Sunday, 23 April 2017

An election, an engagement and Lizzie at 50: it’s party time in Ambridge!

Election shock: it’s party time!

With this week’s news that a General Election will be held on June 8, we asked some Ambridge residents about their voting intentions: 

Lily Pargetter, Lower Loxley. I’m a few months too young to vote. So annoying! But I’m supporting the Greens because it’s my favourite colour. I wish their logo was sea green, though. Very eco, and it would suit my skin tone. So important when you’re choosing a rosette to wear, don't you think?

Neil Carter, Ambridge View. As chair of Ambridge Parish Council, this general election’s a nightmare for us. We have to go into purdah and that means we can’t make any decisions, like awarding the contract to empty the dog bins on the village green. At this rate the Brownies will be knee-deep by Whitsun.

Emma Grundy, Grange Farm. Another election already? I don’t suppose it will make any difference. We don’t have much politics in Ambridge. We saw our MP in Borchester once. He tried to pick Keira up and she was sick on his suit. Ed and me are saving for a place of our own, but that would take a miracle, not a new Prime Minister.

Toby Fairbrother, Rickyard Cottage. I’d vote for the party that’s best for small business, because I’m trying to find investors for my artisan gin (you don’t know anyone, do you?) But actually, I never got round to registering to vote – don’t like the idea of being pinned down, know what I mean?

Anisha Jayakody, The Stables. It’s Jeremy Corbyn for me. Anyone who’s against fat cats gets my vote. You wouldn’t believe the huge old tabbies who come waddling into my surgery, and that’s just the owners – as I said to Peggy Woolley only the other day.

Justin Elliott, The Dower House. My team and I will be monitoring the markets carefully in the run-up to the election. Businesses like certainty, so it’s Mrs May for me. I like a woman with a good big mandate and I’m not averse to the smack of firm government on the fundamentals. Just ask my fiancée Lilian!   

Coffee break with… Josh Archer

In our series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the high-flying young gun behind a local start-up, Ambridge Farm Machinery.

Q So Josh, tell us about your new business. What gave you the idea?
A Look, if you don’t want the damn tractor, just say so and don’t waste my time… Sorry, what? I was on the phone to a customer. I’ve got 10 minutes before my next call. What do you want?

Q Um, we just wanted to know how your business started. Did you have any help from your family at Brookfield?
A God no. How stupid are you? I spend all my time clearing up their messes, not the other way round. Mum and dad are relics, Ben’s useless and Pip needs to take responsibility for stuff, man up and stop sobbing like a girl. Well, she is a girl. Anyway. Next question?

Q What about your team? You work with Rex Fairbrother, is that right?
A Yeah, Rex is OK. Got about as much brain as one of his chickens, but he’s good with the customers. Some of them don’t like me, for some reason. Anyway, this is my business, not Rex’s. You gotta wheel and deal, not spend your time worrying about people’s feelings. Haven’t you got any better questions?

Q Well, since you mention it, we’ve spoken to customers who say some of the machines on your site are overpriced. How would you respond to that?
A Who said that? That loser over in Edgeley? I knew it! That was all Rex’s fault! God, am I expected to do everything around here? This interview stops right now. And remember to say I’m a lovely guy who deserves all the success he’s going to get, OK? (Note to sales team: charge him double for his next ad. What a ghastly little twerp. Ed.)

Ask Auntie Satya

With her unique mixture of warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is on hand to advise on your practical and moral dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,
It was my 50th birthday party this week and, without asking me, my daughter invited some Facebook friends I hadn’t seen for years, including two old boyfriends. I spent some of the evening hiding from them in the kitchen, and at one point I had to fend one off with a plate of canapés! How should I discipline my daughter? Lizzie.

Dear Lizzie,
On the contrary Lizzie, it seems to me that your daughter was very thoughtful, especially as in your longer letter you tell me that your family all hate each other at the moment and she was concerned that no one would attend your soirée. The fault is all yours. What mother allows her daughter access to her Facebook page, which should be reserved for humble-bragging to other parents about your offspring? And why have you not unfriended people you do not like IRL (if I have the terminology correctly)? If you would not be happy for someone to wish you a happy birthday by making a pass over the mini falafel, do not admit them to your virtual social circle.

Dear Auntie Satya,
How do you know if you are too old for a mid-life crisis? My husband and I went through a rocky patch in our marriage recently, and I flirted (or tried to, he wasn’t keen, poor man) with an ex. But now we seem to have rediscovered our spark. He has invested huge amounts in his veterinary practice and has taken on a spirited young partner who wants him to ‘think big’ and specialise in race horses instead of obese cats and ancient ponies. Everything seems to be going so well. Do you think our marriage is over the worst? Shula.

Dear Shula,
I believe you have no need to worry by imagining a mid-life crisis. From what you tell me, a real-life crisis should be on its way soon enough.

Dear Auntie Satya,
My relationship with my daughter has reached rock-bottom. She made a mistake and then lied about it for weeks. It’s had a terrible effect on our finances and we’ve fallen out with all our family because of it. I’ve supported her in the past but this week I told her I am ashamed of her and do not know who she is any more. Is there any way back for us? Ruth.

Dear Ruth,
If the situation is as bad as your longer letter describes, I would advise you to focus more on your relationship with your lawyer than your daughter in the coming weeks. Your family ties are strong enough to survive this, but your family business may not be. In the meantime, why not unfriend your daughter on Facebook? It is the only kind of punishment young people these days understand, and you will be spared her ramblings about how guilty she feels, how unsupportive her boyfriend is, and how life is so unfair.        


  1. Agree with Vicky! An excellent Observer this week, editor. Thanks.

  2. Another super edition. I particularly enjoy Auntie Satya's column.