Sunday, 29 April 2018

Village hails historic peace deal!

Triumph for diplomacy at The Stables

The Ambridge community hailed a ‘new era of peace and co-operation’ this week, as Alistair Lloyd moved back under the same roof as his wife Shula.
‘It came completely out of the blue, and was a masterstroke of diplomacy by Dan Hebden-Lloyd, who persistently told his parents they needed to decommission their arsenal of cold put-downs and angry retorts,' said a neighbour.
The thaw began early last Sunday, with the ceremonial handover of an orthopaedic pillow, seen by Lloyd-watchers as an important symbol of détente. The exchange took place at Jim Lloyd’s house and was accompanied by a fanfare of Jazzer’s snoring and Jim Lloyd playing a cheeky two-hander with Madame Kiki, his strict piano teacher.
Mr and Mrs Hebden-Lloyd, who had not spoken civilly for several weeks, then attended a summit held over the sedated body of Sintra, a favourite mare of Alistair’s, who had gone down with spasmodic colic.
‘Shula and Alistair discussed their first date while he listened to Sintra’s gut noises,’ said a member of staff. ‘Shula said he was calm and masterful but Alistair said he regretted missing his squid risotto when he was called away to deliver a calf. Then Sintra farted mightily and it was clear she was going to be OK. It was quite romantic.’
A communiqué issued by the couple (via Susan Carter) stated: ‘We have consciously re-coupled, but not in that sort of way as Shula wishes to keep her options open. We would appreciate some privacy while we restock the freezer and work out the washing-up rota in the challenging weeks ahead.’

Missing person reported in Ambridge

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has asked residents to be on the lookout for a woman who has been reported missing in the Ambridge area.
The woman, known only as Olwen, was last seen flouncing out of Bridge Farm last week, after staying with Pat Archer.
‘Olwen has been through hard times and was living in her car before staying briefly with Mrs Archer,’ said PC Burns. ‘She may be vulnerable, although to be honest it is hard to tell, as she can be hostile if approached.’
PC Burns said Mrs Archer would like to know that Olwen is safe and well, and her daughter Helen would like to know where Olwen is so she can stay out of her way.
‘If you see Olwen, please ask her to call 101 and let police know she is safe, or if she needs help,’ he said.’ But don’t expect any thanks for it.’

Your week in the stars

What does fate hold in store for Ambridge residents? Our resident astrologer Janet Planet reveals the secrets of the stars:

Beware, freedom-loving Geminis! Jupiter, the wealth planet, is rising in your house and suggests you will be focusing more on flexible access drawdown and ISA rates than pubs and gigs. But resist the temptation to bin those financial leaflets. Pensions talk from a loved one is only his way of telling you he wants to grow old with you!

Venus, planet of fertility, went retrograde last week, spelling disappointment for those who hope to become parents. But don’t let this opportunity to talk about your feelings slip. If you are having doubts about the future, it is not fair on your partner to hide in the polytunnels or pretend to be cleaning out the fruit pickers’ caravans.

Scorpios are nothing if not determined, and your plans to save your family business with a bold disposal of assets are set to bear fruit at last. But do not expect everyone to understand why you felt you had to sell the family home and move everyone into yurts.

Socially-aware Capricorns will face a moral dilemma this week. Should you support your children, who want to teach middle-aged ladies how to make cheese and possibly expand into charcuterie? Or should you heed the departing words of your homeless friend and break out of your comfortable organic bubble? With Mars the planet of war in the ascendant, there could be sleepless nights ahead…  

From the message boards

This week we drop in on the AmTeens Forum, to see what’s got the younger members of our community chatting online..

Hey guys, sorry I’ve not been in Ambridge much. I’m staying with my dad and his girlfriend Ellie and to be honest I prefer it. Having to go to the burial ground every other day freaked me out. I don’t want to think about my mum under there. And Will is acting really weird: buying me trainers, getting granny Clarrie to make me pizza. He never bothered much before Mum died. JakeyG.

Hi Jake, it’s tough – I remember from when my dad died. But just chill and let them keep buying you stuff. Always worked for me. DJFreddie.

Freddie – what are you doing on here? You’ve only got two hours’ revision time left before I test you! Lily.

OK, OK – guys, did I tell you I’m doing this really cool thing? Lily showed me – it’s called a book. You read it, make a few notes – and suddenly you can understand an exam paper. Who knew? DJFreddie.

Who do I get to hang with then? It’s soooooo lame here. Pip keeps going on about stretch marks and baby showers, and Josh is always on the phone trying to flog his piles of old junk. And Gran is so worried about Aunty Shula and Uncle Alistair she can’t stop making flapjacks, and I don’t like them.  BoredBen

Sorry Ben – look, why don’t I come over and we can play a few games? DJFreddie.

FREDDIE!!!! Lily.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Brian's secret plan, a radio renaissance and Jazzer in the spotlight

Aldridge readies secret ‘theme park’ launch

Brian Aldridge, beleaguered owner of Home Farm, is hatching plans to revitalise the ailing business by turning it into a theme park, the Ambridge Observer can reveal.
Confidential papers left behind in the window seat of The Bull reveal that Mr Aldridge aims to create a ‘dystopian vision’ at Home Farm that he claims is ‘in tune with the zeitgeist surrounding modern farming’.
‘Visitors will have the chance to help clear toxic chemicals from Low Mead – saving money for the business as well as providing a fun experience,’ the proposal says. ‘They will also be able to tour the deserted yurts of Spiritual Home, with Joe Grundy on hand to tell ghost stories. Eddie Grundy will be invited to recreate ElfWorld in the Millennium Wood, which everyone remembers as truly terrifying. Catering will be provided by Susan Carter offering several flavours of kefir. And the master of ceremonies will be Ruairi, a mysterious and malevolent figure who never speaks, but just takes the visitors’ cash.’
Contacted by our reporter for comment, Mr Aldridge admitted the plans were ‘brave'. ‘I may have retired, but I am not going down without a fight,’ he said. ‘Home Farm needs to make money, and with Kate and Adam in charge, who can blame me for trying something radical?’

Ambridge inspires a radio renaissance

BBC Radio 4 is set to relaunch its entire output following an ‘epiphany’ experienced by senior broadcaster Sheila Dillon while she was recording an item for The Food Programme at Bridge Farm.
‘I was visiting Helen Archer to taste her Borsetshire Blue cheese for the Food & Farming Awards,’ said Ms Dillon. ‘But we were accosted in the dairy by a woman called Olwen, who told me that instead of talking about posh, expensive cheese, I should be covering the shocking inequalities in food production worldwide and the evils of the agro-industrial complex.’
Ms Dillon said she was ‘gobsmacked’ by the intervention. ‘This had never occurred to me, or anyone at the BBC before,’ she said. ‘Olwen and everyone else I met in Ambridge opened my eyes. I was scribbling notes for a new autumn schedule all the way home on the train.’ 
The BBC Press Office has since confirmed that Radio 4 will be launching a number of new series inspired by Ms Dillon’s visit to Ambridge: 

In Our Time:
Recorded on location in the cider shed, Joe Grundy and Bert Fry chunter about the old days and bicker about the best way to grow giant runner beans.

The Rear View:
Lynda Snell presents a guide to the best breeds of dog, based on how they look from behind. ‘I have high hopes of Thimble the Shih Tzu, but Scruff’s cheerful waggy tail and fluffy back legs will be  a hard act to follow,’ says Mrs Snell.

Outside Science:
A 200-part series. Holistic healer Kate Madikane explains why everything you know about conventional science and medicine is wrong.

From Our Own Cow-respondent:
Fascinating insights into everyday life on a dairy farm with Pip Archer of Brookfield (until she goes on maternity leave, which must be quite soon now).

Cross Incontinents:
Jill Archer and Peggy Woolley talk frankly about how they cope with the indignities of growing older and how easily irritated they are these days by their ungrateful children.

The Home Farm Front:
Daily reports from the battlefield as Brian and Jennifer Aldridge wage a war of attrition, both parties armed to the teeth with grudges and willing to fight to the last venison casserole for the moral high ground.

The Archers:
A soap opera based on the lives of the people of Ambridge, a small farming community in Borsetshire. (No chance. Can’t imagine anyone wanting to listen to that. Ed.)

Coffee break with… Jazzer McCreary

In our series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with stockman Jazzer McCreary, who looks after the pig herd at Bridge Farm.

Q  Jazzer, we hear you have a ‘portfolio career’. How does that work?
A Aye, I’m a pigman, milkman, and ladies’ man if ye get ma drift! But ma girls are ma first love. They’re smarter and funnier than some o the lassies I’ve been out wi. And they smell better, some of em!

Q There’s a big new pig unit opening at Berrow Farm soon. What’s your opinion of intensive pig farming?
A Well, it’s nae fun outside in the middle of February when the drinkers have frozen solid and ye’ve got to clear them by yersel ‘cos that Tom Archer is nae use to man nor pig. But I prefer the fresh air and I reckon ma girls do too.

Q So you’re not interested in the jobs they’re advertising?
A I didnae say that! I went along for an interview and I reckon I did fine – they asked me if I could work in a team and I said ‘Sure, I can work wi one pig or lots o pigs, disnae bother me!’ But I didnae really want the job.

Q You’re staying put at Bridge Farm then?
A Aye –  but dinna tell Tom Archer just yet, will ye? He’s offered me £2 an hour  more to stay – and I might get a bit more oot of him before he cottons on I wouldn’t leave ma girls. Like I said, useless. Fancy a pint? All this talking gies a man a terrible thirst, if ye know what ah mean…

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: Sunday in the Park with George (Parental Guidance).

A dark musical featuring three generations of a family who navigate a social and emotional minefield while having a Sunday picnic at Lower Loxley. Contains very few harmonies, many discordant notes and plenty of awkward pauses as no one can strike the right tone with George’s recently bereaved father, Will. Stand-out performances from Clarrie Grundy as Will’s long-suffering mother, and the completely tone-deaf Shula and Alistair Hebden-Lloyd.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Olwen makes her mark, Jenny is beside herself and Spring has sprung

Cricket ‘break-in’: mum’s the word

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) was called to an incident on Ambridge village green on Wednesday evening as suspicious activity was observed in the women’s cricket pavilion (should that read ‘Portakabin’? Ed.)
‘Passers-by said they saw lights on in the changing room, which is unexpected as the season hasn’t started yet,’ said PC Burns. ‘I thought it might have been Tracey Horrobin, hiding her bottles of Lambrini in the equipment store before the warm-up game.
‘But it was actually Jennifer Aldridge, on step-ladders with a pair of binoculars.
She said she was trying to peer into Honeysuckle Cottage, to see if Lexi was eating every last bite of the casserole Jennifer had sent to feed her up for her visit to the fertility clinic.’
‘I apologise if I was trespassing,’ said Mrs Aldridge. ‘But really, some things are too important to be left to chance. Lexi must be well-nourished and rested to have the best chance of hosting the embryo that contains my darling Adam’s exceptionally robust sperm.’
PC Burns said no further action would be taken.

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is here to sort out all your practical and emotional dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

My boyfriend was worried about leaving me with nothing if he died, and I thought he was going to ask me to marry him so I made a big fuss about how I didn’t believe in marriage. But it turns out he was only making a will in my favour Now he’s really upset. What can I do? Fallon R.

Dear Fallon,

My dear, I don’t really know why you have written to me. You do not want to marry this young man, and now it seems you will certainly get your wish. Is there some other more serious problem I can help you with?

Dear Auntie Satya,

I voted against my husband in a family business dispute and he is taking it out on me by behaving very strangely – sleeping in the spare room, taking his son on long walks round the farm, and making his own tea. Do you think I should be suspicious of his motives? Jennifer A.

Dear Jennifer,

I believe your husband has recently retired, so many women in your situation would be pleased to see their spouses being active and not sitting around in their pyjamas watching Bargain Hunt. Making his own tea though is a very worrying sign. A preliminary visit to your solicitor would not go amiss.

Dear Auntie Satya,

My wife has recently left me after 20 years of marriage. I feel it is far too soon to date, but my friend says he can ‘set me up’ with ladies from his milk round. He says I’m a catch: in fairly good nick, with money, a nice car and I heal sick fluffy kittens for a living. Do you think I should take him up on it? Alistair L.

Dear Alistair,

No, no, these milk-round ladies do not sound suitable at all. When the time is right, you will clearly be looking for someone mature and discerning. I don’t suppose you would care to call round for tiffin one afternoon next week?   

My Week, by Olwen

Pat Archer of Bridge Farm suggested that we interview her old friend Olwen, who she met while volunteering at The Elms centre for the homeless. Mrs Archer says anyone could experience what happened to Olwen, a perfectly nice woman who is now too poor even to afford a surname.


Sunday is like any other day – a chance to stick it to The Man by sitting on a park bench shouting at pigeons. I’ve got a cold – must have caught it at that demo against cuts to dental treatment for ex-service personnel. Later on I’ll rifle through some bins for a leftover takeway. Or if I can’t find one, I’ll probably drive to Waitrose. You can park up overnight there and the croissants they chuck out aren’t bad – not Fairtrade though, mind you. Disgraceful sell-outs.


Dropped into The Elms for a spot of lunch. Pat Archer was cooking again – does that woman know what a pepper grinder is for? I told her, if I wasn’t a whistle-blowing WASPI woman with a vengeful ex-partner and a victim of council housing cuts, our situations would be reversed! Then I collapsed coughing, so she took me home.


Nearly left Pat’s house because her son Tom turns out to be a bloated kleptocrat. I tried to set fire to his nasty pile of get-rich-quick books but the smoke alarm went off. Pat offered to wash my clothes and run me a hot bath. I agreed, as an act of passive resistance.


My 100 per cent wool sweater has shrunk, thanks to Pat’s clumsy washing. She’s lost all her spark since chaining herself to that patriarchal dinosaur Tony, who does nothing but tinker with his tractor as far as I can see. I made a point of coughing on his precious cows. He asked me if I’d like to help feed them and I said: ‘Not without an equal pay guarantee, index-linked non-contributory pension and free healthcare, mister! I know my rights!’ He said ‘Oh, OK then, I’ll ask Tom’, and went back to his tractor. Spineless lackey of capitalism!

Poem of the Week

Many thanks to Mrs Lynda Snell of Ambridge Hall for sending us this lovely ‘Tribute to Spring in Ambridge’, inspired by her recent reading of the 14th century narrative poem, Gawain And The Green Knight.

I wandrez with ye grete dogge Guinevere,
From wondruz mountayne Pyreneese
Who mony wysse to be a polar beare!
Mid cowþat foule and bell so blue on village greene.

Sumwhyle Robert wyth his birdez communez
Sumwhyle Harrison sette forth ye crickete nettez
Adam frettez and werrez wyth Ian behynde,
And Jim playz straunge tunez fro morne to nighte

Then wyth thanks syng we all wynter is past
No more colde cler water fro þe cloudez schadden,
And sumers dry3e and du3ty seazon waittes,
Can it bi longe befoure ye Ambridge Faitte?