Sunday, 10 December 2017

New scam hits Ambridge and Emma creates a stink

Currency trading frenzy hits village

Financial speculators descended on Ambridge this week as the price of a new cryptocurrency reached record levels.
Code-named ‘Tumble Tussock’, the currency is publicised only by word of mouth and avoids all recognised exchanges. The price of a single unit, known as a ‘bottle’, reached £18,000 on news that the currency’s inventors, the shadowy Grundy family, were restricting supply to investors who also purchased their other financial instrument, the so-called ‘Turkey.’  
‘It was wild,’ said currency trader Red Braces. ‘There were rumours that hackers from North Korea had stepped in to flood the market with an inferior Tumble Tussock known as ‘Badger’s Piss.’ But these Grundys are clever. Once they’d linked Tumble Tussock securely to the Turkey we knew there was only upside for investors.’
A spokesperson for the Financial Conduct Authority said: 'We are investigating. This could be the worst case of in-cider trading we have ever seen.'

Drama delights the W.I.

Guest speaker at the Christmas meeting of Ambridge W.I. was Mrs Lynda Snell of Ambridge Hall, who gave members a fascinating insight into the archetypal mythology of Sleeping Beauty, this year’s pantomime.
‘Lynda told us about her journey into the role of Fairy Nightshade,’ said Mrs Gemma Hawkins. ‘It was very realistic because when she was describing her search for the character’s super-objective, we all fell into a deep sleep, like Princess Aurora. Luckily, Susan Carter, who is playing Fairy Buttercup, was on hand to revive us with some mulled kefir and home-made mince pies with a touch of chilli. She says they’re a particular favourite with her husband Neil.’ 

Young entrepreneur plays her cards right

Borchester College student Lily Pargetter has launched her own range of social stationery, which she claims fills a gap in a growing market.
‘There are some situations that conventional cards don’t cover,’ says Lily. ‘And some things are much easier to say in a card, such as “Don’t worry; having a low sperm count isn’t the end of the world.” Or “I’d like to have a baby with you, but now isn’t the right time, is it?”
To celebrate the launch of her business, Lily has kindly designed a free cut-out-and-keep card for readers of The AmOb. ‘I thought a lot of people in Ambridge might find this one useful at the moment,’ she says.

New councillor in ‘Beangate’ bust-up

Emma Grundy, newly elected member of Ambridge Parish Council, sparked a row at this week’s meeting by accusing the village shop of ‘casual beanism’. ‘It’s supposed to be a community shop, run by the community for people in the community,’ she said. ‘But they insist on displaying premium baked beans right where young children like my Keira can see them. It’s like rubbing all that rich tomato sauce in my child’s face, when all we can afford is the value brand that’s a bit thin and watery.’
After rebuking one councillor, who said he thought Keira Grundy’s face was usually covered in chocolate, chairman Neil Carter said he would contact the village shop committee for comment. ‘I have to declare an interest here as Emma is my daughter and my wife manages the shop,’ he said. ‘But I’m surprised, as Susan keeps a stock of chilli beans especially for me and Emma has never complained about those.’

Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: Knocked Up (18)

Rising young dairy farmer Pip hits a serious bump in the road after a brief reunion with irresponsible ex Toby results in pregnancy. Uncertain what to do, she decides to give Toby a chance to prove he is father material. However, when he produces his season ticket to the termination clinic and offers to drive her there, she begins to doubt if they are truly compatible, and wonders if she would be happier helping her parents redesign the milking parlour.  Warning: contains scenes of excruciating awkwardness. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Burns takes the stage and Lynda outwits the vicar...

Crawford case: police open new line of enquiry…

Five weeks after the hit-and-run incident that nearly killed fugitive fraudster Matt Crawford, police admit they are no nearer to making an arrest. But the enquiry stepped up this week as Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) unveiled an unorthodox operation designed to flush out the culprit. 
‘It was talking to our vicar about the pantomime that gave me the idea,’ he said. ‘He thinks he persuaded me to play Prince Florian, but it’s all a cunning ruse. Halfway through the first act I’m going to whip my notebook out of my doublet and put the audience on the spot. I’m going to kick off with these lines:
‘Ladies and gents, your help I need
To find out who did a dreadful deed.
So if you know who splatted Matt,
Please don’t keep it under your hat.’
Then I’m going to point at someone on the stage and say: "It’s him!" And the audience will roar back: "Oh no it isn’t!" and I’ll reply: "Oh yes it is!" and so on.
Of course, I’m hoping that the culprit will break cover and run across the stage, so the audience can shout "He’s behind you!" Then I’ll give chase and cuff him as he gets tangled up in the stage curtains. Job’s a good ‘un.’

…. as Borchester Land directors close ranks

Directors of Borchester Land called an emergency board meeting this week to distance themselves from the company’s former chairman, Matt Crawford, as the extent of his fraudulent activities became clear.
After the meeting, the board issued the following press release:
(Note to subs: please run this in full or it’s goodbye to the Christmas hamper from Justin Elliott. Ed)
The directors of Borchester Land plc confirm that they have no connection whatsoever with that bounder Matt Crawford, and anyone who says otherwise is a terrible fibber and a thoroughly bad egg.
‘In particular, Mr Justin Elliott wishes to state that just because Mr Crawford bought him a dog to humiliate him, sold him a house at an artificially inflated price and nearly ran away with his fiancée, Mrs Lilian Bellamy, this does not  mean that he had any personal dealings with Mr Crawford at all.
‘Furthermore, while the directors have every sympathy with the victims of the appalling fraud perpetrated by Mr Crawford and Hugo Melling, the company accepts no liability whatsoever for any losses incurred by anyone involved, especially Mr Elliott’s friend Latif Hussein and his future mother-in-law’s sister-in-law, Christine Barford. Sorry.
‘A merry Christmas to all.’

Grey Gables chef in bold PR move

In a bid to boost flagging festive bookings at Grey Gables Hotel, head chef Ian Craig has revealed he is appearing in a Christmas special of the BBC hit series Masterchef: the Professionals.
‘I’m not allowed to tell you how I got on,’ said Mr Craig. ‘Let’s just say, the judges had never seen anything like my signature dish, which was simply slices of Helen Archer’s Borsetshire Blue cheese, garnished with grated cheese, with a cheese sauce and a cheeky cheese tuile.
‘I told them, it’s all about local, top-quality ingredients, cooked simply, so I did. Then for my invention test I smuggled in a few of these fantastic dried mushrooms that Freddie Pargetter sold me. Monica couldn’t stop laughing, so I think she definitely got the concept. Marcus took a bit more convincing, but I think I impressed with my traditional Borsetshire dessert, Pip’s Duff Pudding. The presentation is very dramatic and it has a surprise mystery filling, so it does.’

Diocese ‘outraged’ by Ambridge Christmas sermon

The Bishop of Felpersham is said to be considering disciplinary action against the Revd Alan Franks, vicar of Stephen’s, after a draft of his Christmas Day sermon was leaked to the media.
The text seems to suggest that the Saviour of the World is not our Lord Jesus Christ, but Lynda Snell of Ambridge Hall.
‘We like to be flexible, but on Christmas Day of all days, we expect a nod towards conventional doctrine,’ said a diocesan spokesperson. ‘We all know there are individuals in the community who go out of their way to help others, but to single one out in this way is ridiculous.’
Contacted by The AmOb, Revd Franks said his Christmas Day message had been taken out of context.
‘It’s true that I was so desperate to cast the role of the Bad Fairy in Sleeping Beauty that I went down on my knees to Mrs Snell and told her she was the saviour of Ambridge,’ he said. ‘No one was more relieved than I was when she said yes. But since then it has all gone horribly wrong. Instead of doing what I tell her, Mrs Snell has taken over as co-director of the pantomime and is making my life hell. I hope the diocese will agree this is punishment enough for my apostasy.’

Monday, 13 November 2017

Matt Crawford hit-and-run: police dragnet closes in

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) says he is confident of a quick arrest in the Matt Crawford hit-and-run case.
‘I have made so many enquiries that I have run out of space in my notebook and I have a total of 45 suspects,’ he said. ‘I have ruled no one out unless they have a cast-iron alibi. And I have been careful to think ‘outside the box’, so my list includes a number of known malicious livestock, such as Peggy Woolley’s cat Hilda Ogden and a crack team of Eddie Grundy’s ferrets.’
However, PC Burns said he would now be handing the case over to Borsetshire CID, as it has been confirmed as an attempted murder. ‘The detectives were ever so nice about it,’ he said. ‘They were so impressed with my notes, they pinned them up on the dartboard in the incident room. And when I fetched them cheese and pickle rolls from Bridge Farm tea room, they let me keep the change.’

Ask Auntie Satya

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

Dear Auntie Satya,

My girlfriend Lexi and I went to see the new film, Murder on the Orient Express, but I was distracted throughout because I have CCTV evidence that Adam Macy punched Matt Crawford in the Grey Gables car park, making Adam a possible suspect in the hit-and-run. Lexi was frustrated with me. Do you think we should have gone to see Paddington 2 instead? Roy.

Dear Roy,

What a shame. Had you gone to see Paddington 2, you could have kept the CCTV footage where Paddington keeps his marmalade sandwiches – under your hat. As it is, watching a film where everyone has a motive for killing a very unpopular man has clearly got your little grey cells working overtime, which in your case hardly ever turns out well. Leave it to the professionals and bury your head in a bucket of popcorn, as Lexi sensibly advises.  Auntie Satya.

Dear Auntie Satya,

My husband Adam and I invited Karina, a potential surrogate mother, to lunch. I made salmon quiche, salads and tarte tatin – nothing fancy. When she arrived she overheard us rowing about whether Adam had punched Matt Crawford, and for the rest of the meal we bickered about keeping secrets from each other. Karina later left a phone message to tell us she lived too far from Ambridge to be a surrogate. But I think she changed her mind because Adam was wearing a shirt that made him look like Brian Aldridge. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to taking her up Lakey Hill.  Am I right to feel resentful? Ian.

Dear Ian,

I think if you re-read your letter, Ian, you will find you have answered your own question. Are you convinced you and Adam are really ready to welcome a new life into the world? Perhaps you could adopt a rabbit first and see how you get on? Auntie Satya.

Dear Auntie Satya,

Since my ex Toby and I got back together, on a totes no-strings basis, he has been behaving like the perfect boyf, bringing me muffins in bed and so on. But my parents, who hate him, want me to move back home to Brookfield, which will make things awks for our late-night booty calls. What do you think I should do? Pip.

Dear Pip,

In your longer letter, you tell me you miss your grandmother’s baking, which is
superior to the leftover conference canapés that so often appear for supper at Lower Loxley. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether you prefer flapjacks or muffins, and this is not a choice you can expect me to make for you. Auntie Satya.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

My friend and I recently took advantage of a ‘Hidden Hideaways’ coach tour to Grey Gables Hotel in Ambridge (very reasonable, half a bottle of house Shiraz and complimentary chocolate mint included with the table d’hote). However our first impression was not good as the lady receptionist, instead of checking us in, tried to persuade us to direct the village pantomime. When we declined, she thrust a sheaf of election leaflets at us and said: ‘Turn up and vote! No one will know you don’t live here. The tellers are always asleep anyway!’
But this was a mere distraction compared to the distressing scene we then witnessed. An elderly man, clearly in great pain, staggered out of the lift and tried to drag three large suitcases across the lobby. He was begging for help from a smartly-dressed lady who we assumed was the manager. But instead of assisting him with his check-out and luggage, she stood over him yelling ‘Stop it Tiger, you’re going nowhere!’
We had high hopes of Grey Gables but I would like to warn your readers that if this is how they treat vulnerable, older customers who get behind with their bill, they had better steer clear. And the hotel can certainly wave goodbye to the Saga contract.

Yours faithfully

Miss Terri Guest

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Matt Crawford attack: the 20 key questions that could solve the crime

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) says the shock hit-and-run attack that nearly ended the life of Matt Crawford is ‘the biggest case of my career’.
‘I was here when Helen Archer attacked Rob Titchener, but bigger detectives came in and took over,’ he told a packed press briefing. ‘This one is mine, and as the local village bobby I am going to use my intimate knowledge of Ambridge to work out who committed this callous crime all by myself.’
PC Burns said he had begun his enquiries by writing a list of everyone who might have wanted to do harm to Mr Crawford, but that took too long, especially as Fallon needed him to try out her new recipe for pineapple upside-down cake.
‘So instead I have come up with a list of 20 unanswered questions that may have a bearing on this case and will lead us to the perpetrator,’ PC Burns said. ‘I am piecing together a full picture of events before and after the incident, from the Hunt Ball on Sunday to the Hallowe’en party at The Bull on Tuesday. The cake is very nice, by the way.’

Anyone who can provide answers to any of the questions below is asked to call 101, or have a word with PC Burns in the Bridge Farm tea room, where he is always available for a cosy chat over a plate of macaroni cheese.

1. Was the colour that Lexi Viktorova chose for her new room at Grey Gables ‘too green’?
2. Why did Roy Tucker forget to order poppadums (Lexi’s favourite) and then offer to go all the way back to Borchester to fetch them?
3.  Who will Christine Barford choose to take with her on the Rhine cruise she won in the Hunt Ball raffle?
4. Why is Noluthando Madikane such a fan of Frank Sinatra?
5. What is the secret of the balsamic glaze on chef Ian Craig’s roast beef?
6. How much did Philip Moss win at the Hunt Ball casino?
7. Why does Noluthando call Peggy Woolley Gogo, and why does she allow it?
8. What makes a Bloodthirsty Virgin non-alcoholic cocktail taste disgusting? 
9. Did Shula ever decide what time to serve the survivors’ breakfast?
10. Just how alarming were the shapes that Alistair threw with Jennifer at the Ball?
11. Is the oxtail soup nicer than the coffee in Borchester Hospital’s vending machines?
12. Is a vote for Robert Snell in the Parish Council election really a vote for Lynda Snell?
13. Those artificial flowers Lexi likes: are they silk, or just good-quality polyester?
14. Why is the Hallowe’en punch at The Bull in a glass bowl when it should be in a cauldron?
15. Will Peggy be happy to have her birthday dinner at Grey Gables or would she secretly have preferred La Femme du Monde?
16. Why did Pip want hot chocolate as well as a chocolate flapjack when tea would be a more balanced choice?
17. Why have some of the heifers at Brookfield lost condition, and will drying them off early be a sensible long-term decision for the health of the herd or a foolish waste of an opportunity, given the uptick in the milk price?
18. When will Lilian make an appointment for Ruby to get her hair cut?
19. What is Peggy Woolley thinking, throwing away the dress she wore at her wedding to Jack?
20. What is on Adam’s mind? No, really, what is it? If it’s not work, it must be something to do with the baby? Come on, talk to me, Adam (continues for several hours).

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Election chaos and Matt is on track...

Ambridge election ‘on the brink’

In a shock move, Borsetshire District Council (BDC) has announced it may impose direct rule on Ambridge as tensions around the village’s Parish Council election reach breaking point. In this week’s campaigning:
• Parish clerk Jim Lloyd was accused of being a ‘walking, talking election poster’ for candidate Emma Grundy by Lynda Snell, wife of the rival candidate Robert Snell.
 • Mr Snell complained that Nic Grundy, Emma’s sister-in-law, had soaked his leaflets in the drip tray at The Bull and had refused to put up a poster because ‘he had too much nasal hair and it wasn’t Hallowe’en till next week.’
 Mrs Snell was asked to leave the Bridge Farm Tea Room after trying to take an unflattering picture of Emma Grundy eating a bacon sandwich.
‘Lively debate is welcome in local democracy but there are limits,’ said a spokesperson for BDC. ‘If the election process continues to be subverted in Ambridge we will not hesitate to send in officers to administer its precept.’

Matt Crawford a marked man, say police

Borsetshire Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has warned that ex-pat businessman Matt Crawford faces arrest if he attends South Borsetshire Hunt Ball on Sunday evening.
‘This evil, heartless criminal has got away with too much for far too long,’ he said. ‘We already suspect him of stalking Mrs Lilian Bellamy by fitting a tracker to her dog Ruby, and also to Mrs Bellamy’s phone. This enabled him to follow her into the ladies’ dressing rooms at House of Fraser in Birmingham, disguised in a midnight blue velvet backless ballgown, to force on her a one-way ticket to Costa Rica.  
‘Shula Hebden Lloyd has also reported Mr Crawford for the malicious campaign against her equine businesses, which has cost them important clients. Of course, one horse died and one was injured at The Stables lately, but it was jolly unfair of Mr Crawford to tell everyone.
‘He then dared to compound his crime by donating a £5,000 Rhine cruise for two to the Hunt Ball raffle, thereby obliging Mrs Hebden Lloyd to give him a ticket for the ball.
‘All this was bad enough,’ said PC Burns. ‘But Mr Crawford was then overheard expressing homophobic and bigoted views on surrogate parenthood to Adam Macy, which quite understandably prompted Mr Macy to exercise his right to bop him on the nose.’
‘All I can say to Mr Crawford is ‘Mind how you go,’ said PC Burns. ‘He has already given at least three guests at the ball the motive to do him a mischief. And if he emerges from his suite at Grey Gables to attend the ball, he may find his ‘plus one’ is a burly officer of the law.’

Recipe of the week

Seductive Zucchini Surprise

Thanks to Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital and proud husband-to-be, for sending us his signature dish. ‘My flatmate Alejandro and I cooked this for the ladies every week in the Sixties,’ says Mr Elliott. ‘Let’s just say they always came back for seconds!’


6 mature (but still firm) courgettes
Warm olive oil (works wonders)
6 plump tomatoes, carefully peeled
Lots of cheese

Method (never fails)

1.     Put all the ingredients in a pot on the stove
2.     Dim the lights and put on Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Swinging Lovers
3.     Pour the lady an enormous sweet Martini
4.     Forget about dinner
5.     In the morning, invite her to do the washing-up before she leaves


Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: Fungus in the Attic

Perfect for Hallowe’en!

In this 1990s schlock-horror classic, misunderstood kids Freddie and Noluthando try to find some excitement in their meaningless lives by picking ‘magic mushrooms’. But while drying the shrooms, they find themselves trapped in the attic of their creepy old family mansion, where the staff never go. No one hears their screams because Freddie’s twin Lily is busy dispensing unwanted romantic advice, their mother is fretting over the Hunt Ball and house guest Pip is having a noisy reunion with lover Toby. And the plot takes a terrifying twist when Noluthando rubs an old diver’s helmet and summons the ghost of Freddie’s late father Nigel, who is bent on revenge for his untimely death…