Village rallies round accused Ambridge mum…
Friends and family of Helen Titchener are launching a bold campaign to have her freed on bail by rebranding next month’s Open Farm Sunday as Open Jail Sunday.
‘We are all devastated that Helen was refused bail, especially as she finally listened to me and pleaded not guilty,’ said her brother Tom Archer of Bridge Farm.
‘But to be honest, it’s tough juggling a sister in prison with planting cabbages, keeping the pigs under control and eating up all the surplus stock from the shop. There’s only so many stale flapjacks you can stuff in when you haven’t got Jazzer the Human Hoover to help out.
‘Luckily, people have rallied round to help promote our produce AND campaign for Helen. Open Jail Sunday attractions will include:
• ‘Frees-her Packs’ of Hereford beef from Brookfield
• ‘Hay, Bail Helen’ tractor rides round Bridge Farm
• Souvenir pens with the slogan ‘Our hens aren’t penned in; why is Helen?’ (sponsored by Josh Archer and the Fairbrothers)
• Karaoke featuring ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’ and ‘Tie a Custard-Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ hosted by Jolene Archer and Wayne Tucson)
• Goody bag with a slice of Jill Archer’s lemon drizzle cake containing a miniature marzipan file.
… but her mother must stay at home
In other shock news, Mr Archer revealed that Helen’s mother Pat can have no further contact with her daughter as she will be called as a prosecution witness at the trial, which is scheduled for Sept 5. ‘Of course, mum regrets telling DS Madeley about Helen threatening to kill Rob, after she’d been warned not to by our lawyer,’ he said. ‘But these things happen. And at the bail hearing, mum made sure Helen knew she was there for her, by miming that it didn’t matter that she hadn’t washed her hair.’
Hens’ holiday nearly comes to a sticky end
A local poultry business faced closure this week as a flock of high-welfare hens was threatened with slaughter by DEFRA officials.
‘It was all going so well,’ said Rex Fairbrother of Hollowtree. ‘Josh Archer had posted pictures of our hens in their temporary caravan home on Facebook, and pretty soon ‘Hens on Holiday’ had gone viral. We were flooded with enquiries for our pastured eggs, and local TV wanted to come and film.
‘But someone must have heard my brother Toby in the pub, shouting about ‘viral hens’. The next thing you know, we were raided by guys dressed like Star Wars Stormtroopers, with a warrant to test the flock for bird flu! They were about to cull the whole lot until I showed them it was all a marketing stunt and our hens are disease-free.’
‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused, but we can’t afford to take risks with public health,’ said a DEFRA spokesperson. ‘However, with the referendum coming up, staff have had special training to distinguish between BSE (Britain Stronger in Europe) and mad cow disease.’
Sun shines on May Day celebrations
Ambridge residents turned out in force for the traditional May Day celebrations on the village green on Monday. The Ambridge Observer was there to report on the fun:
• Keira Grundy (five): ‘I did the May pole dancing and Mum said I was so good she might take me for proper lessons. Granny Clarrie said I was light on my feet. I said was that like Uncle Alf having light fingers and she said be quiet Keira.’
• Bert Horrobin (85): ‘I’m looking for a box of stuff that our Susan shouldn’t never have taken for the jumble sale. It had things what were of sentimental value. Like two vases I won on the shooting gallery at Borchester Mop Fair in 1986. Chinese-looking they were, have you seen them?’
• Henry Titchener (five): ‘I wanted a Coke but Granny Ursula said I had to have apple juice. I hate apple juice but she said don’t make a scene Henry, you know what happens. Granddad took me to see a kingfisher. It was beautiful and I saw the mummy catch a fish and smash it and kill it dead. But Aunty Kirsty said it might have been the daddy.’
Croxley crushes crocked cricketers
The Ambridge Cricket Club First X1 put up a dismal showing against Little Croxley on Sunday, losing by 10 wickets and demonstrating just how much they are missing last season’s key players.
‘It was tough, with Tom Archer and Johnny Phillips unavailable, and Charlie Thomas just a distant memory,’ said captain Adam Macy, clearly emotional. ‘We had to borrow the opposition’s 12th man and even with Bartleby in the outfield, and Barry Simmons exploding crisp packets as a distraction tactic, we were completely outclassed.’
‘The lads were looking forward to playing Rob Titchener – a general all-round hero and great coach to the young players,’ said Little Croxley captain Andy Legge-Spinner. ‘But he wasn’t in the team. Has something happened to him?
'Anyway, we tried to be sporting when that old guy in the yellow kit – David Archer, is it? – bruised his hand. We offered to play blindfold and bowl with scones. But Ambridge could still only manage 21 all out. It’s a shame.’
At home with… Miranda Elliott
In the first of a new series, Miranda Elliott – socialite, horsewoman and wife of Damara Capital chairman Justin Elliott – graciously invites us into the Dower House, the power couple’s new home in Ambridge.
‘I was delighted to hear that Justin had rented this little bolthole; Ambridge isn’t exactly Chipping Norton, but it’s quite picturesque. And the planners are still being difficult about digging out the basement of our London house to provide an equestrian centre for my beloved Prince Dimitri Excalibur. Ghastly people.
‘So here we are! I must say, the little woman Justin found to do the house up – Gillian? Sylvia? – wasn’t quite what I expected. Fussing around as if she owned the place! And over-familiar with Justin, although frankly too old to be a worry…
‘Anyway, she’d found some lovely pieces, like this tiger maple table, and the two Chinese vases in the fireplace. Apparently she sourced them locally, and they’re particularly fine.
‘But there was far too much clutter; on that console table she’d put a load of old pottery she claimed was “Borsetshire slipware”. I said to Justin: ‘You can slip it straight in the skip!’ I must say, he didn’t see the joke. And a hideous yellow armchair was lurking in that corner. Thankfully, he took it off to his study.
‘Of course, you have to lower your standards in the country. But I had to put my foot down when a hawker turned up in a van the other evening. This ‘Eddie Grundy’ (what a name! Talk about Thomas Hardy!) claimed Lilian had told him we were in the market for any old tat! Started bringing out wooden owls, plaster squirrels – the stuff of nightmares.
‘For some reason, Justin seemed to find this little charade quite amusing. I think the country air must be softening his brain. The sooner I get back to Chelsea, the better.’