Ambridge tells Elliott: keep your cash!
In a humiliating defeat for Ambridge Parish Council, villagers this week rejected Justin Elliott’s offer of financial help to rebuild the village hall, and decided to undertake the project themselves.
‘We can’t take his dirty money!’ said Eddie Grundy, to wild applause. ‘Not when it was his road scheme wot caused the village to flood and made all them folk homeless in the first place!’ (has this been legalled? Ed)
Council chair Neil Carter tried in vain to persuade villagers of the merits of Mr Elliott’s offer. ‘Without his money, we would only be able to repair the hall, not extend it and provide modern facilities, like the ‘Damara’ soft play area and the ‘Berrow Farm’ catering kitchen,’ he said. ‘Surely a little branding is a small price to pay?’
But then Mr Grundy played his trump card: a photograph of Anneka Rice, who helped villagers repair the hall in 1993, for her popular ‘Challenge Anneka’ TV show. ‘Look what we can do when a blonde bird in a tight catsuit gets us going!’ he said. ‘I’ve already got Baggy and Fat Paul on the lookout for cheap bricks; our Emma’s running up a onesie for Sabrina Thwaite, and everybody will rally round. One last push! Who’s with me?’
Councillors were nearly injured in the crush as volunteers rushed to sign up for the project, which is due to begin as soon as Mr Grundy has finished laying a patio in Waterley Cross. (I suppose this means we’ve got to give Justin’s bung back? Damn and blast. Ed)
Autumn fiction special: The Trials of Jill Archer
Award-winning author Lavinia Catwater takes us into autumn with a new romantic saga. In Chapter One, our heroine contemplates a fresh start with a heavy heart:
‘It will be alright mum, I promise!’ Elizabeth was smiling warmly at her. ‘Once we’ve got rid of some of this junk –‘ she waved at Jill’s bound copies of Beekeeping Monthly – ‘we’ll soon have you settled in!’ Jill winced inwardly, but smiled. ‘Yes darling!’ To hide her tears, she went to the window. How she would miss this view: the fields; the trees; Toby Fairbrother’s underpants drying on a line in the yard….
A frown crossed her face. Another reminder of Grace Archer! Would she ever be free of that woman? Sixty years after she died, it was as if Grace was moving into Brookfield, just as she was moving out… Giving herself a little shake, she said: ‘Don’t you worry about me. Just going to cut some green beans before I leave forever the house I’ve loved all my adult life and hoped to die in … I’ll be fine!’
As she closed the door, she heard Lizzie sigh: ‘Oh God, David, I’m not going to lock her in the attic!’ But David seemed to be lost in thought, playing with his toy farm…
In the garden, Jill tried to suppress unkind thoughts about Heather, attics and locked doors. But it was no good. ‘Oh, you nasty old woman!’ she wept, giving the green beans an extra-vicious snip with her secateurs.
Sitting at Lizzie’s kitchen table, Jill sipped her Nespresso soy latte in its recyclable paper cup and toyed with a shrink-wrapped flapjack from the Orangery. ‘Now darling, what can I do to help with dinner?’ she asked, eyeing the pristine Aga and unused rows of saucepans.
‘Nothing mum!’ Lizzie beamed. ‘I’ve got Hugh to run us up a lasagne, garlic bread and salad. It will be so cosy – just the two of us, the grape pickers and the conference delegates!’
‘Lovely dear,’ said Jill, her heart sinking. ‘I’ll just go up to Julia’s – I mean, my room and freshen up.’
‘Oh mum, sorry! You know what it’s like when your home’s your work and your work’s your home,’ said Lizzie, smiling ruefully. ‘I’m afraid I’ve let your room to a photocopier salesman from Redditch tonight. You do understand, don’t you?’
Jill nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak, but inwardly crying out in anguish: ‘Oh Phil, how has it come to this?’
To be continued…. [Editor dear, do I get a pay rise for this second series? Lavinia. No. Ed.]
New series: Legal postbag
Family solicitor Felicity Letoff-Lightly opens her casebook for the Ambridge Observer:
• Clients often ask me about different ways of adopting a child. A typical example is this query from R.T: ‘I would love to adopt my stepson H. How can I avoid checks by police and social services into my background? I’m concerned they might discover I’m a manipulative and possibly murderous bully.’
R.T is right, of course. Modern families come in all shapes and sizes but his history might flag up an obstacle to adoption. However, in advising R.T, I came to see that he is clearly a high-functioning psychopath, with considerable skills in dissembling and persuasion. This being the case, I am sure he will find a way to exploit the law for his own purposes. For example, he could persuade the authorities that H’s mother is mentally ill and an unfit parent. I am confident that R.T and H will be a proper family soon. It’s cases like this that make my profession so rewarding.
• Occasionally, I have to advise clients against taking precipitate action based on wild claims and conspiracy theories. For example, J.A contacted me as she believed her friend, C.T., had murdered her husband. She had built a case based on Agatha Christie plots, hearsay from a forgetful acquaintance, and suspicions about her friend’s herbal preparations. Fortunately, I was able to reassure her on our firm’s special WAD* tariff, which made this case especially rewarding!
* Wealthy And Deluded
Thanks to Bert Fry, who reports on the Flower & Produce Show in his own inimitable style:
Ambridge Flower & Produce Show
‘Twas on a warm September day,
the marquee looked so bright and gay,
full of flowers and veg and fruit,
and even Joe Grundy wore his best suit!
Me and Mrs Tregorran won,
with a marrow nearly as big as the sun!
And my rose it won another prize,
but it brought a tear to my eyes,
because my Freda wasn’t here to see
her Bert carry off a victory.
Her pickles, jam and cakes were winners –
and so were her famous Sunday dinners.
The flood swept my dear Freda away,
and I go on without her every day.
But she wouldn’t want me to be sad,
so I congratulated Mrs Woolley on her glads,
and Neil Carter on his carrots and beans.
The judge from Suffolk said she’d never seen
tomatoes as big and juicy as Joe’s.
Hope she don’t find out where they grows!
So all in all it was a smashing show;
despite the flood, Ambridge gave it a go.
And next year, when my garden’s fixed
I’ll win all the prizes that this year I missed!