Sunday, 27 August 2017

Oliver’s secret is out and Lilian… oh, Lilian! A heart-stopping week in Ambridge

Grandma safe after leaf encounter 

A great-grandmother had to be rescued from a tree in Ambridge this week as an incident described as a ‘party prank’ went badly wrong.
Mrs Peggy Woolley, 93, was said to be ‘shocked, but miraculously unhurt’ after being coaxed down from the horse chestnut by paramedics. She was at a party given by her granddaughter Alice Carter when she suddenly leapt from her chair and shinned up the tree, according to guests.
‘I can’t think what came over her,’ said Mrs Woolley’s daughter Jennifer Aldridge. ‘Alice and Tracy Horrobin had already climbed the tree pretending to be Superwoman and Tarzan – all very silly, and dangerous really.
‘Mum had heartburn – I’d warned her not to risk Susan Carter’s canapés but she insisted – and Alice said she had some pills that would do the trick. Mum took one, and 10 minutes later she was swinging from branch to branch saying she wanted to find her inner gibbon!’

News in brief

• Bridge Farm should plough up its mature woodland to grow coconut palms, according to an expert on kefir, the fashionable fermented yogurt. ‘It makes sense because coconut milk is ever so pricey in Waitrose,’ said Susan Carter. ‘And what with global warming the trees should shoot up in no time. I really don’t know why Tom Archer is doing this Nuffield Scholarship thingy when he could stay at home and take advantage of my flair for product development.’

Latif Hussein, leading local racehorse trainer, has awarded his locum work to Ambridge vets Alistair Lloyd and Anisha Jayakody. ‘We have my wife Shula to thank really,’ said Mr Lloyd. ‘She cornered Mr Hussein in the stables when he came to visit and threatened him with her hunting whip until he agreed to take us on. But Anisha did very well too. By the time she’d finished describing how she removed a fractured splint bone his eyes had glazed over and he was desperate to sign the contract.’

Home Farm has struck a deal with local tech firm Pryce Baumann to trial its new tractor-mounted crops sensor. ‘It will be able to tell us which parts of a field are under-performing,’ said Brian Aldridge. ‘Perfect for spotting when Adam is skiving off to moan about me with his aunt Lilian when he should be muck-spreading.’

New series: Love Lines

You: Tracy the crazy lady with tattoos, busting some moves at the Carters’ party. Me: older guy, band T-shirt, can of lager. We clicked on the dance floor, then you passed out in the fishpond. Call me to hook up for LOLZ and more? Ronnie.

To the fit farrier: I’m just a voice on the phone to you, when you ring up to make excuses for your airhead wife again. If Alice is going to throw a sickie, she shouldn’t choose the day after the party she didn’t invite me to. If only you could see you’d be happier with me! I’d never get drunk and embarrass you and can’t wait to give up this terrible job to have babies. You’ve got my number… Melissa.

Oliver: so sorry we couldn’t make it work. I know you don’t want anyone to know you’re selling Grey Gables but no one will read this so if you change your mind, call me. You won’t get a better deal and I just love the hotel’s olde worlde charm – and yours! Marian.    

Borsetshire Community Cinema

Showing this week: Last Tango in Grey Gables.
Two senior citizens meet at a viewing for a house they would both like to buy. Reminding her how they used to love doing dodgy property deals, he persuades her to go his hotel suite with champagne and asks for a last kiss before he disappears from her life forever (again). She is torn between her ex, her trusting fiancé and her nephew waiting petulantly for his dinner in reception. It can only end in tears… (Contains some scenes unsuitable for family viewing).  

Pet of the week

Meet Ambridge’s cutest pup, a birthday gift from Matt Crawford to Lilian Bellamy. We’d love to see her in a little Santa hat, as a ring bearer when Lilian weds hunky Damara Capital boss Justin Elliott at Christmas! (Steady on. This isn’t Hello! Magazine. Ed)  

Name: Ruby
Lives at: The Dower House
Likes: Lakey Hill; Denise the veterinary nurse
Dislikes: her lead, economy dog food
Do say: ‘She adores you, Justin’
Don’t say: ‘Wonder if she’s missing Matt Crawford?’

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Emma is furious, Anisha is fuming and Freddie fails again – feelings run high in Ambridge

Council gives green light to housing

Plans for the housing development at Bridge Farm took a step nearer reality this week as Ambridge Parish Council approved the proposals. Councillors were swayed by an impassioned speech from Mrs Emma Grundy, who said she was so desperate for an affordable home, she would put up with neighbours from Wimberton, Farndale or Little Croxley.
Developer Justin Elliott reassured an outraged audience that things would never be that bad, but Mrs Lynda Snell of Ambridge Hall claimed he had misled the village. ‘We were expecting a few picturesque, tumbledown cottages,’ she said. ‘Now you tell us these people will need running water, electricity and sewers. Whatever next – a helicopter pad?’
Mrs Snell and Jennifer Aldridge, who expressed concern about ‘riff raff with limited means and unsavoury habits’ coming to Ambridge, said they would continue with their objections.  ‘Justin Elliott and I are both fans of Herman Melville,’ said Mrs Snell. ‘But I think he will find he is Captain Ahab to my Moby Dick.’

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal brain, Auntie Satya is back to solve all your emotional and practical dilemmas.

Dear Auntie Satya,

Driving from my home into Ambridge one evening last week I saw our new young female vet struggling to haul a dead deer off the road. Once I had established that it wasn’t one of our deer, and that she wasn’t a poacher, I left her to it, explaining that I was wearing my new kitten heels. She seemed rather put out. Did I do the right thing? Jenny A.

Dear Jenny,

In your longer letter you tell me you were hurrying to get to a Parish Council meeting, to voice your objections to a new housing development. Why stop to help someone, when you could be denying young local couples the chance of a home of their own? As I always say to my niece Usha, it is so important to be true to yourself and so it seems to me on this occasion you acted entirely in character.

Dear Auntie Satya,

This week I found out my business partner is a former gambler and horse doper, and my best client is a blackmailer who has done time for fraud. I told my boyfriend Rex I was so disillusioned I felt I had to leave Ambridge, but he just laughed and took me up Lakey Hill in the dark with a head torch. What do you advise? Anisha J.

Dear Anisha,

Do not worry, my dear; this behaviour is perfectly normal for Ambridge. Many young people find being taken up Lakey Hill gives them a whole new perspective on life, although I admit the head torch is a novel addition. Your boyfriend sounds very sensible and I’m sure you both feel refreshed after your moonlit adventure.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I have just paid off the business loan on my forge and my wife Alice and I are throwing a party to celebrate in the lovely cottage her parents gave us. We plan to invite our friends Fallon and Harrison, who are buying their own home, and my sister Emma and her husband, who currently face eviction from their rented farmhouse. But Emma accused me of being an arrogant git and has refused the invitation, which is a shame as Alice was hoping she’d do the canapés at mates' rates. Why is she being so difficult? Chris C. 

Dear Chris,

I think you will find, if you re-read your letter, that you have answered your own question.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

I thought your readers might like to know how generous Caroline Sterling, who recently died so sadly in Italy, has been to many of her friends in Ambridge. Such a modest lady, she really wouldn’t want everyone to know, but I feel it’s the least I can do, seeing as she didn’t leave anything to me and Neil.

I have learned (by asking intrusive questions and checking bank statements when necessary) that she left £1,000 each to Ed and Will Grundy, £2,000 to Shula Hebden Lloyd, and £750 each to Ian Craig, Roy Tucker and Lynda Snell.
Unfortunately she seems to have forgotten her husband Oliver, who is down to his last handful of euros and is having his credit cards declined.

So could I also take this opportunity to warn my fellow retailers to watch him around their high-ticket items. Grief does terrible things to a person and no one wants to see the poor man arrested for shoplifting.

Yours truly
Susan Carter (Mrs)

Poem of the week

Thank you to Freddie Pargetter, 17, of Lower Loxley for sending us this very moving (and frankly, surprising) piece of work.
Again and again and again

Strawberries, the ones I picked,
squashed and rotten as the eyes
of that dead deer I didn’t run over
on the road near Home Farm.
Ruined strawberries. Adam
will be cross with me.

It was probably Lily; she drives
so fast; runs over people’s
feelings. Passed her test, not like me.
I fail at everything. Failed my
AS Levels. Failed my Maths GCSE.

Lily bought Phoebe a pregnancy test.
Negative. Like my life. 
It wasn't me. I'd fail at that too,
it’s what I do. But that Sonja,
she smiled at me today. Maybe
I’ll ask her out. Hope she doesn’t say no.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

'It was a farce': Lynda Snell slams fête. Plus: how stressed is your vet?

Ambridge fête lurches from farce to fights

There were chaotic scenes in Ambridge on Sunday as the new organisers were accused of putting on a pantomime instead of the summer fête.
‘I was mortified,’ said Lynda Snell. ‘I thought I could trust Fallon and Emma to respect my legacy, fête-wise, but they must have mixed up the events. It was like watching a dreadful dress rehearsal of Cinderella. Miriam and Lulu Duxford were stomping about like the Ugly Sisters, with Brian Aldridge dressed as Baron Hard-Up, chasing them round with his massive bell.
‘Jazzer made a terrible hash of the Bonniest Babe in the Wood scene and the Community Choir was completely out of control as the Chorus. Whoever let them near the Scruff Gin has a lot to answer for.
‘Thank goodness for Ed Grundy, who excelled as the Knight in Shining Armour, defending the Ruritanian peasants (surely, the much-valued seasonal workers? Ed) from the Racist Rabble of Grange Spinney. The stage-fighting was very realistic, I admit, but that is the best I can say of this production.’

Catering news

Tom Archer of Bridge Farm is off to the USA this week to observe how New York delis market their fermented foods. ‘If I can make kimchi there, I can make it anywhere,’ he says.
Celebrity chefs Miriam and Lulu Duxford have withdrawn the offer they made at the Ambridge fete to train unemployed youngsters at their new restaurant, Les Soeurs Heureuses. ‘On reviewing our aspirations we found they were incompatible with legislation on modern slavery,’ their spokesperson said. ‘We hope to find another way of exploiting… um, sorry, engaging with the community so our guests feel better about paying £20 for a bowl of tomato soup.’
Joel Hipster, manager of the Happy Friends community café in Borchester, is moving on. ‘I felt it was time to take the next step on my spiritual journey,’ he says. ‘And when Jill Archer gave me all the takings from the fête, the path became clear. I believe the Universe wants me to be really, really rich, so I’m shutting the café and starting a bone broth and macaroon bar in Felpersham.’

Senior citizens update

Jill Archer, whose flapjack-throwing exploits made her the most sought-after activist in Borsetshire, has launched a new charity. ‘I had so many requests for help I was quite overwhelmed,’ she says.’ But my young friend Kirsty put me right. I’m going to focus on bees and feeding the homeless and I’m starting a new campaign for the W.I. called Stay in a Hive.’ (sorry. Ed).
Bert Fry and Joe Grundy have set up a bereavement service specialising in counselling elderly widowers. ‘Ain’t nobody knows what it is to lose your life partner like me and Bert do,’ says Mr Grundy. ‘So we’ll come round to see you, eat all your food and fight over who had the biggest marrow at the 2002 Flower & Produce Show. We tried it on poor Oliver Sterling and it must have worked a treat ‘cos he said he wouldn’t need to see us again.’

Poll of the Week

This week’s topic was prompted by the barbecue Fallon and Emma organised to show Ambridge’s support for the fruit pickers at Home Farm.

What was it that made Phoebe Aldridge so sick that she couldn’t keep down her morning-after pill? Vote now!

O Jennifer Aldridge’s baked apples
O Clarrie Grundy’s cheesecake
O Lynda Snell’s Black Forest gateau
O Constantin’s spotted dick
(That’s enough options. Ed.)

How stressed is your vet?

Is your local vet showing any of the following symptoms:

1.     Being horribly thoughtless about your recent bereavement
2.     Nearly injecting a pregnant cow with prostaglandin, which would have caused a disastrous miscarriage
3.     Turning his phone off when he should be on call
4.     Jumping like a scalded cat when anyone mentions Matt Crawford
5.     Refusing to drop in to look at Peggy Woolley’s Hilda Ogden

If you ticked more than one (especially 5, which is the most troubling), contact your vet's Gambling Anonymous sponsor immediately.

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: The Outsiders.  

Hard-working young couple Ed and Emma find themselves caught up in a bitter feud between two rival gangs: the Rough Sorts from Darrington and the Nimbys from Ambridge. Will they manage to move into an affordable home of their own when even their own family members are too snobbish to support them? (yes, you, Susan Carter). A gritty slice of Kathy’s lemon cake (surely, rural life? Ed).

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Stop press: The Ambridge Observer goes tabloid!

It's all change for The AmOb

After more than two years as a broadsheet, The Ambridge Observer is moving with the times and this week emerges as The AmOb – a brighter, lighter, snappier, happier (yes, get on with it. Ed) version of your favourite Ambridge weekly.
‘These days we need to fight for readers’ attention and we know they lead busy lives,’ said marketing manager Will Shiftmore. ‘So we’ll be reporting the news in bite-sized chunks and formats that younger readers love: listicles, polls, slideshows and emojis – well, maybe not emojis as we couldn’t find one for  "anaerobic digester".
‘To save readers time we’ve even shortened our title – so it’s goodbye to The Ambridge Observer, and hi to The AmOb! It’s gone down really well with millennials in focus groups and we’re all very excited. But readers can still expect the same standards of unreliable reporting, disregard for the facts and frankly, lamentable journalistic ethics.’
The first edition of the new-look AmOb hits the newsstands today, Sunday August 6 – still weekly, and with a special monthly supplement for our friends over on Facebook

New fête attractions announced

The Human Fruit Machine (three blokes in booths holding up random pieces of fruit) is not the only unusual stall at this year’s Ambridge fête. Also on offer in keeping with the ‘tradition with a twist’ theme are:

Human Speak-Your-Weight Machine
Susan Carter makes personal remarks and asks intrusive questions about your friends and family until you pay her to stop. Donations to the women’s cricket changing room fund.

Human Coconut (Flapjack) Shy
Relive the celebrity chef experience as Jill Archer throws her famous traybakes at your head. Don't forget to Duck-sford! As heard on Radio Borsetshire. Donations to the Happy Friends Café.

Human Bookstall
Listen to Lynda Snell read from her favourite books including Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Get Off My Land, a Nimby’s Manual by Xavier Greene-Belt. Donations to Speedwatch.

Human Kiss-Me-Quick Hat
Tracy Horrobin… (that’s enough stalls. Ed).

News Justin (surely, just in? Ed)

Jill Archer is a late call-up to represent Great Britain in the women’s shot put at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in London. ‘After my arrest for throwing a flapjack I had a few offers to help with campaigns to bring back rural buses, end the badger cull and stop fracking, but this seemed to be the most interesting,’ says Mrs Archer, 86.

Lexi (Surname? Oh, sorry, foreign so not important enough to have one. Ed))
has launched a vlog on YouTube with amusing anecdotes of her experiences learning English while fruit picking at Home Farm. ‘Over the hill or over the top – what is difference?’ says Lexi. ‘Everyone I meet in Ambridge is one or other.’

Matt Crawford has been seconded to the White House to support the communications team while Donald Trump is on vacation. ‘The President met Matt on the golf course a while back and they clicked,’ said Tuesday’s press spokesperson. ‘These are two guys who think the same way and Mr Crawford will fit in real well on Capitol Hill. He says he’s pretty big on Lakey Hill back where he’s from.’

 Meet the professionals: Rupert Leachworthy

The senior partner of solicitors Leachworthy, Fiddler and Crook takes a few moments to explain the complex world of trust law:

Clients often ask me: "As an habitual criminal, how can I ring fence my million-pound house by setting it up in a trust with my ex-partner as sole beneficiary, while also being one of the trustees?"  To which I always reply: “Well Mr Crawford, you and I go back a long way so I would say it is highly unorthodox, but doable. All it requires is the transfer of monies (or a 'bung' in legal parlance) from yourself as the first party to ourselves as the second party. Sweet as."

Poll of the Week

Thanks to Emma Grundy of Grange Farm for this week’s question. Vote now!
Which do you think is more important:

O Housing pigs in the massive new pig unit that no one's bothered about
O Housing me and my family in a new development that people are complaining about even though they're sorted (yes, you Fallon with your mortgage from the Bank of Harrison's Mum and Dad) 

Emma plans to present the results at the next Parish Council meeting, when Justin Elliott’s plans to build seven affordable houses, including one with a cute corner garden just right for the kiddies' trampoline, on land adjacent to Bridge Farm will be discussed.

Pet of the Week

Name: Hilda Ogden
Lives at: The Lodge, with Peggy Woolley and Christine Barford
Likes: Lurking in asters, ripping human flesh
Dislikes: Everything else
Do: Wear oven gloves
Don’t: Call her Ena Sharples

AmOb Classifieds 


Whatnot, partially distressed. Ideal to fit in awkward alcove in not-very-nice house in Borchester that we really weren’t keen to buy. Apply: Fallon Rogers, Woodbine Cottage.


Woodbine Cottage, Ambridge. This property has been withdrawn from the market as the owner, Christine Barford, is arranging a private sale to its current tenants. Apologies to the nice young couple from Birmingham who were gazumped, but you're just not right for Ambridge I'm afraid.