Pip finds home is where the heart is…
Ambridge’s bookmakers were throwing themselves off bridges this week as all those who had bet that Pip wouldn’t last a week in High Wycombe came to collect their winnings.
‘As soon as I got there I knew it wasn’t for me,’ she told her dad. ‘I was hanging round the office, and the Brazil placement has been cancelled for this year. I’d learn more here.’
‘Are you sure this isn’t because of some… boy thing?’ David asked. ‘No!’ said Pip. ‘Just because Toby says if I go away Josh will take over Brookfield with his Egg Empire, and just because I fancy Toby like mad, played no part in my decision!’
‘That’s alright then Pipsqueak!’ said David, unable to conceal his delight. ‘Welcome home! Have some lemon drizzle cake?’
… and Harrison has home truths for Kenton
It was a good week for Ambridge’s rural crime unit (PC Harrison Burns). Having taken advantage of Fallon’s impending eviction to ask her to move in with him, he also made time for a man-to-man, heart-to-heart chat with the hapless Kenton. ‘Me and my brother went our separate ways,’ he confided. ‘I don’t know how to fix it with him, but there isn’t a day goes by when I don’t wish I could.’
‘If we weren’t related, David and I would have nothing to do with each other,’ Kenton said, pouring Scotch on his cornflakes.
‘It’s easy to lose your family, but very hard to get them back,’ reflected PC Burns, heading off to follow up another lead on the missing bunting.
Will his wise words be enough to heal the rift before Pip’s big farewell/welcome home family meal? It remains to be seen…
Summer fiction special
The Trials of Helen Titchener
Chapter four of our exclusive serial by award-winning romantic novelist Lavinia Catwater, in which our heroine finds the honeymoon is over before it even began…
The ringing phone woke Helen from her nightmare. Sobbing, she sat up and saw the wedding photo on the bedside table. It was so romantic of Rob to ask the waitress to take their picture in that little fish saloon in Ryde, next to the register office. Now, their smiling faces seemed to mock her. She knocked the picture to the carpet, then carefully put it back in case Rob noticed later.
Bruised in body and soul, she tentatively made her way downstairs. The sight of last night’s citrus-cured salmon with horseradish crème fraiche and watercress and dill salad turned her stomach. The phone was still ringing. She drank some water – the water that Rob had refused her last night – and answered it.
‘Hello Little Miss Giggly! Didn’t we have a wild night? Where have you been all morning? You haven’t been out I hope?’ His voice was playful, but now she recognised its steely edge.
‘No, no darling,’ she stammered. Out? Of course! Where would she go?
But Rob was speaking again. ‘You’ll look gorgeous in that dress for the opera tonight – if I can restrain myself from ripping it off you again, of course.’ He chuckled. ‘Don’t let me down Helen.’ He rang off and she rushed to her handbag.
Damn! She’d spent her weekly allowance on school uniform for Henry, and Rob had all her credit cards; he was getting them assigned to their new joint account.
She sat down stiffly on a kitchen chair. Her party dress was flung over the back, torn and stained. She buried her face in its silky folds. How could she have been so blind? And how could she face the opera at Lower Loxley tonight?
Then it occurred to her. Her mum would be there. Lovely, radical feminist Pat, who always doubted Rob. Only this week she was quizzing Helen about why he’d left his job without telling her.
Maybe this evening she could confide in her mother, who would show her a way out of this living hell. She wiped away her tears and began washing up, hope fluttering in her heart like a small bird in a cage.
The pre-opera party was in full swing when Helen and Rob arrived at Lower Loxley. Smiling as Rob had insisted, she scanned the elegantly dressed crowd for her parents and called out with relief when she saw them. ‘Well, who’s this glamorous couple?’ Pat beamed. ‘And don’t you scrub up well Rob?’ In spite of herself, Helen could see he looked handsome in his tuxedo by Borchester’s bespoke tailors, Jekyll & Hyde.
‘How was last night? Was it as special as Rob was planning?’ Under Rob’s hard stare, Helen’s courage failed. ‘Um, yes, he takes such good care of me mum,’ she mumbled.
The first half of the opera seemed to last a lifetime. Rob sat close to her, running his fingers up and down her bare back as if he were playing a piano. It made her skin crawl. But at last he went to fetch their ‘Puccini Paninis and Mozart Macaroons’ picnic hamper.
This was her chance. ‘Mum…’ Helen began. ‘Helen – I just want to say,’ said Pat, sipping her Cosi Fan Tutte Frutti cocktail. ‘I’m so sorry I ever doubted Rob. What a wonderful man, husband and father he is! And he loves organic farming – who knew? I’ve seen a new side to him. I’m so happy for you both!’
At her mother’s words, the little bird of hope in Helen’s heart keeled over and died… To be continued…
Blimey Lavinia, this is a bit grim! Have you been applying for scriptwriting jobs on EastEnders again? Can we have more Princess Kate next week? Ed.
Letter to the Editor
Dear Madam, I am a researcher casting for the new series of ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show and would like to contact Ambridge residents who have a dispute they would like Jeremy to resolve on air. The kind of thing audiences love is:
• a stand-up row between an old lady and a shop manager wearing a pink and orange tabard who accuses the old lady of putting her own family before the needs of the community
• a fist fight between a shop manager and a farm owner who is accused of treachery and betrayal over plans to expand their farm shop at the expense of villagers and volunteers
• a mass brawl between an evil landlady, the old lady, an interfering old gent, the shop manager, volunteers and customers, over who owns the village shop: private landlord or community asset?
Do you know of any local people who might fit the bill? We supply transport, security, after-show counselling and DNA tests, if required.
Please contact Tamsincleverclogs@prurientproductionsltd.
Charity appeal: help the Ambridge homeless!
As the flood continues to take its toll, readers are asked to dig deep to help those with tragic stories of struggling to cope:
• Jill, a grandma in her eighties, has been forced to leave her son’s house and move to her daughter’s stately home, where she will have her own suite, with views of the ha-ha and curtains too heavy to wash by hand;
• Fallon, a young entrepreneur is being evicted by her cruel landlady and is going to set up home with her policeman boyfriend;
• Matthew, a contract milker new to the area, will have to find another well-paid job with accommodation now that Pip isn’t working away after all;
• Jim, since moving in with his son and daughter-in-law, has developed a stress disorder which causes him to babble ceaselessly and tiresomely in Italian.
All donations gratefully received, thank you. Are these really the best examples we could find? Ed.
Experienced dairy manager looking for fresh challenges would like to own (sorry, manage) a local organic farm business. Skills include bullying, manipulating, deceiving and browbeating. Handy with fists (sorry, farm machinery); talented farm shop designer. Ideally suited to a family farm looking to be taken for a ride (sorry, to the next level). Apply to Rob Titchener, Blossom Hill Cottage (but only if your name is Pat or Tony Archer).