Ambridge prepares for the trial of the century
Simmering tensions in the village boiled over onto the cricket pitch on Sunday, as key players in the Helen Titchener trial confronted each other following Ambridge’s defeat by an in-form Wimberton team.
‘After the match, Rob Titchener was shouting at the lads, trying to tell them where they went wrong, but everyone just walked away,’ said one witness. ‘Then he seemed to have some sort of row with Ian Craig. They squared up to each other but Rob backed down in the end. Ian shouted after him: ‘See you in court then. I can guess what you’ve been doing to Helen – but don’t worry, I won’t let her down.’
Johnny Phillips, Helen Titchener’s nephew, said the team had ‘voted with its feet’ in turning against Mr Titchener. ‘He was winding up Adam Macy before his innings, really putting him off,’ he said. ‘We’re sick of him hanging round the team like a bad smell – worse than those sandwiches Shula brought that no one wanted.’
Mrs Shula Hebden-Lloyd, who said she was on ‘unofficial tea duty’ at the match, was shocked by the row. ‘The team always goes to the pub after a match, and I’d gone ahead, taking some of my sandwiches, because they hadn’t been eaten,’ she said. ‘It was very disappointing when no one turned up, and other customers said they were too full of Fallon's piri piri to help me out. But there are still plenty left – egg-and-cress, meat paste and tuna. Would you like one?’
Defendant's mum: 'Will the new cardi I sent Helen sway the jury?'
With the trial of Helen Titchener for the attempted murder of her husband Rob only days away, we ask those close to the case how they are preparing for it:
• Pat Archer, Bridge Farm: ‘Naturally, we are worried sick for Helen. We’ve read Rob Titchener’s statement and it’s a pack of malicious, evil lies. And we’re still not sure
that Helen has told her barrister everything Rob did, so she can make the strongest case for the defence. I’ve sent her a nice new cardi but I’m really not sure it will sway the jury.’
• Shula Hebden-Lloyd, The Stables: ‘I don’t suppose Pat and Tony will feel like cooking after long days in court, so I think I’ll make some sandwiches to keep them going. I’ve still got some egg and cress, meat paste and tuna left from the cricket teas. It’s the least I can do.’
• Carol Tregorran, Glebe Cottage: ‘My role will be to support my daughter Anna, who’s Helen’s barrister, especially after the trial, when she’ll be exhausted, poor dear. I’ve booked us a holiday – a trip to the Austrian Alps, complete with a Sound of Music tour. It’s always been a family favourite and while neither of us is exactly 16, going on 17, or keen on lonely goatherds, I’m sure we will climb every mountain, and I’ve asked Jill Archer to run us up a couple of wimples. I can’t wait!’
• Tom Archer, Bridge Farm: ‘I can best help Helen by keeping her legacy going here at the farm, so I’m applying for a Nuffield scholarship to research her idea of organic baby food. It’s tough – I’ve had to go on a farm walk with Ruth Archer and her special ‘burnt pizza’ picnic, and if I get the funds I’ll have to travel all over Europe on expenses. But it’s not about me. It’s what Helen would want.’
• Justin Elliott, Damara Capital: ‘I’m looking forward to a swift conclusion to the trial so Rob Titchener can start his new role as my estates manager. I pride myself on being a good judge of character and I have no truck with those who say he’s a vicious, manipulative, homophobic bully. He’s always been perfectly charming to me.’
Madame Butty-fly! Sarnie scare stops opera
Monday night’s performance of Madame Butterfly at Lower Loxley was disrupted when police were called in to investigate a suspicious package. ‘An area of the grounds near the ladies’ lavatories was cordoned off,’ said Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns). ‘Witnesses said the abandoned parcel was emitting fumes and a noxious smell, and these days you can’t be too careful.
‘Fortunately, sniffer dogs revealed the contents to be a package of egg-and-cress, meat paste and tuna sandwiches, which – well let’s just say they were well past their sell-by date. They were hygienically disposed of as even the dogs wouldn’t eat them, and the performance was allowed to continue.’
Ask Aunty Satya
She’s back! With her warm-hearted wisdom and forensic legal skills, Usha Franks’s favourite aunty has the answers to all your dilemmas.
Dear Aunty Satya,
I am very attracted to a kind, thoughtful medical man. At the opera last week we sat out under the stars, and with the wine and the wonderful music I was nearly carried away. But I am wary because of my disastrous affair with a married man, which began when we were both drunk in a tent at a music festival and ended with a lot of people getting hurt. How can I be sure this relationship will work? Lizzie.
It seems to me that alcohol, music and the great outdoors are a toxic combination for your love life. You would be wise to do your courting inside, in a music-free, teetotal environment devoid of all excitement – Borchester Public Library perhaps, or a Women’s Institute meeting. You will soon know whether your new beau is Mister – or should I say Doctor – Right!
Dear Aunty Satya,
My ex Maxine says she wants a divorce, and when I bumped into her the other evening (after waiting outside her house for only a couple of hours – amazing coincidence!) she said we should have a clean break. Her actual words were: ‘I’m going to leave now and you are not to come after me or try to contact me again.’ But I can’t believe she would cut me off, especially as I have a huge court case coming up. What do you think she really meant? Anna.
My niece Usha, who is a lawyer like you, always says: ‘Aunty, in court, never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer’. My dear, you know only too well what Maxine meant. My advice is to throw yourself into your work and let her go. And a little word to the wise: a conviction for stalking is unlikely to enhance your professional reputation, as my distant cousin the High Court judge found out the hard way.
Dear Aunty Satya,
My twin brother Freddie is a bit of a duffer and failed all his GCSEs. Our mum wants him to go to Borchester College for re-sits. Should I leave the Cathedral School to go with him? I’m worried that without me to look after him he’ll get into serious trouble. Lily.
Your sisterly concern does you credit, but perhaps you are being too protective of Freddie? A wealthy but dim boy will always be popular in places like Borchester College and I’m sure he will have a high old time there. If I were you dear, I would go into the Sixth Form, join the Madrigal Group, learn to play bridge and let him get on with it.