Phoebe’s private life’s on parade – thanks, mum
Awkward scenes at this week’s parents’ evening at Borchester High. Kate turned the Embarrassing-Mum-Meter up to max, yelling in the school car park that she alone had prevented Phoebe from sleeping with young Alex. This was a shock to Roy, who was celebrating the happy news that his daughter is ‘Oxbridge material’ (and his temporary promotion to assistant manager at Grey Gables).
‘Oy, oy, what's going on? Sleep with who?’ he roared, coming over all EastEnders for a moment, before calming down by offering Phoebe some driving lessons and muttering ‘I hope that Alex knows how lucky he is.’
Meanwhile, Kate, keen to pass on the sexual health tips she’d learned in HIV clinics in Soweto (are you sure? Ed.) was incensed to hear that Jenny had already had a ‘lovely chat’ with Phoebe about ‘precautions’. ‘Put her on the pill mum? Have you any idea what they do to young girls’ hormones? Let alone when they hit the watercourse? Fish are CHANGING GENDER!’
Even Peggy was drawn into the multi-generational affray, when Jenny accused her of giving no advice at all about such matters, resulting in the unplanned arrival of Adam. ‘I say, I think that’s very unfair!’ sniffed Peggy. ‘Yes, alright then. Now, can we please have some pudding?’ Jenny pleaded, desperate to get Debbie’s welcome-home barbecue back on track.
Phoebe, mercifully oblivious to this exchange, was busy messaging Alex, arranging their next tryst, which, if she really is Oxbridge material, will be nowhere near Home Farm…
Move over oldies: here come the young guns!
After the devastating flood in Ambridge earlier this year, the farming community is undergoing another massive wave of change (like it. Ed) as the older generation make way for youngsters with their eyes on the future.
• Home Farm will perhaps see the biggest change, as Debbie has been promoted in Hungary and has handed the arable management over to Adam. (Is Adam a young gun? He’s nearly 50. Ed) Brian sees herbal leys and late lambing as the first steps to a weirdy-beardy eco-apocalypse, but Adam is thrilled at the prospect of a maize-free future. Whether Brian will take Debbie’s advice to retire, and spend his days emptying his wine cellar with Lilian, remains to be seen….
• At Bridge Farm, Helen and Tom Archer will be forging ahead with their exciting plans for the new shop, just as soon as Rob and Helen get back from their mini-break to the Isle of Wight.
• At Hollowtree, goose farmers Rex and Toby Fairbrother have an ingenious business plan: blag everything from coffee to water pipes and free labour from your hapless landlord David Archer! Oh, and marry his daughter. That helps too. But might take a bit longer.
Summer fiction special: The Trials of Charlie Thomas
In Chapter Two of our exclusive serial by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, hero Charlie Thomas faces a cruel test of love…
Charlie arrived at the cricket ground with a trembling heart. Would Adam have forgiven him for talking to Brian about the maize contract? But as soon as he saw the rangy, handsome team captain his spirits lifted, even though Adam was holding hands with Ian, sharing a pre-match Grey Gables ciabatta wrap. At the end of Adam’s innings he took his chance. ‘Look Adam, I don’t want to… lose you,’ he ventured, his soft brown eyes brimming with tears. ‘We’ve been through this Charlie,’ said Adam, in the kind but firm tone Charlie loved. ‘The maize contract is business. I’m not trying to punish you. Now get out there and score some runs.’
Taking his stance at the wicket. Charlie saw his batting partner was Rob Titchener. Perfect, he thought, flicking a blade of grass off his immaculate whites. Rob was a snake, but fiercely competitive. Here was his chance to open his legs and show Adam what he was made of! The Loxley Barrett bowler let fly with a full toss; Charlie swung at it and began to run. But Rob was rooted to the spot, engrossed in a guide book to the Isle of Wight. ‘Get back!’ screamed Adam, but it was too late….
‘Rob, how could you leave me hanging out to dry like that? When your partner runs, you run! Adam, tell him!’ Back in the changing room, Charlie implored his captain, who was rubbing ‘Justin Elliot for Men’ liniment into his muscled calves. ‘Actually, I agree with Rob,’ said Adam, his blue eyes glinting dangerously. ‘If he’d run, he would have been out. As it was, he went on to score 10,243 and we won the match.’
Crushed once more, Charlie made an excuse to his jubilant team-mates and trudged out of the pavilion. Another evening alone with his spreadsheets awaited him…
‘Oh Charlie, how nice to finally meet you!’ A smooth, purring voice distracted Charlie from his gloom. He had just heard the bad news from Brian about the maize contract, and thought his day could get no worse. Now here she was in Jennifer’s kitchen: Debbie Aldridge. She had her brother’s handsome lines, but there was a cruel twist to her lip as she said: ‘I’m not embarrassing you am I Charlie? Not unless you’ve got something to be embarrassed about… ‘
He flushed to the roots of his hair. How could he have fired Debbie by email? If only he’d known that one day he would fall hopelessly in love with her brother! ‘Come on Charlie, let’s go party!’ Kate lurched drunkenly across the room towards him, and he saw a chance to escape. ‘I’d better run, before you chuck me on the barbecue,’ he smiled weakly and made for the door, the cruel laughter of the two women ringing hideously in his ears.
As he slunk past the patio he saw Adam and Ian, heads close together in the evening sunshine, poring over one of Jennifer’s interior design magazines….
Recipe of the Week
Christine Barford, doyenne of the WI bakers, shares the secrets of her marvellous muffins.
Find all the baking things you’ll need in Peggy’s kitchen. Give them a good wash as she lets that cat get everywhere. Forget where you’ve put the spatula. Fiddle with Peggy’s rusty old mixer until she tells you off. When you’ve finally got the muffins in the oven, turn your back for a minute so she can take them out before they’re done. Pick up the muffins the cat has knocked off the tray. Carry on bickering until you’ve made 40 muffins and you’re both exhausted. Then sit down for a lovely cup of tea and drink a toast to ‘teamwork’.
Letter to the Editor
Please could you find me a friend to play with in the holidays? I don’t know anyone in Ambridge because I’ve been at boarding school since I was two. My dad jokes he doesn’t spend all that money on my school just so they can send us home early! At least I think he’s joking. Jennifer gets annoyed if I play football in her tea roses and spill her home-made lemonade. Adam is nice but he’s on his tractor a lot. Kate pinches me when no one’s looking. I’m 12 and I like football and cricket. Thank you. Ruairi, Home Farm.