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.