Sunday, 14 May 2017

An accident, a break-up and an uneaten pizza: a week of awkward conversations in Ambridge

Shop reveals a new way to say it

The Ambridge village shop is launching a new range of greetings cards that it claims is more relevant to customers’ “complex modern lives”.
‘Sometimes you need a special card for those occasions when you can’t quite find the words,’ said retail manager Susan Carter.
‘For example, I’m expecting a run on this ‘Hooray! Free at Last!’ card, now that Helen Archer’s decree absolute has come through. I did consider stocking: ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than live with the psycho the rest of your life’, but decided against it on taste grounds.
‘And of course there’s this one: ‘Congratulations on your divorce and your engagement!’ (pictured).
Perfect for Justin Elliott and Lilian, especially for well-wishers who like to economise.’
‘And this one will do well: ‘I’m really so terribly, awfully, dreadfully sorry’. You can personalise it, so for instance you can add ‘Mum and Dad’ if you’re Pip Archer, or ‘Peggy’ if you’re Brian Aldridge. Actually, I’m hoping Brian will place a bulk order because he’s got so many people to apologise to after running over Peggy’s cat.’
Mrs Carter said she monitors village events carefully in order to choose just the right cards for her customers to express their sentiments to each other.
‘After Friday night, I think I’ll order a few ‘Sorry the relationship everyone thought was the worst decision of your life has ended’ for Pip’s friends and family,’ she said. ‘And I suppose someone might want to send a ‘Bad luck old chap, plenty more fish in the sea,’ card to Toby Fairbrother, but frankly I doubt it.’

Tech firm offers exciting overview

Local tech start-up Price Baumann is offering local farmers a free aerial survey of their crops in order to demonstrate how versatile its drone technology can be. ‘People think it’s only for barley barons like my father Brian, who take days to cross their fields in a tractor, but actually even old-fashioned meadow-lovers like my brother Adam can benefit too,’ said sales executive (Midlands and West region) Alice Carter.
‘The thing is, if you’ve got cattle grazing a species-rich pasture, the grazing will change the composition of the pasture over time and that will affect the performance of the cattle,’ she said. ‘With a drone, you can whizz up and see what’s going on, in time to sow some more of those seed thingies, or whatever it is you do.’
Mrs Carter said she hoped to offer the free service to Eddie Grundy of Grange Farm, to investigate his Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). ‘Jill Archer told me it’s a terrible muddy mess, when Lower Loxley’s meadow, which is very similar, is looking lovely,’ she said. ‘I’m sure a drone camera could spot what’s going on straightaway.’
Contacted by the Ambridge Observer, Mr Grundy said he was ‘not interested’ in Price Baumann’s offer. ‘A drone won’t find anything wrong with my SSSI, not even the pigs that were never on it,’ he said. ‘All it needs is a packet of mixed annuals and a squirt of Miracle Gro. Alice Carter can mind her own business and I’ll get my Will to shoot down any UFO that invades our air space.’

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

Some of your readers may already know that Mrs Peggy Woolley’s cat Bill was very sadly run over and killed by a car in Ambridge this week. Poor Bill had been struggling with food issues and was unfortunately too portly to evade the speeding vehicle.
Naturally the thoughts of the whole village are with Mrs Woolley and her house-mate Christine Barford, who was so upset she refused to eat and had to be talked down from her room by Jill Archer with a plate of scones.
But I am pleased to report that some good is set to come out of their tragic loss.
Overcome with sympathy – he told me he could not imagine how awful the driver of the car would be feeling – Brian Aldridge, his wife Jennifer, daughter Kate and sister-in-law Lilian have all volunteered to join the Speedwatch team that will monitor the appalling level of dangerous driving that is currently afflicting the village. I hope that many more people will follow their example and join us. Only when every single Ambridge resident is out on the streets with hi-vis gilet, speed gun and clipboard will we end this scourge! And poor Bill will not have died in vain.

Yours faithfully,

Lynda Snell, Ambridge Hall. (Note to subs: do not head this letter ‘Dead cat bounce’. Ed)

The Trials of… Anisha Jayakody

In the first chapter of our NEW romantic summer saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine realises that love is not such an easy game to play… 

‘So, Anisha! How was your week?’ Rex’s warm brown eyes twinkled at her as he carefully completed his pre-run stretches. She couldn’t help but notice his well-muscled shape under the faded rugby club tracksuit.
‘Oh, you know – up and down,’ she grinned. ‘Dead cat on Tuesday – shame, but I’d told Mrs Woolley his fat would kill him one way or another. But I had a really interesting chat with Matt Crawford about race horses yesterday. He reckons his contact Latif Hussein, who’s a big owner, might be looking for a new vet.’
‘Wow! I’m impressed!’ Rex re-tied his trainers in a neat double knot. ‘But isn’t that a bit… ambitious?’
‘Ach, jings, man, ye sound like Alistair! Ambition’s my middle name, ye ken!’ Anisha was hopping up and down on the spot, keen to be away. ‘Come on Rex, loser buys the first round!’   

Anisha stretched like a cat (obviously a much slimmer one than Bill) on Bert’s comfy old sofa. ‘Down time, Anisha. Give that fierce ambition a night off!’ she told herself. Rex bounded in from the kitchen carrying plates, cutlery and paper towels. ‘Pizza’s on its way, film’s ready – enjoy!’ he said, sitting down close to her on the sofa. ‘And we’ve got the place to ourselves. Toby and Pip will be in the pub for hours…’ He leaned towards her, and she took in his warm scent of aftershave and liniment. ‘Oh, Rex, I….’
Crash! The front door was kicked open and Toby burst in. ‘OK bro, you win. She dumped me!’ he yelled. ‘The sensible, reasonable one gets his way as usual. Pip’s all yours matey!’
Anisha looked on, horrified, as the brothers squared up to each other. ‘What’s up, Rex?’ she asked. ‘Surely you can’t prefer that feckless farm girl, with very unsound views on Brexit, to a feisty, ambitious Glaswegian like me?’ Rex turned towards her, and there was an awful moment of silence as she saw the truth in his eyes…


‘Well actually Anisha, Pip is a jolly fine farmer!’ Rex’s nostrils flared in indignation, like an angry Irish cob. Two high spots of colour appeared on his cheekbones.  ‘And we did almost have a thing once, except first she was soppy about Matthew and then she snogged Akash at Alice’s party and then she got off with Toby. But honestly, I’ve forgotten all about that. I can’t even remember exactly what shade of blue her eyes are now – I’ll have to check the picture by the side of my bed…. Wait, Anisha! Where are you going? What about the pizza?’
But Anisha had grabbed her jacket and rushed out, pushing past Toby, who was glugging Bert’s tonic wine straight from the bottle.
In the chilly dark air outside, realisation struck her like a blow. What a fool she’d been! To think she’d nearly fallen for a failure like Rex – a taxi driver, for God’s sake! – who’d rather be with dull old Pip than a bright, feisty, independent, high-flying Glaswegian with a gift for equine enucleation! ‘Ach! Ah cannae be arsed wi yon bawbag! Not wi’ tuna on his pizza an’ all,’ she said aloud as she marched back to Blossom Hill Cottage. Thrusting her hands in her pockets, she found Matt Crawford’s business card. Now there was a man blazing with ambition, like her! Would he still be up at this hour, she wondered…    
To be continued….

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