Over the last few days I have been distracted by the UK election. With the dust beginning to settle, I can now yell ‘Here it is!’ “A Couple of Tenors Short” reaches part twenty-one without anyone suggesting a mad themed party. I was told this story is a touch eccentric. I read it again, but I can’t see it myself. Am I missing something? Never mind. For those of you who do not speak Datsun, I had considered inserting sub-titles, but it is the 21st century, everybody speaks Datsun, don’t they?
OK, here is the standard bit about this being a serial and advising any new-joiners to take their dried frog pills and start with Part One.
Should you be rejoining the story, or do not have the inclination to read the previous parts, allow me to recap (which hasn’t really changed, but TODAY, well you have to read it to see if I am about to deliver a humdinger of a plot twist).
Inspector Glynn Jones thought he was going mad, but after finding the man from the State Security Services in his kitchen dressed in a green lycra body suit, he is not so sure. 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 has found himself married to Pippa Hucknell, he appears content with the arrangement, even though the world around him continues to confuse. 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.
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 only to find that both he and Smithy had been there before but cannot remember anything about it. Not only does he discover the McRamie abduction, but that all records relating to the case have vanished.
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.
Now read on...
At the door to the station, Inspector Jones paused and looked at his reflection in the glass. He shook his head slightly. His forefinger went to his top lip and straightened the hair in his ginger moustache. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and went inside.
The desk sergeant greeted him, but said nothing about his outfit. Neither did the two constables he passed on the stairs.
As usual, Jones was the first to arrive in the office. As he entered, two miniature pigs that had been cavorting in the middle of the room gave a squeal and ran back to their nest behind the filing cabinets.
Jones walked over to his desk. The two miniature pigs cautiously came out of their hiding place as Jones hung his flying jacket over the back of his chair and sat down. Jones watched them as they sprawled out in a puddle of early morning sunshine in the middle of the room. Jones took a deep breath, scrunched his eyes closed and clenched his fists and concentrated hard.
When he opened his eyes, they were still there. Jones sighed, shrugged and turned his attention to his in-basket.
The pile of pastel files was higher and there were four buff folders at the bottom.
Four of the pastel folders related to missing generators. Two were reporting Macramé activities on the underground. One contained a long and unnecessarily detailed complaint about a pornographic garden gnome installation that had appeared outside a Women’s Institute. One detailed an attack on a blind man by a gang of youths. The last two were complaints of vandalism lodged by delicatessen owners.
Jones turned his attention to the four buff folders all of which were stamped ‘Low Priority’. All four were missing person reports. Jones idly typed the first name into the computer and sat up when it showed that the man had a long list of convictions for petty crime. He tried the other three and got the same result.
Gathering up the buff folders, he went to the briefing room and added the pictures of the four missing petty criminals to the white board.
The briefing itself didn’t go well. Nobody reported any progress and the inclusion of the four missing persons on the board had sparked a rather heated argument between Jones and his detectives.
Afterwards, Jones stomped back to his desk and sat sullenly as the detectives drifted off on their various assignments. A uniformed constable entered and approached Jones nervously. Jones glared at him.
“Yes?” Jones snapped causing the constable to take half a step backwards.
“There’s a lady in reception to see you, sir.” The constable mumbled. “A Joanne Schooner. She’s waiting in Interview Room Two.”
Jones stared blankly at the constable before realising that she was Archie McRamie’s agent. Grabbing a pad and retrieving his folder from the top drawer, he followed the constable downstairs.
Joanne Schooner could be aptly described as a striking woman. Standing a little over six foot tall in her diamante studded pixie boots and with shoulders to cause envy in a miner, she stood out from a crowd. She wore a shapeless, ankle length, tomato red dress that could double as an emergency shelter and on top of a shock of bottle blonde hair, a small, purple pill-box hat decorated with garishly coloured plastic squid. When Inspector Jones entered the room, she ceased examining the pictures from past Light Entertainment Championships that adorned the walls and glided over to greet him.
Jones offered his hand, but, choosing to ignore it, she hugged him tightly and engaged in an expansive display of air kissing.
“Inspector, darling!” she gushed as she released Jones from her grip. “How lovely to meet you at last. Do you have any news on poor Archie?”
“I’m afraid not.” Jones replied, gesturing towards one of two large wingback chairs. “Please take a seat, Miss Schooner.”
“Oh, please call me Jo.” Jo purred as she stroked Jones’s arm.
“OK, Jo.” Jones sat down. “Have you had any contact with Archie or any ransom demand?”
“Nothing at all.” Jo’s arms flayed as she spoke. “Totally typical of Archie. That man can find an adventure and publicity in a tea crate!”
“Yes, so I’ve heard.” Jones gave a weak smile. “This isn’t a publicity stunt is it?”
“I wouldn’t have thought so.” Jo gave a little laugh. “There’s no book to sell at the moment. Archie is the master publicist, Inspector. He would never waste time on stunts without a book to plug.”
Jones nodded and doodled on his pad. “The ideal author for an agent to have a client.”
“In all but a teensy respect, Inspector.” Jo laughed again. “He can’t write for toffee!”
“What?” Jones looked up suddenly. “I’ve just read ‘The Cat Crowed at a Little After Two-thirty’. I thought it was excellently written.”
“Oh it is, Inspector”. The agent nodded. “But it wasn’t written by Archie McRamie.”