Sunday, 17 September 2017

Flower & Produce shocker, how to handle Hilda, and what's on Ian's mind?

Fraud ‘rife’ at the Flower & Produce, judges claim

The skulduggery threat level at this year’s Ambridge Flower & Produce Show has been raised to critical as judges warned that cheating to win the top prizes is extremely likely.
‘We have been monitoring various suspect gardeners, including one who appears to be feigning terminal illness in order to make fellow competitors feel sorry for him,’ said the head judge at a briefing held at a secret location. ‘We have also intercepted conversations between Ambridge veterans about setting up a cartel, to raise their chances of winning certain categories. The competitions for marrows, onions and parsnips are most likely to be targeted and novice entrants are advised to avoid these.’
In other F & P news, the theme for the home-baked desserts category has been changed. ‘Chef Ian Craig will now be awarding a special prize for the cake that looks most like a baby,’ the judges said.   

New series: It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet

Alistair Lloyd, much-loved local vet (are you sure? Ed) shares some heart-warming tails (oh, dear Lord. Ed) from his casebook:  

Peggy Woolley’s cat Hilda Ogden is a charming little thing, as long as you approach her wearing oven gloves and a fencing mask. But she does have a naughty habit of chasing and killing everything smaller than her. We found this out the hard way when she came for her vaccinations. Oops! But we replaced the hamster, Java finches and fancy rat soon enough; the owners never noticed.
Fortunately, a wily old vet like me has just the solution for cats like Hilda: euthanasia. (Surely: a cute collar with a bell? The Ladies’ Circle won’t stand for this! Ed.)  

Coffee break with: Ian Craig

In our occasional series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with the popular head chef at Grey Gables.

Q So, Ian – your food has been getting some great reviews lately. You must be delighted?

A Oh sure, right enough, but it’s a team effort. Did I tell you Adam and I are   thinking of adopting a child? We went to an information event about it. It’s supposed to be a secret, mind, but I’m so excited I can’t help telling everyone!

Q That’s great news! And you must be relieved that Oliver Sterling isn’t selling Grey Gables. What are you planning for your Christmas menus?

A Yes, Oliver’s a great bloke. Did you know he and Caroline were foster parents? He said it was really rewarding looking after teenagers, but I’m not so sure, d’you know what I mean? Maybe babies are easier. Mind you, Lilian Bellamy said she couldn’t get a nanny quick enough.  And me and Adam would be hands-on parents, so we would.

Q We hear Grey Gables will be hosting the South Borsetshire Hunt Ball this year. Have you got any top tips for cooking game?

A To be honest, I ask my mother-in-law Jennifer. There’s nothing she can’t do with a pheasant. And she took in Brian’s child, young Ruairi, when he was four, you know. The wee boy’s a credit to her now, so he is, but she said it was a really difficult time, and took ages for them to bond…

Q You’re well known for your use of local ingredients. What’s your current favourite?

A I’m a big fan of Borsetshire Blue – and not just because my friend Helen Archer makes it! She knows me so well. She was turning cheeses the other day and she just came out with it. ‘Try surrogacy, Ian!’ she said. ‘You know it’s what you want.’ And you know what? She’s right, so she is.  But Adam and I would need to find the right surrogate. I don’t suppose you…  (Coffee break over. Ed).

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: special comedy double bill!

Carry On Up The Campsite. It’s fun and games at the end of the fruit-picking season in this classic British farce of caravan-cleaning capers. Matron bursts in on Roy and Lexi – and she doesn’t know where to put her bin bags! Starring Barbara Windsor as Bulgarian bombshell ‘Sexy’ Lexi Bustikova, Jim Dale as Roy Tucker and Jennifer Aldridge as Matron.

The Wrong Trousers.  Mild-mannered hotel manager Roy finds himself transformed into an irresistible Bulgarian love god when he is forced to put on   Constantin’s jeans after an unlikely accident with a hosepipe.  How much havoc will he wreak among the Ambridge womenfolk before he is able to get back into his comfy chinos?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Brexit, romance and gooseberry jam – an unusual week in Ambridge

How is it for E.U.?

With negotiations between the U.K and the E.U. under way, we ask the owners of  Home Farm, who have strong European connections, how they are feeling about Brexit:

Adam Macy: I think this ‘green Brexit’ is a good idea. We’re ahead of the game with our herbal leys.  And I’m not worried about a shortage of labour. We’ve managed to replace our full-time, qualified tractor-driver with a three-day-a-week apprentice who was desperate to get away from his deadly dull grandfather’s farm. So I’m optimistic.

Brian Aldridge: Green Brexit my artichoke. Britain isn’t going to feed itself if all we think about is hoar finches, or whatever nonsense Kirsty Miller blogs about on her ghastly wildlife website. Farming is an industry – just ask my gamekeeper Will Grundy. He knows about managing the landscape for profit – and that means industrial quantities of pheasants for my shooting clients. If it was left to Adam, he’d be building nests for magpies and inviting the foxes to afternoon tea.  

Jennifer Aldridge: I do think it will be a shame if we aren’t able to hire the fruit pickers every summer. They often tell me how grateful they are to escape from their little countries like Bulgaria or… wherever… and see the incredible wealth we have in Ambridge. And they’re paid in proper money instead of cabbages, or whatever it is they barter where they come from. Really, most of them aren’t bad, you know.  Some of them can even speak quite good English. And we all need to do our bit to help the Third World.

Your week in the stars

The AmOb’s resident astrologer Janet Planet reveals what fate has in store for our readers:

Sometimes, love arrives when you least expect it, especially if you are a former member of a racist gang and never liked foreigners much. But hey, it’s time for super-cautious Pisceans to throw away the dating spreadsheets and buy new bedsheets! Romance will be all the sweeter if your new love has to return home soon or face prosecution for outstaying her work visa.   

Taureans who have been through a very difficult time lately will find a measure of peace and comfort this week. Important decisions you have made – for example, to stay put instead of moving on – will feel right. Expect neighbours to show how much they care with little gifts, such as pots of gooseberry jam.

Taking a big decision can be scary, especially where it involves a life-changing step such as adopting a child. But don’t be tempted to go back into your shell. With a supportive partner you could both enjoy a new depth to your relationship, even if it would mean growing up a bit.

A fabulous week all round for lucky Lions. The future is looking secure and bright on the work front and the stars are also aligned for Leos who have always wanted a child, but have so far been held back by a selfish and petulant partner. Just don’t let that loyal lion heart of yours get broken again…

Ambridge Exchange and Mart.  

For sale:

Pat Archer’s delicious organic gooseberry jam. Sharp and refreshing! Priced to sell after a bumper crop. Any offer considered. Contact: Bridge Farm.
Gooseberry jam. Unwanted gift. Come and take it away ‘cos not even Joe won’t touch it. Contact: Grange Farm.
Gooseberry jam. Acquired taste. (Hint: don’t leave it on the worktop or it will strip the varnish.) Contact: Shula Hebden-Lloyd, The Stables.
Gooseberry jam. Free to a good home. Doesn’t go with frozen pizza. Or anything really. Contact: Ruth Archer, Brookfield.


Bridge Farm gooseberry jam. Does anyone have a spare pot? Brian loves it for some reason – but then he did go to boarding school. Contact: Jennifer Aldridge, Home Farm.  

Letter to the Editor

From the Office of the POTUS,
The White House, Washington.

Dear Madam,

The President has authorised me to reach out to your readers on a delicate matter. The Commander in Chief, who as you will be aware is a world-class hotelier, recently visited a number of British country clubs on a low-key ‘mystery shopper’ mission.
It seems that during his stay in your locality, the POTUS mislaid a personal item of headwear. He is not sure whether this was in the restaurant, where he enjoyed Chef Craig’s ’50 Shades of Grey Gables’ seasonal menu, or in the health club (congratulations to your instructor Leroy on an excellent Aqua Fit class) or in his suite, where he spent a relaxing evening despite the lack of Fox News and a poor WiFi connection to Twitter.
Mr Trump would like to be reunited with his headgear, which is a favorite. It is easily recognisable by its orange/gold colour, stiff texture and tousled appearance, which has been likened to two rats doing a tango.
If any of your readers can locate and retrieve the item, the President has authorised me to offer a POTUS 45 baseball cap and Mar-a-Lago key ring as a token of his appreciation.

Truly yours,
C. I. Abbott
Asst to the Executive Asst of the VP of the President’s Headwear Dept, The West Wing.  


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Autumn Fiction Special: Mistress of the Kefir (warning: adult themes)

This week The AmOb is delighted to present an exclusive extract from Carinthia Hart’s forthcoming novel, Mistress of the Kefir. It is a unique literary collaboration between Carinthia, queen of the bonkbuster, and her nephew Dale, master of horror. The result is compelling…

Chapter One

Susan Carter cowered behind the kitchen door, numb with fear. What had she done? The ‘thing’ she had created was growing ever more powerful; there was no stopping it now. The vile mass had coagulated from its separate pods – coconut, blueberry, natural – and slithered across her worktop, clasping its doughy, sticky limbs round the toaster, spitting out foul bubbles of stinking gas like a demonic geyser. Now she knew: the culture didn’t just look like brains in milk. Somehow it had acquired consciousness. The Kefir had woken. And who knew what horrors it was fermenting in its twisted mind?
‘Brace yourself Susan. Hope that’s chilli I can smell!’ Neil strode in, swinging his Thermos. Normally the sight of his masterful body, damp overalls clinging to every muscle and the whiff of something carnal and primitive about his manly form, would have her melting with desire faster than ice in a Dirty Banana. She could tell he was hot for her, as, pausing only to discard his boots as house rules required, he flung off his fleece and reached for her, nostrils flaring… ‘Oh my good Lord, what is that stink!’
‘It’s only.. oh Neil, I never meant – it’s the Kefir. It’s going to kill us all!’ She clutched her husband’s arms but he shook her off. ‘Cor blimey, certainly smells like it. Sorry Susan, that’s put me right off. Mr Hogg is staying in his ark tonight. And I’m off to the pigs – for some fresh air!’ And with that he was gone. She slumped, weeping, against the kitchen door…

Chapter Two

To a man like Toby Fairbrother, every encounter with a woman was a potential sexual opportunity. It was just the way he was made – and by God, didn’t women love it? But even his magnificent libido was taking a back seat this morning. He was waist-deep in the Am, struggling to herd the goslings his stupid brother Rex had let out.
‘Hey, Tobes!’ Yes! It was his lucky day after all. Pip Archer had roared up on her quad bike. She looked hot – thighs in tight jeans, stradding the saddle, her shape barely concealed in one of his old rugby shirts, drenched in sweat. Two birds with one stone, Tobes, he thought to himself. Or more like, hundreds! ‘Pip, you’ve saved my life. Come and help with this lot.’
Within seconds her feet were naked and she’d waded in. He smiled and stripped off his own shirt. The Pipster never could resist the rippling Toby bod, honed in the scrum. Soon, it would be like old times, with maybe some sexy mud-wrestling thrown in….
Already half-aroused, he’d forgotten the geese. He turned round – and his face became a mask of terror. The goslings were waddling towards him, a hideous feathered army with destruction as their only aim. As if by some secret signal, they took off and went straight for him. He could see the glint of hatred in their eyes as they surrounded him in an evil-smelling  cloud, beating their wings in his face, ripping his flesh with sharp beaks, scratching and gouging until his face and arms were running with blood… Then, oh God -  ‘No, no! Not the crown jewels!’ His screams mixed with the birds’ harsh, guttural cackles as they tore through his jeans and attacked his manhood. ‘Pip! Pip! Save me!’ But all he could hear as he sank weakly into the mud was the sound of his ex-girlfriend laughing…

Chapter Three

‘We’re cut from the same cloth, you and I, Adam.’ His aunt Lilian fondled the ears of her puppy, Ruby, sensuously betraying the practised skill that had made her a byword in Borsetshire boudoirs. ‘We both have loving, faithful partners but…’ ‘I know, it’s the forbidden fruit.’ Adam smiled ruefully, remembering the heady scent of strawberries and plastic sheeting in the polytunnels, Pawel’s hard, sinewy body against his…
‘Ian loves you. Do something special to remind him of how good you used to be together. I can give you a few tips if you like.. there was one thing Matt used to go wild for…’ Adam got up hastily. ‘Um, no thanks Lilian. You’re right, but I know what gets Ian going. I should do. He’s my husband after all…’ Adam had an idea.
Later that evening, he and Ian were lounging in the hot tub, replete and completely satisfied. ‘Good, wasn’t it?’ Adam said lazily. ‘Yeah, fantastic right enough. Best ever.’ Ian smiled irresistibly. ‘Don’t say you want more? I’m done!’ Adam laughed indulgently. ‘Come on old man,’ Ian grinned. ‘Just one more.’ He leaned through the warm bubbles towards Adam. ‘Onion bhaji or prawn pakora?’
But his question went unanswered. ‘God, Ian, what’s that?’ Adam pointed into the foaming water. Under the surface, something was stirring. ‘Well, you can’t blame a man for…’ Ian smiled, but his expression froze as he followed Adam’s finger. A milky, glutinous ectoplasm was slithering out from the water jet, spreading through the hot tub and forming hideous, ghostly limbs that grasped at their naked legs. Both men covered their faces as an evil miasma rose through the water, filling the air with a terrible stink.
‘What… what the?’ Ian gasped, even as the thing reached up a skeletal arm and dragged him down. ‘It’s…. it’s the Kefir!’ Adam screamed in horror. ‘I warned Susan she’d never control it, but she insisted on meddling. We’re all doomed!’

To be continued…..