Sunday, 27 May 2018

Jenny lets rip, yoga mix-up and Auntie Satya advises

Exchange of insults threatens Home Farm deal

A land sale that would help save an Ambridge farm from financial ruin was nearly derailed this week after bitter exchanges between two key players.
Borchester Land’s chairman, Martyn Gibson, said he was pulling out of a deal to buy 300 acres of arable land from Brian Aldridge of Home Farm, after he claimed his wife Pamela had been ‘grossly insulted’ by Mr Aldridge’s wife Jennifer.
‘Mrs Aldridge accosted my wife in Underwoods department store and told her her hairstyle looked like an electrocuted hedgehog,’ he claimed. ‘No one insults the wife of the new Borchester Land chairman in this way. The sale is off.’
Contacted by the Ambridge Observer, Mrs Aldridge did not deny the claim. ‘Pam Gibson started it by asking if I was in Underwoods looking for a job,’ she said. ‘The cheek of the woman! She’s just jealous that her husband wasn’t Borsetshire Businessperson of the Year, even if it was only for 24 hours.’
• Stop press: the land sale is now reported to be back on, after shuttle diplomacy between the two parties by peace envoy Justin Elliott, armed with tickets to a Nigel Kennedy concert for Mr and Mrs Aldridge, and a voucher for Fabrice of Felpersham for Mrs Gibson.

Women’s Institute members ‘outraged’ by fitness classes swap

Kate Madikane, owner of holistic retreat Spiritual Home, has apologised to Ambridge W.I. after a mix-up that saw their over-50s yoga class invaded by a herd of goats.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ said one member. ‘The goats were roaming round the hall, eating anything in sight – one lady nearly lost her green woolly leg warmers. The smell was terrible and I dread to think what they’ve done to the parquet floor.’
Ms Madikane said she would pay for any damage. ‘I had asked Californian fitness guru Nani Kidd to visit Spiritual Home to trial her goat yoga classes, but unfortunately the goat supplier sent the animals to the village hall,’ she said. ‘I can appreciate it would have been a shock if you had only just got used to a downward dog.’

Ambridge Village Shop: Product recall

Shoppers are asked to return any products they have bought in Ambridge Village Stores recently if they were not served with an appropriate insult at the time of purchase. ‘It’s a new policy,’ said manager Mrs Carter. ‘Now that my Neil is a manager, I see no need to hold my tongue if I disapprove of customers’ moral choices. Anyone who is doing wrong, in my opinion, will get a thick piece of my mind along with their ready meal for one or packet of chocolate Bourbons.  I tried it on Alistair Lloyd and felt much better afterwards.’

Coffee break with… Russell Jones

In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the deputy principal of Borchester College.

Q Thank you for talking to us, Mr Jones. Exam time must be very busy for you?

A Yes – but we’re very proud of our pastoral care here at the college. And call me Russ. All the students do; I like to relate to them more as a friend than a teacher, you know? I find young female students respond especially well to an informal touch.

Q Doesn’t that make it more difficult if there are disciplinary issues to deal with?

A Oh no. The better you know your students, the more you understand what makes them tick. I can usually make a student see where his or her best interests lie, and mostly we resolve any awkward situations between us, without having to bother the principal, if you know what I mean.

Q You teach art, but do you have responsibilities for students who don’t take your subject?

A Oh yes. I seek out young people who may be vulnerable – a female student who has lost a parent, for example. I’m no father figure – far too cool for that, though I say it myself – but I find I can make a connection that we both find very fulfilling.

Q  How you do balance your work and family life?

A  It’s tough, but teaching is a vocation and my wife is fine with that. She knows if I’m late home, it’s because I’m out counselling a student on a one-to-one basis. I find once you get them off school premises – to a country pub for instance – they really open up.  It’s very rewarding. And my wife has her hands full with the kids!

Ask Auntie Satya

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

Dear Auntie Satya,

Last week I had a one-night stand with a local vet – I’m not sure why, except my bridge club had been cancelled. A couple of days later, I rang him because my schnauzer was off-colour. But before I could say a word he blurted out that he wasn’t ready for a relationship and asked me not to contact him again! I couldn’t care two hoots about that – to be honest he was rather, shall we say, underwhelming – but it would be very inconvenient to find another vet. What would you advise? Lavinia.

Dear Lavinia,

I suggest you take your dog round to the surgery and insist that the vet examine her. If he looks nervous, suggest that he leaves the door open or asks his nurse to chaperone. This will reassure him of your intentions and put your relationship back on a professional footing.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I have recently separated from my wife and in a moment of madness, allowed myself to be seduced by a lady from the local hunt. She is a quite attractive blonde with a Range Rover Evoque but not my kind of woman and anyway I am not ready for another relationship. So when she rang me, I made that very clear. But I am worried I have upset her and I don’t want to lose her business (I am a vet). What would you advise? Alistair.

Dear Alistair,

I would ring this lady and say that, while you were spending time together, you couldn’t help noticing that her schnauzer was looking under the weather, and that you have an appointment free if she would like to bring the dog to the surgery.  When she arrives, leave the consulting room door open and ask your nurse to chaperone. This will be a clear signal to the lady that you would like your relationship to resume its professional basis. It may go more smoothly than you think.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I recently made the brave and difficult decision to tell my husband I no longer love him. It has been so hard for me as no one seems to understand how guilty I feel, even though I have to do what is right for me. Now he has betrayed me by having a one-night stand with a mutual friend, and says he is consulting a solicitor about divorce, even though I generously allowed him to move back into the spare room. Why do you think he is being so cold?

Dear Shula,

I am sorry to hear you are upset. But if you read through your letter again, I think you will find you have answered your own question.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Brian messes up, Alistair perks up and Lily is growing up fast...

Local cook misses out on Royal wedding honour

Jennifer Aldridge of Home Farm, Ambridge, says she is ‘devastated’ to have missed a chance to contribute to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Mrs Aldridge was one of a number of home cooks who had been asked to supply elderflower syrup for the wedding cake and a cocktail served at the reception.
‘I was so delighted when Kensington Palace wrote to W.I members, on the QT of course, asking them to send in their syrup,’ she said. ‘They needed gallons of it to feed all those A-list guests.
‘My sister Lilian and I spent hours picking the finest elderflowers and getting the bugs out of them, said Mrs Aldridge. ‘I’d made the syrup and left it on the draining board of my second-best sink to cool. Then there was a commotion, and the next thing I know the kitchen was flooded, my husband Brian was yelling and my  syrup was completely ruined. Apparently he was trying DIY in an effort to impress me. He said: “This isn’t a spanner in my pocket Jenny; I really am pleased to see you!” ’
‘It completely spoiled my enjoyment of the wedding,’ said Mrs Aldridge. ‘And when I saw the guests arriving I was beside myself. The thought that George Clooney might be tasting Jill Archer’s sweet syrup instead of mine was simply too much to bear.’
Contacted by the Ambridge Observer, Mr Aldridge said he regretted the incident. ‘Justin Elliott told me a bit of manly DIY would get me back into Jennifer’s good books,’ he said. ‘Apparently it always works with Lilian. I have to go now – the signal in the barn, where I’m staying, isn’t very good.’

Plans firm up for Open Farm Sunday 

Bridge Farm and Brookfield in Ambridge have announced plans to host a joint event for Open Farm Sunday on June 10. ‘Josh Archer has kindly agreed to set up a farm machinery trail, with an informative quiz, around Bridge Farm,’ said Helen Archer. ‘So in the dairy we thought it would be fun to match ice cream and kefir flavours to the exhibits! So far we’ve got Brake Fluid and Blackberry, Strawberry Sump and Fruity Fergie – that’s my dad Tony’s favourite.
'We're also hoping that Pip Archer, who will be talking about Brookfield's Hereford herd, will go into premature labour, as an added attraction for our visitors, but she's said she can't promise,' said Ms Archer. 

NEW SERIES: The Ambridge Observer Sidebar of Shame

Spotted an Ambridge celeb doing something they shouldn’t? Call the AmOb hotline today! We pay generous tip fees for juicy snippets! (No we don’t. Ed).

Every dog has his day…
Hunky vet Alistair Lloyd looks like a dog with two tails as he sneaks out at dawn from the £850,000 detached home of Borsetshire Hunt favourite Lavinia Rafferty. That's no hang-dog expression he's wearing, so it seems there’s life in the old dog yet – but will he be in the doghouse with estranged wife Shula? (No more dog jokes. Ed.)

Top of the class!
Borchester College It Girl Lily Pargetter flaunts her enviable curves in skinny jeans and ‘Teacher’s Pet’ vest top, as she knocks on the door of college deputy principal Russell Jones, clutching a faux-leather jacket. It’s too big for her petite frame, so shouldn’t she be taking it to Lost Property? Or is ‘call me Russ’ taking his student welfare duties a bit too seriously (unlike his marriage vows….)?

Friends worry for sad Shula
Shula Hebden-Lloyd looks pale and drawn as she slumps on a bench in St Stephen’s graveyard in shabby slacks, unironed blouse and dirty gardening gloves. The recently separated mum of one is seen swigging tea straight from the flask at 10am. Looks like she’s found out soon-to-be-ex hubby Alistair has put in his entry for the single wicket competition ….

Way to go, Will
Tragic teen Jake Grundy is all smiles at the cricket as he watches stepdad Will carry off the Man of the Match award. ‘It’s the most fun we’ve had since the day Nic died,’ said proud Will, who returns to work full-time next week. It sounds as if the hunky gamekeeper may soon be ready to move on…

Steady, Freddie!
Freddie Pargetter, heir to the £50 million Lower Loxley estate, has a surprise encounter with PC Harrison Burns at The Bull in Ambridge. What can be making the young toff so nervous? After all, he’s 18 now – old enough for a pint of Shires.  Although friends say Freddie’s favourite tipple is ‘a bottle of Pils’….

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: Last of the Summer Cordial

A feature-length version of this gentle rural sitcom, in which elderly men never seem to grow up. ‘Brains’ Aldridge and his friend ‘Smelly’ Elliott set out to pick elderflowers for Brains’s wife Jenny, who is permanently vexed. But they are waylaid by ‘Omeless Olwen, who sleeps in her car and carries a knife. They convince her they haven’t been sent by her nemesis Pat ‘Goody Two Shoes’ Archer, and the unlikely trio start picking elderflowers, but Brains gets stuck up a tree and tears his trousers. Much hilarity ensues as Smelly tries to rescue him on horseback and Olwen blames it all on the patriarchy.   

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Promotion for PC Burns, sits vac and she's no Lady

Gold star for local copper…

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) is set for promotion, having been given permission to apply for his sergeant’s exams at a recent performance appraisal.
‘I admit I was surprised,’ a delighted PC Burns told a packed press briefing. ‘After all, I haven’t tracked down the rustlers who stole Ed Grundy’s cattle or Josh Archer’s low loader, or solved the burglaries at Jill Archer’s or Christine Barford’s houses, or identified the driver who knocked down Matt Crawford even though Joe Grundy as good as told me who it was.’ PC Burns also admitted he was also ‘no nearer’ finding out who set fire to the shed at Grange Farm at Wassail, or locating the missing bunting.
‘My boss said they were prepared to overlook my patchy clear-up record because my community relations skills are so good, and that’s what counts in policing these days,’ said PC Burns. ‘I do enjoy community relations, especially with the lovely Fallon Rogers, who I am delighted to say agreed to be my wife in front of all our friends at the pub quiz on Wednesday.
‘Fallon’s a cracker – would you like to see a picture? Oh no, not that one –oops. And would you mind handing out these flyers for the single wicket competition? It’s only three weeks away and I’ve been too busy taking out ISAs to do any publicity for it!’

… but no leads on village vandalism

The tenants at 1, The Green in Ambridge say they are ‘mystified’ about why someone threw a brick through their window on Wednesday night.
Johnny Phillips, who rents the house with Tom Archer, needed stitches to a head wound after being hit by broken glass in the incident.  Freddie Pargetter of Lower Loxley, and Hannah Riley, the new deputy manager of the pig unit at Berrow Farm, were also in the property at the time but were uninjured.
‘We’d all come back from the Bull after the quiz, so Hannah could have a look at our spare room as she needs somewhere to stay,’ said Mr Phillips. ‘Suddenly there was a crash and glass everywhere. We rushed outside but whoever it was had gone.’
Mr Pargetter said he had ‘no idea’ who was responsible. ‘Whatever you do, don’t link this to the fight that Johnny and I got into with Ellis at college last week,’ he said. ‘I do not deal drugs, like Ellis said, and this had absolutely nothing to do with it.’

 ‘Life-changing’ programme launched at Spiritual Home

Spiritual Home, Borsetshire’s leading holistic therapy centre, has announced a new summer programme, developed in partnership with Home Farm, Ambridge.
The six-week plan, known as ‘Fruit Loop Therapy’, claims to help participants lose weight, get fitter and gain strength by pushing their inner resources to the limit.
‘We are so passionate about the new transformational journey we have devised, that we would like as many people as possible to experience it,’ said Spiritual Home’s owner Kate Madikane. ‘In fact, it’s essential that they come, or all of our soft fruit will rot. But we appreciate this is something new and untried in the field of alternative therapies, so we are actually prepared to pay people to take part – at least until word-of-mouth works its magic and we can start charging.’
According to the Fruit Loop brochure, key aspects of the programme include:
 • 12 hours of intensive therapy every day in Home Farm’s purpose-built self-discovery zones, where you will collaborate with others on shared projects based on harvesting Nature’s bounty in the form of strawberries and other soft fruit.
• Mentors on hand to help you achieve and exceed your personal targets and to ensure your wellbeing by allowing you water breaks when convenient.
• Simple meals (one per day), home-cooked over an open fire.
• Accommodation in a charmingly retro sleeping pod, cleverly adapted with holes in the roof so you can see the stars.
• Peaceful sleep, lulled by the soothing rumble of hydraulic pumps as they purify the ponds at nearby Low Mead.
‘We are confident this programme gets results,’ said Ms Madikane. ‘In fact, it changes lives.  One of last year’s participants left her family in Bulgaria and  offered to be a surrogate mother to my brother’s child.’

Situations vacant


Compassionate, capable Nanny required to help recently widowed gamekeeper  look after his little daughter and two older step-children, one of whom has just learned to use a shotgun. Easy-going, cheerful household (are you sure? Ed) as long as you don’t touch anything that belonged to his late wife. Daily visits to her grave required. Ability to work miracles essential, experience in custody battles desirable. Preference will be given to candidates called Maria, or Poppins.

Pet of the Week

Name: Lady
Breed: Bichon Frise
Temporary owner: Lynda Snell
Likes: posing for selfies, devouring books (especially delicious leather-bound volumes)
Dislikes: mud, prettier dogs
Do say: ‘Aren’t you as cute as a diamanté button?’
Don’t say: ‘Now that you’ve eaten Robert’s Silmarillion, could you make a start on the collected works of Jeffrey Archer?’

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Wedding bells, cricket news and a new low for Brian

Ambridge prepares for wedding of the year!

The happy couple pose for their official engagement photo
Congratulations and good wishes poured in from local residents this week as one of Ambridge’s most popular couples announced their engagement.
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) and Fallon Rogers,  who runs the Bridge Farm tea room, say they will marry ‘probably after Brexit, once interest rates have risen enough to give us a decent return on our wedding  day savings account.’
‘I’ve already started collecting wedding ideas magazines,’ said Ms Rogers. ‘Moneywise, What Investment, Which? Money – I want my ISA to look absolutely perfect on the big day.’
 ‘I couldn’t be more excited,’ said PC Burns. ‘When we’re married, Fallon will have full entitlement to my occupational pension benefits, including the death-in-service element. And just think how much easier inheritance tax planning will be!’
The happy couple said they would be celebrating by drawing up a full and frank disclosure of assets.
‘Then we’ll have a party in the tea room for friends and family to watch us sign our pre-nuptial agreement,’ said PC Burns. ‘Obviously we won’t be providing any catering as we’re saving hard, but guests are more than welcome to bring their own glass of fizz to toast our happiness. Fallon has generously said she won’t be charging corkage.’

Faltering start to Ambridge season

Ambridge secured an easy victory over Waterley Cross in the first match of the 2018 campaign, despite being unable to field a full team for the entire match.
‘Roy Tucker was a last-minute absentee as he had a crisis with the linen delivery  at Grey Gables,’ said captain Harrison Burns. ‘Luckily, William Grundy was watching the match with his family – it was good to see him after everything he’s been through and we were grateful to him for stepping in.’
However, Ambridge relief was short-lived as a distracted Grundy was ineffectual with the bat and was out for a duck before refusing to field with the team after tea.
‘You’ll see,’ he muttered to our reporter as he left the ground. ‘Once I’ve taught our Jake to handle a shotgun, they’ll think twice before talking down to the Grundys! And don’t you say Jake’s not a Grundy – he’s mine, mine I tell you and I don’t care how much I have to spend on trainers, burgers and days out to make him see that!’
• In other cricket news, Ambridge’s women players say they are ‘very pleased’ with their new changing room (surely, Portakabin? Ed.). ‘Alistair Lloyd did a lovely job decorating, and you can see that Dan painted round the light sockets as they are very neat,’ said Lily Pargetter. ‘We’re not quite sure about the mural, which has a broken heart and ‘Shula – you heartless cow’ in bright red paint. But I’m sure we’ll get used to it.’

Charity appeal: Support for Seniors

This week, we’re asking for your support to help older people, who often feel left behind, under-appreciated and isolated, especially in rural communities. People like Brian, who gave his working life to the family farm. Now, in his early seventies, he finds himself ousted from his position on the board, his office, and even his marital bed. Just because he made a few mistakes, like poisoning the farm for cash and lying to his family about it for years.
Now, poor Brian cuts a sorry figure, nursing a half of Shires in the window seat of The Bull. He is depressed and resentful, and has been forced to cash in his shares in the Hungarian farming operation and consider selling chunks of the farm to pay the massive fine he is expecting from the Environment Agency.
Please help Brian to turn his life around by donating generously to our Summer appeal. Your cheque will go directly towards vital work such as keeping Brian’s cellar full of claret and his son at public school. Thank you.


Pet of the week

Name: Bertha
Breed: British bulldog
Temporary owner: Lynda Snell
Likes: Sleeping, chewing wasps
Dislikes: Walkies, waiting for din-dins
Do say: ‘She’s quite handsome in the right light’
Don’t say: ‘Lynda, what happened to the pretty little poodle you borrowed earlier in the week? And what is that hanging out of Bertha’s chops?’

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week:  'Kenton and Shula'

Middle-aged twins Kenton and Shula decide to break out of their humdrum lives. They plot an escape route over hot chocolate and whipped cream and decide to take a souped-up convertible car on a test drive. In the badlands of the Borchester bypass Kenton tries to persuade Shula to spend her inheritance on the car and run away from her dull husband Alistair. But Shula is riven by guilt that she has leftover lamb casserole in the fridge and nervous about being caught by the local Speedwatch patrol. She sinks into a sulk and insists Kenton drive her back to the showroom. (Warning: may cause drowsiness).