Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Couple of Tenors Short

It hardly seems possible, but despite warnings that a Hung Parliament will cause jellies never to set and soft fruit to taste of anchovies, I managed to quell my fears and bring you Part Eleven of the provisionally titled ‘Horace Adkins Saga’.

As always, I remind you that in order to get the best from any serial, you should start at the beginning which I decided on a whim to name as Part One.

Should you be rejoining the story, or do not have the inclination to read the previous parts, allow me to recap.

Inspector Glynn Jones is beginning to wonder if he is going mad. He suddenly finds himself married to Pippa Hucknell, the investigative journalist whose stories are upsetting his Superintendant. His car is now a rather chirpy, lime green Datsun Cherry with a tendency to behave like a puppy. Since the case has started, he has suffered numerous random wardrobe malfunctions, grown a moustache that has turned out ginger, bet against his own station in the upcoming police light entertainment championships, had run in with gangs of Buddhist monks, had one of his team hospitalised by feral Girl Guides and found he is quite fond of a pink Mark III Ford Zephyr.

Horace Adkins, the beloved and renowned Barbers Shop Quartet Impresario is presumed dead after his Georgian Mansion was blown up in the course of his suicide. In the mortuary, there is the body of a swimmer who drowned in the Thames after taking a large high tea. The safety of the streets of London is threatened by the illegal importing of cheap Macramé yarn.

Every clue appears to be linked to Horace Adkins.

After finding a copy of ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’ by Archie McRamie in which the main character appears to be Horace Adkins, he decides to pay the author a visit. Not only does he discover that McRamie has been abducted, but that all records relating to the case have vanished. Not only that, but he and his sidekick Smithy have no recollection of their previous visit.

Jones is convinced that the ‘John Doe’ in the Thames was murdered by Darrius ‘The Baker’ Kipling, an employee of the Horace Adkins. Darrius ‘The Baker’ Kipling and Dunker Phil, another of Adkins employees, were observed with Vera Anne Adkins and Violet Ann Adkins, two of Horace’s daughters, visiting the offices of London’s premier trial lawyers, Witherspoon, Lewes, Grambling, and Witherspoon.

Jones has had a meeting with his Superintendant and a man from the State Security Services who are very interested in finding out why this visit took place, but have told the Inspector that he will be disowned if his investigation results in adverse public opinion.

Now read on...

The next morning, Jones awoke early to find Pippa still asleep beside him. He climbed out of bed very carefully and quietly.

Pippa was still asleep after he had showered and shaved off his ginger moustache. He stood in front of the wardrobe mirror and watched Pippa sleeping as he considered what to wear. He was running out of suits, but eventually decided on a grey suit, cream shirt and pale blue tie.

After taking a light breakfast, he made a fresh pot of coffee and left a short note propped against it along with some aspirin. He got to the front door, turned back and added a few kisses to the end of the note.

When he got back into the hallway, Pippa was making her way down the stairs very gingerly.

“Morning, love.” Jones spoke quietly, walked over to her, climbed a few steps and kissed her softly. “There’s fresh coffee and aspirin in the kitchen.”

“Thanks.” Pippa gave a kiss in return. “I may have said this before, but I am never going to drink again.”

They both gave a little laugh as they hugged on the stairs.

“I have to...” Jones waved towards the door.

“It’s OK.” Pippa edged past him and headed towards the kitchen. “I need to get some coffee and try to remember last night.”

The Datsun Cherry chirruped merrily and flung open the driver’s door as the Inspector left the house. As the Inspector fitted his seat belt, the Datsun started the engine.

Traffic was light as they headed North towards the river. Most of the llama carts and their drivers were still having breakfast.

At a set of lights, Jones watched as a young lad wearing a loud blazer and boater suddenly produced a fiddle. Jones checked his bare top lip as the bus queue organised themselves into an impromptu square dance in the early morning sunshine. Further along the road, a group of middle aged ladies were decorating a traffic enforcement camera with strings of paper flowers.

“Am I going mad?” the Inspector asked aloud.

The Datsun gave a quiet “prooop” and Jones laughed nervously.

Apart from the strains of ‘Oklahoma’, the station was quiet. Jones greeted the desk sergeant and started towards his desk.

“Dammit, Jones!” the Inspector shouted as he stopped half way up the stairs. “Thinking yourself a couple of tenors short of a choral society is no excuse for sloppy police work!”

With that he took the rest of the stairs two at a time and almost ran to his desk.

There was a small pile of pastel coloured message cards. Most were from the Superintendant, written in rhyming couplets, but basically demanding progress on why Vera Anne Adkins had visited Adkins the offices of London’s premier trial lawyers, Witherspoon, Lewes, Grambling, and Witherspoon. Amongst the rest which were mainly people he barely knew or remembered asking if he had spare tickets to the Light Entertainments Championships, was one from Archie McRamie’s agent. She apologised for being unable to come and see the Inspector, but she was still stuck in Latvia as a result of a volcanic ash cloud.

Jones took the pale yellow card with Archie’s agent’s number and placed it against his phone. The rest he threw in the bin.

Next, Jones went through the folders containing the new cases. Two were reports of Macramé dealers approaching old ladies in Trafalgar Square. One contained a report of the seizure of counterfeit tickets for the Light Entertainment Championships. Another was the hijacking of a shipment of turbines and the last reported sightings of feral Girl Guides on Hampstead Heath.

Jones distributed the folders amongst the team on his way to the Incident Room.

The blank whiteboard stared back at Jones for what seemed an age. Jones fiddled with the marker pen and fought to control his breathing before eventually writing the name ‘Archie McRamie’ at the top of the board. Consulting his notes as he went, he presented the sum of his knowledge about the case on the board, including the body dragged from the Thames. Finally and with no small amount of hesitation, he added the name ‘Horace Adkins’.

As he was standing back, admiring his handiwork and wondering if he should remove the reference to Horace Adkins, his squad started to file into the room along with a couple of uniformed constables, one of which was the one who handed him the whistle when he was visiting Tom Taylor.

The Inspector turned and glared at his audience until everyone stopped talking. Drawing himself up to his full height, he clasped his hand behind his back. With a precision that would have made his Hendon instructor swell with pride, he stood on his toes, lowered himself again, and then slowly bent his knees.

“Mornin’ all.” Jones gave the audience a wink. “Today we are going to kick some cans.”


Anonymous said...

Who makes a pot of coffee these days?

Simon said...

The is nothing that shouts decadence than having a pot of coffee at hand.

The smell of fresh coffee is second only to frying bacon.

Plus there is the advantage of making a whole pot so you just keep pouring and pouring until you are peeled off the ceiling.