With the tact, diplomacy and general pacifism that Jack Bauer has made his trademark, part twenty-four of “A Couple of Tenors Short” oozes into your consciousness. Lesser yeomen than yourselves would now be rushing for the lemon scented all-purpose cleaner, but I know you can handle it.
You will be pleased to know that my gecko and his homemade ski mask proved to be a sensation at the Norfolk International Ski Fashion Expo. He sits impassively on my monitor, resplendent in his ski mask and polarised goggles as I repeat my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the nursery slope known as Part One.
Should you be rejoining the story, or do not have the inclination to read the previous parts, allow me to attempt a recap that may, or may not, allow you to grasp the key facts of the narrative before a man in a white coat attempts to force feed you dried frog pills.
The world has gone mad, but Inspector Glynn Jones believes that everyone else is out of step not him. After finding the man from the State Security Services in his kitchen dressed in a green lycra body suit, he tried an experiment with the engraving on his wedding ring and discovered that it mysteriously changed when Pippa gave a different wedding day for their marriage than was on the ring.
Although he had no recollection of any marriage, he found himself hitched to Pippa Hucknell, an investigative journalist, in an arrangement he is enjoying. Other events are not so pleasurable. He has found that he driving a rather chirpy, lime green Datsun Cherry that behaves like a puppy; suffered numerous random wardrobe malfunctions; keeps re-growing a ginger moustache; 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 the feral Girl Guides and found the camp Sat-Nav unit in the pink Mark III Ford Zephyr is developing a personality and cannot be switched off.
Then there are the strange cases he has to solve, the abduction of Archie McRamie, the theft of industrial generators, forged tickets for the Light Entertainment Championships, feral Girl Guides, the smuggling of illegal Macramé yarn, and a suspected murder of a ‘John Doe’ dragged from the Thames.
Since the case started, Doctor Wilkins, the famous TV Pathologist has confirmed the unknown swimmer drowned in the Thames after taking a large high tea. The Fruit Fancies of his last meal are being linked to Darrius ‘The Baker’ Kipling. Darrius works for Horace Adkins, the beloved Barbers Shop Quartet impresario who is presumed dead after a massive explosion at his Georgian Mansion which the local police have suggested was suicide.
It turns out that the missing author, Archie McRamie did not write ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’. The main character in the book appears to be 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. Vera Adkins had gone there to instigate a defamation case, but her sister Violet arrived and talked her out of it.
Jones has had a meeting with his Superintendant and a man from the State Security Services who were 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. The State Security man has also suggested that he does not believe the book is the cause of the defamation case.
I’m not sure I’m any good at this recapping lark. Are there any yeomen out there who can provide me with a new, improved version with 10% extra insight?
Now read on...
The constable led the way to a small office at the back of the main office. It was dark and stank of stale sweat, vinegar, and fried fish. The remains of a couple of fish suppers wrapped in newspaper sat on one of two chairs in the room. The table next to a TV and various tape and DVD machines was piled with video tapes and DVDs. More tapes and DVDs lay in piles nearly covered the floor. A computer screen showed a detailed map of the area around Archie McRamie’s house. Next to the computer was a CD player and a pile of talking books.
“Have you had any sleep, constable... err... Constable?” Jones asked as picked up the case for the talking book of ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’ read by Stephen Fry.
“A little, I dozed off for a couple of hours.” The constable busied himself clearing up the remains of his supper.
“What did you make of McRamie’s book?” Jones waved the CD case towards the back of the constable.
“That? Oh, it’s really good.” The constable looked over his shoulder at the case. “It’s amazing the lengths that Horace Adkins would go to in serving his country.”
“What?” the inspector gave a start. “How did you know about Adkins working for the government?”
“Errrm...” The constable straightened up and stared at a point over the inspector’s right shoulder for a few moments. “I don’t know, sir. I must have read it somewhere.”
The young constable sat down in the chair that had been home to his dinner and gestured for the inspector to take the chair at the desk.
“I’ve been through tapes from all the cameras around the area, sir and I think I’ve found the car.” The constable leaned forward and pressed a button on a tape player. A fuzzy image of a busy intersection came into view on the TV.
The constable waited a few seconds then hit pause before pointing a finger at the machine. “That is Archie McRamie’s car and right behind it, a big black Oldsmobile.”
Jones leant forward and swore under his breath, then added, “I know that car!”
“There is something else, sir.” The constable went pulled a second tape from the pile next to the TV, swapped it for the one in the machine and hit play. “This is from a garage down the road from that last shot. This is where McRamie last used his credit card.”
The image this time was slightly clearer and showed a garage forecourt. A silver Lexus came into view and halted by a pump. Archie McRamie got out of the driver’s seat and went round to the other side of the car where he started to fill it with petrol.
“It’s more interesting from another angle.” The constable took another tape and put it in the machine.
This image was from the entrance of the garage. It showed Archie’s car entering the garage and stopping at a pump. The image was cropped at the top, so it showed only Archie’s legs as he walked around the car and started to fill with fuel. As he did so, a black Oldsmobile pulled into the garage and parked at the bottom of the screen and a man in a dark suit got out of the front passenger side door and walked across to Archie.
“Stop the tape!” Jones shouted as he leaned forward.
The constable pressed pause.
“Would you look at that? It is none other than Dunker Phil.” Jones pursed his lips together. “OK. Play the tape.”
Jones watched as the image showed Dunker Phil as he pointed at McRamie and then gesticulate towards the Oldsmobile. He then went back to the rear passenger window of the Oldsmobile, held a short conversation with the occupant and then walk back past McRamie and disappear from view.
“If we go back to the first camera...” the constable swapped tapes again.
The image of Archie McRamie looked towards an unseen person to the left of frame. He shook his head violently and slammed the flat of his hand down on the boot of the Lexus before turning back to the refuelling of his car. A minute or so later, a suited man appeared briefly before climbing into the passenger seat of the Lexus. McRamie didn’t react. He just finished putting petrol in the car and walked across the forecourt to pay.