Single wicket ends on sour note
Johnny Phillips emerged as the winner of the Ambridge Single Wicket competition on Whit Monday, after an all-Bridge Farm final in which the talented youngster saw off a spirited challenge from his uncle Tom Archer.
But the event was mired in controversy after Phillips refused to shake hands with Rob Titchener, who was presenting the trophy, and instead called Tom Archer up to share his success.
‘I was disappointed, but frankly, bad manners is the least of that family’s problems,’ said Mr Titchener, who as commentator had entertained the crowd with a trademark display of cricketing know-how, passive-aggressive banter and thinly veiled misogyny (is this right? Ed).
‘Johnny and Tom were just upset that because it was a Monday they weren’t allowed to see Henry, who spent a perfectly happy afternoon chained to his grandma Ursula’s chair.’
Mr Titchener had earlier thanked the crowd for their warm support during his ‘recent difficulties’.
‘It was embarrassing,’ admitted one spectator. ‘Shula Hebden-Lloyd usually presents the trophy, but she was away – something about saying goodbye to her son, who’s going to live in a tank in Canada. Takes all sorts I suppose.’
‘People in the pub are saying Johnny was unsporting,’ said Kenton Archer, landlord of The Bull. ‘After all, Rob won the league for Ambridge last year; he was a hero of the flood and he bravely survived a knife attack. What’s not to like?’
Elves set to get their marching orders?
Ambridge Parish Council has called an extra-ordinary meeting next week to discuss an urgent request to ban sightseers from the ‘elf colony’ in Ambridge Millennium Wood. (Aldridge. Once more and you’re fired. Ed).
The wood’s owner is asking councillors to act after commissioning a report into the impact the stream of tourists is having on wildlife and plants.
‘Patrick Hennessy of Borsetshire Wildlife Trust was very accommodating, especially after I bunged him a few quid to put up some more hides,’ said Brian Aldridge of Home Farm. ‘His report categorically shows that all these people gawping at elvish nonsense are damaging the ecosystem, including my pheasants – though of course they are not my prime concern.’
Lynda Snell of Ambridge Hall said she would be lobbying the council to oppose a ban. ‘Brian Aldridge can’t even spell ecosystem, let alone care for one,’ she said. ‘He only wants to stop families visiting the charming faerie tableau in the wood so his rich friends can stomp all over it shooting those beautiful birds.’
Neil Carter, chair of the Parish Council, said he didn’t know how councillors would respond to the request. ‘Between you and me though, I’ve heard Eddie Grundy might be moving the elves to Grundy’s Field to set up some kind of theme park,’ he said. ‘If he does, there’ll be plenty more problems – environmental health, highways, trading standards and the like – but we can hand all those over to the District Council and get on with ordering more bunting for the village green.’
Ambridge ready to celebrate Borsetshire’s best
Beef and eggs will be on the menu at Brookfield this year as the Archer family prepare to showcase their products on Open Farm Sunday.
‘I’ve prepared detailed spreadsheets and a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation on our Hereford beef, comparing them with the Angus cattle that my cousin Tom is bringing over from Bridge Farm,’ said Pip Archer. ‘I knew my experience in High Wycombe would come in useful. Visitors will love it!’
Miss Archer’s younger brother Josh is hoping his ‘Hens on Holiday’ display to promote his new venture will prove equally appealing.
‘When visitors come in they’ll see a cute henhouse, designed as a replica of a Romany caravan by Bert Fry,’ he said. ‘Then after a short talk on Upper Class Eggs, they will go to the barn, where my gran Jill Archer will be cooking omelettes to order, dressed as a giant chicken.’
Letter to the Editor
This year once again Home Farm is hosting a team of fruit pickers from Eastern Europe and I would like to ask your readers to show them some true Ambridge hospitality.
Although they are foreign, most of them will understand you if you speak very loudly and slowly, as I do. At Home Farm we pride ourselves on providing luxuries they don’t have at home, like soap and smoke alarms. We are also laying on an evening at The Bull and a barbecue, to which we’d like to invite young locals to mingle with our visitors.
They are always a fun-loving bunch, as I know from many a happy summer spent showing young men round the polytunnels. But I’m getting on a bit now, and my husband Ian reckons they’ll want to mix with younger folk. So if you see our visitors around the village, do please say hello (though you probably won’t as they work 20-hour days).
Yours faithfully (for the moment)
Adam Macy, Home Farm
Happy birthday Lynda Snell! Let others mock your ‘Absurdam’ garden; one look at you in that shepherd’s hut and it’s ‘Resurgam’ for me every time. You are my inspiration and my rock, and you were jolly decent about Fallon’s jumble trail. Many happy returns dear Lyndybot. Your loving Robert.
The Trials of Lilian Bellamy
In the latest chapter of our romantic saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our heroine discovers that every cloud has a silver-haired lining…
‘Sorry Toby; Kenton makes the decisions. I’m only a silent partner …’ As she said the words, Lilian tuned out of the young man’s over-eager sales spiel for Ambridge Eggspert Films, or whatever it was. Silent partner: her thoughts flew to dear Paul, so cruelly silenced by a heart attack three years ago. If only she’d been brave enough to leave Matt, would they be happy even now? Of course, he’d turned into a possessive psychopath towards the end, but was that so much worse than running off to Costa Rica with her money….?
‘So whaddya reckon, Lil babe?’ ‘Oh, I don’t know darling; let me speak to Justin about it..’ Suddenly weary of Toby’s cheesy grin, she pulled out her phone to check her appointment with Fabrice of Felpersham, who’d promised her a ‘vision spectaculaire’ for Jenny’s party. As if on cue, it rang. ‘Sorry Toby, I’ve got to take this…’ she said, but he’d already moved on, pressing egg leaflets on a group of elf-visitors from Redditch…
‘Calm down mum – what did Rob actually say?’ Lilian poured tea, wishing fervently it was gin. Peggy’s hand shook, rattling the cup in the saucer. ‘I thought I was doing a good thing, taking some photos of the baby to show them!’ she said. ‘I even had one framed for Ursula. But as soon as I said Jack was doing well, Rob got so angry – furious! I’ve never seen him like that. And he seemed to think the baby’s name is Gideon!’
Lilian patted her shoulder. ‘Well mum, you did the right thing. And I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of Rob Titchener…’ Yes, he was charming enough. But Lilian had learned the hard way that men were not always what they seemed… She put down her own cup with a crash. ‘Come on mum, we both need cheering up. Let’s go for a stiff drink – I mean, a nice lunch…’
‘And so Jenny, to celebrate 40 wonderful years, I’m taking you to Venice on the Orient Express!’ The beau monde of Borsetshire cheered as Brian presented his wife with a ruby ring and planted a tender kiss on her cheek. Even Lord Elbury stopped stuffing his face with pulled pork long enough to applaud. Lilian smiled ruefully and turned to watch the fruit pickers, who were performing a charming Eastern European folk dance to thank Home Farm for their hospitality.
‘Penny for them, Lilian?’ Justin was smiling down on her. ‘Or should I say, a few thousand for them?’ He looked so dashing in his dinner suit. Lilian’s heart lurched. ‘Why Justin, whatever do you mean?’
‘Come on old girl,’ he said. ‘We both know Miranda’s not gone to Geneva with her tennis coach to improve her forehand. We’re only together for the trust funds, whereas you and I…’ The unspoken question hung in the air like the smell of Goan fish curry from the buffet. For a second, Lilian had a vision of Paul and Matt. But what was the point of pursuing love when it always let her down? ‘Are you asking me to be your mistress, Justin?” she smiled, aware that both of them knew the answer…
To be continued…