Life Lessons from Debbie Aldridge
There are not many long-distance Ambridge residents who provoke the kind of joy on their return that Debbie Aldridge, the level-headed, quick-witted businesswoman, does.
Debbie’s like the Batman of Ambridge, reappearing at times of crisis, sorting the situation out and then zooming off again. Her mother Jennifer rejoices in her return as she does all her children, Brian sees her as the calm voice of reason in what can sometimes be an over-emotional household, and her siblings and half-sibling Adam appreciate her wise counsel.
There aren’t many of us who would take offence at being referred to as “a bit like Debbie Aldridge”. So how can we all Be More Debbie?
Debbie does not shy away from awkward conversations, and working alongside control-freak father Brian and stressed half-brother Adam, there are a fair few of those. She excels in ignoring Brian’s temper and speaking calmly and levelly until she’s got her point across - at which point he generally agrees with her.
In 2015, for instance, having received a promotion from her job with Intramag in Hungary, she made the decision to give up the arable work at Home Farm and pass it over to Adam. Brian promptly saw this as some kind of coup, but Debbie was firm. “We have to move forward, Dad, all of us….you’re not going to change my mind. ”
Trust your instincts
When Debbie gets “a feeling” about something it’s best to listen. It was Debbie who forced Brian into confessing his affair with Siobhan Hathaway in December 2002, after she’d spotted one of Brian’s monogrammed handkerchiefs in Siobhan’s possession. Debbie was also one of the first to pick up on how Siobhan’s baby Ruari had Aldridge features. Brian tried to bluster his way out of this confrontation with Debbie, but once again her icy calm held sway.
Avoid men called Simon
The only area of life in which Debbie lacks her usual excellent judgement is…men. Particularly men called Simon, it would appear. The first was Simon Gerrard, her first marriage to her older lecturer. The courtship was stormy, and ended in divorce after three unhappy years, when Debbie uncovered his affair with a colleague. The next Simon was an even worse bet. Simon Pemberton, Shula’s ex, physically assaulted Debbie, who was encouraged by Shula to report it to the police.
Be the peacemaker
Debbie’s role as peacemaker is part of what makes her such a popular figure to everyone at Home Farm. She intercedes between Brian and Adam when they butt heads, calming Adam’s histrionic tendencies and reassuring Brian that there is no conspiracy between them, is fiercely protective of her mother Jennifer and reminds Brian not to take her for granted. She also had great faith in Kate’s Spiritual Home idea, to the extent that she put up some of her own money to fund it. When the Aldridges sail into choppy waters, it is nearly always Debbie that steers them back into calm seas.
Don’t pull your punches
This is not to suggest that Debbie is simply conciliatory. When she is riled she can be a fierce opponent. Her outrage after she was fired by Borchester Land was voluble and memorable, but possibly her finest moment was her quiet but deadly confrontation with Rob at the Borchester Land Christmas party once she’d discovered the nature of his abusive relationship with Helen. Rob tried to flatter Debbie and tell her what a loss she was to Borchester Land; she calmly told him that he reminds her of her ex. “He was a charmer as well…until he hit me, of course.” She points out that no-one else is very keen to talk to Rob, and glides off into the party, leaving him alone. A nation cheered.
Calm, confident, funny and just generally ‘together’, Hungary’s gain is Ambridge’s loss. Come back for good, Debbie - Home Farm needs you!