Shepherd of St Stephen’s seeks lost sheep
News that attendances at Church of England services have sunk to a record low has prompted one local vicar to take drastic action.
The Revd Alan Franks of St Stephen’s, Ambridge, has launched an ambitious outreach programme to recruit new worshippers.
‘It’s not enough to focus on inward-looking events like the bell-ringers’ supper – but don’t put that in or it’ll upset Shula,’ he said. ‘We need to bring in the forgotten, the unforgiven, those on whom society has turned its back.’
The vicar said he had started by offering Rob Titchener a lift home from the village shop. ‘It was hard going,’ he admitted. ‘Mr Titchener said he was beyond redemption and accused me of acting out of guilt because my wife is evicting him from his cottage. And unfortunately, when the congregation heard Rob might be in church, they said they wouldn’t come. No good at all for Bishop Nick’s new attendance targets. I may have to seek out new parishioners who would be less controversial, like Pharisees and tax collectors.’
Panto wars: will Mother Goose be a turkey?
News that Lynda Snell is to produce a Christmas pantomime, which was greeted with delight by the community, (are you sure? Ed) turned sour this week as Ambridge was rocked by creative splits and boycotts.
‘It’s like Fete Gate all over again,’ said one shocked villager. ‘With Lynda called away to look after her grandson, Alice Carter stomped about with a clipboard on Apple Day, telling everyone the show was Cinderella, and signing up the whole Grundy family in starring roles. But then Lynda came back and said they were going to do Mother Goose instead. And the Grundys have said they’ll have nothing to do with it! It’s chaos already!’
Eddie Grundy of Grange Farm confirmed his family would play no part in a production of Mother Goose. ‘We was all looking forward to Cinderella, with a sitting-down part for Dad, and Clarrie being fairy godmother and that,’ he said. ‘But now it’ll just be one big advert for the Fairbrothers and their geese. It’s a slap in the face for our turkeys!’
Contacted for comment, Mrs Snell said the row was due to a misunderstanding.
‘I was confident that leaving Kate in charge while I was away would ensure that absolutely nothing happened,’ she said. ‘How was I to know she would get Alice involved? She’s a lovely girl, and she made a strong case for Ed Grundy as Prince Charming. But she went slightly beyond her creative remit on this occasion.’
Mrs Snell said the Grundy family had ‘nothing to fear, business-wise’ from the production and hoped they would change their minds. ‘Although Emma had already been in touch to say Ed would not be available under any circumstances – not sure why,’ she said.
Young gun keen to add value in Ambridge
Entrepreneur Toby Fairbrother says he is looking for ‘new opportunities to make pots and pots of money’ after leaving the poultry business he set up with his brother at Hollowtree, Ambridge.
‘Anyone can run a boring old farm or look after geese all day,’ he said. ‘People get annoyed at you for the littlest things, like forgetting to feed them. I’m looking for high-end products you can add value to. For instance, did you know the Grundys make artisan cider? And sloe gin? And they don’t even sell it because of some stupid hygiene and licensing rules. So what if it gives you gut rot? My rugby pals would pay a premium for that! And my girlfriend’s grandmother makes the most brilliant flapjacks. I could make a fortune with them. Slight logistical problem at the mo – she sets the dog on me when I go near the farmhouse – but I’m sure she’ll come round soon. I’m catnip to Archer women, if you know what I mean.’
Mr Fairbrother dismissed rumours that his new solo venture follows a row with his brother Rex. ‘Let’s just say that some people are sore losers in love. Anyone who tells you that Rex fired me by text and then punched me in the eye needs to get their facts straight,’ he said.
Ask Aunty Satya
She’s back! With her warm-hearted wisdom and forensic legal skills, Aunty Satya can sort out all your emotional and practical dilemmas.
Dear Aunty Satya,
My husband and I are trying to rebuild trust after he had a couple of affairs. We are giving our marriage another go but it is much harder than I thought. He seems to prefer spending all day out on his tractor rather than come home and talk to me. What can I do? Ian
I wish I could say that when your husband is out on his tractor you don’t need to worry about him being unfaithful, but you know from past experience that is not true. How about popping out to the field to surprise him with a flask and some sandwiches? This seems to sustain many farming marriages.
Dear Aunty Satya,
I have found out that my soon-to-be ex-husband wants to change our son’s name from Jack to Gideon. My father says that on contact visits, my husband sings ‘My son Gideon’ (to the tune of ‘My boy lollipop’) to the baby over and over again. My lawyer says he has little chance of success but he is so devious, I can’t help but worry. What do you think? Helen.
Please do not worry. Your husband clearly has an over-romanticised view of fatherhood. Before his next visit, feed your baby so that he produces an astonishingly smelly nappy within the first half hour (a tiny touch of garam masala in his formula might help). Changing his baby’s name will soon be the last thing on his mind.
Recipe of the week
Thanks to Susan Carter of Ambridge View for sending us this unusual starter.
Super-fruity face pack
Serves two, to share
A pair of creamy, ripe avocados
A good-sized, firm cucumber
Egg white, lightly whipped until slippery
Slightly warmed olive oil (definitely not extra-virgin)
• Put a pan of chilli on to get hot, hot, hot!
• Take all the starter ingredients and blitz them until nice and velvety.
• Using your fingers (make sure hubby washes his first) smooth the mixture all over each other’s faces – or anywhere that needs moisturising.
• Dim the lights, put on some Michael Bublé, relax and let nature take its course.
Susan writes: ‘Let’s just say this is the recipe for a VERY special evening – unless you’re interrupted by Shula coming round to chat about the bell-ringers’ supper of course.’
Thank Grundys for turkeys!
Yeehaw! Yep, it’s nearly Thanksgiving time folks, and how better to celebrate this fine Borsetshire tradition (are you sure? Ed) than with a Grundy turkey – famous on both sides of the pond (on the village green that is).
Your specially raised Yankee Doodle Turkey will be delivered to your door wearing a ten-gallon hat and ready for roasting in the good ol’ Southern style with a can of beer stuck up its (That’ll do. We know where it goes. Ed.) Only £60, with a free Stars & Stripes painted elf for the kiddies!