Sunday, 12 February 2017

Rob goes to the US, Justin & Lilian go public and Fallon has a bright idea: spring in the air in Ambridge

NOTE TO READERS: There will be no Sunday edition of The Ambridge Observer next week as our reporters will be covering the AcademicArchers conference at the University of Lincoln.  (Note to subs: make sure my paper is reprinted in full. Ed).    

Titchener escapes Stateside

Rob Titchener, who is a fugitive from justice after a foiled attempt to kidnap his baby son, has fled to the USA, according to police sources.
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) told a press conference that US immigration officials confirmed Mr Titchener landed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week after giving UK police the slip.
‘Once it was clear Mr Titchener had left Borsetshire the case was out of my hands,’ said PC Burns. ‘Which was just as well really, because I’ve been worried sick about the Ambridge cricket team. I don’t regret banning Rob from the team, but you have to say he got results. And this season we’re so short of players I was thinking of putting Bartleby in the outfield.
‘But then Fallon had a brilliant idea – why not let women join? She can’t play of course – too busy making the teas – but there’s plenty of female cricketing talent in Ambridge – just look at the single wicket. And they can wash everyone’s whites afterwards!
‘I’m just going to check it out with the County secretary but I think it’s the way forward. Can’t wait to see Darrington’s faces.’ (Didn’t he say anything else about Rob Titchener? Ed).

Damara chairman in hospital scare

Damara Capital chairman Justin Elliott was briefly hospitalised this week after what was described as a ’bizarre accident’ at a dinner dance.
Mr Elliott, his social secretary Lilian Bellamy, Mrs Bellamy’s sister Jennifer Aldridge and her husband Brian were attending the black-tie event in the Lothario Suite of the Brigadoon Hotel in Felpersham when the accident occurred.
‘It was a crowded dance floor, but this couple stood out,’ said Ray Tremelo, singer with the Kwalitaires dance band. ‘They’d already fallen once after a bungled samba roll. And when the boys struck up the Argentine Tango I knew we were in trouble. The ladies often try the moves they’ve seen on Strictly, but this couple just weren’t up to it. She was going for a gancho, kicked her leg up too high, caught her heel in his cummerbund and it was goodnight Vienna.’
Paramedics were called and took Mr Elliott to Felpersham Hospital with a suspected broken ankle, but he was later discharged. Mrs Bellamy was unhurt and was taken home by Mr and Mrs Aldridge.
‘We were relieved to hear that Justin and Lilian weren’t injured,’ said Mrs Lynda Snell, who was also attending the event. ‘It would quite have spoiled our evening. Although I’m surprised the paramedics could prise them apart to take Justin to hospital. But Robert and I had a wonderful time. We were celebrating Ambridge Hall’s 5-star review on the TravelGuru website. Would you like to see it?’

From the Message Boards…

This week we drop in on the Ambridge Village Forum, for the latest hot topics in the online community…

Hey guys, I’m reaching out to you from Minneapolis. I would really appreciate your opinion of an English guy, name of Rob Titchener, who’s just blown in looking for work. He reckons he can do just about anything – herd manager, real estate, retail, flood management – but when we asked him for references, he said there was no point on account of they’d be so good, we’d just figure he’d made them all up.  Before we hire him, can you guys give us a heads-up on his resumé? Homer D Brave,

Don’t hire him, whatever you do, Homer! He’s a vicious bully who nearly ruined my daughter’s life! But you don’t need to take my word for it – a psychologist’s report said he had narcissistic personality disorder and will lie and manipulate people to get his way. Pat Archer.

Yes, what Pat said Homer! I had to ban him from the village shop for verbally assaulting the staff. He was banned from the cricket team too for cheating and bullying and he’s a mis-on mis-yng – mis-gon – anyway, he hates women. Susan Carter.

Pat and Susan are right Homer; Rob Titchener is a nasty piece of work. Superficially charming, but unstable, homophobic, with a violent streak. Steer clear. Adam Macy.

Holy moly, let me just check I’ve got this right? Narcissist, misogynist, homophobe, liar, manipulator, bully and cheat. Sure can’t imagine anyone like that getting far here in the US of A! Thanks guys! Homer.

Your week in the stars

With Valentine’s Day just round the corner, astrologer Janet Planet predicts which signs will be luckiest in love…


Single Capricorns have been on the move lately, setting up a new business and settling into a new home. But that doesn’t mean love is off the menu! Expatriate Capricorns may find they have more than an accent in common, especially if they find themselves bonding over a sick pig.


Unrequited love is painful, and when the object of your affections is smitten by someone who is bad for them, it can be hard to stand by and watch. But Pisceans are famously good-hearted and decent, so have faith that your qualities will shine through in the end. And in the meantime, don’t ignore opportunities for romance; a new arrival in the area may think you are the catch of the day!


Much like the bull, Taureans can be stubborn and determined to go it alone. But we all need support sometimes, and that is certainly true when a little one is involved.. Don’t let pride stand in your way of accepting help from senior family members, especially if they are waving their cheque book and promising not to interfere.      


The tropic of Cancer is hot, hot, hot, but those who find themselves swept away by passion must take care not to let reckless behaviour damage their reputations. Sweet nothings are best whispered in the privacy of the boudoir, not the winners’ enclosure at Felpersham Races.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Lilian in flagrante, Toby in trouble and Rob on the run: unprecedented scenes in Ambridge

Titchener still at large after kidnap attempt

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has warned the public not to approach Rob Titchener, who is on the run and is said to be ‘desperate and dangerous’ after a failed attempt to kidnap his baby son.
‘Police were called to Bridge Farm some hours after the incident,’ PC Burns told a packed press briefing. ‘We believe Mr Titchener had been watching the house, and snatched the baby from Helen Archer’s car while she was fetching a book for Jack’s brother Henry.
‘When she realised what had happened she went after Mr Titchener and caught up with him at Sawyers Farm, where the storm had blown a tree down across the road. When he refused to give the baby back a violent struggle ensued. If it were not for the arrival of Pat Archer and Kirsty Miller, who were driving back to Bridge Farm together, the outcome could have been very different.
‘Helen Archer should really have called the police straightaway, instead of trying to rescue Jack herself,’ PC Burns said. ‘But actually I was quite glad she didn’t as Fallon had made chicken fajitas for tea and they’re my favourite.
‘As it was, the three women proved more than a match for Mr Titchener, who handed baby Jack over and fled the scene. But child abduction is a very serious offence and Mr Titchener will be arrested as soon as he is found. Although I expect they’ll bring DS ‘Maverick’ Madeley in again for that, like they did with the stabbing. And it will be back to the missing bunting for me. Mind how you go now.’

Titchener kidnap shock: Ambridge reacts

As the news of this week’s events spread, we asked local residents for their views:

Justin Elliott, Damara Capital: Mr Titchener is a former employee and I have no comment to make. Except to say that I understand rumours are circulating that when Mr Titchener was employed at Berrow Farm in 2015, he was responsible for the Ambridge flood. Damara Capital denies all knowledge of this and our lawyers will be studying any suggestions of wrongdoing very closely.       
• Rev Alan Franks, St Stephen’s Church: I am very sorry to hear this news, but to be honest I am not surprised. Rob is a troubled soul, although I tried to reach out to him. But when he didn’t attend my last ‘Blokes, Bacon Butties and Bible Breakfast’ I was afraid we had lost him.   
Lily Pargetter, Lower Loxley: Is it true Rob was stuck in the lane because of a fallen tree? So, basically, he got caught because he couldn’t do a three-point turn? How lame. I’ve only just started driving and I can do a three-point turn without even slowing down. Ask my Uncle David.  
Saskia Waitrose, Penny Hassett: I’m completely appalled. My son Elijah was expecting Henry Archer to come over for organic pizza and Transformers, but he didn’t turn up and his mummy didn’t even phone to let me know. So selfish. Elijah and I will be working through his issues on this for weeks.   
• Tracy Horrobin, Ambridge: Ooh, so Rob Titchener’s definitely single now? He sounds more exciting than Roy Tucker. And they’ve got the same initials, so no need to change my new tattoo. Look: RT4EVA.  Have you got his number?

Business news: Ambridge vets plan bold new venture

Ambridge vet Alistair Lloyd and new business partner Anisha Jayacoady have announced a £250,000 investment in their practice, which will cement its position as one of the most high-tech in Borsetshire.
‘Anisha is a highly-qualified equine vet, and we have a great opportunity to attract more clients now that my wife Shula is joint master of the South Borsetshire Hunt,’ said Mr Lloyd.  ‘Although with the overdraft we need, she may have to wait for that tailor-made jacket I promised her.’
‘Alistair has been stuck in the ‘bran-mash and poultices’ market for too long, so he took some persuading to splash out on cutting-edge equipment,’ said Ms Jayacoady. ‘But he changed his mind when I told him it would be a gamble. For some reason that really appealed to him.’  

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal skills, Auntie Satya has the answers to all your practical and emotional dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

My boyfriend tells me he loves living with me rent-free, on the farm my dad owns, and after I’d given him all my money I thought we were settling down nicely. But just as I was ordering a new sofa and matching onesies for us he disappeared to Brighton. When he came back he told me his mysterious trips are to look after a heroin-addicted ex-girlfriend. He swears he’ll tell me the truth from now on, but do you think I can trust him? Pip.

Dear Pip,

In all matters of the heart, actions speak louder than words. I suggest that the next time your boyfriend is called to Brighton, you offer to drive him, taking along a tin of your grandmother’s home-made flapjacks as a gift for this unfortunate girl. His reaction to this plan is likely to answer your question.   

Dear Auntie Satya,

My lover and I were sharing a romantic breakfast of salami and Double Gloucester earlier this week, when his wife returned unexpectedly. I had to make a run for it wearing only my fur coat, negligée and his wellies, while he desperately tried to put the cork back in his Dom Perignon. My friend Jolene says I should press him for a more permanent arrangement, but to be honest all the subterfuge makes me feel young, darling. What do you think? Lilian.

Dear Lilian,

I am all for joie de vivre, but your behaviour is risky, especially at your time of life. You could make yourself ill, sneaking around in your scanties. However, if you are addicted to the excitement as you say, at least take practical steps to avoid freezing in the shrubbery while waiting for a taxi. Perhaps your paramour could build you a shed?

Dear Auntie Satya,

A woman I didn’t want to go out with wouldn’t take the hint, so I pretended to be extremely boring to put her off. It worked, but now she’s telling everyone I am the dullest man in Borsetshire. How can I convince potential dates that I’m actually quite interesting? Roy.

Dear Roy,

This is a tricky dilemma. Trying to prove you are interesting is exhausting and may be counter-productive. Instead, I am reminded of a saying of my dear Great-Uncle Krishna (some people claim Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain coined this phrase, but I know better). It is: 'Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.' Keep your counsel, Roy, and the ladies will come running. Good luck! 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Rob disappears, Ursula reappears and Anisha makes her mark: an action-packed week in Ambridge

Exclusive: ‘Infamy, infamy’ claims Titchener

Rob Titchener, who has not been seen since leaving his job at Damara Capital last week, has contacted the Ambridge Observer to break his silence and hit back at the critics he claims have ‘hounded him out’ of his home in the village.
Speaking from an undisclosed location, Mr Titchener told the Observer: ‘It’s a total lie to say I was sacked from Damara. I was the best manager Berrow Farm ever had. That’s a fact. Those guys who said I blocked the culvert and diverted the water into Ambridge – so dishonest. Sad, just sad. And that so-called flood? It never happened, people. Those losers at the Environment Agency? They faked those photos to show the water four feet deep on the village green, just to destroy me and trash my reputation. Desperate. And you know what? The bad hombres at Bridge Farm, they left their taps on, just to make it look worse. Pathetic.     
‘Let me tell you guys, I love this village. No one is a bigger lover of this village than me. And don’t forget folks, I was the hero of the flood! In fact without me, there wouldn’t have been any flood! Um, wait, no, I mean…’
At this point, the line went dead and further attempts to contact Mr Titchener failed.   

Recipe of the Week

Thanks to Jill Archer of Brookfield for sending us her recipe for Special Celebratory Flapjacks. ‘I made these as a gift for my granddaughter and her boyfriend Toby, with whom I haven’t always seen eye to eye,’ writes Mrs Archer. ‘I believe in cooking from the heart, and I like to think this recipe will bring us together.’ You said it, Jill!

1 old prune
250g Toby-gets-his oats
250g self-centred flour (Fairbrother’s)
4 tbsp nuts, crushed if possible
250g artificial sweetener
3 eggs (reserve the shells for treading on)
250g butter-wouldn’t melt-in-that-man’s-mouth
1 tbsp olive-branch oil
A large pinch of salt  

Meddle (surely ‘muddle’? Ed) all the ingredients together round a dinner table until you have a stiff, awkward mix. Smooth over any cracks with a thick coating of sugar, and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands (the ones Toby is stealing from Pip, you mark my words).

Remember to say Grace before serving.

Coffee break with…. Anisha Jayacoady

In our series of interviews with readers who have interesting jobs, we catch up with a new arrival in Ambridge – a superstar vet and proud Scot.

Q We hear you were able to save a valuable horse recently?

A Aye, Lazarus were giein’ it lalldie oer a muckle hedge an’ had a cowp. Oh – listen to me! I’m afraid I do slip into my native Glaswegian when I’m excited! Yes, Lazarus was going flat out over a hedge when he had a fall. A couple of days later we found his leg was infected, but fortunately I was able to remove the infection and flush his knee joint without sending him to equine hospital. His owner was delighted. She were up to high doe, ye ken – I mean, she was very anxious.   

Q We understand you’re a horsewoman yourself?

A Aye right enough, I’ve a bonnie braw meir I’m sae prood o’ – oh, I’m terribly sorry, did I tell you I’m Glaswegian? I mean I have a beautiful mare I’m very proud of; she’s won prizes. Being able to stable her in Ambridge is a real bonus.

Q Are you concerned about living in Blossom Hill Cottage, which has had a troubled history?

A Oh no! If Rob Titchener turned up, I’d just say: Git oot! Away an’ raffle yersel if y’dinnae want some rock salt in yer gabardines! He’d soon get the message. (Are you sure? Ed)  

Q Did you enjoy Burns Night this year?

A Aye, the hale jing-bang, once I’d skelped that wee skellum Jazzer McCreary at the drinkin’.
He thought I buttoned up the back but he’s nae callin’ me a Fanny Toosh, ye ken? Oh dear, I’m such a passionate Scot! Let me translate… I really enjoyed Burns Night once I’d beaten Jazzer in a drinking competition. I couldn’t let him think I’m a naïve, posh Glaswegian girl. So I cheated ever so slightly by drinking water instead of vodka. But you won’t tell, will you?      

Q Thank you, Anisha! Welcome to Ambridge!

A Aye, right enough. Mynd yersel on yer way oot hen. Oops, there I go again!


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WINTER FICTION SPECIAL: The Trials of Pat Archer

In the latest chapter of our passionate family saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine aims to lay the ghosts of the past and has a bittersweet glimpse of the future….

‘Helen, a penny for them, love…’ Pat was worried by her daughter’s distracted air as she stacked up parsnips in strict rows like soldiers. ‘Don’t be silly mother; they’re £1.25 each. We’re an organic shop, or had you forgotten?’ Helen snapped. Then suddenly she seemed to crumple onto the rough-hewn, rustic counter-top. ‘Oh, I’m sorry mum. It’s Rob. I just can’t believe he’s really gone. Why would he, when he’s fought so hard to stay in touch with Jack? It makes no sense.’
‘I know, love. But it might be true! Justin might really have made him an offer he can’t refuse.’ But Helen still looked troubled. Pat decided to change the subject. ‘By the way, where’s Tom today?’ To her surprise, another shadow crossed Helen’s face. ‘Oh, don’t fuss mum, he’s not a baby! Oops – I mean, he’s just gone somewhere.’ And with that she rushed off into the stockroom, calling to Anya. Pat sighed. Would this family ever be free of secrets? But maybe there was something she could do… After selecting a packet of no-soak lentils and some misshapen parsnips for the evening meal, she took out her phone and called Tony…


‘So the good news is love, Rob’s really gone!’ Tony beamed at them all across the steaming pile of lentil bake. ‘I went to his flat and it’s completely empty! No sign of him.’ Pat smiled back and picked up her ladle. ‘Excellent. So that’s settled. Now, who’s for more? And by the way Tom, where did you get to today?” Tom blushed to the roots of his hair. What was going on? But before he could answer, Helen stood up, wrinkling her nose. ‘Oh, sorry everyone, I thought it was the lentils. But Jack’s nappy needs changing. Come and help me, Tom?’
‘No, it’s OK Helen… the thing is mum and dad…’ Tom crumbled his stoneground wholemeal roll, then looked up with a shy smile. ‘The thing is, Kirsty and me, we’re having a baby! That’s where I was today, at the hospital for her scan.’ Pat dropped the ladle, not caring about the brown spatters on the tablecloth. ‘Oh, Tom, how wonderful! When did you and Kirsty get back together?’
‘Well that’s just it mum; we’re not. We’re going to be a modern family. Not living together and that. Any more bake going?’ Pat served her son, once more struggling with conflicting emotions. Would anything about the Bridge Farm Archers ever be normal again?


The next day, Pat was her strong, confident self. She and Tony were going to be grandparents again, and would love Tom and Kirsty’s baby just as much as Johnny, Henry and Jack, whose circumstances were so much less complicated… Well, anyway. It was wonderful news. When the farm shop door opened, she went to the counter with a broad smile, ready for a day of successful retailing.
‘What have you done with him?’ A woman had burst in and stood on the organic coir matting, dripping rain from her billowing black Pac-a-mac. She looked like the wicked witch of the west, thought Pat. Then she ripped off her hood. ‘Ursula!’ she gasped. ‘Yes, it’s me,’ snarled Mrs Titchener. ‘Where is my son?’
Pat drew herself up to her full height. ‘I have no idea Ursula, and I care even less. Why should I?’
‘Because you and your evil family have hounded him out of his home, twisting and manipulating the truth, making out everything was his fault…’
‘How dare you? What about all the reports, the evidence, the court verdict – you’re the twisted one. Your son put Helen through hell and you connived with him at every step!’
‘Please, Pat.’ Ursula began to snivel. ‘Please, he’s my baby. I’ve lost my son!’ For a moment, Pat felt a twinge of sympathy from one mother to another. But she swallowed it down like half-digested lentil bake. ‘That is your problem Ursula. Not mine. Now get out of my shop, and stay out.’ Pat pushed past the sodden, sobbing bundle and opened the door wide, heedless of the driving rain that swept in. Slowly, Ursula shuffled out. Pat shut the door smartly behind her and double-locked it.
To be continued…