Sunday, 7 January 2018

Kate is devastated, Lexi is in demand and Gove spills the beans...

Minister makes headlines with shock speech

Environment Secretary Michael Gove left farmers reeling with his shock announcement at the Oxford Farming Conference this week.
‘I had no idea it would have such an impact,’ he told the Ambridge Observer. ‘I honestly thought everyone in the farming world knew that Pip Archer of Brookfield is pregnant. I just wanted to congratulate her. In fact I’d drafted the line: ‘She’s a fine young hogget and I’m sure she’ll have an easy calving’ – to show I’ve got all the agro-economicky words – but my SPAD crossed it out of my speech.’
Brian Aldridge of Home Farm, who attended the conference, said he was ‘deeply insulted’ by Mr Gove’s performance. ‘I went up to him with a copy of the Borchester Echo and suggested a selfie,’ he said. ‘Mr Gove said he’d be delighted and asked where would I like him to sign the paper! The idiot had no idea I was graciously offering him the chance to be photographed with the Borsetshire Businessperson of the Year. Even when I showed him Christian Wyver’s wonderful article about me he seemed none the wiser. In fact his minders ushered me away. No wonder the country is in such a mess.’

Coffee break with… Lexi Viktorova

In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the new front-of-house manager at Grey Gables Hotel.

Q The New Year’s Eve party at Grey Gables was a triumph, Lexi. You must have been very pleased?

A Oh yes, it was delightful event. In Bulgaria on New Year’s Eve we eat pig’s head and at midnight we hit each other on the back with cherry branches. Is fun. Here is more – how you say – sedate – but I ensure staff work hard and everyone has good time.

Q How do you like working at Grey Gables?

A It is wonderful and the staff are so friendly. For example, on New Year’s Eve the manager, Roy, who is my boyfriend, kept trying to give me a necklace. I said: ‘Wait, you naughty boy! It contravenes hotel jewellery policy and I have clean uniform on.’ But he managed it with his big fingers just before the fireworks went off. Was very romantic.

Q And what about the other staff? Chef Ian Craig is making quite a name for himself, isn’t he?

A Ian is talented chef and lovely person. Always thinks of others. You know, he is so keen for me to stay in U.K., he asked me to be surrogate mother for his baby? I say: surely applying for new work visa would be enough, Ian! But he and Adam say they would rather ask me than go through normal channels to have baby. I say: my channel is quite normal: ask Roy! How we laugh. Roy, not so much.  Excellent staff relations like this are rare in Britain, I think.

Lynda the goat or Lynda Snell?

Since Pat and Tony Archer named one of their new goats Lynda, several readers  have contacted the Ambridge Observer to ask how they can avoid confusing her with Ambridge impresario Lynda Snell. So here’s our at-a-glance guide:

Lynda the goat
Lynda Snell
Bleats annoyingly
Bleats annoyingly
Four legs
Two legs
Smells ‘goaty’
Smells of aromatherapy oils
Wears a fur coat
Wears a hi-vis jacket
Lives in a goat hut
Relaxes in a shepherd’s hut
Doesn’t mind being handled
Doesn’t like having her chakras fiddled with
Has a whiskery chin
How dare you! Just because I’ve been a little laissez-faire in the waxing department…

The Trials of Kate Madikane

In the latest chapter of our searing family saga, by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine is cut to the very quick…  

‘Lovely eyeshadow, Noluthando!’ ‘Yeah, mum, it’s Magic Mushroom shade!’ her daughter giggled, uncontrollably. ‘Oh darling – I’m so glad you’re using vegan make-up.’ Kate’s heart swelled with pride. Noluthando was so – what was it the young people said? – woke, yes, that was it. How lucky she was to have a such a modern, youthful mum. ‘Here, let me try!’ Kate said, taking the brush and painting thick stripes across her face, in the style that had wowed them all at Glastonbury 1998. ‘This is going to be the best New Year’s Eve EVER! You and me, rocking out to Freddie’s beats…’ ‘You know, mum – you don’t have to come,’ said Noluthando with a frown. ‘I don’t really want you there with all my friends…’ Kate stopped, midway through painting a bright red peace symbol on top of the stripes. ‘Whyever not darling?’ Suddenly, she realised. ‘Oh, I see,’ she sighed, patting Noluthando’s hand gently. ‘You needn’t worry I’ll steal all the limelight, sweetie. I know I can be quite… dazzling… but I’ll tone it down so boys will ask you to dance as well…’ Noluthando ran screaming from the room. ‘That’s right, darling,’ Kate beamed at her reflection. ‘Shake out all that stress before our big night!’


‘Oh mum, it’s so unfair!’ Kate sat up in bed to let Jennifer settle a tray of camomile tea and toast on her lap. ‘Why is Noluthando so horrid to me? All I wanted was for her to have her birthday party in the yurts, with the firepit and bongos and vegan barbecue! But she says I just don’t ‘get’ her! How selfish can you be?’ ‘Well, darling,’ said her mother, spreading almond butter on Kate’s toast. ‘You are the adult, you know. You need to reach out to Noluthando if you want to make the most of your time together.’  ‘Hmm, you may be right,’ said Kate, sipping her tea thoughtfully. ‘But how am I supposed to be a good mum when you haven’t even cut my toast into soldiers?’ ‘Sorry, darling,’ Jennifer sighed …


Bursting with positive energy, Kate marched into the foyer of Borchester College. What a difference her change of attitude had made! She quickly spied Noluthando with Freddie Pargetter, who was handing a small packet to a couple of boys. ‘Yeah, they’re E, lads,’ Freddie was saying. ‘Quality guaranteed!’ This was even better than Kate thought. Noluthando had become so committed to people’s wellbeing, she was encouraging her friends to take vitamins! ‘Darling!’ she called out. Freddie and the boys turned pale and ran off. Still got it, Kate! she smiled to herself. ‘Come on Noluthando – I’m taking you out for coffee!’ 
They were soon settled in the Chippy Hipster, chatting like a proper mum and daughter. ‘I just wanted to say darling, how proud I was of you for giving Lynda Snell that special Xhosa healing treatment,’ Kate said. 'What's your secret?' To her astonishment, Noluthando laughed so loud she almost spat out her strawberry meringue. ‘I made it up, mum! You don’t think I actually believe in all that stuff, do you?’ Kate felt her chakras wobbling dangerously. ‘You mean… you think Spiritual Home is just a sham?’ ‘Got it in one! You’re not as dumb as I thought!’ Noluthando hissed at her. ‘If you wanted to show how much you care, maybe you should have tried harder to be a mother to Sipho and me!’ 
And with that she pulled on her coat and swept out of the cafĂ©. Kate crumpled in her seat, crying bitter tears into her tofu and banana muffin… Eventually she got out her phone. ‘Mum – oh mum, come and get me!’ she sobbed into Jennifer’s mystified ear…   


  1. Thank you :-)
    "Noluthando ran screaming from the room." I think we've all felt that way after listening to Kate :D

    1. Oh yes. Amazed everyone doesn't do it as soon as Kate hoves into view!