River Am in ‘mystery poison’ scare
Borsetshire Wildlife Trust (BWT) has blamed ‘irresponsible hipsters’ for polluting the watercourse after a number of small animals were found in distress near the river Am.
‘We found voles, moles and a hedgehog all in trouble,’ said a spokesperson. ‘The poor creatures were staggering around, coughing and struggling to breathe; it was heartbreaking to see.’
BWT tested a puddle near where the victims were found but couldn’t identify the toxic substance they’d ingested. ‘When we fed the chemical analysis into the computer a big skull and crossbones filled the screen and the machine shut down,’ said the spokesperson.
‘Fortunately, thanks to a tip-off from Bert Fry of Brookfield, we traced the pollution back to Rickyard Cottage, where a young man in a dressing gown, who described himself as ‘a billionaire in training’ said he was making ‘artisan country drinks’ using industrial alcohol and poisonous herbs.
‘Of course, the results were unspeakably foul so he and his sidekick, a young farmer who ought to know better, just emptied the bottles down by the Am. Absolutely shocking. They could have killed a horse.’
Toby Fairbrother, who is staying at Rickyard Cottage, was unavailable for comment as he is believed to have taken more samples of the drinks down to Brighton for ‘experiential marketing purposes’. BWT said it had warned the East Sussex authorities.
Police reassure public over ‘clipboard woman’
Borsetshire’s Rural Crime Unit (PC Harrison Burns) said he had found ‘nothing suspicious’ after following up reports about a mystery woman who had been knocking on doors and approaching cars in Ambridge.
‘I thought at first it might be an attempted distraction burglary,’ PC Burns said at a press briefing. ‘You know, a young woman knocks at the front door claiming to be carrying out a survey, and her accomplice nips in round the back for the valuables. I’d love a case or two like that in Ambridge. It’s been a bit quiet since Blossom Hill Cottage.
‘But it turns out the young woman with a clipboard was only Alice Carter, who was trying to get people to take part in the Ambridge panto. She said she was ‘desperate’ as the only person who’d turned up to audition was Rob Titchener.
‘I had a word with Mrs Carter about not harrassing people, but I felt a bit sorry for her,’ PC Burns said. ‘Lynda Snell will be furious when she finds out Mother Goose will be a one-man show with no audience.
‘But every cloud has a silver lining. I’ve approached Lynda about staging ‘Gladioli All Over’, my tribute to The Smiths, as a Christmas production. I think Ambridge is ready.’
Your week in the stars
Janet Planet, resident of Penny Hassett and astrologer to royalty (are you sure? Ed) reveals what the future has in store…
Lovelorn Aquarians have a dilemma this week. Should you confess to your date that you’ve cheated on your wife with your boss, which she has said would put her off any new partner? (not unreasonably. Ed) Or should you keep quiet and hope your signed Pet Shop Boys album and rented dog will win her heart?
Loved ones have your best interests at heart this week, so try to forgive them when they swap your pasty-and-crisps lunches for pasta salad. You may have a few hunger pangs in the afternoon, but once you’ve lost those love-handles you can expect some super-hot chilli at night!
Problems at work loom this week, especially if your autumn-sown crops are looking a bit ropy. Beware a new boss who seems to find fault with everything and gets under that sensitive Cancerian skin of yours by making snide remarks about your private life. But don’t run him down with your new no-till drill, no matter how tempting it may be.
The Trials of… Rex Fairbrother
In the latest chapter of our romantic autumn saga, by award-winning novelist Lavinia Catwater, our hero must choose between ambition and his heart’s desire…
‘Oh, please Rex – pretty please, you fit, handsome, talented young man!’ In spite of himself, he had to smile. Alice Carter was persuasive enough, her eyes shining as brightly as her stainless steel clipboard. But if only it were Pip speaking those words to him… he would do anything she asked. Anything at all… ‘OK, Alice,’ he said. ‘I suppose Mother Goose might be a chance to promote the family poultry business… I’ll see you at the audition.’
But even as he signed her cast list, the word ‘family’ stuck in his throat. He’d heard nothing from Toby since their brawl in The Bull. It seemed his brother was happy not just to steal the love of his life, but to abandon their business without a backward glance. Perhaps he was just destined to be alone, alone forever…
Michael Jackson’s Thriller was booming out as Rex made his way to the bar. He pushed past Neville Booth, dressed as Uncle Fester, who was feeding crisps to two zombie showgirls, who turned out to be the Button sisters.
He looked round for Pip, but there was no sign. Could she really have been cruel enough to invite him and not turn up? Then suddenly there she was, wearing a black binliner and wellies, a huge plastic spider stuck on her hair. She’d never looked lovelier. ‘Hey Rex! Happy Hallowe’en! Take off that fright mask, yeah? Oops – sorry. It’s your face!’ she giggled. ‘Yeah, bro, you’re scaring Tilly Button!’ There was Toby, wearing a ridiculous goose costume. Was he deliberately taunting him? Had Alice signed him up for the panto too? The thought was unbearable, but suddenly a blood-curdling roar ripped through the bar. ‘Heh heh heh! Let’s put a smile on that face! Happy Hallowe’en!’
Everyone turned towards the thickset man, dressed in menacing black, wearing the grotesque grinning mask of The Joker. The crowd fell away as he approached the bar and tore the mask off. There was an audible gasp round the room. Rob Titchener! ‘Come on Kenton! It’s only me, come to take part in the fun! I could murder a pint of Shires!’
Rex had had enough. Toby was comforting a visibly upset Pip, and they only had eyes for each other…
That’s the mask I should have worn, he thought bitterly as he stomped back to Brookfield. The Joker. That’s what I am to Pip – and let’s face it, she’s right. She and Toby are laughing, and the joke’s on me. Ignoring Bert’s kindly offer of cocoa and a round of gin rummy, he went off to his lonely bed…
To be continued…
My gorgeous wife Jolene and I would like to thank everyone for their support in helping The Bull have its best year ever. There have been so many highlights – the fete, the Olympics, Barry Simmons unveiling his man-bun – and it’s great to feel the village pub is the beating heart of Ambridge once more.
Not even my rotten brother David, who tried to ruin me and my business just like he did when we were little and he used to cheat at Monopoly, could keep us down and we’re set to make a big, fat profit (but not as as fat as David. He’s really piled the pounds on over the years, unlike the sleek, manly figure of yours truly. Let’s just say Jolene isn’t complaining!)
As you read this, Jolene and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary sipping chilled bubbles in the Jacuzzi at Matcham Grange, and raising our glasses to all our lovely customers (except David.)