Sunday, 28 October 2018

Lynda's inspired, Helen's confused and ghoulish goings-on at Lower Loxley

Spooky success for stately home  

This year's Hallowe'en attraction at Lower Loxley is proving a big hit with visitors, who say it's one of the spookiest sights they've ever seen.
'We didn't even realise there was a special Hallowe'en event, until we got to the gates and found them locked with rusty chains, covered in cobwebs and with rubbish blowing about everywhere,' said Mrs Jackie Lantern of Acocks Green. 'We thought it was closed, but then this terrifying zombie staggered down the drive towards us. She was white as a sheet, with red eyes and hair all wild and tangled.
'When she got close to us she started clutching at my Gary through the bars and rasping "Are you a lawyer? I need a lawyer for my Freddie. I'll pay anything..."
'Gary thought he'd play along so he said he wasn't a lawyer, but he'd seen a few episodes of Judge Rinder on TV and would that do? The zombie started cackling like a banshee, unlocked the gates and dragged him inside. The children were proper scared, it was great. But then we realised the Orangery wasn't open and we all fancied a vampire blood hot chocolate, so we went to Pumpkin Paradise at Netherborne Hall instead.'

Snell reveals vision behind Canterbury cavalcade

First rehearsal of The Canterbury Tales at Brookfield
Ambridge is promised 'the most lavish entertainment it has ever seen' as Lynda Snell prepares for her epic staging of The Canterbury Tales this ChristmasThe Ambridge Observer was treated to a sneak preview of the production, which will take place at Brookfield by kind permission of David and Ruth Archer. Mrs Snell describes her reworking of Chaucer's stories as a challenge for the audience, who will see all their 'secret loves, desires and fears' reflected as the drama plays out in the barn and farmyard setting.
'I was musing on how to express the full and final flowering of my muse, while relaxing in the shepherd's hut with Robert and Monty,' said Mrs Snell. 'Suddenly, I had the kind of creative vision that very few are privileged to experience. It occurred to me that every single person in Ambridge is in fact an actor. At once, the scale of the production became clear. There will be a role for everyone in the village. Yes, even Sabrina Thwaite, whose voice doesn't project as far as her bust, or Nathan Booth, whose range of expression was severely tested by playing the back half of a horse.'
Mrs Snell added that people would have to be bussed in from other villages to make up the audience, as everyone in Ambridge would be in the show. 'This is a minor detail,' she said. 'I'm sure that spectators will flock to see the most ambitious and unforgettable event that Ambridge - nay, Borsetshire – has ever seen.'

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is back to help with all your emotional and practical problems.

Dear Auntie Satya,

The sensei at my karate class (that means instructor, by the way) is attractive and also seems very emotionally available; he's helped my son with his anxieties and is always kind and attentive to me. Last week he asked if he could touch me to get me into the right position, and I said that was OK, but the physical contact brought back bad memories of my abusive ex-husband. Will I ever be free of the past? Helen.

Dear Helen,

Firstly, thank you for explaining what a sensei is. It is many years since I attained my 10th dan, but rest assured I still know my way round a dojo. It is difficult to recover from the kind of trauma you describe in your longer letter. I would advise you to take things slowly with your sensei. Any romance between you must be based on openness and trust. Tell him about your fears and if he is as sensitive as you hope, you will soon have no difficulty with him touching you to get you in the right position. That was certainly my experience.

Dear Auntie Satya, 

I am exhausted bringing up my baby daughter as a single mum; she keeps me up at night and I find myself falling asleep in lamb marketing meetings, which is embarrassing as I used to be the go-to girl for cost-effective packaging. So I suggested to my ex, the baby's father, that he stays over a couple of nights a week. We're sharing the bed as the sofa is hard and lumpy. Do you agree this is a sensible arrangement? Pip.

Dear Pip,

Please ask your baby daughter to write to me instead, as I expect she has more common sense than you and her father put together. In the meantime, I strongly advise you to invest in a more comfortable sofa.

Dear Auntie Satya, 

My friend is keen on a girl who I think is wrong for him, so I told him she's a two-faced, nasty, interfering cow who loves stirring up trouble. He took offence and said I'd taken all the fun out of the 'pin the maggot on the apple' game we were playing at the time. I still think I did the right thing as people need to know the truth. What do you think? Emma.

Dear Emma,

In your longer letter you tell me you have a history of speaking your mind and then regretting it. We all care about our friends, but we have to let them make their own mistakes – and you may be wrong about this girl's character. Apologise to your friend, so at least if either of them comes to a sticky end – for example, being crushed by a pig ark or trampled by a herd of weaners – your conscience will be clear.

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Sunday, 21 October 2018

Brian's bored, Bert's concerned and Burns strikes again

Burns claims new arrest record

Borsetshire's Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has said his tally of arrests has risen by 100 per cent over the summer, a new record for the area.
'I hope residents will feel safer knowing that policing performance has improved so dramatically,' said PC Burns, who told a packed press conference that he arrested Jolene Archer,  landlady of The Bull in Ambridge, for anti-social behaviour at a family party last week.
'I warned Mrs Archer about her aggressive competitiveness while we were playing a board game, Escape from Atlantis,' he said. 'But she persisted in drowning my Atlanteans and crowing about it in a provocative manner. She left me no option but to arrest her for hurting the feelings of a police officer, which as we all know is a hate crime. And if it isn't, it should be. That game has been my favourite since childhood and she has ruined it for me.'
After taking a moment to compose himself, PC Burns went on to point out that, with the conviction of Freddie Pargetter for drug-dealing, his clear-up rate doubled from one arrest to two in the past year.
'It's all in a day's work for me,' he said, modestly. 'And make no mistake, I would have arrested Lynda Snell for allowing Monty to foul on the village green, if Robert Snell hadn't been so nifty with the poop scoop and bio-degradable scented bag. Let criminals of Borsetshire be aware: we never sleep.'

Brexit: what do millennials think?

As Brexit negotiations enter their final crucial phase, we asked some of the younger generation for their views:

Tom Archer: 'Brexit? Ooh, tricky one. I'd have to ask Natasha, my Nuffield scholarship colleague.  She's so smart, she's bound to have built it into her business strategy. Thanks though – you've given me another reason to ring her!'  
Josh Archer: 'Brexit's going to be fantastic for my business. When farmers find out they'll have a three-year wait for a shiny new tractor, they'll be queuing up for my pre-loved, reconditioned models at a premium price. I won't even need to bother scrubbing off the rust and pumping the tyres up, like I do now. Bring it on!'
Johnny Phillips: 'I think Brexit will help me as we're getting some French cows at Bridge Farm and I thought I'd have to learn French, but Josh says I'll be able to make them speak English instead. Josh is brilliant. He's letting me do all the milking at Brookfield so I can practise.'
Hannah Riley: 'People make far too much fuss about it. They should just get on with it. Like, I'm dating Chad, but Tom's my housemate, so why not? We're both adults and a bit of sexy time never... what? Oh, Brexit! Sorry, misheard. Never mind, have you got a few minutes now? I'll just ditch these overalls.. '    That's more than enough vox pop. Ed.  

Autumn Charity Appeal

As the days shorten and winter draws near, we ask for your support to help vulnerable older people in our community. People who have given so much, and expect so little. People like Brian. Only a few months ago, Brian was a respected landowner who nearly won the Borsetshire Businessperson of the Year award. Now, thanks to a silly misunderstanding over a toxic chemical spill and a multi-million pound clean-up bill, Brian is a broken man. Instead of presiding over board meetings and barking out orders, he is forced to spend his days:
• helping to chop vegetables for lunch
• complaining about his stepson’s pesticide regime   
• pretending to take an interest in the welfare of elderly relatives.
Please help Brian regain his self-esteem, so he can hold court at the Golf Club bar again, boring everyone with his newly acquired opinions about opportunities for meat exports after Brexit. 
Even a small donation will make a difference, especially to Brian’s wife Jennifer, who can’t wait to get him out from under her feet. Thank you. 

Poem of The Week

Thank you to Bert Fry, the Bard of Borsetshire, for sending us this moving poem, written in honour of his employer Elizabeth Pargetter. 

Lament for Lower Loxley

Now in our lives we all have trouble,
But poor Elizabeth, she has double.
Her son Freddie’s brought terrible shame
On the noble Pargetter name.

In youth offenders’ he does languish,
Causing his mum unbearable anguish.
And while she’d move the earth to free him,
He won’t even let anyone see him.

And in the family there are still hard feelings,
Now they know about Freddie’s dealings.
They can’t manage to forgive and forget
That he put Noluthando in a hospital bed.

So I took Elizabeth on the Tree Top Walk,
And her and me had a little talk.
For while she's in such an anxious state,
She's neglecting work on the estate.

The shrubs need pruning, the lawn's a sight,

Poor Geraldine's toiling day and night.
But though she said she'd heed my words
I don't think Elizabeth really heard.

Young Lily would see the state we're in,
But she's at uni, living in sin.
And so I fear we'll all rue the day
That Master Pargetter was put away. 

Pets of the Week

Names: Gladys and Gloria
Belong to: Jill Archer, Brookfield
Likes: Foraging, squabbling, being shut up safely at night
Dislikes: Josh Archer, foxes, nearly being massacred
Do say: ‘Well done for hiding in the orchard. So sorry about your friends.’
Don’t say: ‘Calm down, ladies. You’re running round like headless chickens.'

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Hot-shot  lawyer takes up desperate mum’s appeal

A lawyer famous for his high-profile clients says he is confident there are grounds to appeal the sentence of a year in detention that was handed down to Freddie Pargetter of Lower Loxley last week.
Freddie’s mother Elizabeth retained ‘Tech’ Nick Allity after claiming that her son, 18, was unsafe in the young offenders’ institute where he was sent from Borchester Crown Court, following his conviction for dealing class A drugs.
‘My poor Freddie will never survive in that place, with people like that,’ she said. ‘There are no scented candles, the pillows are synthetic and there’s no menu to choose from at lunch, as he is used to. And all my so-called friend Usha Franks suggested was to calm down and have a nice cup of tea.’
Mr Allity, who recently hit the headlines for getting a Premier League footballer off a fraud charge on the grounds that he was too stupid to deceive anyone, said there were aspects of the case that gave serious cause for concern.
‘Gimme a break. The cop who arrested this fine young man was out on his bachelor party, dressed as a broad and under the influence of hard liquor,’ said New York-born Mr Allity. ‘Show me anyplace in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act where that’s legal. We’ll have Mr Pargetter out of jail as fast as his mom can transfer 100,000 US to my offshore bank account.’

Snell to bow out in style

Ambridge impresario Lynda Snell has vowed that this year’s Christmas production, which will be her last, will cement her reputation as ‘Borsetshire’s Greatest Show-woman.’
‘Like P.T. Barnum, I feel that, in my own small way, I too have the gift of the business we call show,’ said Mrs Snell. ‘So what could be more fitting than to re-stage, in Ambridge, the story of a visionary who rose from humble beginnings to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation?

‘That said, my production, what I have written myself in traditional rhyming couplets, is completely original and draws on my own recent creative influences, which include Anna Karenina, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, The Silmarillion and The Tiger Who Came To Tea (little Mungo’s favourite). I can truly promise there will be something for all the family.’

Flower & Produce Show: news round-up

Do you recognise this cabbage?
• Entrants to the Ambridge Flower & Produce Show have been questioned by police investigating the cabbage-throwing incident at Aston Villa’s last home game. ‘We are following a tip-off that a gardener who was pipped to the post for best cabbage may have decided to take his rage out on Aston Villa’s beleaguered manager, Steve Bruce,’ said a spokesperson. ‘We understand that feelings at the show were running high but there’s no excuse for assault with a potentially deadly vegetable.’
• The acceptance speech made by Jennifer Aldridge, winner of the Freda Fry Cup, is officially the longest and weepiest the Flower & Produce Show has ever seen. ‘People felt sorry for her, because she’s having to sell Home Farm, but they began to walk out after she started thanking everyone from her infant school teacher to Fabrice of Felpersham,’ said one visitor. ‘It didn’t help that she wiped her nose on Hilary Noakes’s entry in the “Embroidered ‘Scenes of Borsetshire” category.’
• Bookies described the Show as a ‘skinner’ after Nic’s Harvest Pie, the 100-1 outsider in the Savouries category, was awarded a Highly Commended certificate. ‘There was a late surge of bets on it, but something about that pie didn’t smell right,’ said one.     

 From the message boards

This week we drop in on the Ambridge Community Forum, to find out what residents are chatting about online:

• Hey guys, did you hear Ellis got arrested for dealing, just like Freddie? Reckon he’ll get more than a year – deserves it too. He was the one Freddie was scared of. JohnnyP.
• Yeah. Shocker about Freddie though. Where am I supposed to get sorted for the Naughty Forties Singles Night at the Torn Scrotum? TraceyKardashianOnlyJokinHorrobin
LOLZ. Don’t worry Trace, when Freddie gets out he’ll be a proper criminal – get you anything you like. FelpershamCityFan.
• Um, legal point here, chaps. Does anyone know how one can avoid a particular judge who is clearly rather harsh when it comes to the old sentencing malarkey? Asking for a friend. HomeFarmBrian.
• Posh Boy should’ve got longer. And if Ellis finds he dobbed him in, he’d better watch himself in the showers, if you get me. Ellis got mates everywhere. DunCrimeDoTime
Oh, this is all so distressing! My Freddie is sensitive, like his poor father. He’ll never manage in that dreadful place. How can you all be so horrid? LoLoLizzie.
• Like we care… Everyone.
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Your week in the stars

Our resident astrologer Janet Planet reveals what fate has in store for readers:

The stars are indeed capricious for Goats fresh from victory at the Flower & Produce Show. The prospect of your home of 40 years being turned into luxury flats by a woman called Belcher is a bitter blow, but don’t let it drive you into bingeing on leftover sausage rolls and apricot strudel.

Venus, planet of peace, is smiling on you this week and will see the end of a troubling family rift. Your natural generosity will prompt you to give away free birthday cakes to old ladies, but beware: if your husband finds out you are spending profits that should be going into your ISA, the atmosphere of harmony may be short-lived.

Not a very happy birthday for Librans, who are troubled by inconvenient incidents such as your grandson being in jail and your elderly sister-in-law breaking her hip after tripping over the cat. However, your sunny, upbeat nature will soon reassert itself as you know there is very little in life that can’t be sorted out with a big pot of Earl Grey and a slice of lemon drizzle.   

Borsetshire Rural Cinema: Announcement

Apologies, film fans: there will be no screening in the Village Hall this week as we were sent the wrong film by mistake. Instead of ‘Babe: Pig in the City’ we received ‘Put a Porker in it’, in which Hannah the horny pig-handler gets right under the skin of Big Tom, who’s famed for the size of his sausage. To quote the trailer, it contains “sizzlin’ scenes of makin’ bacon” that the Cinema Committee deemed completely unsuitable for family viewing, once they had watched it three times to make sure.