Ambridge up in arms at Lent challenge
Parishioners of St Stephen’s have voiced opposition to this year’s Lent Appeal, which asks church-goers to ‘Pay for a Favour’ to raise funds for the Intensive Care Unit at Borchester Hospital.
‘After discussion with her family, we agreed it would be a fitting tribute to the memory of Nic Grundy, who so sadly left us a year ago,’ said the Revd Alan Franks. ‘Nic was always bustling about, helping others and letting people know about it with a cheery smile.’
‘It’s really rather tiresome,’ said an anonymous church-goer. ‘Usually, we all just pretend to give up wine and put a few extra pound coins in the collection. The thought of actually having to help someone isn’t in the spirit of Lent at all.’
‘It’s insulting, bribing people to do things they’d do out of the goodness of their hearts,’ said Susan Carter. ‘For example, just the other day I helped Jennifer Aldridge unblock her U-bend, without any need for payment or any ulterior motive at all. Mind you, it’s better than getting people to give up chocolate. That plays havoc with the shop takings.’
Ask Auntie Satya
With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya is back to sort out all your emotional and practical dilemmas.
Dear Auntie Satya,
My mother-in-law has a new man friend who often visits her at our home for what they call ‘Scrabble days’, which involve a lot of giggling behind closed doors. We’re trying to make him welcome, but it can be awkward. For example, the other day I’d just put all my knickers out on the radiators to dry, when he came in. What’s the etiquette here? Ruth.
Don’t worry; next time you are airing your smalls, tell him they belong to your mother-in-law. If he says: ‘Really? I haven’t seen that pair before!’ you’ll know it’s time to buy a wedding hat.
Dear Auntie Satya,
My husband and I find ourselves in reduced circumstances and this week, I had to look on while my daughter’s mother-in-law, who frankly is not ‘one of us’ insisted on unblocking my U-bend. It was full of the most sordid gunk – I suspect compacted tofu and mung beans from when my vegan daughter had supper with us, but it looked and smelt awful. I had to blame it on the previous owners. And then she insisted we go to her house for a dinner party! How can I avoid such humiliation? Jennifer.
I would advise buying a serviceable plunger and asking your husband to become familiar with its use. From your longer letter, I gather he does not have a great deal to do at the moment so this should not prove too difficult. As for the dinner party, why not call and say that to save your hostess work, you’d like to bring a tofu and mung bean dish that’s a particular family favourite. I suspect you’ll find the invitation is quickly withdrawn.
Dear Auntie Satya,
My daughter has been diagnosed with depression and is seeing a therapist. Obviously I want her to get better, but I’m worried that during her sessions she will talk about her childhood and blame her problems on me, because when she was a baby the au pair left and I had a bit of a breakdown. I have a new man friend and wouldn’t want him to be put off. Am I right to be concerned? Jill.
No. Whatever makes you think that a therapist would judge you for being distant, self-centred, interfering and over-critical as a parent? I’m sure your fears are groundless. And even if they’re not, conversations between therapist and client are strictly confidential, so you needn’t worry that your man friend will learn about any past difficulties.
Coffee break with… Pat Archer
In our series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the matriarch of Bridge Farm and stalwart volunteer at The Elms (are you sure? She never mentions it these days. Ed)
Q Pat, we’re lucky we’ve managed to pin you down to have a coffee. You’re usually so busy!
A Ha ha ha, yes. Tony and I are really winding down now that our family are running the farm so beautifully. Our daughter Helen lets us take her boys to the soft play centre, but that’s about it these days!
Q And they have some exciting plans, we hear?
A Oh yes. Of course, they do consult us. Just the other day, Tom asked us about his plan to buy a 10-acre field to expand our new agroforestry venture. We were so proud of our grandson Johnny. He was maturely discussing what he’d read in the Financial Times about the outlook for farmland prices. And to think, when he came to us he could barely read or write! But once Tom sorted out his dyslexia by advising him to print things out on tinted paper, there was no stopping him. Maybe that’s why he likes the Financial Times… Anyway, as I was saying…
Q Er, yes Pat. Tell us what you’re planning for the dairy?
A Well, we have our new herd of Montbéliarde milkers, which Helen is sure will help her make fabulous cheese. Johnny’s actually looking after them of course, but Helen works so hard, regularly telling him he’s doing quite a good job, and she’s so happy with her new friend Lee – always singing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ around the dairy. It cheers us all up, I can tell you.
Q And the veg boxes are due for a revamp, we hear?
A Oh yes, Tom’s girlfriend Natasha is very ambitious for those. He’s so sensible; he just does exactly what she tells him. And Tony’s delighted because we’re going to put home-grown beef in our veg boxes, which is a first for Borsetshire. Natasha says it will be quite 'disruptive'.
Q So with Brexit looming, you’ve no concerns that your plans might be swept off course?
A Good heavens, no. What could possibly go wrong? Oh look, it’s time for lunch. Would you like to stay? It’s only soup and a roll…
Borsetshire Community Cinema
Showing this week: The Sound of Music sing-along
Raid your dressing-up box, become your favourite character and join your family and friends at this very special screening of one of the world’s best-loved musicals. But hurry: tickets are going fast! Already signed up to attend are:
Jill Archer (Mother Superior)
Sabrina Thwaite (the Countess)
Clarrie Grundy (brown paper package tied up with string)
Joe Grundy (warm woollen mittens)
Mia Grundy (Liesl)
Ruairi Donovan (Rolf)
Poppy Grundy (Gretl)
Nic Grundy (Maria – her seat will be left empty).
(That’s enough Sound of Music. Something in my eye. Ed.)
NEW SERIES: The Secret Diary of Russell Jones, aged 40-something
Arrived at Lower Loxley (sigh). An uncomfortable journey, wedged in the back seat up against boxes of bedlinen and the Italian coffee pot. Lily knows I find driving stressful. Elizabeth delighted to see Lily, but not so pleased to see Yours Truly; I don’t know why. Tried to help by making my special coffee but Lily was petulant about it. Quite hurtful. And she completely flew off the handle when I suggested asking her relatives for money. I mean, it’s not as if I have any, is it? Not with the Manchester art scene being so cliquey, and Lara being difficult about the divorce. Lily used to be so obliging and now she’s – spiky. The last thing an artist needs is a shrewish muse, as any Pre-Raphaelite will tell you.
A ghastly evening at The Bull being tormented by Lily’s troll of a cousin, Ben, and his spotty sidekick Ruairi. Not sure which was worse: Jolene’s caterwauling, which threatened to bring on my tinnitus, or bumping into that sour old puss from college. How dare she ask me how I have the nerve to show my face? I’ve done nothing wrong, as I told the disciplinary board just before they presented me with the choice of resigning or being sacked. This is why I was so against us coming back to Ambridge. These petits bourgeois have no clue about grand passion. Next day I showed Lily my sketch of a sorrowing heron, but she actually snarled. Quite hurtful.