Sunday, 22 January 2017

Lily hosts, Bert emotes and Titchener’s toast: a fabulous week in Ambridge!

Titchener to leave Damara with immediate effect

Rob Titchener, Borsetshire estates manager for Damara Capital, has been dismissed without notice, according to sources close to chairman Justin Elliott. (Is this Lilian again? Note to PA: send her a case of gin on expenses. Ed).
It is not known exactly what triggered Mr Titchener’s departure. He was appointed late last year, and was thought to be riding high at Damara, enjoying the confidence of Mr Elliott and taking a hard line on costs and production targets with the company’s agricultural contractors.
‘Justin was made aware of something Rob had done, when he was employed at Berrow Farm, that he just couldn’t overlook or forgive,’ said the source. ‘Rob was caught making an unauthorised attempt to cover up his error. It was something to do with the flood, darling, but I can’t possibly say as it could still cost Damara millions, and possibly lead to criminal proceedings.
‘Justin said he had to let Rob go, and he took it very badly,’ said the source. ‘And when he started insulting me – I mean, Mr Elliott’s closest associates – that was the final straw. Justin told him to clear his desk and leave on the spot.’
It is believed that Mr Titchener was dismissed without a reference. The Ambridge Observer attempted to contact him for comment, but he did not return calls or answer his door, although a weird, high-pitched keening could be heard from inside the executive apartment he rents on the Edgeley Road.
The news came as a shock to Mr Titchener’s colleagues. ‘Titchener’s gone? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!’ said Adam Macy of Home Farm. ‘Ian darling, get out of bed and fetch another bottle of Prosecco. We’re got even more to celebrate now!’

My Week, by Lily Pargetter

Known as the It Girl of Borchester College, Lily Pargetter, 17, spills the beans on a quiet week at Lower Loxley


It’s so sweet of you to interview me; can we do a selfie? But would you mind just taking off that jacket? I mean, what a way to lose ALL my Instagram favourites…
Perfect. Where was I? Oh yes, today I decided that we definitely wouldn’t be having a massive party at Lower Loxley while my mum is away. And of course because we weren’t having a party, I didn’t ask lovely Ian at Grey Gables to help out with the catering. And he didn’t pass on this fabulous tip: did you know, they start selling off perishables at bargain prices after 5pm at Underwoods? Crab, smoked salmon, guacamole, blinis – everything you’d want for a high-end, sophisticated party. If you were having one of course. Which I’m so, so not!


If you were having a party, today would be brilliant – it’s January, Mum’s away and all my friends need some Lily sparkle in their lives. I mean, who doesn’t feel a million times better wearing a posh frock, with cocktails and canap├ęs? And I’m SO good at getting people to mingle. All those years helping Mum host conferences for photocopier salesmen weren’t wasted! But we couldn’t have a party, because I’d never ever go behind Mum’s back like that. And anyway, we have CCTV cameras at Lower Loxley so she’d find out straightaway. Unless you disabled them. Which I have absolutely no idea how to do, as I’m a girl and only know about eye liner and Lovesick.


Mum came back from her trip to London today so Freddie (he’s my brother, lovely guy, useless at maths but a legend at skinny-dipping) and I did what we always do on a Friday, which is clean the house from top to bottom and hide all the bottles in the barn. Not that there were any bottles of course – well, just Freddie’s usual bottle of elderflower pop. My mum is so sweet to worry about us. Do you know, she found an empty lager can (Freddie is SO dead for missing it) and thought we’d had a party! Really, as if! Although if I were to have a party, it would probably be the best party Lower Loxley has ever seen…

Calling all local poets!

The Ambridge Observer is delighted to be joining forces with Borsetshire County Library, as media partner in its Spring Poetry Competition.
Entries are invited on the theme of ‘The Space Between Words’. Winning poets will see their work published in the Ambridge Observer and will have the chance to read their poems at the next open mic night at the Torn Scrotum in Felpersham.
To help get your creative juices flowing, we asked Bert Fry, the Borsetshire Laureate, to pen a few lines. Thank you Bert and good luck everyone!

My Freda wasn’t one to shout;
She didn’t like to talk things out,
If we had a disagreement,
I would get the silent treatment.

So me and Freda made a pledge,
If I set her nerves on edge,
She would let me know my crime
Through the medium of mime.

That‘s how we got on famously
Until the Flood took her from me,
And I can say quite truthfully
We never had words, Freda and me.

She'd leave her handbag in my way,
But I'd give anything today
To find that handbag on the floor
Instead of Toby's boxer shorts. 

So my advice for all young lovers
Is make time to talk to each other.
Don’t let the space between words grow
Until it is too late. Oh no.

Personal announcement

 Miller - Archer

Mr and Mrs Graham Miller are delighted to announce the non-engagement of their daughter Kirsty, currently of Willow Farm, Ambridge, and Mr Tom Archer of Bridge Farm. Both parties wish to make it clear that they will never under any circumstances marry, and indeed why should they, as Miss Miller is an independent woman whose baby is the result of a one-night stand with an Australian mining engineer called Steve who was just shooting through last September. However, Mr Archer will be supporting Kirsty in the coming months, which is frankly the least he can do after humiliating her so completely, and think of all the expense on the wedding. Mrs Miller is still paying for her hat.
Congratulations from both families!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Justin grounded, Jill up-ended, Kirsty outed and Rob cornered – a sensational week in Ambridge

Elliott trims charity commitments…

Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital, has announced he is stepping down from his role as patron of a number of Borsetshire charities and business organisations.
‘My husband has been spending far too much time on local affairs,’ said his wife Miranda. ‘I’m afraid his social secretary, Lilian Bellamy, got him in too deep and the effort has been taking it out of him. But I am in charge of his diary now and I will be ensuring that Borsetshire, and especially Mrs Bellamy, will be seeing a lot less of him from now on.’
Mr Elliott said he hoped the good causes he has been involved with would not be too disappointed. ‘Since appointing Mrs Bellamy I have gained an intimate knowledge of Borsetshire life and I am not the kind of chap who likes to pull out at short notice,’ he said. ‘But once Miranda’s ski instructor gets over his hip replacement, I’m sure her attention will be diverted back to Courchevel and it won’t be long before I’m back in the saddle.’

… but closes in on land deal

Borchester Land is close to concluding a £2.5 million deal to sell a ‘substantial’ area of arable land and woodland to Brian Aldridge of Home Farm, according to sources close to BL chairman Justin Elliott.
‘Justin wanted £2.7 million, but Brian beat him down,’ said the source. ‘He had to admit Brian was a tough negotiator. But it’s still a good deal for BL, and with the cash Brian’s saved, he can let Adam Macy carry on with the herbal leys trial. So it’s all worked out perfectly, darling.’ (Was this Lilian after one too many gins again? Excellent. Ed)  

Police warn against mystery man

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) warned Ambridge residents to be vigilant this week after a ‘sinister figure’ was seen hanging round various properties in the village. ‘Normally, I’d have a word with Neville Booth after this kind of incident, but on this occasion it was Neville who reported it,’ said PC Burns. ‘And Usha Gupta, who’s pretty reliable, also saw someone lurking outside Blossom Hill Cottage. It’s unlikely to be reporters after all this time, though we do get sightseers following the “Bloody Borsetshire Crime Trail”. Honestly, you’d think people would have better things to do.’    

New series: Found on Facebook….

 As a service for readers who aren’t online, we drop in on the Ambridge Facebook group to find out what’s got the community talking…  

Pat Archer Hi everyone, I just wanted to say thanks for all the birthday presents and cards. Little Henry iced my cake beautifully and Helen made delicious tuna rolls – she always did have a way with tuna. And I especially wanted to say thank you to Kirsty Miller for being there for us when Helen was away. She’s almost like a daughter to me and she would have been if of course… anyway, never mind. Thank you Kirsty Miller!

Tom Archer Happy birthday mum! Wasn’t it great to celebrate with the people you love most, especially Kirsty Miller? I won’t say any more because I need to give Kirsty Miller some space…  

Helen Archer Kirsty Miller, U OK hun? I mean, I know you’re pregnant and everything, Tom told me… you don’t mind me knowing, surely? In fact I’m just a teeny little bit upset you didn’t tell me yourself, when I’d splashed out on lunch at Grey Gables. But you didn’t need to dash off… Hang on – why have you unfriended me, Kirsty Miller? What did I do?

Roy Tucker Listen guys, Kirsty just needs to be left alone for a while, OK? I’ve tried to tell her it’s not just about her and the baby any more – there’s me and Tracy Horrobin to think about. I need Kirsty to keep her away from me and she can’t do that if she’s fretting about you lot at Bridge Farm!

Tracy Horrobin  Roy Tucker, did you just tag me in that post you naughty boy? I know you’re playing hard to get but you’ll be back for some more Tracy love once that brainy daughter of yours has gone back to uni. Come to Momma Roy Tucker baby!

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

The ‘crisis in the National Health Service’ has been in the headlines this week. All I can say is, from my own experience, the NHS has only itself to blame.
On Monday I had a slight mishap at home. I was trying to reach some Christmas cards that my daughter-in-law, who can be slapdash with the housework, had left up. Just as I was climbing the bookshelf, my granddaughter’s so-called boyfriend burst in on me, claiming to be looking for a laptop (probably wanting to burgle the house). Anyway, he made me lose my balance and I fell awkwardly on one ankle. Of course, I expected him to leave me there on the floor, where I could have been rescued hours later, suffering from mild hypothermia, blaming it all on Toby and insisting to my guilt-ridden family that I was fine. But no, he couldn’t even do that properly. Instead he elevated my leg, packed it with ice, and then drove me to the Minor Injuries Unit at Borchester General.
When we got there, I told the staff all I needed was a paracetamol and a good moan to the family. But they made me have an X-ray and ­– can you believe it – praised Toby for his prompt action. These are medical professionals! Surely they can see he’s feckless, loathsome, and quite frankly the spawn of the devil? If this is the best the NHS can do I’m not surprised the public is rapidly losing faith in it.

Disgustedly yours,
Jill Archer, Brookfield.

What’s on: Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing soon: ‘The Cowman Always Rings Twice’

In this powerful ‘dairy noir’ thriller, a farm manager is driven to desperate measures when a crime he thought was dead and buried comes back to haunt him like flood water bursting out of a blocked culvert. Will he give in to blackmail? Risk losing everything he holds dear? Or lash out like a cornered rat and unmask himself as a true villain? (Likely to contain upsetting but immensely satisfying scenes).


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Rob evicted, Brian conflicted and Tom afflicted: a dramatic week in Ambridge

Estates manager banned from village store

The Ambridge Village Shop Committee voted at an emergency meeting this week to ban an angry shopper who ‘abused and harassed’ staff.
‘We are all volunteers,’ said Jim Lloyd, who with manager Susan Carter bore the brunt of the altercation. ‘I don’t come to work to be bullied and patronised; my daughter-in-law Shula does that perfectly well.’
Mr Lloyd explained how his reluctance to serve Rob Titchener, Damara Estates’ local manager, after the shop had closed prompted an ‘outrageous volley’ of insults and foul language.
‘It was upsetting, but you can’t shock a student of Juvenal and Catullus,’ he said. ‘However, when he tried to push his way past Mrs Carter and told her to “scuttle back to her lair”, we had no option but to call the police.’
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) said Mr Titchener had left the scene by the time he arrived. ‘Coincidentally, I was investigating a crime in which he appeared to be the victim,’ he said. ‘A person or persons unknown had scrawled offensive slogans in lipstick on Mr Titchener’s car windscreen. The list of suspects was so long that I had barely started my door-to-door enquiries when called to the shop.’
PC Burns said that following discussions with the committee, no further action would be taken against Mr Titchener. Mrs Carter told our reporter: ‘By now he should have got the message that he isn’t welcome in the shop, or anywhere else in Ambridge. While you’re here though, would you mind looking through the album from our family photo shoot? I still can’t decide which to choose…’ (Note to subs: delete this quote. Ed).

Ask Auntie Satya 

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, you can rely on Auntie Satya to sort out your emotional and practical dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

My wife says that if I don’t know what she wants for her birthday, I don’t know her at all! Her sister says I should get her a copse. Does this sound like a good idea to you? Brian.

Dear Brian,

A copse is an unusual gift, and quite difficult to wrap. A designer handbag or pair of diamond earrings would be a more reliable choice. I suspect that what your wife would really like is plenty of soft soap and some fairy stories, and in the past I expect you have been rather good at supplying these.

Dear Auntie Satya,

I have been having an affaire de coeur with my employer, who is married to a woman who has all the warmth of a teaspoon. But I fear she overheard some careless gossip about us at the village pantomime, and since then he hasn’t answered my texts. Do you think my adventure is over? Lilian.

Dear Lilian,

Obviously, I cannot condone your behaviour, and no woman expects to be humiliated at the theatre, unless she is on the stage.  But do not give up hope! There are few gentlemen who do not ultimately prefer a swizzle stick to a teaspoon.    

Dear Auntie Satya,

My boyfriend disappeared to Brighton after Christmas and said he was late back because his pick-up broke down and he had to console a heart-broken mate. He’s promised to make it up to me with a gin-tasting and a night at a hotel in Birmingham. Do you think he is right for me? Pip.

 Dear Pip,

As I always say to my niece Usha, people will place the same value on you as you place on yourself. Re-read your letter and I fear you will find you have answered your own question.  

The Trials of Tom Archer

In the latest chapter of our passionate winter saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero fears that the terrible wrong he has done in the past will forever blight his chance of future happiness…

‘Ooh baby baby… oooh baby baby…’ Tom drained his pint of Auld Man’s Whine (The Bull’s guest bitter for New Year’s Eve) and slammed his glass on the bar. He could think of nothing but Kirsty, and even the music seemed to mock him. Why wasn’t she here, celebrating their wonderful news? All their friends were here:  Roy looking dazed, his face covered in red lipstick kisses; Jazzer sporting his trick sporran, and Johnny, downing shots and spraying pork scratchings all over that poor girl Saskia. Tom had promised Kirsty she could sit quietly with a bitter lemon until midnight, when they could see in the New Year as parents-to-be. Surely that should have been enough to tempt her out?
Fear ran through him – cold as the ice cubes Tracy Horrobin was playfully stuffing down the back of Roy’s neck. What if Kirsty was ill? She might even be slipping her calf, and here he was out partying! ‘You fool!’ he said aloud. Ignoring Johnny, who was shouting to him to come back and watch Tracy twerking, he stumbled out of the pub towards Willow Farm, the furry antlers on his head still flashing…


‘Tom, I’m not ill, just pregnant. There was no need to turn up and pound on the door. All you did was wake me up!’ It was two days later. Kirsty looked weary, but he told himself that was normal. His sows often seemed off-colour when they were in pig. And he hadn’t been sleeping well himself….
‘Look Kirsty,’ he said. He reached forward to take her hand, but she pulled back. ‘What is it Tom? I promised Roy I’d sort out his dating spreadsheet.’
‘OK then, I won’t keep you.’ Tom reminded himself to respect his partner’s priorities. This time, he would get it right… ‘I’ve just come back from Henry’s birthday party, and thinking how one day, we’ll be celebrating with our baby. So I think it would be best if you moved in with me.’ Kirsty’s face froze. ‘Separate rooms?’ he added hastily, with what he hoped was a winning smile.
‘But we only live a few doors apart,’ Kirsty said. ‘Really Tom, I’m touched that you’re taking this so seriously. But there’s plenty of time to work out the details. Now off you go, before I forget whether it’s Jessica or Joanne who’s got the seafood allergy.’ She tapped the spreadsheet briskly.
‘Oh, right. Yes, of course. No rush. No 1 The Green needs a tidy-up, anyway. I swear Johnny’s trying to re-carpet the lounge with pizza!’
On the way home, Tom tried to analyse Kirsty’s enigmatic smile as she said goodbye. She hadn’t thrown him out at least. Maybe there was hope for him…


‘Sorry sis, I gotta go!’ Tom hadn’t felt so keyed up since he was presenting his ready meals to the supermarket. ‘I’m really pleased Rob’s not going to contest the divorce – and that recipe for kale and barley granola looks great. Maybe we should stack some eco-friendly loo paper next to it!’
Dodging the turnip Helen playfully launched at his head, Tom skipped off to Willow Farm. Why, oh why had it taken him so long to realise what he must do? But he could see the future now, as bright as Johnny’s neon disco shirt.
When Kirsty opened the door, it was all he could do not to grab her in a bear-hug.
He waited till she’d finished telling him about the glitch in the Grey Gables online booking system, then blurted out ‘I’m so sorry!’ Kirsty looked surprised. ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad, the IT guy fixed it!’
‘No, I mean I’m so sorry about the other day,’ Tom stuttered. ‘I should never have said that about you moving in. It was completely wrong!’  
‘Well, yes…’ sighed Kirsty. ‘It was… Tom – what are you doing!’
He had slipped onto his knees, arms outstretched, just like Colin in Mother Goose. ‘Kirsty, you must marry me! Don’t you see, it’s meant to be! You and me get on OK, our little one is on the way, and I’m about to launch an organic baby food business! Sorry, couldn’t make that bit rhyme. But you get my drift.’
He closed his eyes and waited for Colinette to melt into his embrace.
There was a terrible, seemingly endless silence. When she finally spoke, her words rained down on him like heavy blows. How dare he. Not a bloody pantomime. Betrayed. Humiliated. Never trust him again. Never forgive him. Not even sure she wanted his child…
Afterwards, he couldn’t remember how he got home. All through that night, and the dreadful days and nights that followed, her words haunted him: “Back off Tom. Back off right now…’
To be continued….