Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Second Winner of our ‘Ask David Archer’ Competition

The second of three winners of our ‘Ask David Archer’ competition is Quentin, who asks:

“Do you think that there would be a market for a 'Calendar Boys' calendar? I hear Jazza is keen.”

I think Jazza’s sporran would come in very useful here, but let’s see what Tim thinks:

“Possibly, but you can be quite sure that neither I nor David
would be on it!”


Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider? Not appearing on the calendar would increase the chances of Bert Fry or Joe Grundy getting back to nature with only prize-winning onions and courgettes to save us.

Congratulations Quentin. Contact me at neilturnbull@me.com and let me know where to send your prize!

Friday, 20 October 2017

The First Winner of our ‘Ask David Archer’ Competition

The first winner of our ‘Ask David Archer’ competition is Neale Monks, who asks:

“Timothy, if you could give voice to any one of the myriad 'silent characters' that infest the Abridge undergrowth, who would it be and why?”

Tim surprised me by picking someone close to home who isn’t normally considered to be a silent character:

“Well at the moment, Ben. I'm getting very worried about his refusal to speak!”

Congratulations Neale. Contact me at neilturnbull@me.com and let me know where to send your prize!

I’ll be revealing our second winner tomorrow!


Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Winners Have Been Chosen

I can announce that we have chosen the winners of our ‘Ask David Archer’ competition to win one of three SIGNED copies of Timothy Bentinck’s new book ‘Being David Archer: And Other Unusual Ways of Earning a Living’.

The winners’ questions have been sent to Tim and we have his answers! But we’re not going to reveal all straight away. We’re going to keep the excitement going as we reveal the winners over the next few days.

To start things off though, we asked Tim a question of our own:

“Being based in East Anglia we can’t get Shires. If you were to come to our local, would you choose Greene King IPA, Adnams Southwold or Woodforde’s Wherry?”

We were delighted that Tim’s answer displayed an impressive knowledge of our favourite ales:

“As a part time East Anglian from childhood, the answer is that it depends what you're doing the next day. GK is 5%, Southwold is 4.1% and Wherry 3.8%. Ergo Friday and Saturday night IPA, Wednesday lunchtime the Wherry. All other evenings, Southwold!”

When you’re back in the kingdom of the Angles Tim – the beers will be on us!


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Nice Dinner with Matt Lilian, But What’s for Afters?

Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Bellamy)

We have speculated a lot recently about Justin and Lilian’s relationship, and things are obviously getting desperate as we kick off the week with Justin triumphantly announcing that he’s made Lilian a sandwich! But Lilian’s not hungry. Not hungry, not interested in discussing colour schemes, not interested in going for a walk and certainly not interested in wedding plans. The truth about Justin’s Scotland trip has hit her hard and she takes herself off to another room to be left alone with her thoughts. Justin interrupts her to get his cardigan, and the atmosphere is icy as she tells him she’s off to visit a friend’s stables, and he’s not invited.

When she gets to the stables, guess whom she sees? Yes, that’s right – Matt Crawford. He’s there to look at a couple of horses with a view to shipping them to Costa Rica. Afterwards they go for tea and cake, which gives Matt the chance to probe Lilian about Justin. He knows that something’s up, and he persuades her to spill the beans about the Edinburgh trip. To be fair, he’s a good listener and tries to get her to see Justin’s point of view, saying that if it was him he would have told her ‘where to get off’ if questioned.

Later she accepts a last-minute invitation from Matt to the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and then immediately lies to Justin about who she’ll be going with. She says she’ll be back for supper, so Justin plans to surprise her with a meal on her return, and goes to see Ian for tips. The problem is that Lilian and Matt have such a great time that they decide to stay in Cheltenham for dinner. Lilian phones Justin to say she’ll be having a bite to eat with ‘Marcia’ and he hides his disappointment very well, even though he was blitzing the herbs for a salsa verde at the time. When she eventually returns home Justin’s still up, but she heads straight off to bed.

Things are looking bleak, and on Friday 13th look bleaker still. The window-cleaner left the back gate open and Ruby’s gone missing. Lilian fears that she’s been dog-knapped, and her and Justin start ringing round and organising search parties. Guess who finds her, yes that’s right, Matt. Or rather she finds him. Matt pops in to the Bull to borrow some string to use as a lead, but who should be in there but Justin, who immediately accuses him of abducting her. Justin phones Lilian to tell her that he’s found her, but omits to mention Matt. Matt offers Justin advice on dog-handling, which could be easily construed as advice on keeping hold of Lilian. This is all too much for Justin and is about to punch Matt’s lights out when Harrison appears and breaks them up. Justin shouts “I’ve had enough!” and storms off.

On returning Ruby to Lilian’s grateful embrace, Justin tries to clear the air by apologising about his Edinburgh trip, but is defiantly unapologetic for trying to protect her from his business and divorce arrangements. He also professes his fidelity and says he has never had the need or desire to stray from her, and if she doesn’t trust him then that’s her problem. Oh, and tonight he will be sleeping in the master bedroom. And they say romance is dead!

Joe and Eddie are busy making cider out of their precious find of Tumble Tussocks, scratting (pulping) the apples and squeezing out the juice. They’re making great claims for the cider that will be produced, with Joe claiming it will be Premier Cru. Nic’s there taking this all in and asks about the turkey business (they’ve been gobbling away in the backround). Joe thinks its days are numbered, but Nic has a brainwave – label the cider as a local limited edition Christmas Cider and give away a bottle with each turkey. Joe initially bemoans the fact that there’ll be less for him to drink, but comes round to the idea when Eddie mentions they’ll be able to afford whisky at Christmas from the profits.

It looks like the appointment to the position on the Parish Council vacated by Oliver is going to be between Emma Grundy and Robert Snell. Jim, who is Parish Clerk, drops in on Emma because he’s concerned that Robert will get the position by default and doesn’t want a ‘stitch-up’. He lets Emma know that if more than 10 villagers call for an election, one has to be called, which would result in a fairer process. He also happens, by sheer coincidence, to have the relevant paperwork on him. We later hear that Emma easily got the required number of signatures and an election has been duly called.

Bad news for Alistair; a complaint has been made about him to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons after Titan died under anaesthetic. He now has to write a response to explain how the horse died during a routine castration, and to make matters worse rumours seem to be circulating amongst the clientele.

Shula, meanwhile, is having work done on her manège (it’s ok I looked it up for you – it’s what horses run around on in the stables). Phillip, who’s doing the work, notices that Alistair looks troubled and invites him to the pub for lunch while he’s waiting for the concrete to set (he must have used quick-drying). They talk about difficult customers in their respective professions and it turns into a badly needed therapy session for Alistair.

Things are fractious between Kate and Noluthando, and Kate thinks some time with her cousins, Lily and Freddie, will do her good. When they meet, Freddie calls her Nolly and Lily points out that they’re actually only second cousins, and once removed at that. But they seem to get on well and start talking about the Hunt Ball that Shula’s organising. Lily thinks Noluthando looks a bit ‘urban’ and offers to take her shopping, but Noluthando quickly slaps her down by saying “if that means ending up looking like you Lily then thanks, but no thanks”! Freddie’s impressed, and they start talking about Kwaito music and who Noluthando would recommend. I don’t know what she said, but I’d be very disappointed if she didn’t recommend Kyle Naidoo and Arthur Mafokate as good starting points.

Over in the dairy Susan and Clarrie are talking about the amount of work they’re doing, what with making ice-cream, yogurt, Kefir, and helping out in the poly tunnels and seem to be fermenting a plan to get a pay rise. When Helen comes in she’s shocked to see how behind they are with packing the yogurt and she takes Tom to task that Susan and Clarrie are too busy making his Kefir and letting everything else fall behind. Tom offers to increase their hourly rate, which does the trick, but this all seems too simple to me. If I were Tom I’d play them at their own game and make it conditional on achieving aggressive production targets.

Finally, Pip calls in on Toby as he’s bottling gin. She’s brought him lunch and is being really nice to him – which is disturbing. Toby reassures her about the bruising on her face, and Pip says it reminds her of when they were together (spending time with each other, not the bruising). She suddenly makes a move on him and Toby’s not happy, telling her not to mess around with him like that, and to go on Tinder if she’s feeling horny. Well done Tobes!




Sunday, 8 October 2017

Like Mother, Like Daughter…

Mogali Masuku (Noluthando Madikane)

Just when we were getting resigned to the fact that Kate appears to be a permanent fixture in Ambridge, it now appears that we are going to have two of them to contend with. I speak of course, of Noluthando, Kate’s daughter, who would appear to have inherited the worst aspects - and there are an awful lot of them - of her mother’s character.

Noluthando spends most of her time telling Kate off for calling her ‘Nolly’ - it’s a baby name, says Noluthando and she’s not a baby any longer. Indeed, Eddie Grundy is surprised to learn that she is only 16 and he describes her as “a bit glammed up for Ambridge.” Eddie saw Noluthando when Kate took her on a tour of the village, telling her daughter that Ambridge is as much part of her heritage as Joburg and Durban, plus it has amazing vibes. That’s as maybe, says Noluthando, but it’s boring, dirty and the sounds of the stags rutting is pretty gross. She also cannot believe that people pay money to come to Spiritual Home and, when Kate bangs on about Reiki and similar treatments, Noluthando interrupts her and says that she’s “not interested in all that ‘hippy rubbish.”

In short, Noluthando appears immune to the bucolic idyll that is Ambridge. Why can’t they go to the city? Kate agrees, thinking of Felpersham, but Noluthando has her heart set on taking a trip to London and Kate is backed into a corner. Perhaps Brian will fund the trip? she asks Adam. Apparently Brian agrees, as the following morning, we hear Kate banging on his bedroom door, asking for the money as they have a train to catch in a few minutes and £400 should cover the cost of the day. Brian, who wasn’t aware that they were going so soon, asks why so much. Shopping and a bite to eat is Kate’s answer. A grumpy Brian says he’ll give her £300, which still seems rather excessive to me for a day out. Mind you, he might think it worth it to have a Kate-free day.

On the trip back, Kate complains about a man whose suitcase is blocking the aisle in the train, but Noluthando points out that the racks are full of their shopping. She also takes Kate to task because she is drinking non-vegan wine and doesn’t that make her a hypocrite? Kate responds by saying that she’s tired and fancies a nap. When they get back home, there are further allegations of hypocrisy when Brian, eyeing the mountains of clothes, etc, says he thought that Kate was de-cluttering her life and possessions were irrelevant? Kate’s answer to this is that it’s ok if they spark joy and these do. Brian says sarcastically it looks to him like she’s got enough for five years of joy. Water off a duck’s back, Brian.

Just as we were consoling ourselves with the fact that Noluthando, who isn’t a particularly nice person, will only be around for a couple of weeks, she tells Kate that she wants to stay at Home Farm and please don’t make her go back to South Africa. Her father, Lucas, has a new woman in his life - Siphiwe - who is a bitch and who has turned Lucas against his children. Kate doesn’t seem keen on Noluthando having an extended stay and Noluthando immediately says that, when Phoebe came to South Africa, Kate was all for her prolonging her visit and it’s obvious that, of the two daughters, Kate loves Phoebe more. Noluthando storms off to her room and Kate goes after her, offering grovelling apologies.

The next day, Kate rings Lucas at work and accuses him of mistreating their children. Lucas asks what tales has Noluthando been spinning, adding that she has been a complete nightmare for the past few months, bunking off school and behaving badly. One day he followed her and she was drinking in an illegal den. Lucas then surprises Kate by saying that Siphiwe is the woman he should have spent his life with and he’s filing for divorce. I must say it surprised me too - I would have thought that he would have been on to the lawyers seconds after he had thrown Kate out of the house. Kate is obviously taken aback, but says that he can have his divorce, but he’s not having Noluthando; “I’m going to give her the loving home she needs - mum and dad will be delighted to let her stay.” Kate? Loving home? How likely is that?

Dad is far from delighted with the idea, but Kate tells him that Lucas has been letting Noluthando go out drinking, which is stretching the truth more than somewhat. Eventually (probably to get a little peace) he says it would be ok if Jennifer agreed. Typically, Kate takes Jennifer’s acceptance as given (she hasn’t asked her) and triumphantly tells Noluthando that she can stay. Poor Brian - no sooner has he got rid of Lilian than he has yet another female foisted upon him. And it’s not just me that thinks Noluthando isn’t a nice person - she and Phoebe had a catch-up and Noluthando is envious that Phoebe was allowed to travel round Europe alone, conveniently forgetting that Phoebe is a few years older than her.

Later on, Roy asks about Noluthando and Phoebe says she’s ok, but lives in a world of her own, oblivious to other people’s feelings - exactly like Kate, in fact. As I said in paragraph one, we’ve now got two of them to contend with.

Before we leave Kate, Adam tells Ian of her idea to be their surrogate. At first Ian welcomes the idea, although Adam has reservations - reservations bigger than the Sioux Indians had, to be exact. As Ian talks to people, it dawns on him that Kate would never let them bring up the child without interfering and the idea is a non-starter. But how to break it to Kate? They enlist the help of Alice, who’s weapon is flattery - she tells Kate that Adam thought her offer was “a beautiful gesture”, but has she considered the wider picture? What about the effect on Kate’s other children and does she realise that older mothers have difficulty in getting their figures back? Kate mulls things over and tells Alice that, on reflection, she thinks it’s not a good idea, but how to tell Adam and Ian? Alice says that she will do it, prompting Kate to call her sister “a sweetie.” Phew! I don’t think I could have stood nine months of a Kate pregnancy, so well done Alice!

Having spent more than enough time on Kate-related subjects, let’s look at some other stories. Ian is getting stressed with the antics of Joey, the Sicilian Maitre d at Grey Gables. Not only is Joey incompetent, but is rude to the guests and, on Tuesday, Joey argues with a guest and tips a table over in a fit of anger, before walking out. This happens when Oliver has just returned from Italy and Roy and Ian talk down the affair to stop him worrying.

Oliver has decided that he needs to rearrange some things in his life and he resolves to step down from the Parish Council, which came as a surprise to me, as I didn’t know he was even on it. Perhaps he has caught de-cluttering from Kate? Neil, as PC Chair, tries to get Lynda to take Oliver’s place, but she’s too busy with her reading project. However, when discussing it later with Robert, Lynda says that he would be an ideal Councillor and isn’t it time that he stepped into the spotlight? She didn’t actually say ‘out of my shadow’ but you just know that the thought was there.

Neil is happy, but a couple of days later, Emma enquires about the vacancy, saying that she was, and still would be, interested. Neil tells her to submit a letter, outlining what qualities she has and the PC will consider it, alongside a similar letter from Robert. One of these qualities will definitely be ‘hard-working’ as Ed reminds her that she already has three jobs and where would she find the time? Emma says she’d manage and “it’s about time people in this village took me and my family seriously.“ Ed wisely shuts up. Anyway, he’s too busy looking at a website, picking out which Texel rams to choose for breeding - something which he optimistically tells his wife could ensure a bright future for them. We were also treated, if indeed that is the word, to a blow-by-blow account of how the AI process works. Thank God the Archers is on radio and not TV, I say - this was definitely a case of way too much information. As for Ed’s optimism about the future, I submit that we have heard this sort of thing numerous times before from assorted Grundys.

Fallon and PCB have completed on Woodbine Cottage and hold an impromptu party to celebrate. One of the guests is Christine and PCB thanks her for selling it to them. Talk turns to cricket and PCB mentions that women are definitely a part of the team and he talks about the need for separate changing facilities for the sexes. Christine offers to fund the new facilities and, in a statement that would be totally alien to many inhabitants of Ambridge, says “what’s the point of having money if you don’t use it for good?”

One person who would find this a puzzle is Matt Crawford, who turns up at the Dower House to see Justin, who is in Edinburgh. Lilian invites Matt in for a drink and he shows her pictures of his new apartment. The man appears to be on a tour of South America, as he has abandoned Costa Rica for Ecuador, with which he “fell in love”. He invites her out to see the place and, presumably sensing that something isn’t right between her and Justin, he tells her that he’ll be in the UK for a few more weeks, adding: “You’ve got my number. If you want to talk - about anything - I’ll be at your service.”

Lilian is upset as she has learned that Justin’s trip to Edinburgh involved meeting with Miranda, the wife that he is divorcing. Not only that, but he went with Miranda to see her nonagenarian aunt Moira. When Justin returns, on Friday, Lilian has torn up the agreement to take AmSide into the Damara fold and she asks Justin why he didn’t tell her that he was meeting Miranda and what the hell was he doing going to see Aunt Moira? Justin replies that he didn’t tell Lilian because he didn’t want to upset her and Aunt Moira was the only member of Miranda’s family that he had any time for. However, he lets slip that he and Miranda led Moira to believe that they were still married - why upset someone who’s 95 or whatever? This is too much for Lilian and she flounces out. Where is she going? “To make up the guest bedroom” she answers. “There’s no need for you to sleep there” protests Justin. “Not for me, you idiot; for you” she snaps back.

Finally, some good luck for the Grundys. Shy Colin (he never has much luck with the ladies) has told them about a shed full of cider apples going begging. The owner has died and the landlord wants shot of them. Eddie, Ed and Joe go to collect them, with Joe prophesying doom and grumbling about time wasting. But when they get there, he changes his tune - the apples are ‘Tumble Tussocks’, one of Borsetshire’s rarest cider apples and which make wonderful cider. He hasn’t seen one for years. But where are the trees? Eddie says he’ll go to the local pub next week and ask around. The question on all our minds is how are the Grundys going to cock this one up, or what mean trick does Fate have in store?


Thursday, 5 October 2017

It's Competition Time!


THREE LUCKY READERS will each win a SIGNED copy of Timothy Bentinck’s new book ‘Being David Archer: And Other Unusual Ways of Earning a Living’.

All you have to do is reply in the comments with a question that you’ve always wanted to ask David Archer! A crack team of judges here at Ha Archers Towers will sift through the replies and choose their 3 favourites. These will be put to Timothy – sorry, David – and we will publish his answers! The authors of the 3 selected questions will each win a copy of the book.

So what are you waiting for? Pull up a comfy chair, settle down with a pint of Shires or a large Scruff Gin and Tonic, and get thinking!

Closing date for entries is Thursday 12 October 2017. UK entries only.

Our thanks to Timothy Bentinck and Little, Brown Book Group.

Terms and conditions available on request.



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

STOP PRESS

*** Get ready for an exciting announcement from the Ha Archers blog tomorrow. There will be prizes! ***