Having survived the weekend which, in part at least, required my to evict a mouse from the garage, I find myself able to bring you Part Ten of the provisionally titled ‘Horace Adkins Saga’. Those of you who doubt the courage required to bring you this need to know that the mouse was the size of a small cat, had teeth resembling steak knives and appeared to be growing wings. I have put these mice mutations down to its diet of cat litter (best not to ask!).
After my epic battles with supersized rodents, I find it particularly boring to 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.
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.
Inspector Jones is convinced that all of these are somehow 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.
At every turn, the Inspector is finding the world is turning odd. 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 that behaves 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.
Now read on...
Inspector Jones went straight through to the kitchen and laid out the ingredients for dinner. He stepped back, observed them for a while, and then adjusted them for best aesthetic effect. He issued a stream of oaths as he rummaged in drawers and cupboards to find all the utensils.
With everything in place, he went to the fridge only to find that it contained cans of diet soda rather than beer. He swore before stomping off to his study to retrieve a can of lager from the small fridge next to his desk.
He was almost at the door when he froze. He examined the can of ‘Adkin’s Premium Dutch Export’ in his hand, shook his head slowly before returning to the desk and picking up a framed picture of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and carrying both back to the kitchen.
Sir Arthur carefully positioned, Jones started meticulously preparing the evening meal, all the time holding a one-sided conversation with the picture about the nature of madness.
Pippa still wasn’t home when the preparations were complete, so Jones went and sat in the front room with his copy of ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little after Two-thirty’.
The mournful baying of a llama interrupted Jones about an hour later. He looked out of the window to see Pippa spilling out of a llama hackney carriage then swaying alarmingly as she paid the driver.
Hiding the book under a cushion embroidered with the image of Winston Churchill, Jones went to the kitchen to complete the dinner. Pippa staggered in a few minutes later.
“I’m drunk!” she announced to make sure there was no doubt.
Jones looked at her and raised an eyebrow before returning to his pans.
“You are a very naughty boy.” She gave the Inspectors bottom a playful slap. “You didn’t tell me that Archie was involved in all of this Horace Adkins business.”
Pippa belched noisily and then fished around in her handbag before triumphantly holding a new paperback edition of ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little after Two-thirty’ aloft.
“Do you know Archie McRamie?” Jones carefully kept his tone steady.
“Of course!” Pippa waved the picture on the back of the paperback towards Jones. “Everyone in the media knows Archie. You can always get a witty quote about anything from Archie. Olympic standard sack racer; best kept allotment winner for six years running; wine expert; panel game whiz; current holder of the lawnmower land speed record; judge for the Light Entertainment Championships and... and above all, absolutely fantastic in bed!”
“What?” Jones spun round to face Pippa
“No need to be jealous, darling.” Pippa steadied herself against the counter. “I haven’t had the pleasure, I can only base it on the gossip. Besides, I’m not his type. He likes his women a little more... demure.”
Pippa laughed hysterically and Jones caught her as she nearly fell.
“Not that.” Jones guided Pippa to a stool. “You said he’s a judge for the upcoming Light Entertainment Championships!”
“Yes and you know what else?” Pippa’s brow furrowed as she focussed on Jones. “He can write too. This book of his isn’t half bad. OK, the world he describes is very dark and not a lot of fun, but it is a gripping read. I bet Horace Adkins was really peed off to be cast as a smuggler and an industrial spy.”
Over dinner, Jones sat quietly while Pippa recounted tales of the achievements of Archie McRamie. It appeared that he had done everything from climb Mount Everest to breaking records for solving crosswords blindfolded. The scale of the anecdotes increased with the amount of wine Pippa imbibed.
After dinner was eaten and cleared, Jones sat on the sofa with Pippa lying across his lap. They both read ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’.
“Glynn, can I ask you an odd question.” Pippa asked slowly
Inspector Glynn Jones stiffened as he realised that for the first time since all of this started somebody had addressed him by his given name.
“It’s just this.” Pippa squirmed delightfully in Jones’s lap. “Do you ever get the feeling that you are in a dream and that something is stopping you from waking up?”
Glynn Jones looked down at Pippa, but before he could formulate a response, Pippa suddenly lurched from his lap, rushed to the bathroom and was violently sick.