Archive for April, 2014

The Secret of Gloomy Grange part 3

April 29, 2014

It was surprisingly easy to break into Gloomy Grange. I presume that the Squire wields such power locally that he thinks no-one would have the audacity to penetrate his fortress. I found an unlatched window and easily slipped in. Once again I congratulated myself on my superb levels of fitness.

The house was as still as a tomb. But as anyone knows, peer closer at a grave and you’ll find writhing worms and putrid corruption. This house stenched metaphorically of evil and literally of faulty drains and excessive Vim. I must find the beauteous Japonica and save her. I’ll have a look for Frognall, but I wasn’t going waste too much time on him. Served him right for getting caught. Mind you, my stepdaughter will be rather cross with me if I don’t bring him home.

I stealthily prowled the house, peering in various nooks, crannies and broom cupboards. I found not a trace of Frognall, although a cobweb-strewn stuffed bear gave me a brief pause for thought.

I did however discover the Squire’s drinks trolley (trolley! How vulgar!) and helped myself to some somewhat middling whisky. Fortified, I was preparing to seek out any cellars the Grange might be sitting on when I heard a sound. It was an unearthly, yet familiar noise, musical, haunting, digestive. A tune, evocative, but I couldn’t fathom why. Ears agog, I followed the sound out into the grand hallway. It was coming from upstairs. Like a sailor bewitched by a siren, I trod gently up the staircase, still aware that I had to remain silent, despite my growing enchantment.

As I reached the first floor, I realised what I was hearing. It was a Tuba. And the tune was that of the Lad Himself, the theme to Hancock’s Half Hour. My mind whirled back several months to that evening I spent in this very house, delighted by my first meeting with the beauteous Japonica. She regaled us with a virtuoso performance on the Tuba, placing that very melody, until a hysteria overcame us all and she was banished to her bedroom…

My hands shook as I followed that eerie sound to where I knew the object of my quest would be. She must know I am in the house and is leading me to her. Oh, how I longed to take her in my arms and get my leg over. Although perhaps it would be wiser to wait until we get back to the safety of the Rectory.

The music was very loud indeed now. I could almost hear the sucking in of breath before each musical phrase, the puckering of the lips on the mouthpiece, the occasional rasp due to a brief loss of control.

I found the door behind which the music was emanating, and, suppressing my gentlemanly urge to knock first, I entered.

The room was in darkness, and a heavy musk hung in the air. A curious scent, not one I’d encountered before in the many hundreds of women’s bedrooms in which I’d found myself.

‘Japonica,’ I whispered, manfully. The Tuba went silent.

‘It is I,’ I continued, ‘Your beloved Sir Desmond Stirling.’

A uncanny hissing noise came from where seconds later the Tuba had been. A doubt gnawed at me. Perhaps this wasn’t Japonica’s room. Could this be a trap? I edged nearer.

‘My beloved,’ I said. ‘I have come to have you from a loveless marriage. Come, flee and live in sin with me.’

What happened next will love with me forever. Obviously I will get over it as I am not one these modern namby-pamby types who need compensation and therapy after the most mild of incidents.

Something stood in the shadows and started to approach me.

‘Sir Desmond’ it snuffled.

‘Japonica?’ I asked, unnerved.

Out of the gloom came… came… I can hardly bring myself to write it. It had once been Japonica, that I could tell, from its stance, its dress and the way it clung to the Tuba.

But no longer was my Japonica the divine creature who had so bewitched me that magical evening. The creature that approached me was hairy, with black and white stripes running down its pointed muzzle. Beady black eyes stared glassily at me, the mouth opened, revealing sharp saliva-drenched fangs. Eerie chittering and snuffling noises emanated from the gaping maw, and curious padded claws flapped in my direction.

I had long heard of such creatures in my research into the esoteric legends which litter our history, but this was the first time I had encountered such a beast in the flesh,

My beauteous Japonica was a Were-badger!

To be continued…

Sir Desmond Stirling’s
THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST
Now available from Amazon UK
Amazon USA
An eBook for the Kindle from Head Music
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The Secret of Gloomy Grange part 2

April 28, 2014

The rest of the day dragged frightfully slowly, as I anticipated the coming night and my foolhardy yet courageous adventures ahead. I would rescue the beauteous Japonica, and, if I had a free moment, the pitiful Frognall too.

I deliberated whether I should include Sgt Dick Green n my plans. He had become a good friend  and drinking colleague, but he was still, when all was said and done, Plod – and a servant of the law. And what I proposed to do this coming night could possibly be considered breaking and entering, kidnapping, not to mention GBH, and even arson if necessary.

We met at The Shaven Mound at twilight, and after a few whiskies I delicately hinted at my plans for later in the evening. To my surprise, not to  mention delight, he gave me his tacit approval, but declined to join me. Mrs Mann has taken delivery that day of a  brand new set of Bakelite anal love-beads from Gamages – I had spotted large package on the sideboard this morning while breaking my fast – and he had been forced to promise that he would submit to her superannuated lusts and perversions after supper.  He sighed as he told me this, and I could see the dark shadows under his eyes which showed that my nocturnal adventures were far more to his taste than those of Mrs Mann.

I returned to the Rectory, and popped into see Cousin Septimus in his office. I wasn’t planning to reveal my forthcoming escape to him, but I felt I should somehow warn him that there may be trouble ahead, and indeed what contingency plans he should put into action if I were to snuff it before daybreak.

I did contemplate warning him that a similar fate might befall Sgt Dick Green too, but with more cleaning up afterwards).

I supped with  Cousin Septimus that night – avoiding Mrs Mann’s eyes, although I couldn’t fail to see her  flushed complexion and hear her panting with anticipations She did us proud with a Brussel Sprout Curry which was delicious: it couldn’t have been bettered in the Punjab itself. Pudding was a Spotted Herbert, a mouth-watering concoction of treacle, suet, peas, molasses and Hills Balsam; a splendid treat – for both the taste buds and the bowels – which I hadn’t had since schooldays.

 

After supper, I declined Cousin Septimus’ offer of a brandy, cigar and Cadbury’s Crème Egg – and retied to my bousiori to prepare myself for the night ahead.

Eventually, the house darkened and fell silent, save for  the yelps of Sgt Dick Green.

I girded my loins, left the house, and thankful for the full moon, set off for Gloomy Grange and who knew what…

To be continued…

 

Sir Desmond Stirling’s
THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST
Now available from Amazon UK
Amazon USA
An eBook for the Kindle from Head Music

 

 

 

The Secret of Gloomy Grange part 1

April 28, 2014

Alas! Alack!

Finally I have unearthed the dark secret festering at the heart of Gloomy Grange. Oh, my beauteous, tragic Japonica!

After spending the past few days pondering my next step – and drinking The Shaven Mound dry with Sgt Dick Green – I realised that I had to do something about my dim-witted son-in-law, the wretched Frognall. I decided that the bold approach was best. I would march up to the front door of Gloomy Grange – and demand to see (a) the Squire (b) Japonica, and (c) Frognall (I didn’t believe  word about his fleeing back to London; he would never leave his beloved Austin Midlif-ecrisis behind).

But before I could polish my shoes and set off Grangewards, I popped into the Shaven Mound for a quick one for luck. I had barely taken a sip when a large figure loomed behind me. My old reflexes, honed in the jungles surrounding Changi, kicked in, and I whirled around to face the bulky features of Smith, Gloomy Grange’s corpulent butler. He stared impassively at me, his jowls impressively motionless, the only clue to his emotions the contemptuously arched eyebrow, the only sound the grinding and whistling of his straining lungs.

The hulking manservant wordlessly handed me an envelope. I glanced at it. My name was written on the front in an endearingly childish scrawl. As soon as I had taken the proffered envelope, Smith turned quickly on his heels, surprisingly daintily, and started to leave.

I called his name. He ceased his departure but didn’t turn back.  I moved in front of him, blocking his route of exit, not always wise where a chap of his size is concerned.

‘What’s going on Smith?’ I asked him. ‘Where’s my wretched son-in-law, Frognall? Is he a prisoner? And what about the beauteous Japonica? Is she well? And who is the mysterious groom? And why invite me to the wedding?’

There came no response from the massive valet. He merely brushed past me towards the door. I leapt in front of him, rather nimbly considering I am no longer in the first flush of youth, but he swept me out of his way with a brush of his bulging arm. I crashed into the glass case of horse brasses. Dazed, I lay there for some seconds, and when I cleared my head, the rotund domestic had left.

I shook my head to clear the birds tweeting around my battered brain, ordered another whisky, and sat don to open the envelope. Inside was a letter written in almost infantile hand in purple ink.

My darling Sir Desmond,

 Why haven’t you been to see me since you returned to Prentis Hancock. Every day I eagerly await your visit, and every day I am disappointed. Please visit me soon. I am so unhappy. Father is forcing to marry against my wishes. My intended is not to my taste, nowhere near as handsome and sexy as you, plus he tells me in the time when we are left alone that he likes doing some things which don’t sound very nice at all and must surely smell.

Please, darling Sir Desmond, please come to Gloomy Grange and let me see your handsome face soon lest I go completely potty. Father is cruel and doesn’t seem to care that I don’t fancy my fiancé one jot.

In eager anticipation,

Your beauteous Japonica.

PS I hope you are well.

 

I kissed this beautiful letter, folded it, put it into my breast pocket, and resolved that I would rescue the beauteous Japonica that very night – or my name wasn’t Sir Desmond Stirling!

 

To be continued…

 

Sir Desmond Stirling’s
THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST
Now available from Amazon UK
Amazon USA
An eBook for the Kindle from Head Music

Plotting the return

April 4, 2014

Had a full check-up with my Burmese quack Dr Cunnilinga today. He has assured me with all his medical expertise that I am not in fact dead. Prentis Hancock wasn’t the afterlife then, so topping oneself wouldn’t be a very effective way of rejoining my beauteous Japonica.

Had a Turkish bath followed by a damn good twigging. It takes a thrashing to clear the mind & remind myself how marvellous I am.

Got home to find my secretary Cilla in tears because the film of her book 100 Lashes of Love is no longer a ‘goer’ as we movie folk say. Couldn’t find an elderly actor who didn’t mind his Johnson being tied up, set fire to, waxed, dunked in hot marmite & having a Groucho Marx moustache glued to it.

She apparently was convinced that as writer she would get to choose the lead actor & indulge carnally with him. Someone called Clooney? I pointed out that I never had that privilege with the leading ladies in my films, not even Anne Aston – and  actresses have nifty right hooks. And, besides, what film star would want to be seen on the silver screen having his arse thwacked & his trouser snake being stapled to a mantelpiece? Well, darling Dickie Wattis perhaps…?

I have very strong opinions about films of my work even though I rarely watch ‘movies.’ If a film doesn’t star Burton & Barkworth fighting Nazis up an Alp I’m just not interested. Unless it’s Wisdom sans trews up a lamppost.

Son-in-law Darren Frognall rang today; in-between attending champagne receptions & receiving awards for his left-wing claptrap, he suggested we luncheon together as he has had an idea how I can find my beauteous Japonica. I thought he didn’t believe me. He’s been ‘googling’ apparently. But it’s not the cricket season, I told him.

He thinks he’s discovered why the town isn’t on the map. It’s because Prentis Hancock is a new name, adopted a while back – well, a century or so ago… It’s original name was Carbunkle-on-ye-Arse. Can’t think why they changed it? And the Hotspur family were originally the Carbunkles!

Japonica Carbunkle?! Yes, well, once she is Lady Stirling, that won’t be a problem.

I simply must work out a way to return to the village of Prentis Hancock and rescue the beauteous Japonica from the claws of her ghastly pater. Then it popped up in the old noggin that the last visit to Prentis Hancock was the result of being invited there so I will write to Cousin Septimus asking if I may be allowed to visit again. Brainy, eh?

I hope that Mrs Mann is being satiated by Sgt Dick Green. I have no wish to fend off her gerontic advances again.

A week later

Horrors! I received something of huge ghastliness in the post today. No, not the latest novel by my son-in-law, Frognall – that was yesterday. No, I received – oh, how my fingers ache to type this – a wedding invitation. My beauteous Japonica is betrothed! I will stop this! Even if she is madly in love with her betrothed and is blissfully happy. Which she probably isn’t. But even if she were…

A day later

Well, the adventure is afoot! My drippy son-in-law Darren Frognall – self-styled Guru of Gore – is going to drive me to Prentis Hancock! We will arrive, rescue the beauteous Japonica from her sinister pa, and bugger off out of it toot bloody sweet. I can’t see a problem. Frognall asked if we should be ‘tooled up?’ I should think that’s a condition with which he has no choice.

Actual time of departure is top secret. Walls have ears and rotten ice cream so mum’s the word, eh?

Ah, beauteous Japonica, soon you will be safe in my arms. Not only will you have the rogering of your life, but as the sixth Lady Stirling, you will have my unending love, loyalty and fidelity.

NB must talk to solicitor about a pre-nup

Two Days later

Been silent and out of circulation due to a case of Sarahs the size of jacket potatoes. My late manservant Raven used to be excellent at administering soothing unctions.

Later

My idiot – yet bewilderingly successful- son-in-law, Darren Frognall, and I are plotting our trip to rescue the beauteous Japonica. He thinks that the wedding invite will allow us entry to that bizarre village.

We are going to drive there in his big flashy Johnson substitute of a car. I fully presume that a long journey in a car with Frognall will be infuriating. I will take a hip flask or two…

We’re off! The quest to rescue the beauteous Japonica from her wretched father and a forced marriage had begun…

Unconvinced by Frognall as a partner-in-crime. He’s never been to war. Claims he is ‘handy’ but I’ve seen more calloused knuckles on a baby. His car – a bright red Austin Bellend – is not very uncomfortable. Seated so low I’m almost horizontal. It’s like a coffin on wheels.

He also has this wretched talking robot gadget which tells us the route. The voice – female – is hectoring and, frankly, somewhat common. At least the ghastly creature seems to know where we are going. And she drowns out Frognall’s awful music. No Elgar, no Coates, not even Elaine Paige.

I must shut out the discomfort and focus on the ultimate goal. The beauteous Japonica! And I’ve faced worse hardships in previous battles. But hush… Official Secrets and so on… But World War II… Even the least educated of you have heard of that, surely? Frankly, I won it. There, I’ve said it. Anyway, onwards…

We plan to lunch at Newport Pagnell. In 1958 I had a splendid knee-trembler there with a Tiller Girl in a local motel. Those high kicks…

I’ll be honest… the old gander is perking up at the prospect of an adventure. Makes up for not being allowed to have a go at Ivan…

Frognall has just told me he has a large lesbian following. I’m worried she is following us now. We need to be inconspicuous in our quest.

After lunch

Damn socialists and their yen to ‘huddle with the masses. We lunched at a soemthing called  a Little Chef – an eaterie for the grubbier travelling salesman. Filthy hole didn’t even have the class of a Wimpy Bar.

Later

Not the most successful journey so far… a burst tyre, a ticket for speeding (yes, I admit, I was doing my share of the driving then)… and the robot lady keeps giving us the wrong directions. Deliberately, I suspect. We are spending the night at the next inn we can find

We are resting our weary bones at a roadside tavern called The Lanced Boil. Shepherds Pie, a pint of Shattock’s Old Incorrigible and a bunk for the night. Frognall was flirting with the busty barmaid. I pointedly asked if he’d called his wife, my stepdaughter. He looked both sheepish and irked. I never cheated – not once! – with any of my five wives. (Other men’s wives don’t count). Besides I was hoping to try my luck with the barmaid myself. I suspect I wouldn’t be compromising her honour.

The landlord – a bluff cove called Derek with an untrustworthy moustache – told us that the inn is haunted. I distinctly saw Frognall gulp. I’d hoped that the ghost who haunts The Lanced Boil might be a headless nun or a fiery highwayman. Sadly it’s a disgruntled VAT inspector. He died in the tavern while assessing their VAT statments. And his tortured soul won’t move on until he files his results.

Next morning

Well, I had a marvellous and undisturbed night’s sleep. Woke feeling very refreshed. Apart from the thundering hangover, that is. But Frognall is a nervous wreck. Claims he was kept awake all night by creaks and groans and rattling chains. Knew that man had no spunk in him. Wretched son-in-law instead we leave The Lanced Boil immediately. I refused as I wanted the Black Pudding Kedgeree for breakfast. I think that boy is not going to be much cop in our forthcoming derring-do. Self-styled ‘Wizard of Entrails,’ my arse!

Later

After an interminable drive listening to Frognall’s justifying his utter wetness re the alleged spook at The Lanced Boil, night drew in… We thought we might be approaching our destination. At which point our robot directions lady started to behave very queerly.

She began insisting we turn back and go home like a particularly stern nanny. In other circumstances it would’ve got me hot under the trousers. I suggested we reverse in the direction we want to go – see if that confuses her. Either tthat or we switch the wretched female off and trust to my unerring homing instincts. They didn’t let me down at El Alamein.

I insisted we switch off the mechanical harridan, and then gave Frognall a stiff wag of my finger re being yellow. We must follow my nose…

And sure enough we’ve just seen out first road sign guiding us to Prentis Hancock! I’m coming, Japonica!

Later

A half mile to Prentis Hancock. We’re engulfed in fog. I mooted we abandon ship and proceed by foot but Frognall won’t leave his precious car. After a long half-mile crawl – with myself walking ahead holding a flag, on Frognall’s insistence – we finally reached the Rectory.

Cousin Septimus seemed almost pleased to see me. His skull-like face stretched into what could almost pass for a smile if one is charitable.

A splendid few hours catching up with all the goings-on at Prentis Hancock eg nothing much at all. Mrs Mann, Cousin Septimus’ libidinous housekeeper, took one look at Frognall and her bespectacled eyes nearly popped out of her head.

After we arrived we sat down to a splendid Toad-in-the-Hole which Mrs Mann contrived to spill into Frognall’s lap while serving. It had barely landed before she was on her knees and scrubbing his groin with a damp cloth. His face looked like mine when I read his books. Now my virtue is no longer under attack from her, I’m really rather fond of the old trout. I wouldn’t want to bet my shirt on Frognall keeping his Virgo intacta for long. She’s already suggestively loosened her dentures at him

Frognall has told me that he has no network coverage. I pretended I knew what he meant..

After supper

I asked Cousin Septimus about the forthcoming nuptials of the beauteous Japonica. He is officiating apparently. Cousin Septimus was surpised I had been invited. I suspect that The Squire just wants to rub my nose in his daughter’s conjugals

Woken in the night by a quaking Frognall. Mrs Mann had been up to her old ‘dancing nude in the next room and thumping the wall’ tricks. He wanted to spend the night with me. Not biblically, you understand, although frankly it wouldn’t surprise me. I kindly let him use the sofa. He then talked all night. He’s worried we’re stuck here again. I suggested he try to the train home tomorrow.

Next day

After breakfast Frognall set off to explore the town and railway, while I wished to stake out Gloomy Grange. We agreed to reconnoitre at The Shaven Mound later. Staked out Gloomy Grange. I think I caught a glimpse of the beauteous Japonica at her bedroom window. May’ve been a floater in my eye though. Saw the ghastly Squire Max Hotspur set off on horseback to kill either a fox or possibly one of his tenants.

I then met Frognall at The Shaven Mound for a snifter. He’d been to the station, hopped on a train – and found himself back where he started. He was very shaken by the experience , the big girl’s blouse. Honestly, writers today… None would survive 2 minutes in a real war. Blyton faced the Khmer Rouge in the wilds of Cambodia, Herriot went undercover in Korea… Even Arthur Marshall helped retake the Falklands, but Frognall can’t get a phone signal for five minutes and you’d think he was in Colditz having his orchestras electrocuted for Queen and country.

Anyway, I digress…

Bumped into Sgt Dick Green earlier. Poor man is a shadow of his former self. His bedroom shenanigans with Mrs Mann have drained him. That elderly strumpet is quite literally rogering him to death. If it were Sophia Loren or Ann Aston I’d say ‘what a way to go!’ It was pitiful. He begged Frognall to ‘give the old bag one’ so he could try recoup his essential juices. I suggested a banana-full of zinc. Frognall insisted he was faithful to his wife – my stepdaughter. A likely story. When writers aren’t banging away at a typewriter…ahem!

Mrs Mann for all her wrinkles is a real woman, not an ex-nun like my stepdaughter. She’d eat Frognall alive then spit out the bones.

I have decided that tomorrow I will reacquaint myself with Squire Max Hotspur. Confront the spider in his own web. I’ll take Frognall whom he will hopefully despise even than he does me. Maybe then I won’t seem so bad to him.

Next day

Tried to visit the Squire today. Smith, his corpulent butler, informed me that his master was out. I asked to see the beauteous Japonica. I was told she was in London, shopping for a wedding dress. I could have wept except that real men don’t. As we left Frognall got very petulant that I had dragged him all the way to the arse-end of nowhere when we could’ve stayed at home. I was contemplating punching his ludicrous and peevish face when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.

It was Japonica!

It was brief glimpse – even briefer than when I saw the Yeti in Tibet that time – but I am sure it was her, peering at me from behind a curtain. But even in that half a second, I could sense her despair, her fear, but her sense of adoration and possibly hope when she saw me.

Later

Chewing the fat in The Shaven Mound earlier – extraordinary the snack they sell these days. Frognall suddenly had a brainwave. See, I knew he’d been to public school

He suggested that he approach the Squire and say he is writing a book set in the area and could he please consult Gloomy Grange’s library? Not exactly Sun Tzu-esque as strategy goes, but it might get the foot in the door. As long as he can then keep the same foot out of mouth.

Next day

I thought about the beauteous Japonica last night while I was in bed. Then twice again this morning.

Three days later

Haven’t seen hide nor hair of Frognall for three days. Beginning to get worried. He went to Gloomy Grange in the guise of a writer who wished to use the library. Knew I shouldn’t have sent an arse to do a non-arse’s job.

Met Sgt Dick Green at The Shaven Mound at lunchtime to discuss next move re the wretched Frognall.

Later

Still here. Absolutely Brahms. He began to tell me about his amorous life with Mrs Mann. It required copious alcohol on both our parts. Plus a soothing balm on his… I’ve encountered tarts in coastal regions of Nicaragua who know fewer tricks of the boudoir than that septuagenarian strumpet. No wonder he has lost so much weight that his dentures won’t stay in. She can apparently do things with a carpet beater not even dreamed of by the lead character in Cilla’s 100 Lashes of Love. No bruises either. Yes, I’ll admit it – I’m intrigued. Perhaps if I wear a blindfold. and think of Anna Magnani…?

For God’s sake, Stirling, put it back in your trews and concentrate on the matter at hand: to whit the whereabouts of one’s halfwit son-in-law

Later

Long chat after lunch with Cousin Septimus. Cadaverous old bugger, despite three helpings of Mrs Mann ‘s dumplings. I’m a prime specimen of manhood, but even I have more fat on my eyelashes than he has on his whole body. I’m not sure of his age. I can’t even recall how we’re related. He’s a Stirling too so it’s on my paternal side. He always seemed to have been around – and always looked decrepit. Oh well, not all of us can be adonises.

(As usual, I digress – where’s my editor when I need him *guffaw* Oh, that’s right, Broadmoor…)

I asked him about the forthcoming nuptials. He shook his head sadly. He doesn’t approve of them. An ally! Cousin Septimus is officiating, but has yet to meet the groom. The scuttlebutt in the village is that the bride hasn’t met him yet either…

Later

First encounter with Squire Max Hotspur since my return to Prentis Hancock. Unfortunately I was staggering out of The Shaven Mound at the time. I bade him a civil good afternoon and asked after Japonica. Then I fell over and hit his riding boot with my chin.

Next day

Extraordinary! I received a postcard today, ostensibly from Frognall , claiming he was back in London. Don’t believe a word of it. I am convinced he is a prisoner up at Gloomy Grange. And I, Sir Desmond Stirling, will rescue the little squirt!

Easter Saturday

I’m still rather bewildered by the Good Friday ceremony I watched yesterday. Each year a chosen villager is crucified. It was a very moving ceremony, but what worries me is that 24 hours later the poor fellow is still up there.

 

To be continued… 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Desmond Stirling’s
THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST
Now available from Amazon UK
Amazon USA
An eBook for the Kindle from Head Music

The Aftermath

April 4, 2014

So I sit in here in my old Club, Abbadon’s of London, & ponder the past week weeks. Did they really happen? Cousin Septimus, the libidinous Mrs Mann, Squire Max Hotspur, the beauteous Japonica… all figments of my hugely-admired imagination…? I am determined to get to the bottom of the truth. And I will rescue my Rapunzel from her tower!

I spent the weekend after my return (a) drunk & (b) pondering the mysteries of Prentis Hancock. Unfortunately, (a) was entirely due to being knackered to solve (b).

Not only can I not find a train which would take me to Prentis Hancock, I can’t find the wretched village on the map. But I was there…!

I discussed this with the chaps in the Club. They think I got drunk & ended up in Reykjavik again. But it was real, I tell you! My weeks in that curious village were not a drunken stupor. I’ve been in enough of them to tell the difference…

I lunched with my idiot – yet inexplicably successful – son-in-law, Darren Frognall, so-called Lovecraft of the Council Estates. Over a splendid Kipper Kedgeree, I related the saga of my adventures with Cousin Septimus, the libidinous Mrs Mann & Squire Hotspur. At first the wretched man laughed and assumed I’d been overindulging. Ha! It takes more than several crates of whisky to make me hallucinate.

Later

I’ve been poring over Debrett’s all day, investigating Squire Hotspur’s family. Not the most illustrious of lineages. Scoundrels, highwaymen, duellists, smugglers, actors, arsonists, pirates, mercenaries, politicians… A veritable litany of rogues. I fear for the beauteous Japonica, struggling to stay afloat in that very murky gene pool. I must hither to her rescue somehow. So I decided to drive to Prentis Hancock to rescue the beauteous Japonica. Got lost. Ended up in Helsinki. Don’t remember crossing any water.

I returned to find two Christmas cards waiting for me.

One from Cousin Septimus berating me for leaving ‘the afterlife’ when my earthly time is over. Potty, quite potty. The other card was from Mrs Beattie Mann, saying she missed me but was being consoled dans le boudoir of Sgt Dick Green. Braver man than I… She also said I’d left some underpants behind. She could send them back but would like to keep them as a memento of ‘our shared passion!’ Shared passion, my foot. She forced her way into my bed while I was sleeping off a few snifters. I still feel soiled, as soiled as the pants in question.

 

To be continued…

Sir Desmond Stirling’s
THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST
Now available from Amazon UK
Amazon USA
An eBook for the Kindle from Head Music