen to find real ‘hopeless cases’ – people who can’t seem to find love even though their friends try to smarten them up, offer them plenty of good advice and set them up on dating apps when they’re still dithering.
If they’ve got an embarrassing back-story – such as cheating on their wife with their boss in a tent at a music festival – even better. And a cheesy celebrity angle, like maybe someone whose claim to fame is having met the Pet Shop Boys – is  telly gold.  
If you fit the bill, or have a hapless mate who does, please contact Max Pullin-Power at LoveStruck Productions. Cheers! 

At home with… Rob Titchener

It’s all change for man-about-Borsetshire Rob Titchener. The newly appointed manager of Damara Capital’s estates has recently moved into an executive apartment in the exclusive Paranoid Heights development on the Edgeley Road. With a demanding job and two small sons, Rob has his hands full, but graciously took time out to show us round…

Q What made you choose Paranoid Heights for your new home, Rob?

A The location is ideal for work and the apartments are very well appointed – much more in keeping with my executive status. Look at these laminate floors! Stylish, and any spills are easily mopped up. Not like bloodstains in carpet, heh.

Q So was Paranoid Heights your first choice?

A Well, I had my eye on one of Amside’s properties on Hillside. The owner and I share an employer – Justin Elliott of Damara – so I thought it would be a formality, but she wouldn’t rent it to me. Something about upsetting my so-called wife and her family. Lilian made a mistake there. A big mistake. But anyway, that flat was an over-priced rabbit hutch compared to this.

Q How would you describe your interior design style?

A I’m a simple chap; as long as there’s a gun cupboard and a drinks cabinet, I’m happy. My mother got me some fluffy blankets – throws, are they called? I threw them right back, heh!  My wife used to clutter the place up with girly stuff like soft toys for our son. I soon got rid of them too. Mustn’t mollycoddle the boy, I kept telling her.

Q You have three bedrooms here – do you expect to entertain guests often?

A God no. Can’t stand having people round. If mother comes to stay she can sleep on the couch. No, the bedrooms are for my sons, Henry and Gideon. As soon as I regain custody of the boys, I want them to have their own rooms. Look, I’ve started murals for them already – Tony the Bogeyman for Gideon, and Evil Mummy for Henry. Marvellous, aren’t they?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Jazzer advises, Rob needs friends and Freddie tries to fit in: a lively week in Ambridge

Toby plans to make a killing

Farmers concerned about the prospect of a ban on the pesticide glysophate will have nothing to worry about if an Ambridge entrepreneur has his way.
Toby Fairbrother says he has the answer in the form of a new compound he’s discovered that kills all plant life with just one application.
‘To be honest, I started out trying to make gin,’ said Mr Fairbrother, who is developing new business ideas from Rickyard Cottage at Brookfield. ‘But when my girlfriend poured the ‘wash’ into her yucca and it wilted within five seconds, we knew we were onto something. It’s all-natural ingredients, and much easier than gin as no need to faff about with an alcohol licence. We’re planning to call it Toby’s Totally Toxic. Genius!’
Local farmer Brian Aldridge said he was ‘open minded’ about trialling a new pesticide. ‘I’ve drunk enough sauvignon blanc that tasted like weedkiller in my time, so nothing would surprise me,’ he said. ‘And frankly, what my stepson Adam Macy is doing to the crops with his new-fangled ‘no-till’ method of managing the soil is embarrassing. There’s only so much you can blame on slugs.’

Recipe of the Week

Susan Carter of Ambridge View writes: ‘With the party season approaching, I thought readers might like to try this easy diet plan I’ve devised for my husband Neil. We’re having a family photo taken and as we all know, the camera puts on pounds!
‘I’m pleased to say he soon got used to ‘clean eating’, and now he’s over the nausea and dizzy spells he feels like a new man. And so do I! No more ‘chubby hubby’ for me! Mind you, his breath is terrible.’

• Breakfast
A slice of lemon in hot water and a brisk jog round the pig unit

• Snack
Carrot batons

• Lunch
Baby leaf salad open sandwich (one small slice of bread)
Half an orange

• Snack
Celery sticks

• Dinner
Large bowl lentil soup
2 crispbreads (no spread)

Thank you Susan! Next week, Eddie Grundy on ‘How I make sure I get my 5 a day: pasty, pork pie, sausage roll, packet of crisps and pint of cider.’

NEW SERIES: Love lines, with our dating guru

He’s a pig man, a milkman and a legendary ladies’ man! Now Jazzer McCreary shares his top 10 dating tips:

1 when you’re meeting a new lassie, get there first and check out the fire exit. Then you can make a quick getaway if she looks like the back end of a tram.
2 Act mysterious. Don’t talk too much.
3 But look as if you’re listening, even if you’re bored witless, which you will be. Lassies like that.
4 Talk about football if she can get you free tickets. Otherwise, steer clear – and never ever talk about Aston Villa.
5 Lassies are liberated these days so don’t be worried about letting her pay for the drinks.
6 When a lassie looks you up and down, she’s weighing up whether you’d protect her and her wains from a lion. Be lion-ready!
7 But don’t be afraid to show your sensitive side. Tell her how you cried when the Bay City Rollers broke up.
8 As I said to my pal Roy, trust your instinct. If she’s breathing, she’s probably the right one for you. Go for it!
9 Give her one night to dream – she’ll find out the sad truth soon enough. Tell her you’re a Formula 1 driver or a model (that one always works for me, but you need the looks).  
10 When she invites you back to her place, make sure you stay for breakfast. Lassies like that and it saves you the price of a sausage bap.

 Charity appeal

Could you spare a few hours to make a lonely person’s day? The Sir Billy Nomates Charity aims to help those in need with its unique befriending scheme.
People like Rob, for instance. Rob contacted us because he feels unwelcome in the local pub, the cricket team and the village shop. He has lost his home and has even been banned from his favourite hobby, riding out with the South Borsetshire Hunt. And all because his neighbours believe the allegations of domestic violence and abuse made about him in court. They don’t realise that he is the real victim! So now he faces a bleak Christmas in an executive apartment on the Edgeley Road.
Fortunately, Rob has a supportive new boss who can see how his special qualities – tenacity, malice, a violent streak, the ability to bear grudges and a complete lack of shame – are really useful in business.
But although he puts a brave face on it, Rob misses having people around to patronise, bully and share a mirthless laugh with. Could you be one of those people? If so, contact our case-worker, Eva Beene-Hadd. Thank you.

From the message boards

This week, we drop in on the Borchester College Forum,to see what’s got the student body buzzing online:

• Hello chaps, I was wondering if anyone would like to come to Lower Loxley and try out the tree-top walk? It’s quite fun, and Mrs Titcombe would make us hot chocolate afterwards. NewbieFreddie.
• Ha ha in your dreams Downton get back to Eton and (comment removed by moderator).
• Is that Freddie who’s on my Contemporary Urban Environments course? Sounds like you’re creating a white privilege platform on here – take a minute to reflect, dude. ProfGandalf.
• Now now, what’s all this? Freddie’s just trying to fit in, like I had to when I came down from the north and that with my funny accent. Give him a break. He’s not a bad lad. JustJohnny
OK, so you want to know what Cathedral School boys really get up to? You wanna party?
I’ll call my mate Tarquin for supplies – and it won’t be hot chocolate. NewbieFreddie.  
Cool! See you there. Everyone. (Thread reported to Borsetshire Rural Crime Unit).