Will it be curtains for the hall?
The Ambridge Village Hall Curtains Committee was warned to pull itself together this week as the debate between pinch pleats and pelmets nearly descended into open warfare.
‘It was pretty ugly in there,’ said one member after a meeting at the Ambridge Tea Room. ‘Some of us want tiebacks and others want cords; there’s a pressure group demanding blackout lining and another insisting on standard.
‘And then Lynda Snell swans in and sends the discussion into uproar with some scheme about people giving things up for Lent to pay for stage curtains. As if we haven’t got enough on our plates trying to give the Zumba class a bit of privacy!’
‘We will need to sort this out soon one way or another,’ said chairwoman Mrs Shula Hebden-Lloyd. ‘Reopening the Village Hall without curtains is unthinkable, and the Brownies are getting desperate.’
They are the eggmen…
It’s no yolk: three young Ambridge entrepreneurs are hatching a plan for a new venture producing high-welfare, pastured eggs.
‘We’re not crowing about it, but we think we’ve an eggcellent business model,’ said Rex Fairbrother, who runs Fairbrothers Celebration Poultry at Hollowtree Farm with his brother Toby. ‘And now we’ve partnered with Josh Archer – not just a chicken eggspert but a hardboiled businessman too.’
‘It was a real coop – I mean, coup – finding Josh,’ said Toby. ‘Customers already flock to buy his eggs and we’ll be poaching plenty more from pubs, health food stores and restaurants.’
‘We’ve set up a shell company to launch the business and you can bet we’ll be thinking outside the box,’ said Toby Fairbrother. ‘The business might be poultry, but not the profits.’ (OK, you’ve had your fun. Rewrite. Ed)
Winter Fiction Special: The Trials of Princess Kate
In the latest chapter of our romantic saga, by award-winning author Lavinia Catwater, our heroine finds the path to her heart’s desire is strewn with disappointments…
Princess Kate snuggled into her handspun Nepalese pashmina and settled in the lotus position on her Kalahari hemp rug. Closing her eyes, she allowed her breathing to rise and fall in time with the soothing ‘Whale Wellness’ music she was testing for her retreat. ‘Success, success…’ she whispered to herself, creatively visualising the flood of bookings, the rave reviews in Vogue and the customers queuing to buy her range of vegan, organic holistic remedies… It was all within reach. All she had to do was build her retreat, set up her website, make some products….
A banging on the cottage door disturbed her reverie. Was this her first customers, drawn to her by the Philosophy of Abundance? She hurried to greet them…
‘Kate? What the hell do you think you’re doing? Why are you sitting here chanting when you should be installing the compost loos by the yurts?’
Oh, why was her father always so cross? Didn’t he realise how hard it was being a sustainable, eco-aware and fashion-forward entrepreneur these days? ‘Well, dad, you know I’m useless at filling in forms – they’re just too constraining for a free spirit like me,’ she said, perfectly reasonably. ‘So I haven’t got planning permission yet, and as for the cost of photovoltaic panels and underfloor heating….’
‘Underfloor heating? In a yurt?’ Brian had turned the colour of Kate’s favourite pomegranate and aubergine foot scrub.
‘No, silly,’ she smiled indulgently at him. ‘For the cottage of course. You can’t expect me to make inspired business decisions when I’m cold! Look, here are the plans… only £20,000…’
But Brian had already left, slamming the door so hard the draught snuffed out her special vanilla and vetiver ‘thinking candle’. Oh, why was life so unfair?
Later that day Kate pulled on her new designer fleece, made of recycled plastic bottles, and headed for Home Farm. She was lost in thought, wondering how she could borrow the £50,000 she needed to pay her feng shui consultant – worth every penny, of course! Who knew it was so unlucky to position your wood-burner under your prayer flag?
‘Why so glum darling?’ That familiar cackle and cloud of cigarette smoke meant only one thing. Kate smiled. ‘Aunty Lilian, how lovely!’
But quickly remembering her plight, she sighed. ‘Oh, Aunty, what can I do? Dad is being perfectly horrid. Just because I’ve got nothing to show for the money he’s invested. It’s too bad of him.’
Lilian fished out her hip flask and took a quick swig. ‘Want some darling? Eddie’s finest scrumpy cognac!’ Kate shook her head sadly. ‘OK then, darling, let’s think. You just need to show Brian you can make some money. I mean, look at me. Justin’s going to rent the Dower House. I’ll be rolling in it. And that’s not all, if you get my drift darling…’ She winked saucily at her niece.
‘That’s it! Aunty, you’re a genius!’ Kate kissed Lilian and whipped out her solar-powered mobile phone. ‘Dad – hi it’s me! Chill; money troubles sorted! I’m going to rent out the cottage – and move back in with you and Mum! It’ll be great Dad – Dad? Are you there?’
There was a roar, then a deafening silence as Brian cut her off. ‘Plan B then darling? said Lilian, handing Kate her hip flask. This time, she took a deep pull. Oh, why did life have to be so unfair?
To be continued….
St Stephen’s Lent Appeal
The Rev Alan Franks, vicar of St Stephen’s, is taking ‘Suffering and need on our doorstep’ as his Lent theme this year. ‘I normally like the Lent Appeal to benefit charities outside the parish, but this year I feel there may be those closer to home who need our help,’ he said.
‘I would urge parishioners to look closely at those around them – perhaps people they see every day, even friends and family members – to see if they have missed the signs of suffering or distress.
‘For example, do you know a young woman who seems scared of her partner? Is a mum-to-be who should be happy and enjoying life, looking pale and ill? If your daughter, your friend or your sister keeps telling you she is fine, do you believe her, or wonder why she seems so anxious and jumpy?
‘It is too easy to dismiss our concerns because we don’t want to interfere – or because we are afraid of causing more trouble,’ said Rev Franks. ‘But this Lent, instead of giving up chocolate or eating soup for lunch, why not sacrifice some time to reach out to someone who may need help but be too afraid to ask for it?
‘If you aren’t able to intervene directly, you could consider donating to a suitable charity instead,’ said Rev Franks.
‘And of course, if you could spare Lynda Snell a few quid for the stage curtains for the Village Hall, that would be great too.’