Monday, 13 November 2017

Matt Crawford hit-and-run: police dragnet closes in

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) says he is confident of a quick arrest in the Matt Crawford hit-and-run case.
‘I have made so many enquiries that I have run out of space in my notebook and I have a total of 45 suspects,’ he said. ‘I have ruled no one out unless they have a cast-iron alibi. And I have been careful to think ‘outside the box’, so my list includes a number of known malicious livestock, such as Peggy Woolley’s cat Hilda Ogden and a crack team of Eddie Grundy’s ferrets.’
However, PC Burns said he would now be handing the case over to Borsetshire CID, as it has been confirmed as an attempted murder. ‘The detectives were ever so nice about it,’ he said. ‘They were so impressed with my notes, they pinned them up on the dartboard in the incident room. And when I fetched them cheese and pickle rolls from Bridge Farm tea room, they let me keep the change.’

Ask Auntie Satya

With her warm wit and forensic legal brain, Auntie Satya is here to sort out all of your emotional and practical dilemmas!

Dear Auntie Satya,

My girlfriend Lexi and I went to see the new film, Murder on the Orient Express, but I was distracted throughout because I have CCTV evidence that Adam Macy punched Matt Crawford in the Grey Gables car park, making Adam a possible suspect in the hit-and-run. Lexi was frustrated with me. Do you think we should have gone to see Paddington 2 instead? Roy.

Dear Roy,

What a shame. Had you gone to see Paddington 2, you could have kept the CCTV footage where Paddington keeps his marmalade sandwiches – under your hat. As it is, watching a film where everyone has a motive for killing a very unpopular man has clearly got your little grey cells working overtime, which in your case hardly ever turns out well. Leave it to the professionals and bury your head in a bucket of popcorn, as Lexi sensibly advises.  Auntie Satya.

Dear Auntie Satya,

My husband Adam and I invited Karina, a potential surrogate mother, to lunch. I made salmon quiche, salads and tarte tatin – nothing fancy. When she arrived she overheard us rowing about whether Adam had punched Matt Crawford, and for the rest of the meal we bickered about keeping secrets from each other. Karina later left a phone message to tell us she lived too far from Ambridge to be a surrogate. But I think she changed her mind because Adam was wearing a shirt that made him look like Brian Aldridge. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to taking her up Lakey Hill.  Am I right to feel resentful? Ian.

Dear Ian,

I think if you re-read your letter, Ian, you will find you have answered your own question. Are you convinced you and Adam are really ready to welcome a new life into the world? Perhaps you could adopt a rabbit first and see how you get on? Auntie Satya.

Dear Auntie Satya,

Since my ex Toby and I got back together, on a totes no-strings basis, he has been behaving like the perfect boyf, bringing me muffins in bed and so on. But my parents, who hate him, want me to move back home to Brookfield, which will make things awks for our late-night booty calls. What do you think I should do? Pip.

Dear Pip,

In your longer letter, you tell me you miss your grandmother’s baking, which is
superior to the leftover conference canapés that so often appear for supper at Lower Loxley. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether you prefer flapjacks or muffins, and this is not a choice you can expect me to make for you. Auntie Satya.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Madam,

My friend and I recently took advantage of a ‘Hidden Hideaways’ coach tour to Grey Gables Hotel in Ambridge (very reasonable, half a bottle of house Shiraz and complimentary chocolate mint included with the table d’hote). However our first impression was not good as the lady receptionist, instead of checking us in, tried to persuade us to direct the village pantomime. When we declined, she thrust a sheaf of election leaflets at us and said: ‘Turn up and vote! No one will know you don’t live here. The tellers are always asleep anyway!’
But this was a mere distraction compared to the distressing scene we then witnessed. An elderly man, clearly in great pain, staggered out of the lift and tried to drag three large suitcases across the lobby. He was begging for help from a smartly-dressed lady who we assumed was the manager. But instead of assisting him with his check-out and luggage, she stood over him yelling ‘Stop it Tiger, you’re going nowhere!’
We had high hopes of Grey Gables but I would like to warn your readers that if this is how they treat vulnerable, older customers who get behind with their bill, they had better steer clear. And the hotel can certainly wave goodbye to the Saga contract.

Yours faithfully

Miss Terri Guest

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Matt Crawford attack: the 20 key questions that could solve the crime

Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) says the shock hit-and-run attack that nearly ended the life of Matt Crawford is ‘the biggest case of my career’.
‘I was here when Helen Archer attacked Rob Titchener, but bigger detectives came in and took over,’ he told a packed press briefing. ‘This one is mine, and as the local village bobby I am going to use my intimate knowledge of Ambridge to work out who committed this callous crime all by myself.’
PC Burns said he had begun his enquiries by writing a list of everyone who might have wanted to do harm to Mr Crawford, but that took too long, especially as Fallon needed him to try out her new recipe for pineapple upside-down cake.
‘So instead I have come up with a list of 20 unanswered questions that may have a bearing on this case and will lead us to the perpetrator,’ PC Burns said. ‘I am piecing together a full picture of events before and after the incident, from the Hunt Ball on Sunday to the Hallowe’en party at The Bull on Tuesday. The cake is very nice, by the way.’

Anyone who can provide answers to any of the questions below is asked to call 101, or have a word with PC Burns in the Bridge Farm tea room, where he is always available for a cosy chat over a plate of macaroni cheese.

1. Was the colour that Lexi Viktorova chose for her new room at Grey Gables ‘too green’?
2. Why did Roy Tucker forget to order poppadums (Lexi’s favourite) and then offer to go all the way back to Borchester to fetch them?
3.  Who will Christine Barford choose to take with her on the Rhine cruise she won in the Hunt Ball raffle?
4. Why is Noluthando Madikane such a fan of Frank Sinatra?
5. What is the secret of the balsamic glaze on chef Ian Craig’s roast beef?
6. How much did Philip Moss win at the Hunt Ball casino?
7. Why does Noluthando call Peggy Woolley Gogo, and why does she allow it?
8. What makes a Bloodthirsty Virgin non-alcoholic cocktail taste disgusting? 
9. Did Shula ever decide what time to serve the survivors’ breakfast?
10. Just how alarming were the shapes that Alistair threw with Jennifer at the Ball?
11. Is the oxtail soup nicer than the coffee in Borchester Hospital’s vending machines?
12. Is a vote for Robert Snell in the Parish Council election really a vote for Lynda Snell?
13. Those artificial flowers Lexi likes: are they silk, or just good-quality polyester?
14. Why is the Hallowe’en punch at The Bull in a glass bowl when it should be in a cauldron?
15. Will Peggy be happy to have her birthday dinner at Grey Gables or would she secretly have preferred La Femme du Monde?
16. Why did Pip want hot chocolate as well as a chocolate flapjack when tea would be a more balanced choice?
17. Why have some of the heifers at Brookfield lost condition, and will drying them off early be a sensible long-term decision for the health of the herd or a foolish waste of an opportunity, given the uptick in the milk price?
18. When will Lilian make an appointment for Ruby to get her hair cut?
19. What is Peggy Woolley thinking, throwing away the dress she wore at her wedding to Jack?
20. What is on Adam’s mind? No, really, what is it? If it’s not work, it must be something to do with the baby? Come on, talk to me, Adam (continues for several hours).

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Election chaos and Matt is on track...

Ambridge election ‘on the brink’

In a shock move, Borsetshire District Council (BDC) has announced it may impose direct rule on Ambridge as tensions around the village’s Parish Council election reach breaking point. In this week’s campaigning:
• Parish clerk Jim Lloyd was accused of being a ‘walking, talking election poster’ for candidate Emma Grundy by Lynda Snell, wife of the rival candidate Robert Snell.
 • Mr Snell complained that Nic Grundy, Emma’s sister-in-law, had soaked his leaflets in the drip tray at The Bull and had refused to put up a poster because ‘he had too much nasal hair and it wasn’t Hallowe’en till next week.’
 Mrs Snell was asked to leave the Bridge Farm Tea Room after trying to take an unflattering picture of Emma Grundy eating a bacon sandwich.
‘Lively debate is welcome in local democracy but there are limits,’ said a spokesperson for BDC. ‘If the election process continues to be subverted in Ambridge we will not hesitate to send in officers to administer its precept.’

Matt Crawford a marked man, say police

Borsetshire Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) has warned that ex-pat businessman Matt Crawford faces arrest if he attends South Borsetshire Hunt Ball on Sunday evening.
‘This evil, heartless criminal has got away with too much for far too long,’ he said. ‘We already suspect him of stalking Mrs Lilian Bellamy by fitting a tracker to her dog Ruby, and also to Mrs Bellamy’s phone. This enabled him to follow her into the ladies’ dressing rooms at House of Fraser in Birmingham, disguised in a midnight blue velvet backless ballgown, to force on her a one-way ticket to Costa Rica.  
‘Shula Hebden Lloyd has also reported Mr Crawford for the malicious campaign against her equine businesses, which has cost them important clients. Of course, one horse died and one was injured at The Stables lately, but it was jolly unfair of Mr Crawford to tell everyone.
‘He then dared to compound his crime by donating a £5,000 Rhine cruise for two to the Hunt Ball raffle, thereby obliging Mrs Hebden Lloyd to give him a ticket for the ball.
‘All this was bad enough,’ said PC Burns. ‘But Mr Crawford was then overheard expressing homophobic and bigoted views on surrogate parenthood to Adam Macy, which quite understandably prompted Mr Macy to exercise his right to bop him on the nose.’
‘All I can say to Mr Crawford is ‘Mind how you go,’ said PC Burns. ‘He has already given at least three guests at the ball the motive to do him a mischief. And if he emerges from his suite at Grey Gables to attend the ball, he may find his ‘plus one’ is a burly officer of the law.’

Recipe of the week

Seductive Zucchini Surprise

Thanks to Justin Elliott, chairman of Damara Capital and proud husband-to-be, for sending us his signature dish. ‘My flatmate Alejandro and I cooked this for the ladies every week in the Sixties,’ says Mr Elliott. ‘Let’s just say they always came back for seconds!’


6 mature (but still firm) courgettes
Warm olive oil (works wonders)
6 plump tomatoes, carefully peeled
Lots of cheese

Method (never fails)

1.     Put all the ingredients in a pot on the stove
2.     Dim the lights and put on Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Swinging Lovers
3.     Pour the lady an enormous sweet Martini
4.     Forget about dinner
5.     In the morning, invite her to do the washing-up before she leaves


Borsetshire Rural Cinema

Showing this week: Fungus in the Attic

Perfect for Hallowe’en!

In this 1990s schlock-horror classic, misunderstood kids Freddie and Noluthando try to find some excitement in their meaningless lives by picking ‘magic mushrooms’. But while drying the shrooms, they find themselves trapped in the attic of their creepy old family mansion, where the staff never go. No one hears their screams because Freddie’s twin Lily is busy dispensing unwanted romantic advice, their mother is fretting over the Hunt Ball and house guest Pip is having a noisy reunion with lover Toby. And the plot takes a terrifying twist when Noluthando rubs an old diver’s helmet and summons the ghost of Freddie’s late father Nigel, who is bent on revenge for his untimely death…    

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Storm Brian, The Stables under a cloud, Christmas show unveiled!

Danger from ‘peak Brian’ averted

Weather experts were left red-faced this week after Storm Brian, which was forecast to cause widespread chaos in Ambridge, blew over without much fuss.
‘We know what can happen when Brian blows his top,’ said one. ‘And we thought there would be an almighty row when his granddaughter said she wouldn’t go to college while she is staying at Home Farm.
‘The prospect of Noluthando lazing about all day watching Netflix had already whipped Brian into a tropical storm, which strengthened to hurricane force when he stepped on Kate’s Om Tingsha bells in bare feet.
‘We fully expected raging winds that would see Spiritual Home’s yurts flying over to Penny Hassett,’ said our source. ‘But in the end, Freddie Pargetter persuaded Noluthando that college would be cool. So she gave in. Phew.’ 

Director promises a musical classic

This year’s Ambridge Christmas show will be a reworking of the iconic Hollywood musical High Society, director Lynda Snell has revealed.
‘I had thought of dusting off an old Sleeping Beauty script and giving it to Alice Carter to direct,’ said Mrs Snell. ‘But once this idea struck, my creative juices started flowing faster than a Tumble Tussock in a cider press.
‘As you know, the story unfolds on the eve of the wedding of a beautiful socialite and her rich but dull fiancé. But her conman ex, who still loves her, is hanging around. And hilarity ensues when a third suitor turns up and the heroine has to choose between them all.’
The original 1956 film starred Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but Mrs Snell said she plans to update the production to suit local acting talent. ‘It would be wonderful to see some of our more mature players in starring roles,’ Mrs Snell said. ‘I hope Lilian Bellamy and Justin Elliott will tread the boards again, and that I can cajole Matt Crawford to delay his departure to Costa Rica to take part. And we have a very promising newcomer, Philip Moss. It’s unusual to find a builder with such emotional depth.    
‘I may even cast myself and Robert in the knockabout duet ‘What a Snell party this is!’ she said. (Please, no. Ed). 

Goodbye, Mr Chaps

The South Borsetshire Hunt Ball lost its bucking bronco sideshow this week as the supplier claimed he was worried it might be damaged or even destroyed at the event.  
Chuck Chaps, owner of Rampant Rodeos (Felpersham) Inc., said he was no longer prepared to send his ‘Mean Mustang’ to the ball, now that it is being run by new Joint Master Shula Hebden Lloyd.
‘I’ve read plenty of ugly rumours about the way Mrs Hebden Lloyd runs her livery business,’ he said. ‘it’s all over the equestrian community message boards. And her husband the vet is just as bad, by all accounts. Killing horses and losing clients hand over fist.
‘People think you can treat this machine any way you like but it’s really quite sensitive,’ said Mr Chaps. ‘I told Mrs Hebden Lloyd that Mean Mustang had developed a fault but the truth is he’ll be staying in the stable. I might even give him an extra squirt of WD40 in the joints as he’s getting on a bit.’
Contacted by The AmOb, Mrs Hebden Lloyd said that stories of neglect and mistreatment at The Stables were ‘unfounded and malicious’. ‘I’m afraid a former employee with a grudge is to blame, and my husband and I are taking legal advice,’ she said. ‘But in the meantime the ball faces a crisis. At this rate I may have to ask Aunty Peggy if I can borrow Hilda Ogden to give the guests that dicing-with-death thrill.’

 Election watchdog warns parish clerk

The monitoring officer at Borsetshire District Council has expressed concern about the neutrality of the clerk of Ambridge Parish Council in the run-up to its forthcoming by-election.
Robert Snell, who is standing for the seat vacated by Oliver Sterling, claims that Jim Lloyd, the clerk, is giving his rival Emma Grundy an unfair advantage by helping her campaign. ‘Favouring one candidate over another would be completely contrary to the clerks’ code of conduct,’ said Les B. Watchingham. ‘I would take a very serious view if this were true. And in fact it’s quite rare, as clerks usually see the election of new councillors as just another bunch of newbies they have to train up before they can do too much damage.’
Mr Lloyd denied doing anything improper to influence the outcome of the election.* ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ he said. ‘And anyway, status quo est distraxisse.’  
*At least we think he did. Ed.