The Bull is a perfect venue for the clinic, and Jolene an ideal host. She kept us fuelled with hot drinks and biscuits (her hobnobs have to be seen to be believed) and couldn't have been more accommodating. The only distraction was the occasional muffled shout of "Kenton! KENTON! Jesus Christ!" from the beer garden every now and again.
I arrived early in Ambridge and was welcomed by a scene reminiscent of a western town the morning after a shoot out. Flyers drifted across The Green like tumbleweed, and placards for "BAFF" "BIFF" and "BOSH" were discarded on pavements.
The tense atmosphere was highlighted for me when I saw that one man - a country squire type in tasselled loafers and a cravat - was already waiting for me in the ante-room to The Bull Upstairs. Although he seemed to be waiting for me he was clearly agitated, pacing up and down, deep in conversation on his mobile phone.
Cravat Man obviously wasn't ready to be seen, so I ushered in a lady who was waiting. This young widow is obviously still raw with grief and - it seems - considerable anger directed at her brother who she holds entirely to blame for her husband's early death. We will need to talk around this much more in the coming weeks, but I think I dissuaded her from her plan to create a roof garden in memory of her husband and invite her brother to "open" it. I also suggested that she needs to find love, or failing that an affair. But who with....?
Cravat Man was still preoccupied so I invited the next lady in. I had seen her earlier in the day grooming a pair of llamas. I thought then that she had a certain look in her eyes and when I greeted her she immediately launched into a tirade of rage. Her anger was mostly directed at her daughter's erstwhile boyfriend and his family. I suggested she should address this directly with that family rather than me and before I could finish the sentence she was gone. Expect fireworks!
And finally Cravat Man deigned to see me! He was pink with rage and frustration and talked about mega dairies, planning permission, council meetings, and EA-adios. He also said he was receiving death threats and hate mail, even via Twitter. Only today someone had called him a "smug self satisfied bastard". He showed me the tweet! I was beginning to understand. I said really he needed to rid himself of his frustrations. He suggested an affair. I couldn't possibly comment. He left with a smug, self satisfied look.
Just as I was hoping to leave, Cravat Man's Stepson slipped in by the back door, keen not to be seen. Seems like a very nice boy but very, very bitter and resentful at the way his stepfather and stepsister are making plans without including him. He's also very confused about his role as 'the only gay in the cricket team' as it sounds as though the new coach (Iffy) might spin both ways. I've suggested some refreshing relief (from his anxiety) that his partner can provide.
And so to Bridge Farm for a home visit to see the man who brought me into contact with Ambridge in the first place. Tony is making good progress but must stop trying to milk anything and everything that moves. His desire to be working is causing problems not for him, but for those who he is irritating by following around the farm, in his pyjamas, endlessly repeating his mantra: "Giss a job. I could do that." Yosser's speech is improving (he is now more King's Speech than Open All Hours) and he is moaning slightly less, although rather worryingly this is a symptom which his son seems to have inherited.
Pat seems to have transferred her concerns to the activities of Cravat Man and daughter Helen appears to be visiting a lot of "friends" which one can only assume is her regular TBSG (Turkey Baster Support Group). There is one irritant which seems to afflict the whole family, both in the house and throughout the polytunnel empire - Tucker Syndrome, of the Brenda strand. This is easily cured, with a good slap but no tickle.
My work completed I headed home. I will address the written notes I have received from some villagers and will be pleased to receive other requests for help. And I hope to return for another clinic next week. Any suggestions for an improved service will be very gratefully received.
Names are not used in order to respect Brian, Elizabeth, Lynda and Adam's confidentiality