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Saturday, October 15, 2011

How to get some more young people into The Archers

I know The Archers isn't real. If it was Ambridge would be a victim of the same drift which is seeing an estimated 200,000 young people a year desert rural areas for the cities. But instead I am happy to report that Ambridge is bursting at the seams with bright, personable, highly motivated, web-savvy people under the age of 30, all starting up businesses selling sausages, organic cheese, cocktails, horse shoes and the other staples of life in the year 2011.

There's something else that makes this notional village near Birmingham exceptional. 21% of the UK population work in the public sector in some shape or form and yet Ambridge doesn't boast a single teacher, nurse, road sweeper or retired civil servant. Not one. The only person who is reliant on the public purse is Clive Horobin, who's just been released from prison. This sylvan hive of industry must be the motor that is keeping the British economy going now that the North Sea oil has run out. I'm surprised it hasn't been on the news.

A friend of mine lives in a small hamlet in the (real) East Midlands. The residents recently noticed that somebody had moved into the large house on the edge of the settlement. It seemed to be occupied by a number of willowy young women who tottered down the shop on very high heels to buy the cigarettes which seemed to be their only form of nourishment. A number of burly gentlemen looked out from the front of the property.

It turned out, of course, to be an east European-run knocking shop. The locals reported it to the police and it was shut down quite promptly. Now wouldn't this make an Archers plotline? It would be both stranger and truer than what's going on in Ambridge at the moment.