Sunday, 15 March 2015

Revolution, public relations and a sad loss: a sobering week in Ambridge

The flood claims its first casualty

Ambridge residents have been deeply saddened by the loss of Freda Fry, who passed away in Borchester General this week. Freda was admitted to hospital with pneumonia, which she contracted on a foolhardy mission to drive through the floodwaters to join her soulmate Bert. ‘They said she was getting better; we’d got the room at Brookfield all ready, with Ben’s superhero posters and her recipe books all dried out for her.’ said Bert. ‘Now she won’t be coming back at all.’
Freda Fry’s quiet, self-effacing character was in contrast to Bert’s more voluble nature. ‘You could say Bert did the talking for both of them,’ said a regular at The Bull, where Freda’s cooking was legendary. ‘She was this invisible presence, but as long as the pies kept coming out of the kitchen, you knew all was right with the world. She will be sadly missed.’ See next week’s issue for details of the funeral arrangements.

Anger rises as the flood waters subside

Now that the full extent of the Ambridge flood is becoming clear, the mood in the village is changing from one of relief to fury at those they hold responsible for the disaster.
The Ambridge Observer can exclusively reveal that a number of prominent local residents are to form an action group, provisionally called Ambridge Residents Say: Enough! Hands Off Local Environment (are you sure? Ed)
Founder members include:
• David and Ruth Archer, who were leaving Ambridge five minutes ago, but are now its most passionate defenders. ‘When something like this happens, it brings people together,’ David told the local TV news. ‘Now it’s time to act.’
• Adam Macy, who is concerned that modern farming methods are causing soil erosion on a sub-Saharan scale. He also blames Borchester Land’s neglect of ditches and culverts for the flooding. The fact that Charlie Thomas is playing hard to get after Adam saved his life is not relevant at all here.
• Pat Archer, who blames local councillors who built flood defences to protect executive housing in Borchester, placing Ambridge at risk. ‘The little people, like you, Clarrie, are left to fend for yourselves,’ she fumed.  
• Jim Lloyd, who compares the way the villagers rallied round after the flood with the Paris Commune of 1792. Until they began massacring the priests. Although if it was up to him…

 Village businesses bounce back

Although both the village shop and The Bull were flooded out, both are set to rise again like a phoenix from the waves (mixed metaphor. Ed) thanks to the enterprising women of Ambridge. With the ground floor out of action, Fallon has opened the Flood Bar in the upstairs function room, complete with utility chic décor of hard chairs, bench tables and bottled beer. Bert didn’t see how they could serve food without his Freda, but Fallon channelled her inner Ruth Archer and is dishing out sandwiches, salads and microwaved pizza like there’s no tomorrow. The Archers were among the first customers, as the food is noticeably better than Ruth’s standard fare. ‘That looks lovely,’ said Jill of a veal and ham pie, before deciding to play it safe with crisps.
To Susan’s despair, the entire stock of the village shop has been condemned, apart from a few tins of peaches that will doubtless feature in the sherry trifles at Ed and Emma’s wedding. But you can’t keep a Carter down for long, and soon  
Pat had rallied round too, suggesting that they relocate the shop to Bridge Farm. Susan, however, was distracted by Helen’s news about Rob’s injury; it seems he may be left with a permanent reminder of his heroic lifeboat rescue. ‘Ooh, they say some women find a scar quite sexy, don’t they?’ she said. ‘That reminds me, Pat, I must get home and put the chilli on.’

 Justin Elliott: a local hero

The Ambridge Observer would like to thank Ambridge’s very own Justin Elliott, visionary entrepreneur and statesman, for his most generous support for the community in its hour of need. We can only echo Susan Carter, doyen of the village shop, who says: ‘He’s not just all talk; he’s put in £10,000 out of his own pocket to help. Who cares where the money comes from if he does some good with it? My old dad could do with a new telly for a start.’
The Observer is proud to support Mr Elliott’s Amvale Relief Fund and all the sterling work Borchester Land is doing to invest in our local infrastructure and economy. Honoured to have you in Ambridge sir!
 (NB subs: I’ve thanked Justin for the new coffee machine and FA Cup semi-final tickets. Run this past Damara Capital’s PR guy to check he’s happy. Ed.)

Mother’s Day appeal

Not every mum is lucky enough to spend Mothering Sunday with her loved ones. Here are just some of the heartbreaking cases our appeal aims to help this year:
• ‘Heather’ is elderly, frail and lives alone hundreds of miles from her family. Recently her only hope of seeing her grandchildren grow up was dashed when they changed their mind about moving home. Now she is forced to contemplate living out her days in sheltered housing with her bossy friend Marjorie.
• ‘Lilian’ was devastated when her partner left her penniless and has seen nothing of her son and his family since. She is reduced to searching derelict pubs for forgotten bottles of gin.
• ‘Clarrie’ is left without a stick of furniture after her hapless husband forgot to pay his insurance premiums
• ‘Kate’ is a single mum who was forcibly separated from her two children in South Africa and is now struggling to forge a bond with her stroppy and ungrateful teenage daughter. She spends her days going to yoga classes and wondering why everyone is so horrid to her.
• ‘Lynda’, who has no children of her own, is bereft after her beloved dog Scruff disappeared in the floods. Although she is grateful that her llamas survived, she will not rest until Scruff is back in his basket in the shed.   
Could you reach out to a lonely mum like these ladies and so many more like them? A friendly smile, cup of tea and slice of Dundee cake could make all the difference!

Recipe of the week

Thanks to Kate Aldridge of Home Farm, who plans to make this unusual and tasty dish for her family on Mother’s Day.

Vegan hummus and halloumi wraps

1.     Ask your mum to buy organic hummus and wholemeal tortilla wraps next time she’s in Underwoods.
2.     Make vegan halloumi by mixing organic tofu with onion powder, paprika  powder, turmeric, Celtic sea salt, nutritional yeast and grapeseed oil.
3.     Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered, buy non-vegan halloumi and pretend.
4.     Put it all on the table and get everyone to make their own wraps.
5.     If your teenage daughter would rather go to her stepmum’s than spend Mother’s Day with you, flounce off to your cottage with a bottle of your dad’s Barolo.


  1. As entertaing as always , It's a reminder of the little nuggets that had past me by Excellent !

    1. Thank you Neil! You can rely on the Observer reporters to dig out the nuggets!

  2. Kate, have decided to skip your celebratory wraps and go directly to the Barolo course. Love Lilian mwah mwah

  3. Good plan Lilian! Kate would definitely approve.

  4. Another Gem from AO. Many thanks!

  5. You're more than welcome. Thank you for wading through the flood water to drop by!