Wednesday, 19 December 2012

That Lower Loxley Report in Full

Earlier in the year, Elizabeth commissioned Duncan (from the Felpersham Institute of Stating the Bleedin' Obvious) to write a report on the future of her beloved Lower Loxley. Various elements of the Report have been discussed, some have been leaked, but the five major findings have never been published. Here, in a scoop that would not be possible after the findings of Leveson have been properly implemented, we preview those findings in advance of an expose in The Echo:

1. Staffing
A Lady of the Manor is only as good as her staff. Since Nigel's death, have you been properly staffed? You will only see things clearly and be able to moved forward with good staffing.

2. Play to your strengths
Look around you. There are many resources directly to hand which are currently under exploited. Why, for example, are you spending money on chimney sweeps when Freddie and Lily have time on their hands? Why throw good money after bad on Iffy providing tuition when Freddie could be gainfully employed up a chimney?

3. Know your enemy
Understand and confront the enemy. Lull it into a false sense of security. Engage with it. Persuade it you are seeking its advice and wisdom. Then, for the coup de grace, invite it to deliver the final overview by observing the estate from a suitable vantage point: the roof! Christmas lunch should entice it in. You know you want to.

4. Market Research
Know your market. From The Orangery to the allotments, understand what it is that your public needs and meet those needs. Is there enough Fig Roll in the Orangery? Have you considered Codpiece and Chips as a Turkey alternative (or as a Turkey, as brother Kenton is about to discover)? And does the layout of the Estate reflect the public's tastes and desires? Which leads on to the most important finding:

5. The Nigel Pargetter Memorial Roof Garden
Much of the above can be combined in one action: the creation of the Nigel Pargetter Memorial Roof Garden. Just think what Machiavellian fun you could have with a formal opening the dark...on the ice.....on New Year's Day.....Make Nigel and the children proud!

Please suggest other findings below or via Twitter to @TonysConsultant. You know it makes sense.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Ambridge Meddles

It's been a momentous fortnight and you could be forgiven for thinking that Olympic glory had passed Ambridge by. But fear not. As the Royal Mail Post Box painters disappear across the green, it's time to report on the highs and lows, the laughter and the tears, of Team Ambridge.

Hopes were high for Reg, riding Bunty in the three-day-eventing. All went well until the show jumping finale when, with a medal in sight, Bunty fell. Joyce, ridden by Arthur, suffered a similar fate but there is an enquiry into allegations that his saddle had been interfered with by Matt Crawford. (There's been a fair deal of saddle interference recently but we'll draw a veil over that for now.) Sadly they both lost out on a podium finish and now the race is on for the last hip in the village.

A surprise late entrant in the Gymnastics (Rhythm Method) was Lynda who finished her routine with a flourishing Fig Roll. Vicky was a late withdrawal from the team. Sadly, Mike didn't withdraw in time.

With the mixed messages that Harry has been sending (chasing women to Eastern Europe, accessing his student Grant in Cumbria) no one will be too surprised to learn that his confusion has led him to train for the wrong Olympics. But hopes are high that he will meddle well in the Biathlon in two years' time.

Hot Tub Relay has featured high in Team Ambridge's expectations. Team selection for this specialist event was always an issue, with a case even being made for the inclusion of Brian Aldridge, although he was never comfortable with the idea.  Adam, Ian and Harry were all contenders with Pawal making an impressive late surge but the unsettled team never fulfilled its promise. Despite extensive baton changing practice, they never came good.

Pole Vault
The greatest success for Team Ambridge was, of course, Adam's Pole Vault. Described by all observers as the "surprise package of the games", Adam thrilled everyone with his technique on the runway, in the air, over the bar and onto the cushion. The Pole took the strain remarkably well.

Adam's Gold was the highlight for Team Ambridge and the Golden Box is a wonderfully appropriate permanent tribute to Adam's meddling.

There will be more news from the Games later in the week but if you have seen achievements from Team Ambridge which deserve recognition please list them below or report them direct to @TonysConsultant.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Ambridge Even Less

In the aftermath of The Fire here are ten more bits of trivial news that would otherwise go unnoticed:

To everyone's relief, the "Welcome Home Phoebe" banner which Josh had prepared was destroyed in the fire. David's offer to help Roy to hang it at Lower Loxley had sent Roy into hiding.

Mickey Mouse wears a Brian Aldridge watch.

Josh and Gina are now an item, and have applied for joint custody of the calf.

Alan Franks' curry was such a success that he is opening Ambridge's first curry house. It is to be called Frankly My Dear (I don't give a Naan). Alan was briefly taken into custody by the 2012 Brand Police for his use of the slogan: This will test your Olympic Ring.

John Terry wears a Roy Tucker shirt.

Once again Jolene has scuppered Kenton's plans to spend an extended time down under.

Rio 2016's Olympic Organising Committee have invited Lynda to join their number. The Brazilians are naturally impressed with her anti-litter activities and her bush trimming campaign and her expenses will be covered by an over-60s phone-in on Raunchy Radio Rio.

Jill came to Elona's rescue in the great damp bread disaster, providing her with one of the six spare loaves she had baked, just in case. The moral of this story is: don't leave recently baked produce out in the rain.

One of the Ambridge in Bloom hanging baskets fell on Adam's head. It has reversed previous damage, and Adam thinks he could identify his assailants from a line-up. The police have obliged, and Adam will select between Keith Richards, Keith Horrobin, Keith Chegwin, Keith Joseph, Keith Harris, Orvill and a Badger.

Eddie has been banned from selling his hybrid Borsetshire Beast ornaments. 2012 lawyers say they are too reminiscent of Fatima Whitbread.

Please add any other scintillating but otherwise unnoticed facts below or report them directly to @TonysConsultant.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Great Fire of Brookfield

The Great Fire of Brookfield has aroused great suspicion this week, with the Horrobins the obvious target of much finger pointing. Assumptions have been made about the motivation for the setting of the fire. We are all being drawn into the shared conviction that the fire is connected to the attack on Adam, and David's "will he/won't he testify" dilemma.

But these and other aspects of the Fire are nothing more than red herrings - or red kippers as they should properly be called after they were smoked in the embers of Brookfield. This was not intimidation. The real perpetrators are very happy that the focus is being drawn away from them but the truth needs to be uncovered. In true Ambridge CSI style, let's examine the facts.

Firstly, history does repeat itself. Consider the similarities with the Great Fire of London. Despite the magnitude of the fire, there were only six fatalities: a badger, two squirrels, a bat, a partridge left in a Christmas decoration stored in a corner of the barn and David's patience.

Secondly, there were echoes of Samuel Pepys as Jennifer was seen digging a hole in the grounds of Home Farm in which to hide her cheese.

And thirdly, Lynda's hay fever and various other ailments are rumoured to have been cured in the wake of the fire.

Much of this - in relation to both the Brookfield and the London fires - is of course apocryphal but take the comparisons a little further. Who gained most from The Great Fire of London? Christopher Wren and the developers of course, who had the opportunity to rebuild the City of London. It is rumoured that there were two developers in particular who made thousands of groats out of the contracts that were on offer: Sir Matteus Crawford (descended from a refugee-made-good from the Armada) and Admiral-of-the-Fleet Lord Bryn Aldridge, King Charles's Keeper of the Tassels (son of a Welsh farmer who found good fortune at court, particularly after successful land acquisitions in rural Hungary).

Sir Matteus and Lord Bryn enjoyed a chequered relationship. Conspiracy theorists attest that they came together in a plan to destroy the City of London and then profit from its reconstruction. The whole scheme was put into motion when Lord Bryn's long suffering wife, the fair Lady Jen, intentionally left a casserole on a hearth in their city apartments in Pudding Lane. The rest, as they say, is history.

Nearly four centuries later it can be no coincidence that Mattheus and Bryn's descendants are in desperate need of land for development in Ambridge - and that a serious fire hits the village.

So perhaps we should be a little less swift to blame the Horrobins, and look a little closer to home. Or, indeed, to Home Farm.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ambridge Less

With the return of Ambridge Extra bringing us all those exciting "added bits" that we have all been simply dying to be acquainted with, it must also be time for a session or two of Ambridge Less. This is where we hear all the bits and pieces that are too trivial to make it into the regular wireless transmission from Ambridge. Yes, as regular listeners, you may be surprised to learn that there are things even less interesting than that which you hear on a regular basis. So, while Brookfield burns, elsewhere.....

Tom has a verruca
Nothing much has been heard from Tom recently. This is because Brenda has confined the Polytunnel King to isolation since the discovery of a rather nasty verruca. On a testicle.

Kathy has nothing to moan about
Kathy is happy. Up at the Golf Club she has discovered that life can be good, and that even when you are in a bunker the green is only one shot away. Her new found chirpiness is just too much for most people to handle.

Tony sits in his chair
Tony sits in his chair all day long. He has soup delivered by Pat on the hour, every hour. He says he feels fine. "Super" in fact.

Matt has a small one
In The Bull, Matt confounded everyone by ordering a single scotch. Lilian mocks the fact that he has a small one.

Jill bakes a cake
Although of course this really means that Jill bakes seven cakes. Always have six spare.

Jazzer has a night in
Jazzer has a quiet night in with a book, a cup of cocoa and his Graham Norton hot water bottle.

Gay Gordon's Yorkshires Drop
Ian's sous chef at Grey Gables has had a disaster.

Ruairi staples Brian's tassels
Impish Ruairi staples Brian's tassels together - Jennifer is very amused.

Chris soils his apron
It's not what you think. He spills casserole.

Henry crawled
Don't worry if you missed this. Helen sold the rights to Turkey Baster Weekly.

These are just the top ten of the dullest moments in Ambridge that didn't make it into the transmission of the documentary. Please list below any other examples you are aware of, or send them direct to @TonysConsultant.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Great Ambridge Cheese Mountain II

The good people of Ambridge have responded valiantly to the call to arms to deal with The Great Ambridge Cheese Mountain. Circumstances have helped. Sending Ben and Josh to the North East disguised as a giant Edam was inspired. Cheese specials at both The Bull and Jaxx have kept the cheese moving. And even Bartleby has done his bit, thanks to Joe's very clever move of sprinkling cheese cubes with sugar.

Even the community shop is doing its bit. It was Christine who had the inspiration to stock the shelves with DVD titles that will keep cheese at the top of everyone's agenda. These include:

Brie on the River Kwai
Edam in Dagenham
Cheese Straw Dogs
Whatever Happened to Babybel?
Saving Private Rind
The Grater Escape
Return of the Cheddar
A Brie Too Far
East of Edam
The Mousetrap

and the whole of the Edammer Horror series.

But there are some problems that come with these developments. Sadly over-indulgence has led to some residents having nightmares. Some have reported them to me in total confidence and therefore, as you would expect, I share some of them with you here:

Alastair's worst nightmare was that someone paid the ransom and Shula was returned to him, like a galleon in full sail. I was able to reassure him that this was utterly ridiculous and even he hadn't done enough to deserve that.

Amy dreamed that Qarl was married, had children, was beastly to her and dumped her. I've recommended therapy. And offered to personally pay for a one-way ticket to a destination of her choice.

Lynda, worryingly, reported a dream that she had seen William Grundy naked. This is a matter of some concern. Whilst we all know that this indeed did happen, Lynda must never know its veracity. She is a frail and vulnerable woman and she would not survive this. Can Twitter keep a secret?

Christine's dream was that Jim only wanted her for her scones. My advice was that she should spice up her scones, and add a bit of spice to anything else that might win him over.

David dreamed that he was awoken by a giant badger which spoke in a Geordie accent. I think we all know what's going on there.

Daniel was tossing and turning most nights but never gets to sleep, so he still lives in his daydreams of West End and Broadway musical successes.

Please report any other cheese related news below or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey Gables by Caroline Sterling

Fifty Shades of Grey Gables
The Girl Who Likes To Say "Yah"

When Oliver Sterling married Caroline he knew he was taking on a woman with a past. Caroline has settled down now but she has enjoyed a very full life which she has chronicled in her candid memoir.

Here we publish an excerpt as it appears in an exclusive serialisation in The Echo [*Echo*].

"Chapter Seven
Home Farm Home Truths

As a descendant of the Netherbonkers I have a healthy libido and need a strong man to satisfy my needs. While I was waiting for one, I had a torrid affair with Brian Aldridge.

I always worried that Brian was only interested in my heritage. In whispered tones he would often ask me about my Netherregions. We had to find our pleasure where we could, forever seeking private places to hide. We had to try to avoid Jennifer so Brian was always trying to take me round the back.

I had to endure Brian's rather odd dress sense. He often got his tassels caught and many's the time I had to unravel his cravat.

For Brian business always came first. Well actually, if the truth be told, Brian always came first, but that's another story.

Brian is a kind man. Sorry.....Brian is a kinda man. When you've led the life I have you are used to a man with stamina and staying power. Brian always seemed exhausted by the time we met, and I realised why whenever I saw Jennifer with a smile on her face and a venison casserole in her hands.

Lambing time was always difficult. He promised me the sheep meant nothing to him but I saw him doing things with those animals he would never do with me."

In deference to our younger readers we draw a close to this excerpt here. If, however, you wish to comment upon this then please write to the editor of The Echo, add comments below, or write in complete confidence to @TonysConsultant.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Great Ambridge Cheese Mountain

This week listeners have been disturbed to learn the true extent of the Ambridge Cheese Mountain. As Guardian of the Cheese (an ancient title bestowed upon the wife of the biggest landowner and the wildest philanderer, therefore clearly Jennifer Aldridge by a country mile) Jennifer has been keen to begin the process of......well, processing the cheese.

As a cook of some note, the author of a number of recipe books and the custodian of the village website, Jennifer is well placed to suggest ways of shifting the cheese. Here are her top ten suggestions:

Cheese Rolling Competition
Kenton will be encouraged to include a Cheese Rolling Competition in his "Olympic Games". As one of the cheesiest in the community, this should not be a problem.

Cheese'n'Badger Burgers
"Where there's muck there's brass and where there's cheese there's dosh" is one of Brenda's more clumsy marketing slogans for Gourmet Burgers. Utilising cousin David's freezer full of some "other offences to be taken into consideration" and Auntie Jennifer's cheese, Tom has come up with a new delicacy.

Peacock Cocktail Surprise: Bloody Peacock
Having finally lost patience with Eccles, Jolene has come up with a new cocktail. Vodka based, it is given body by Peacock's blood and topped off with cheese and pineapple on a stick. It'll catch on, but onto what or whom nobody can be sure.

Easter Island Cheese Statues
As the bottom has fallen out of Eddie's gnome market, he has busied himself carving Easter Island-inspired statues out of cheese. Fine all the while he can keep his ferrets from eating his handiwork.

Cheese Fondue for every conceivable occasion
Home Farm is low on venison, the game isn't as well hung as Brian had promised (story of his life) but there is cheese in abundance. Jennifer has therefore taken to preparing Cheese Fondue and arriving at ChrisTHORpher and Alice's at the most inopportune moments.

My Big Fat Horrobin Wedding Catering
The social event of the year is striving to be posh - like Will and Emma's (nothing like aspiration, is there - and this is nothing like aspiration) and Jennifer has offered an unlimited supply of cheese for the event. There will be cheese omelette, tuna cheese bake and cheese cake. Cheese and biscuits are optional.

Cheese and Wine for the Book Club
Usha will announce her full return to the social scene with a meeting of the Book Club. They will discuss Caroline Sterling's raunchy memoir, Fifty Shades of Grey Gables accompanied by cheese and wine (and indeed whine if Amy is at home that evening.)

Beast Bait
While the search continues for the Beast of Borsetshire and William and Nic continue their nocturnal activities, time can be saved by the young lovers wearing cheese based clothing as bait for the beast. Cheese cloth shirts, of course.

Cheese Ice Cream
Pat can do her sister-in-law a favour by creating a cheese ice cream, which Clarriecoli can produce. That'll help keep the numbers down.

Cheese Surprise
Everyone can play their part by helping with Cheese Surprise - purely and simply using cheese in the most surprising circumstances. Cheese Soup for Tony; Cheese communion wafers at St Stephens; get the picture.

This is a huge task for the good people of Ambridge, so if you have other suggestions please list them below or communicate them directly to @TonysConsultant.


Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Young Archers Evacuate Themselves

The sight of the Archerettes in their brown raincoats being evacuated to the North East last week, name tags and gas masks tied round their necks, has evoked many memories and emotions in Ambridge.

The Bar chat in Jaxx has been full of it. Kenton recalls the stories about his old friend Nelson Gabriel. Nelson was a very private man. Rumours abounded that during his time in National Service he had been a Rear Gunner of some repute, rumours that Nelson never confirmed or denied.

Kenton himself has many stories to recount from his days on the high seas. He has the air of a disenchanted discharged seaman, forever unfulfilled.

Jamie envies Daniel's involvement in the School Cadet Force. For Daniel this represents an opportunity for esprit de corps and the joys of the great outdoors. He always has a spring in his step and a glint in his eye when he comes home from camping. Jamie feels denied the opportunity to wield his chainsaw and set fire to things.

Elizabeth has had to put her foot down and thwart Freddie's ambitions. As a precursor to a military career he has proposed a sponsored parachute jump in the grounds of Lower Loxley, which would be a little too close to home for Lizzie, in more ways than one. The jury is still out on Lily's chosen career of thatcher.

Ironically it is Lynda who has the greatest military air of everyone in Ambridge. The planning she brings to all her activities - from pantomime to bush trimming, fete planning to llama rearing - is reminiscent of the greatest military campaigns. For older residents she has an air of Ralph Reader about her. Robert just sees Sybil Fawlty.

The Village Hall, of course, played host to Ambridge Home Guard during the war. Rendered unfit for service by his farmer's lung, Joe Grundy was very much the Fraser of the platoon, although his black market activities (so generously passed on to his son) were reminiscent of Walker. A young Graham Rider bore more than a passing resemblance to Pike. Being continually told to be quiet by his seniors has had an effect well into later life. Walter Gabriel, first-aid kit in hand, reminded people of Godfrey. And the platoon was of course commanded by the great Jack Wooley, to whom Arthur Lowe paid tribute for the inspiration for his characterisation of Mainwaring.

We will wait to hear news of the evacuees but if you hear other military or wartime memories, do post them below or relay them by morse, semaphore or twitter to @TonysConsultant.

Monday, 25 June 2012

All of a Lather

It is on the record that the Button family were dispatched to Ambridge from Walford on a witness protection scheme. What can only be revealed now is that the Archer children of Brookfield Farm are about to make that journey in reverse. Only now that the Soap Transfer Window is officially open for the summer can such details be made public - and we are reminded of some significant Soap transfers and audacious loan deals of recent years.

Records show that Ken Barlow only went to Coronation Street on loan in December 1960. A promising member of the Ambridge Youth Team, it was decided that Ken needed more first team experience and his loan spell was negotiated with the fledgling Weatherfield set-up. Ken made a number of appearances which enabled the Ambridge management to realise that far from being the inspirational playmaker they had hoped for, Barlow was in fact a rather pedestrian player lacking in imagination or originality. This, and his much publicised off-field activities, persuaded Ambridge to accept Barlow's transfer request and the move was made permanent in early 1961.

Transfers between Walford and Ambridge are common, but one of the latest is amongst the most complicated. Walford's benign GP, Dr Anthony Trueman, had such a traumatic experience with the Slater sisters (a complicated enough relationship where sisters were mother and daughter - wait for the copycat revelation that Pip is Josh and Ben's mother) that his subsequent behaviour caused him to be struck off by the BMA. The controversy required a complete new identity and so it was that flamboyant striker Anthony Trueman became central defender Carl, a deceptive player who lures the opposition into a false sense of security and then scythes their legs from beneath them with vicious late tackles. Known to his team mates as Chopper Carl he has a love-hate relationship with the terraces.

Not all transfers have ended happily. Elizabeth and Nigel Pargetter were both keen for more first team exposure and were prepared to drop a division to Crossroads to facilitate that. But both found the poorer quality of the game at that level frustrating and were prepared to return to the Ambridge squad and live with the management's rotation system. Pargetter was satisfied with being used as an impact player from the bench but a clash in training with veteran midfielder David Archer led to a tragic conclusion to his career. It was following this incident that David Archer became known as the Joey Barton of Ambridge.

We will keep a close eye on transfer speculation throughout the summer and report it here. If you hear any rumours please list them below or post them direct to @TonysConsultant.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Ambridge Twitter Alert

The Echo (*Echo*) may have led this week on Farmageddon (including, to the outrage of The W.I., Page Three Bullocks) but hidden away between the obituaries and the results of the kennel club trials (shout Bingo! if you appear in both) there is another piece on hacked twitter accounts. Here are the highlights:

@GodImWonderful [Tom Archer] Hope Dad likes the Father's Day present I gave him. Hope the lead is long enough to reach from his *big chair* to the power point.

@LetThemEatCake [Brian Aldridge] I do hope my dear Step Son doesn't over do it. Can't have anyone knowing I'm too much of a cheapskate to pay insurance premiums.

@CarlThePantomimeCadNo1Account [Carl aka Qarl] Must plan holiday for dear Rochelle and the family. Might buy a bunny for the kids.

@BlameyAmy [Amy Franks] Visited Carl at his office today. Couple of things to iron out, but looks like we're getting back together.

@MonaLot [Ruth Archer] Ooooooh No! I've warned Deeeeevyd before but does he listen? He's let his bullocks slip out again.

@CarlThePantomimeCadNo2Account [Carl aka Qarl] Damn that stupid child Amy. And what's happened to that bunny?

@TakeAnotherDozenOffencesIntoConsideration [Matt Crawford] Puss Cat - can you keep an eye on Peggy while I take advantage of that plank Darryl?

@KneehighWithMenaces [Tilly Button] Lizzie's going to have to pay me a load more if I'm going to keep the pressure on David.

@TurkeyBasterWeekly [Turkey Baster Weekly] Henry Archer: thank you for renewing your subscription to celebrate Father's Day.

@OrganicIsNoGuarantee [Tony Archer] Arrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!

@BadgersBeware [David Archer] We will fight them at Brookfield. We will fight them on Lakey Hill. We will never surrender. Oh, OK then Mum.

@BlameyAmy Ouch! I was standing in the Car Park at Carl's office and a huge penny fell out of the sky onto my head.

@SpoiltAviator [Alice Aldridge] Damn! Now Amy's sorted, and Mum's run out of venison casserole, I have no more excuses. Will I have to explain to Christopher that I'm madly in love with Helen?

As ever there is only room for highlights here. If you are aware of other tweets, please list them below or send direct to @TonysConsultant.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

"Snatch Squad" and other Borsetshire phrases explained

As students struggle around the country with GCSEs it seems an appropriate time to publish an update to The Ambridge Lexicon: the meaning of words or phrases which have a special and particular definition in this everyday story of Country folk. Here are the top ten entries since the last publication:

Snatch Squad A group of individual guerilla bush-trimmers under the quasi-military leadership of Lynda Snell.

True Love Eating breakfast whilst newspapers are purchased. A rare coalescence of activities only, apparently, achieved by Blamey-Amy and Qarl.


I'm off to check the banner Underground gang slang indicating the long planned murder is about to be committed.

Borsetshire Hose-Pipe Ban Court order tempering Brian Aldridge's behaviour.

Venison Casserole A method of contraception unique to the Aldridge Family.

The Big Chair Symbol of hierarchy in Ambridge farming community.

A large one One of the most complex of quaint Ambridge expressions with many different meanings. Popular meanings include: a drink [Lillian], a moan [Emma], a whopping lie [Eddie], ambition [Tom], Tom [Brenda], Brenda [Chalkie], Chalkie [Matt], Matt [Lillian].....

Shooting the fox Activity only achievable once wood has been reached.

The Killing Fields This can refer to the scene of Adam's accident, Lower Loxley or, increasingly, Brookfield.

Please add other definitions below or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

If you go down to the woods today...

A sneak preview of Lynda Snell's Woodland Observation video revealed Nic and Will up to no good / very good / good as it gets* in the woods on Friday. As this was before the watershed a judiciously edited version was broadcast. It is important we know the full extent of the content.

Had the film of Nic and Will.I.bore continued we would have seen Jennifer appear with a Venison Casserole. She has previous, let's not forget.

Later still there is footage of Ian appearing from behind a tree with a tray full of mini-bakewell tarts for an assignation with Mr Pullen, in a rather fetching pinny - Ian has his needs, and Adam has been below par since his accident. This was filmed just before Mr Pullen arrived, exhausted, to cut the Jubilee Cake.

Tilly Button can be seen in the distance, dancing around what appears to be a makeshift altar. There seems to be a large bird on the altar - can't be sure but it seems to have long and very impressive feathers. It seems to give one, final, haunting squawk. I'm sure someone in the background is calling: "Eccles! Eccles!"

There's the swish of a tasselled loafer and Brian comes into vision, brazenly flourishing his hosepipe. Has the man no shame, or does he know something about the ban being lifted?

Lynda herself appears, with both llamas in tow, but to everyone's relief the screen flickers to black.

In other news, the campaign to have Weights and Measures recognise The Squirrel as an international unit of measurement received a major boost with the BBC Wireless Programme Saturday Live expressing full support for the proposal. This is a major development which we will follow with interest. It can only be hoped that Saturday Live may ultimately provide the haven for those suffering from Archers Saturday Syndrome (ASS).

* Delete as inappropriate

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Out of the mouths of babes and Tilly Button: an open letter to Mr Yorke of "The Echo."

There has been much consternation in Ambridge and its environs since changes at The Echo which have raised serious concerns.

Although it is understood that Mr Yorke is only temporarily in charge while the fragrant Ms Whitburn takes a well earned break (we all wish her well) there is nonetheless widespread concern that Mr Yorke's changes may be so deep and significant that they will be irreversible.

These fears are at their greatest in those who have knowledge of Mr Yorke's previous work at the Walford Gazette. Prominent amongst these are the Button family, for reasons which will become acutely obvious. The young beau of the family - Tilly - has articulated their concerns in a remarkably mature letter to The Echo, which I'm delighted to reproduce in full below:

Dear Mr Yorke

Politeness demands that I extend to you a very warm welcome to the role of Editor of The Echo. I must, however, take issue with you on the plans you have announced for our esteemed organ on behalf of my family and the wider Ambridge community.

Firstly, I should explain about our family. We moved to Ambridge under the witness protection scheme. I obviously cannot say much more on this matter but suffice to say that we are not unaware of your work on the Walford Gazette from our previous existence with my grandmother Peggy and Uncles Phil and Grant.

You should understand that when we moved from Walford we did not elect to move to Weatherfield, or to Emmerdale, or to Chester, but to Ambridge. We chose Ambridge because it offered a particular style of life which attracted us. We wanted somewhere where we would not end each day on tenterhooks but where we might be able to sleep counting sheep rather than murderers, contemplating the day's broken milk bottles rather than bottled milkmen, waking to the sound of cocks rather than coppers bashing on our doors.

The idyllic life has already been disturbed by your paper's tabloid-like obsession with the sex life of the villagers. Everyone is at it and whilst there is no denying it happens, we do not need it rammed down our throats at every turn. Every edition of your organ seems obsessed with it, and even Randy Ruth has been on the prowl. The girl who likes to say "Nooooooo" no more.

I think I speak for all the villagers when I say that if we wanted excitement we would not live in Ambridge or read The Echo. If we did we would be obsessed with serials, not cereals. We want quiet lives which we can embelish into excitement in our imaginations and in cyberspace. What would happen on Twitter if Badger Revolts, Murder Mayhem, Ridiculous Relationships and Inappropriate Innuendo were all part and parcel of Ambridge life? Please give us daily routine. We will do the rest.

Yours with menaces

Tilly Button

I am sure you will join me in thanking Tilly for her remarkably mature and astute observations, and to underline to Mr Yorke that she speaks for us all. If you have further observations please add them below, or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Loxley Barrett's Day on the River: an outside broadcast to forget

Many, many congratulations to the Loxley Barrett After School Media Club who won the Blue Peter competition to broadcast the Jubilee Pageant live on the BBC yesterday. There were many proud parents on the river bank or at home in front of their TVs. The majority, like the rest of the nation, either held their heads in their hands or stared, open mouthed, as the day unfolded.

We must thank Loxley Barrett's Head of Media, Mr Thompson, who had the inspired idea of making the Jubilee a genuinely inclusive event and handing the coverage over with such disregard for his own reputation.

The children did very well indeed. I heard Tilly Button in the OB truck and she directed proceedings with great authority although her language might even have made a few of the old salts in the Pageant blush. She and all the children excelled themselves in the circumstances. It was difficult not to be overwhelmed by seeing seamen on such a scale.

We're also grateful to Head of Sport Mr Dickinson who stood in at the last minute to provide commentary. We cannot hold it against him that he knew nothing of the antiquities on show. The invitation for this part of proceedings was actually intended for his brother, David.

Good luck today to Jamie Perks who, as part of the same competition, has been given responsibility for the lighting of the Jubilee Beacons (more of a slow burner than yesterday's activities).

Our thoughts are also with Mrs Hebdon-Lloyd who has made a rare appearance at the school and helped the arts and crafts group to make a papier-mâché carriage which will be pulled by Topper and Spearmint in tomorrow's procession. [Actually, if you're listening it will be Josh Archer and a couple of coconut shells, but we don't want to shatter any more illusions.]

And finally we wish Mr Webber and Mr Barlow of the music department every success with this evening's concert. Mr Barlow has blown all the money raised for the school trip at last year's fete. We just hope he has something to show for it.

Loxley Barrett now hand the broadcasting back to the BBC for the rest of the summer. We can only hope they have learned the lessons from this misguided experiment.

If you saw or heard any more about this broadcast, please post it below or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Schools Out

It's half term in Borsetshire and the children are on holiday. But before the break can begin in earnest, there's that potentially embarassing moment when the School Report has to be opened by the parents.

Here's a selection of what the Head Teachers had to say of some of the younger members of the Ambridge community. It goes without saying that those pupils of Loxley Barrett are still waiting for the joint headship of Mrs Cameron and Miss Clegg to properly come into its own.

Lily Pargetter
Lily is a charming girl, very self assured and keen to organise others. She is taking a great interest in out of school activities - bell ringing, thatching, hang gliding - indeed any activities involving heights. It is almost as though she is trying to prove something - or perhaps acclimitising herself to heights with some greater, long term plan in mind.

Daniel Hebdon-Archer-Billy-Elliot-Lloyd
A strong term for Daniel, particularly with his work in the Drama Club. His interpretive dance version of Brokeback Mountain was a revelation, although we would all prefer that his leotard was a little less revealing. He is a very sensitive and imaginative young man and is just as happy taking himself in hand as he is playing with others. Of course he found it difficult to deal with the disruption caused when Mr Cable was forced to stand down from Dance and Drama, but he is adapting well to the different, more laissez-fair methods of Ms Hunt. He obviously misses his mother although we fully support his adoptive father's stance in not paying the ransom.

Jamie Perks
A mixed term for Jamie. He has been very strong in Chemistry and is very deft with a Bunsen Burner. Mr Hague has still banned Jamie from school trips but we hope this may be reversed in the coming months. Truth be told, I'll forgive him anything all the while his stepmother comes to parents' evenings.

Tilly Button
We thought we had got over the violence that dominated the Autumn term but her reign of terror in the playground seems to continue. I agree that it was a mistake for Ms Hunt to give Tilly the role of Jack in her dramatisation of Lord of the Flies but I don't think we were to know that Tilly came from a family so committed to method acting. The Juvenile Court has been quite understanding and once we persuaded Tilly to admit to the arson, the blackmail and the poison pen letters, things have been looking up. We are grateful to Miss May who has agreed to mentor Tilly after half term and we sincerely hope to see an improvement.

George Grundy
Nursery School isn't necessarily the right environment for every child and it takes a great deal of maturity on the part of the parents to put their child into such a setting. It requires the parents to send their child with a happy smile and a cheery demeanour in themselves and the child. I therefore beg of you, Mr and Mrs Will.I.amabore Grundy, please take your child away.

Chelsea Horrobin
Chelsea is a little young for Careers Advice but we would encourage her to raise her sights. She recently told Mr Grayling that she had achieved everything she wanted by being invited to be a bridesmaid at the Big Fat Horrobin Wedding. Mrs Duncan-Smith warned her that this was a time-limited opportunity and Chelsea could not expect to be looked after once it was over but neither Chelsea nor her mother seemed unduly bothered by this.

The Head Teachers will be grateful for any other observations on these and other children's development. Please note them below or directly to @TonysConsulant.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Games People Play

The recent occurrence of the ancient game of Sausages, along with Brian and Helen flirting with Hide The Parsnip not so long ago, have led Ambridge archivists to trawl the records for examples of other games unique to this particular community.

Attentive readers will not be surprised to learn that the history of parlour games in Borsetshire is very closely allied to the discovery of The Ascent of Ambridgeman covered in these pages only last week. You may be even less surprised to be told that this formed the basis for the second of my series of lectures to Felpersham Anthropological Society and again I crave your indulgence as I quote from that lecture here:

"The Games People Play:
The Ascent of Ambridgeman ll

I am grateful to you for your very kind invitation for me to return today. I am delighted that my lecture on The Ascent of Ambridgeman was generally so well received, although myself and Lady Tuft have received a couple of rather odd phone calls in recent days.

Today I would like to address the outcome of some further research into artefacts uncovered at the BL Market site. Tapestry programmes, rule books and match reports, alongside sporting and gaming equipment, have all been painstakingly restored.

It is my enormous privilege to present the findings to you here this evening.

Most significant is that the games uncovered clearly match the various ages of Ambridgeman, and this is how we will explore them.

1. Low-life:
Scissors, Paper, Bang on Head

In the vanguard of Ambridgeman, Low-life entertained themselves with a game that required no verbal communication. It did much to help them pass the time but little to advance their intelligence. The forefather of a game still played in our playgrounds, the winner in this game was inevitably the Low-life with the largest cudgel who could exercise the heaviest bang on his opponent's head with greatest strength and largest element of surprise.

2. Horrobinus:
Musical Crimes

Groups of Horrobinus congregate around a car. The stereo plays and when the music stops, everyone piles into the vehicle. There is room for everyone but one. The one remaining must either take the punishment for the crime (Susan, the Horrobinus One, was an early victim of this outcome), or take their chance by challenging any witnesses to a game of Scissors, Paper, Bang on Head (see above) to which they are genetically predisposed.

3. Grundius Majorosus and Minorosus:
Pin the Crime on The Donkey

Grundius has a habit of indulging in petty crime but rarely gets his comeuppance. This is achieved by swiftly placing the blame for the crime on an unsuspecting - but eminently suspicious - individual, known as "The Donkey". Records show that the genus Fosterus and in particular their descendant Snatchus were often cast in the role of "The Donkey".

4. Miles Gloriosus
Roof Hockey

A complicated game for the more upright Ambridgeman. Over the years rules have evolved, but the former World Champion was deposed in the 2011 Grand Final. This match is shrouded in mystery. The weather nearly caused the event to be postponed and nobody is absolutely clear which rules were in play. However, David Archer is a worthy if reluctant champion.

5. Ambridgeman Erectus
Pyjama Games

As befits the most erect Ambridgeman, their games are played to their own rules. They are mainly adult in content, and the undisputed current champion is Brian "Tassels" Aldridge."

Once again the full text of this lecture has been placed with The British Anthropological Society and any additions, added below or direct to @TonysConsultant, will be greatly appreciated.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Tweet Clarity

Many people use the anonymity afforded by Twitter to make statements under false and misleading names. A little research has uncovered some of the accounts in use by the good people of Ambridge. Here's a selection of some of their recent tweets:

@RevengeIsMine [Elizabeth Pargetter] Voice coaching going well. That bloke who made Thatcher sound like a man has done wonders.

@LetThemEatCake [Brian Aldridge] Really, what IS their problem? Surely they can see the more money I make the more crumbs there will be for them.

@TheThormanator [Christopher Carter] Haven't had so many cold showers in years. Furnace is ablaze but not firing.

@RevengeIsMine Damned balaclavas! Couldn't see properly and think I might have clobbered the wrong person. Caught a glimpse of red hair.

@GodImWonderful [Tom Archer] Just The Big Chair to go. Who does he think he is? Blofeld? Tom Jones?

@TrimForBritain [Lynda Snell] No discipline in this village. I can see I'll have to send Robert out after dark to trim some bushes himself.

@MonaLot [Ruth Archer] Thank God for Twitter. Don't have to keep up that ridiculous accent.

@GayGordon [Gordon, kitchen staff at Grey Gables] So frustrating being Ian's Sous Chef. When I said I wanted to be under him at Grey Gables this wasn't what I had in mind.

@KneehighWithMenaces [Tilly Button] That Lizzie's an amateur. She wants revenge? Terror? My rates are very reasonable, success rate very high.

@RatMan [Keith Horrobin] You ain't seen me, roight?

If you know of, or have hacked into, any other Ambridge accounts, do please leave details below or send direct to @TonysConsultant.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Virtual Fete Virtual Pub Quiz: Eliminator

No virtual fete would be complete without a virtual Pub Quiz. We are awaiting confirmation that Bamber Gascoigne (@ThenWhatNext) will be our virtual Quizmaster, but in the meantime we need an eliminator to determine the team that will virtually represent The Bull against The Cat and Fiddle.

The first round of the eliminator is a series of 10 Multiple Choice questions:

1. What is Adam Macy's favourite position?

a) Long Leg
b) Third Man
c) Cover Point

2. Brian Aldridge has used some cheesy chat-up lines in his time, most of them plagiarised. Match the line with the original source, including the one that is original.

a) "How ewe doin'?"
b) "Come up and see my tassels."
c) "Have you seen the view from the roof?"

1) Brian Aldridge
2) David Archer
3) A new friend of Debbie's

3. David Archer's NFU colleagues have a pet name for him. Is it:

a) Badger Boy
b) Cereal Killer
c) Roof Man

4. Kenton Archer went along publicly with naming Jaxx after his co-partner, but which of his favourites was this really a nod to?

a) Jack Hobbs
b) Jackie Pallo
c) Jacqueline Bisset

5. Shula has not been heard of for some time. Is she:

a) Held hostage by Rev Alan Franks
b) Wrapped around a bell in St Stephen's Bell Tower after an unfortunate "accident" with Lily
c) Completing her six month stint as charisma coach to Ed Miliband

6. Lynda draws a veil over many aspects of her pre-Ambridge life in Sunningdale. The truth is she was actually:

a) A Madam, in partnership with Cynthia Payne
b) Disgraced athlete Ben Johnson's nutrition coach
c) Nick Leeson's investment adviser

7. Tilly Button has a picture of her greatest influence hanging in her bedroom. Is it:

a) Jemima Khan
b) Imran Khan
c) Genghis Khan

8. My Big Fat Horrobin Wedding is in advanced planning stages. Currently the bride intends to arrive:

a) On Bartleby's trap, beneath a glass globe
b) On a hang glider, propelled from the roof of Lower Loxley (with a little help from David)
c) In a Black Maria (cutting out the middle man, and it'll be useful later)

9. Tom Archer was disappointed that his suggestion of a new brand name for Bridge Farm products was not adopted. Was it:

a) Polytunnels'r'us
b) Tom'u'like
c) Brenda's Baps

10.Pip Archer is the most annoying person in Ambridge

a) Yes
b) Yes
c) Yes

It is anticipated that this will be a close contest, so please post your suggestions of a tie-breaker below or directly to @TonysConsultant.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ambridge: The unseen truths up there with "Adam is a Ginger"

The news that Adam is a redhead has been a revelation to many this week. The fact that The Archers documentary is transmitted via the medium of the wireless means that there are other visual aspects of everyday life in Ambridge that do surprise the uninitiated.

Here are ten facts about Ambridge which may have gone unnoticed:

1. Ed and William Grundy record all of their arguments naked, wrestling in front of an open fire. Both are inspired by DH Lawrence and the cinema of Ken Russell.

2. Oliver Stirling is greatly influenced by the comedian and story-teller Eddie Izzard. He often goes off on stream of consciousness flights of fancy (he did, after all, marry Caroline) but the influence is most seen in Oliver's choice of attire. He is usually to be found wearing women's clothing, a particularly fetching sight when he ia also smoking his pipe.

3. The Laurels is actually a theme park on the outskirts of Birmingham. It has the longest and highest roller-coaster outside Las Vegas, with a particularly steep turn recently renamed "Antrobus Corner" in memory of dear Marjorie, who was the ride's most regular visitor.

4. Lower Loxley is a bungalow.

5. Lynda Snell uses the term 'bicycle' very loosely. She does in fact ride a Penny Farthing. If you listen very carefully, you will note that she is speaking from a higher level than others. She is, indeed, talking down to everyone.

6. Josh and Ben Archer are actually badgers. Part of David's punishment for his badgercide was to adopt and domesticate two badgers from the wild. So far, so good.

7. Emma Grundy smiles.

8. Jaxx is a lap dancing club. Although that won't come as any surprise, it's important that it be confirmed.

9. Jennifer drives around in a Meals-on-Wheels van, with a permanent supply of venison casserole, ready to interrupt at every conceivable occasion.

10. Lilian and Matt are in their late teens. Let that be a lesson to you.

There are of course other aspects of Ambridge life which are not immediately obvious to the listener. If you are party to any knowledge that you believe should be shared, please post it below or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Ascent of Ambridgeman

My consultancy has been awash with people for whom it appears size really does matter. There has been so much talk of the unit of "The Squirrel" which, alongside yesterday's revelation that Keith is "low-life. Lower than a Horrobin" that clarification is called for.

I therefore humbly offer edited highlights from my lecture to the Felpersham Anthropological Society:

"The Ascent of Ambridgeman

It is a great tragedy that my colleague and mentor, the late Jacob Bronowski, did not live to share the discoveries that were uncovered when Borsetshire Land excavated the land for their new Market.

These findings were hushed up at the time but I am proud to be able to unveil them for the first time this evening.

The major discovery was a tapestry - henceforth known as the Borseaux Tapestry - which clearly outlined the evolution of Ambridgeman. After painstaking restoration by the WI we can today reveal its central image for the first time:

The Ascent of Ambridgeman

We have also been able to decipher the writings that were found alongside this tapestry and we can now reveal that, from left to right, these figures are representative of the following ages of Ambridgeman:

1.  Low-life
This example is the lowest recorded. It is sometimes also referred to as "lower than a Horrobin" which is also an insult often heard bandied about at The Bull on a Saturday night.

2.  Horrobinus
Dubious, criminal classes which are of the sort so steeped in their own stupidity that they are likely to be caught and serve the punishments allotted for their crimes. Often banished from their own communities, but eventually return, usually no wiser than when they left.

3.  Grundius Majorosus and Minorosus
Often of a similar criminal intent to Horrobinus, but displaying more charm. Sometimes also referred to as "Cheekius Chappius" due to their endearing ability to charm their way out of awkward situations and avoid punishment for their crimes. Sometimes includes a bad apple, Grundius Miserablus Bastardus, as exemplified in the current generation by William. In-breeding between Horrobinus and Grundius  in whichever generation is to be avoided at all costs.

4.  Miles Gloriosus (or The Swaggering Soldier)
The happy go lucky, chancy character who places himself above the Horrobinus and the Grundius but nonetheless indulges in what can best be described as 'sharp practice'. Kenton Archer is the perfect example of this stage of evolution.

5. Ambridgeman Erectus
Finally, the fully formed, upright (and often uptight) Ambridgeman. However, don't be fooled. Although he may stand erect he inevitably bears some of the DNA of his forebears. His apparent straight talking may hide some very dubious behaviour and in fact his duplicity can often lead to more damage than the the petty misbehaviour displayed by Low-Life and Horrobinus.

And finally, as size inevitably does matter, it is interesting to note that one of the documents attached to the tapestry  tells us that Grundius Majorosus was generally held to be 'the size of two squirrels high and one squirrel wide', thus explaining once and for all the unit of The Squirrel."

The full text of this lecture is available at The British Anthropological Society and I will be pleased to answer any further questions posted below or directly to @TonysConsultant.

Monday, 21 May 2012

It's Good to Talk

The 'phone hasn't stopped ringing these last few days with people in search of advice. In fact, since Debbie set the precedent of 'phoning in her performance from Hungary everyone is getting in on that act too. Even Jill succumbed. And David was moved to report Echo-gate to Ruth on the 'phone - although in truth, one can hardly blame David for keeping his distance from Randy Ruth when she is on heat.

The 'phone is at its most threatening, however, in the Tilly-Button-with-menaces calls to David and family. My advice to Tilly is that she should take a look on Twitter and be careful who she kidnaps. She needs to be sure anyone would care. Look what's happened to Shula. Alastair still won't pay the ransom and she remains holed up in Alan's coal shed.

Tony called me to seek advice on how to deal with his stress levels. I suggested he should pass some responsibilities on to Tom, but to make sure he held on to the biggest share. His hearing's not so good.

Alan has been keen to know how best to deal with Amy. My advice has been that he should "just treat her like you should". Our line wasn't too good either and he's now planning dates with her, treating her more like a wife than a daughter. Very unhealthy.

Lynda's campaign continues and no bush in the village is safe until she has ensured it has been suitably trimmed. If she follows the Cultural Olympiad ideal to the letter, she must remember that there must be a nodding reference to the next hosts. Perhaps she should volunteer herself for the Brazilian.

There's more fete news. Edna Fry (@mrsstephenfry - still finding out if she and her husband are related to Bert) has agreed to look after the creche and we have high hopes that her husband, Stephen Fry himself, will take on an official role. He has yet to reply but he is an even busier man than me. Perhaps we should have a virtual literary festival as part of the virtual fete.

We also need to decide upon a date for the virtual fete. It has been suggested that it should take place on the weekend of celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee. Thoughts on this would be very welcome.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Tom's Totalitarianism, Tilly's Reign of Terror and Celebrity Virtual Fete News

Listeners will have been pleased to hear Tony "pardon me for not dying" Archer being well enough to feature in the documentary again. The trip to Lord's (he thought he was on a pilgrimage to France) has obviously done some good. He even managed one complete sentence without stuttering. Next week Just a Minute.

Pat was very annoyed that dinner was ruined. It took Tony twenty minutes to deliver Pat's "Dinner will be ready in ten minutes" message.

Peggy refuses to pull her punches and has backed Tom's putsch. Must have been all that talk of Stalin and five year plans. She was also mightily impressed by the size of Tom's acquisition and speed with which it had been erected.

Pip is well on her way to being a Burger Pro but the thought of her and Brenda being "left to it" is one which has forced me to put the Brownie First Aiders on standby.

Weights and Measures have been on again. Whilst they are getting their head around SQUIRREL units we are now told that Pip is worth her weight in gold. A bit of uniformity is called for.

But the two most distressing bits of news come from Brookfield. Firstly one does wonder where Jennifer is when you need her - Randy Ruth is a worrying concept to cope with. And who'd have thought Tilly Button had such a deep voice? Her threatening phone call has really put the squirrel amongst the badgers.

In Virtual Fete news we have had some wonderfully encouraging developments. Not only has The Reverend Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) graciously agreed to virtually open the virtual fete, but he generously promoted the event on his Parish Notices programme, Saturday Live. He was also instrumental in securing Michelin starred chef Angela Hartnett (@AngelaHartnett) as virtual judge of the virtual baking competition.

At the same time we are thrilled that Radio 4 Newsreader and Litter Zealot Alice Arnold (@AliceArnold1) has agreed to be Honorary Virtual Patron of the Virtual Fete and the Wellbeing Clinic. We are truly grateful to her for this commitment and the assistance she will inevitably bring to Lynda as she strives for the neatest, trimmest bushes in Borsetshire.

Outstanding invitations are with Clare Balding (@clarebalding1) to judge the Gymkhana, and Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket) to bring his experience to bear on the Pie competition.

Next week we will be inviting Rotary Organisations around the country to virtually "adopt" Felperhsam Rotary Club for the duration of the virtual fete and provide invaluable support. Any clubs interested in this honour should register their interest below or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Lord's Day and Shakespeare Bingo

A brief update after a day trip to London:

If you were wondering where Iffy, Alastair, Will, Rhys and the other cricket folk of Ambridge were today, I can reveal that they were enjoying a sneaky day out at the Lord's Test Match. I spotted them clambering out of a Felpersham Minibus Hire* van outside the Grace Gates when I was reporting for duty as on call medic. I think it's fair to say they had enjoyed a beer or two on their way to London courtesy, no doubt, of Kenton, who stumbled off the minibus last, just after Derek Fletcher who, to everyone's surprise, had joined the outing.

It was good of them to bring Tony for the day out, wrapped up warm underneath a travel rug in a wheelchair. Tony was waved through the security check and, once through, the other lads seemed very pleased that whatever was concealed under the rug had made it through with him. I don't think we're talking Tony's lunchbox.

William took a call at one point from Edward and seemed very pleased to - as he put it - have 'thrown him off the scent'. After another drink William appeared to suggest that he knew a little more about the BEAST than he had been letting on. "Let's just say," he said, as he tapped his nose, "that I know an oversized squirrel from a handsaw".

While most of the team scratched their beards (not a sight you want to encounter when most of them are clean shaven) the oblique Shakespearean references continued when Derek Fletcher took a call. He had mistakenly picked up his wife's mobile when leaving home, and when he answered, all he heard was Usha saying: "Now might I do it, Pat" with the sound of Alan praying in the background.

The day was not totally wasted (even though many of the players were.) Iffy thinks he picked up some useful tactical ideas which he will pass on in the nets. Alastair greatly enjoyed the lunchtime display by the children, but that's something he'll be seeing his counsellor about. Kenton was taken aback by the prices in the bars (and was even more pleased at what had been smuggled in under Tony's blanket). Tony himself failed his audition to take over the public address system and Rhys felt completely out of his depth.

Only time will tell if the trip will pay dividends for the cricket team. Watch this space.

* Other hire companies are available.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Tidy Bushes, Tidy Minds

If you want a job doing well, ask a busy woman with a hangover.

It is very impressive to observe how - despite a heavy evening on Kenton's cocktails - Lynda managed to begin the process of galvanising the village into action. The imperative for neat front gardens and tidy bushes is one we must all take on board. We must ensure that @RevRichardColes is greeted by the most impressive front topiary when he comes to virtually open the virtual fete.

To add weight to this campaign, we have invited Alice Arnold (@alicearnold1) to bring her moral example and campaigning zeal to support Lynda as she strives to encourage sceptical villagers to make Ambridge a tidy example to us all.

Brown Owl has undertaken to put The Brownies at our disposal for this work and their secret weapon - Tilly Button - will be visiting reluctant households to "encourage" them to do their bit.

This also applies to the need to clean up the River Am for the Virtual Jubilee Boat Pageant. We are a little behind on planning for this event so your help would be welcome. We need a Queen, a Consort, and a smattering of seamen. Any thoughts?

We must not underestimate the impact that all of these events will have on the wellbeing of the village. In this spirit I would ask for suggestions as to how other villagers could take advantage of the opportunities offered by the virtual fete.

I would humbly suggest that a small menagerie of wildlife for the gardens of Lower Loxley would greatly benefit Elizabeth and the twins. Perhaps Eccles (the peacock) could be loaned to them by Jolene and Kenton. And we all know how much the grieving Elizabeth would benefit from a cockatoo.

Meanwhile Elizabeth is hoping that her beloved Nigel's vineyard may secure Wine of the Year. Competition will be tough in a village where Kathy, Emma and Susan have been vying for that title for many years.

Jazzer and Roy also provide proof to us all of one salutary lesson: if you don't go to work for three months you will inevitably find it difficult to pick up the pace and will certainly have to work late.

Our sincere thanks must also go to @BroughtonLass who has secured the services of @pronterjools who, as a man of the cloth himself, has kindly offered to answer our call to "counsel the counsellor". Helping Alan will prove a test if ever there was one. I note from @pronterjools's biog that he has "just got a boat" so I think we should immediately invite him to be virtual chaplain to the virtual pageant.

Visits to the theatre and cricket (and a spot of consultancy) mean I may miss live transmissions from the village in the next day or two. I look forward to trying to piece together what on earth is going on from the invaluable, erudite and entirely reliable tweetalong. As I am sure @RevRichardColes, @prontajools and even Rev Alan Franks would all agree they are, indeed, the tweets that pass all understanding.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

How young lives are scarred

Driving home from House Calls yesterday evening (Tony is still finishing a sentence he started last time I visited, and Adam is worried about Ian spending so much time with sous chef Gay Gordon) I was distressed to see a lady weaving her way along the country lanes on her rickety bicycle. Through her hiccoughs she was mumbling: "Kenton! KENTON! No more. What would the llamas say?" and was generally unsteady of speech and co-ordination.

I pulled over and suggested walking her and her bicycle home. She agreed and as we walked she said: "I do hope the Duchess of Cornwall doesn't drive by. I'd hate her to see me like this."

We agreed that this was an unlikely scenario but the lady did share a confidence, which I'm pleased to break here. She said how the reminder of her unhappy days in the school changing rooms, when teasing children had hidden her games kit in the shower, had left such a lasting impression upon her. It had made her shy away from sport altogether, something which put a lie to Robert's description of her as "a game old bird". He was referring to something else entirely, she insisted.

This led to a conversation about how other villagers have been scarred by events in their past. Jamie, for example, has never been the same since he caught his father shouting "FIRE YOURSELF UP: I'M READY FOR TAKE OFF" at Jolene in the shower. Jamie has been trying to fire things up ever since, but not in the way Sid had in mind.

Shula well remembers David playing with an Action Man as a child. He had always been angry with Elizabeth who had stolen its parachute to make a dress for a doll. David had continued to play with the Soldier figure jumping unaided from great heights well into his teens.

Susan insists that Neil should slop out for both of them every evening as she calls "lights out" and will not go anywhere near a communal shower.

Daniel spent far too much time with his Uncle Nigel's chum Tim Beacham whose unrivalled collection of Judy Garland albums had quite an impact on the young man.

Jennifer cooked Debbie far too much goulash.

And there is already much concern for the future of Tilly Button who not only crossed ribbons in the May Pole debacle, but also managed to fashion one into a perfect noose.

No doubt there will be other examples of childhood events which still haunt villagers' lives. If you're aware of them, please list them below or direct to @TonysConsultant.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Virtual Fete News: The Reverend Richard Coles to be our VIP

The virtual fete received a major boost today when The Reverand Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) graciously agreed to virtually open the virtual event. This is thrilling news for our virtual community and we are greatly indebted to him.

In accepting our virtual invitation, @RevRichardColes tweeted: "I'm yours. You'll be my fourth so far this year."

Plans are still in their infancy. Amy has already asked if he might be persuaded to take to the virtual piano, her request being @RevRichardColes's rendition of Don't Leave me This Way.

We will confirm details of when @RevRichardColes will cut the virtual ribbon and declare the fete open, and hope he will deliver a brief opening speech in 140 characters or less.

We must pay tribute to @bushman25 who has helped with lobbying @RevRichardColes. Thanks also to @PashaReflection who played her part. @Bushman25 has also suggested that Auntie Satya should have a samosa stall as she will no doubt be feeding Usha up in the coming weeks.

@BroughtonLass has also suggested a "Kick the Vicar" event but we must stress that this refers to the incumbent of St Stephens and not our VIP (Virtually Important Priest) who we hope might be able to offer some pastoral help to Alan. After all, who counsels the counsellors?

There are rumours that Jamie Perks has been invited to bear the Olympic Torch which may make an appearance at the fete. Jamie would certainly set the event alight (with his record) and these details are yet to be finalised.

What is certain, though, is that if you see a campervan, a pair of daschunds and a man of the cloth around the village, we must ask you to make them welcome. That'll be @RevRichardColes doing an early recce.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

More questions than answers

Sunday afternoon is a time for reflection. Today, as I consider my notes and plan next week's visits and consultations, I am reflecting on the fact that last week Ambridge posed more questions than answers.

There are too many to list in their entirety, but here are the ten that are nagging most at me:

1. How could Jennifer be so naive as to think Brian would take her up the valley without an ulterior motive?

2. Will Alan (aka Rev Bunter) suffer a genuine crisis of faith or just lash out around the village, delivering Evensong with intent in Darrington and menacingly chopping vegetables?

3. Who will be the wedding planner for My Big Fat Horrobin Wedding, who will hold the media rights, what part will the Brownies play and will we get an extra Bank Holiday?

4. If Keira has a mind of her own, who on earth did she inherit such intelligence from?

5. Who will offer to oil Iffy's bat even though, by his own admission, he plays for another side?

6. Is Ian's sous chef Gordon really "Gay Gordon" and how long before he joins the fun in the hot tub ("I need to check my ingredients")?

7. Will Tom ever, ever stop patronising his Father, and will Brenda see the light and tell him to stick his sausages and baps right up his new polytunnel?

8. When will Weights and Measures officially adopt The Squirrel as a unit of measurement?

9. Will Lizzie be reconciled with David long enough to invite him to open the Nigel Pargetter Memorial Roof Garden at Lower Loxley?

10.Who stands to be most embarrassed / exonerated when the truth about Carl's marital status is revealed?

No doubt there are other questions and inevitably some answers. If you know anything or just have an observation, please post below as a comment or address directly to @TonysConsultant.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Another Saturday in Ambridge, some missing characters sighted, fete and wedding plans

A number of Ambridgians have been notable by their absence in recent weeks. Regular visits to both Tony and Adam have given me the opportunity to snoop around and see what these people have been up to, especially on a Saturday when the documentary makers take themselves and their recording equipment away for their day off. This is what I have been able to find out this weekend:

Roy is still serving his community service even though he thought he had left his "racist years" behind. His penance currently is to weed Usha's front garden so he has had a front row seat to observe the comings and goings at The Vicarage.

Kathy Perks is feeling very left out. While Usha is sharing her problems with Ruth there are great moaning opportunities going begging, so she has thrown herself into her regular Saturday Happiness Class at the Village Hall.

Jack is in far better health than we have been led to believe. Retired press baron that he is, he has been a special advisor to Leveson and by any measure his memory is far more reliable than the majority of the witnesses.

Shula has been.....well, actually, nobody knows, and nobody cares. Rumour has it she has been bound up in Alan's coal shed for the past year. Ransom demands have been sent to Alastair but he has yet to respond.

Rich has been opening the batting for Yorkshire. He also played up front for Leeds United for the last half of the season. Not surprised he hasn't been heard of. Have you seen the seasons they both had?

Eccles the peacock has gone into hiding. His nose has been put properly out of joint since Iffy arrived on the scene. He's never known such competition.

Meanwhile Usha - the solicitor left out in the cold - has been roaming the streets and seeking comfort in the company of anyone but Amy or Alan. She was seen deep in conversation with @TrethFamilyLaw but we can't be sure if that was for legal advice or was pre-fete planning.

Plans for the fete are coming along. @tennismajorette will be able to concentrate on fete baking once tomorrow is out of the way. She spends the football season baking lucky cakes for the Arsenal faithful - so take note, and rely on her baking for comfort eating rather than good results.

@Mudkipstoat23 is still working hard on his fantasies for the Story Telling Tent (greatly recommended) and @entersoundman has the great opportunity to garner inside gen for us when he starts work experience at Radio Borsetshire tomorrow. His greatest task will be avoiding @Brenda_tucker's advances and her attempts to get @eatmysausage Tom's products placed at every turn.

Most important, though, will be any inside information he can present us with on the plans for My Big Fat Horrobin Wedding. I've seen a glass globe being constructed on Bartleby's trap, and copious lengths of white lace being shipped into the village. Chelsea has been stalking the village with an air of greatly increased confidence and a number of people witnessed unpleasant fisticuffs between her and Tilly Button. This really will be AN EVENT and I have no doubt there will be fallout along the way which will require medical attention.

As ever, keep 'em peeled and record here or to @TonysConsultant any other sightings you may make.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Gay Abandon at the Cricket: Iffy causes a stir

It was not easy breaking to Adam the news that he won't be able to play cricket for six weeks. He saw himself playing a significant part in what promises to be a great season for Ambridge. The team are benefitting not only from an influx of interested younger people, but also the arrival of the enigmatic Iffy.

Everyone loves Iffy. The girls love his athleticism and his dashing good looks and the boys love....well, it seems they love the same things. All of the young men are beguiled by Iffy, much to Alastair's annoyance. Alastair's interest in the younger players is bordering on the unhealthy.

Even William has been in on the act. Not playing cricket, of course, just whinging in his usual selfish, possessive way. If they need a roller perhaps they should use Will.

There are talks of girls playing and even if Iffy does not bat for the other side there will undoubtedly be a cloud on the first day of the season when Sid's ashes blow across the square in protest.

Graham Gooch's lack of success at spinning the coin as England Captain led him to brand himself a "useless tosser". Jamie had invited Rhys along to try some tossing and he has proved himself such a splendid tosser that Iffy has already drafted him into the first team. Suggesting selection for Ambridge was as good as playing rugby for Wales was a little over the top, and he must think himself lucky that Warren Gatland is in no fit state to run him out of the village.

Maybe Adam will keep his hand in by helping Ian to do the teas. They could invite Iffy to join them in the Hot Tub to discuss this and tactics in general, and help Iffy to get a real handle on the state of the wicket. Perhaps Adam could persuade Iffy to allow him to kick the season off with a symbolic full toss.

Lynda could do a lot worse than attend nets and assess the talent for the panto. There's plenty of potential here.

The girls are around Iffy and Rhys like bees to a honeypot. I need to have words with Alice because if she's not careful her flirting will drive ChrisTHORpher away, particularly now Amy has cracked off her apron and headed back to the Vicarage.

Which leaves us with the dilemma of Usha. Her procrastination has done her career no favours. She does not listen to a word of the counselling she has received. She manages to speak to everyone and anyone but Alan and Amy, the two who matter. It can only end in tears.

Wedding bells and more Towel Throwing

It's crucial for any medical man to keep fully abreast of all potential patients. The arrival of Keith with news of Samantha, Ash, Donna et al and the announcement of impending nuptials has flagged up again the fact that Ambridge is woefully under resourced for adequate medical cover. A campaign to secure a permanent GP in Ambridge is essential, but there remain doubts and fears in many medical professionals' minds as they remember what happened to the previous incumbent at the hands (amongst other things) of Shula. News travels fast and lingers long in such professional communities.

The propect of a wedding to test the taste and patience of the greatest wedding planners has fired the starting pistol for a broadcasters' bidding process for a new reality series, My Big Fat Horrobin Wedding. Alarm bells should be ringing for anyone connected with Chelsea whose singular ambition in life is to be a bridesmaid. And a bridesmaid to a Horrobin at that. What will the rest of her life hold? Answers on the back of a postage stamp (although at current rates and on current form the stamp will be of far greater value than Chelsea will ever bring to the table).

Keith is another unreliable witness to the Beast of Borsetshire. Clearly nobody took his sighting seriously as no one thought to ask whether what he saw was BIGGER THAN A SQUIRREL. Neil Carter has been quiet on this subject. We are still short on detail on the first punter in the Green Burial Ground. Might there be a connection?

But while the village is concerned with what may or may not be a cheetah, the fall out from the Borsetshire Cheater continues. Where there are losers there is always at least one winner. In this instance ChrisTHORpher is breathing much more easily, in every respect. All the while Jennifer was at Adam's bedside Alice was a veritable Borserthire Beast herself. Having Amy to stay has given ChrisTHORpher the opportunity to hang up his apron and take a well earned rest.

Usha - whose "should she, shouldn't she" kept us gripped for......seconds, if not minutes - is developing a Leveson-style defence as she tries to recall what she did or didn't think or do. Carl's alleged wife - hot shot lawyer Rochelle - need not worry too much about the professional competition in her back yard.

Towels have been much on Brian's mind since the Hot Tub incident but he would have been pleased to hear Hattie berating Ruth and Pat for throwing in their towels in the battle with BL. Hattie seems determined to fight on but she should take note that low loaders, beasts and tasselled loafers stalk them there woods.

Excuse the rush but I have a protest in London to join.....

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hot Tubgate, Scones and Baps

It's amazing how unsettling a simple Hot Tub can be, and the ripples go out in more ways than one. Brian's shock and discomfort may have had something to do with where the towel had been hanging. We'll probably never know how Brian would look in Ian's trunks, nor whether he would keep his cravat on at all times, but those sights, along with memories of Jennifer donning her swimsuit at Grey Gables recently, are not good for a balanced mind.

It's encouraging that Brian should have stayed on for refreshments. But Ian getting his scones out for the lads, hot on the heels of Brenda and her baps and Tom having trouble with his balls in the air, all add to the general unease of the week. The news that Pip wakes at the crack of Dawn was also a little unsettling. But she has agreed to help Tom with his flippin' burgers, or rather take over his entire empire if she has her own way. Just remember Pip: part of the deal will be teaching Tony how to create spreadsheets. Reckon you can cope with that? Hah! Not so cocky now, are we?

Jolene was again heard shouting "Kenton. KENTON!" as her beau dashed through the beer garden knocking over everthing - even Eccles - in his wake. Truth is he was running for cover. Kenton's a canny old cove, and one of the few Ambridge residents who actually listens to The Archers. He is deeply concerned that Hot Tubgate might bring back memories of happy showers for Jolene, and he's not sure he's up to it. Sid, after all, was never the same man....

Good to hear that the police have tracked down the dogging party that Adam stumbled across. Borsetshire Constabulary is obviously feeling the pinch, as all their work is now being done by 'phone. Will the doggers be back to exact revenge? Is one already back, dressed as the apparition that has confronted Lynda? Come on Adam - were your attackers BIGGER THAN A SQUIRREL?

My offer of counselling for the Vicar and the women in his life remains open, but they don't return calls. They need to go to the Debbie Aldridge School of Telephone acting. Already this week it's clear that David and Tony have completed the distance learning module.

Meanwhile, in other Parish Notices we are indebted to @katbrown82 who, on behalf of her Mum, has given notice of the East Meon Flower Festival 22 - 25 June, describing it as "JUST like The Archers." Take a look: Bell ringing, poetry, village tours: must be plenty of tips for us. It's in my diary. Any other takers?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Debbie's return, and other things that happened while your back was turned

Adam's return to good health was always going be to be aided by a visit from his step-sister. If you blinked you will have missed reference to the fact that Debbie did in fact deign to visit him in a flying visit over the weekend, another of those events that sneaks in under the radar when we're not looking.

In other similar news Shula and Alan were briefly reconciled, only to fall out again over another trivial difference of opinion (Alan's refusal to beatify Shula, apparently); someone visited Jennifer and was offered tea rather than coffee; Ruth was positive; Eddie Grundy filled in a tax return but Peggy used it as a litter tray; William and Edward went for afternoon tea at Grey Gables only to fall out over who should lead in the tea dance; and Jim and Christine finished The Times crossword (set by Vicky, of course.)

Adam was well enough to be discharged and the village laid on May Pole Dancing (it was obvious from the lascivious look on his face that Eddie had misunderstood the nature of this particular branch of Pole Dancing) and a Morris Troupe to welcome him home. He was also overjoyed to see the Gay Gordons - a lovely group of chaps who came by the coach load.

At least, Adam thought all of this activity was for his benefit. When he was told that it was a standard Ambridge Bank Holiday, he went into one of his famous sulks and pretended to lose his memory in order to be the centre of attention. Adam has no more lost his memory than I have.

When Adam realised the village was full of activity to celebrate May Day he pretended to lose his memory in order to be the centre attention. He has no more lost his memory than I have.

Whilst it was encouraging to see the Vicar and his daughter speaking it is obvious there is much counselling required for that family. Not far behind them are The Archers of Bridge Farm. It is difficult to establish which is more of an issue: Tom's inability to trust Tony to do anything right, or Tony's inability to do anything right. The latter has sensibly taken a leaf out of his niece Debbie's book and now prefers to phone in his performances.

We can understand why Alan would not beatify Shula. All the while the omnipotent Tom is in the village no one else will ever get a look in. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to be a Saint like Tom and he and Brenda's realisation that another pair of hands is needed for the Burger Van has started speculation. Any suggestions? Ken Livingstone and Princess Grace of Monaco are amongst the least likely candidates nominated so far.

More plans for the virtual fete. @tennismajorette is already baking Vicar's Tarts and @Mistress_Fiona (who claims to be part of Team Tom, poor woman) has offered to help with his sausages. @TrethFamilyLaw has suggested cheese and pineapple chunks fashioned into the Queen's head and we are greatly indebted to @TreacleToo who has been sacrificing live visits to Ambridge in order to research appropriate food by tuning in to The Great British Menu. The success of community events is based on such sacrifices.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Fete plans, Adam's progress and a family in crisis

Plans and suggestions for the virtual Ambridge fete continue apace.

@Dark_blue_box has proposed that we extend invitations to Nelson, Nigel, Walter and Uncle Tom, an idea which wouldn't be feasible if it weren't for @SidPerksGhost's offer to deal with issuing the invitations in person. Views on who should officially open the fete - whether one of the above or not - would be appreciated.

It has also been suggested that the fete would benefit from being themed. @tennismajorette has proposed Vicars and Tarts. Other thoughts?

It has been agreed with Brown Owl that The Brownies will support the St John's Ambulance volunteers and that their endeavours will count towards their First Aid badges. This event will benefit the wellbeing of the village in so may ways.

Meanwhile May Day Bank Holiday continues to be a special day in the life of the village. There are plans for special events later which we all look forward to.

Adam continues to defy the specialists with the speed of his recovery. Today, however, he has woken in lower spirits as he realises the people who have NOT visited him. He has been particularly disappointed not to see Helen and Henry. It makes him wonder if Helen, for whom he has been such a great support, might - just MIGHT - have a bit of a selfish streak. He and Ian will have to bear that in mind next time she needs a babysitter or, God forbid, a good basting. Nonetheless there have been more messages of goodwill, which he greatly appreciates. They include:

* Brian: "Just sign the enclosed forms would you, there's a good chap. Sick pay doesn't grown on trees, you know."

* Usha: "Oh God! Hurry and go home. I need your bed."

* Christopher: "I need your bed. Different reason to last week. I'm worn out!"

* Tony: "SAVE! S......A......V......E......!"

* Eddie: "Thanks for finding m'ferret. Sorry about the intravenous drip."

* Iffy: "Where are your wrong 'uns when we need them?"

* Joe: "We can take you home on Bartleby's trap. Reasonable rates for you, Adam Macy."

* Tom: "Sorry I couldn't visit you - busy busy - but you're welcome to come and visit me with the pigs."

My main concern at the moment, however, is the family that is in need of counselling and support. I will be seeing the Vicar this afternoon to see if our clinicians can help but we have much to learn before we fully understand the reasons behind the actions of certain individuals. Let's not jump to conclusions, unlike some people one could mention.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Fun and Games for the Fete and Jim's Cultural Olympiad

There is much talk about the Ambridge Fete and the debate about the village's contribution to the Cultural Olympiad. Many ideas are being brought to my attention and I thought it important to convey them to the relevant people in Ambridge. I therefore took the opportunity of reporting these things to Tony, who will kindly prepare a spreadsheet and pass it to the committee via Pat.

There are already a number of offers of help. @tennismajorette has kindly offered to bake for the fete, and @Squidge1970 is up for the teas, although I am sure both would welcome help. @Squidge (may I call you @Squidge, @Squidge1970?) has also suggested various games, including Whack-a-Mole (although on radio that will sound very much like a middle class dip).

@SidPerksGhost is happy to look after the beer tent. No doubt he will be in charge of spirits too. Not at all sure what @Kenton_Archer will make of that, although he and Jolene have been nominated to look after games. Can't be certain what sort of "games" they might come up with but my car keys are firmly secured in my pocket.

We are hoping that Lily Pargetter will charm us with a thatching display, although @LizziePargetter will be sure to keep Uncle David away from that particular activity.

Hopefully Daniel and Freddie can satisfy Jim's search for "a couple of Billy Elliots" and stop Tilly Button from stealing the show. Tilly is a force to be reckoned with, and we just hope her confidence will soon match her audacious talent and that she will be encouraged to speak with her fellow villagers.

As always we need games and sideshows. "Guess the Badger's Weight in Squirrels" and "Con the Vicar's Daughter" are both already proving popular.

Of course I will be offering extra training to the St John's volunteers and would hope that those caring for the villages invalids will do their bit. I imagine that will mean @eatmysausage Tom Archer deciding between his Burger Van and his father. Alastair - sorry, William Hill- has already closed the book on that one.

It is also time to think about who should be invited to open this year's fete. Who should follow in the illustrious footsteps of Anthony Gormley and Colin Dexter? All suggestions welcome.

So, if you have services to offer, any ideas or comments on the merits of @LyndaSnell and Jim's ideas, please comment below or directly to @TonysConsultant.

What's that Tony? Didn't you save it AT ALL..........?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Saturday in Ambridge: what happens when the microphones are switched off?

Today is a typical Saturday in Ambridge but of course most listeners to the documentary aren't aware of what happens when the microphones have been switched off. My role caring for Tony Archer since his heart attack has given me unique access to the villagers and it's my pleasure to report some of their Saturday activities here.

It's an exciting day for Daniel and Freddie. Shula is being a dutiful Mother and Aunty, driving her young men to London to see a matinee of The Wizard of Oz. Freddie has often joined Daniel for a rummage in his Judy Garland collection after riding out together, and the arrival of Russell Grant in the iconic musical was the final brick to prompt Shula to organise this trip.

Meanwhile Lily, who vowed to "learn a trade" to support her mother when her father so tragically died, has her regular thatching lesson. Elizabeth insists on being present at all times, especially during the practicals.

Derek Fletcher dons his white suit and medallions to continue his ever-popular Disco Dancing class in the Village Hall, ably assisted by dutiful wife Pat and her wheels of steel. Ian has created his '70s themed refreshments (cheese and pineapple with cocktail pickled onions, fondue, arctic roll) before visiting Adam. The whole experience continues to persuade Lynda that Ambridge may be ready for a revival of her Abigail's Party which had gone down so well in Sunningdale. But today Lynda is most concerned with last minute maypole dancing rehearsals with The Brownies.

Caroline and Oliver are off whitewater rafting again, and Vickie is rushing to catch the post with the six cryptic crosswords she is setting for next week's The Times. The Livestock auctioneers at the new Market are still trying to find ways to politely decline Tony's offer to work as auctioneer but Alastair continues as Felpersham's leading Bingo caller, all part of his rehabilitation.

So life goes on, as does Adam's recovery. He remains grateful for all the messages which continue to flood in, including the delightful posy from the Button Twins (although he does wonder where exactly the flowers came from). Here's a selection of other messages that have arrived:

"As you're out of action, may I borrow your medallions?" [Derek Fletcher]

"" [Tony]

"Do you recognise any of these low loaders in this photograph? They have been seen parked on Deborah Aldridge's property." [Interpol]

"Enjoy the flowers, but you never saw us. *they tap noses* O.K.?" [Button Twins]

"'" [Tony]

"Chop chop Adam. Protests to organise, plans to scupper." [Pat]

"You're O.K. Your partner is one of the few in Borchester I don't have my eyes on." [Carl]

"If I bang myself on the head, will it all go away?" [Usha]

As always, if anyone overhears other messages, or is aware of other Saturday activities in Ambridge, please list them below or send them direct to @TonysConsultant.

Friday, 4 May 2012

House Calls, The Creature from The Slurry Lagoon and Adam's Progress

Tony continues to improve although there is a hint of tourette syndrome creeping into his behaviour. For some reason (can't decide if it's fear in his eyes or just a spot of madness) he keeps shouting "SAVE! SAVE!" mid-conversation. He's still milking every opportunity if not every cow, and can be found sleeping at the most inopportune times.

I paid a visit to Usha Franks in the privacy of her office. She sought consultation on whether she should tell Alan about Carl. I reminded her that stress can cause physical problems, not least dietary, and asked her to consider what Auntie Satya might make of that. She seems under some pressure from Ruth but again I asked Usha to consider pots and black kettles. Just mention Sam and see how Saint Ruth feels about things then.

Lynda asked to see me as she fears no one is taking her seriously. It appears she has put the cat among the pigeons, or a beast among the cattle, with her vision of The Creature from the Slurry Lagoon. It seems only she and Scruff have seen the beast so for now I have suggested Lynda takes a break and is careful what she eats (no more mushrooms and definitely throw out Leonie's left over joss sticks and interestingly different tobacco.)

In the evening I visited Adam to check on his progress. He regains strength in every way and is greatly heartened by the messages that continue to flood in. He was particularly touched by the replica Maypole (I think it is a maypole, although the lack of ribbons gives it a rather cold look. I checked the bottom, and it doesn't take batteries). This was a very thoughtful gift from The Brownies.

Here is a selection of other messages:

"Dahling - do hurry home. There are cocktails aplenty awaiting your attention." [Lilian]

"Many's the fella laid low, but don't fear,
It won't be too long 'ere you're not feeling queer." [Bert Fry]

"I wish you could be better so you could see how happy I am.". [Amy]

"......................................................................." [Freda]

"Oh Gosh!" [Alice]

"I truly am sorry I haven't been able to make it to see you but I had some really important washing-up to do." [Debbie]

"Come on Adam. Spill the beans. We can get publicity out of this. It'll go viral, although I don't suppose you know what that means because I'm the only person in the whole of Borsetshire who knows ANYTHING about marketing.". [Brenda]

"I'm actually quite knackered now, so I would appreciate it if you would please get better and allow Jennifer to go back to her old tricks.". [Christopher]

Watch out tomorrow for news of what actually happens in Ambridge on a Saturday - all those things that the residents do out of the glare of the documentary makers.