Hambourne Noirish

Today’s tale carries on from Saturday’s story. As a newcomer to Hambourne, Charlotte could never have imagined that attending a few meetings of Happy Hambourne Creatives would have led to her being a possible murder suspect.

Charlotte felt three pairs of eyes piercing into her soul, surely she wouldn’t be one of the suspects, just because Robert Falstaff had been scathing about her novel languishing on Amazon Kindle and her blog.

There was an awkward pause then Erica suddenly started laughing.

‘Even poor Danny could not have thought of a murder or plot this bizarre.’

Charlotte was a little taken aback that there could be laughter so soon after Robert’s death, but at least the tension was broken and the attention taken off her.

‘Er… you mean Danny from the Happy Creatives group?’

‘Yes, he’s been rather quiet lately, but for years he’s been sending off scripts to the BBC, hoping to be the next Sunday night detective drama. He was always hoping Robert would put a word in for him, with all his supposed connections.’

‘Come on Erica, Mini’ said the third friend ‘time we all went, I don’t want to get a parking ticket.’

Charlotte found herself alone again, she should be going, but with all the morning’s drama she could not recall what she had planned to do after coffee, or was she planning to decide what to do while relaxing at the lovely Hambourne Refectory? She thought about poor Danny, rather a lost little soul she had felt, the couple of times she had seen him at the meetings. She could sympathize and now any hopes they both had of Robert introducing them to ‘someone’ at the BBC or on the literary scene were gone. Life was stranger than fiction, not just a cliché, but supposing it wasn’t. She imagined Danny thinking up a murder plot, wondering if it could realistically be played out and who better to try it out on than a man he resented, envied, even hated?

She stood up abruptly, checked her bag and made swiftly for the door, as if staff and customers might read her dangerous thoughts

Charlotte couldn’t leave those thoughts behind, but she could transfer them to her new heroine. As she walked through Hambourne Abbey’s graveyard the first chapter was already taking shape in her mind.

Recently widowed Lotte Lincoln had moved to the quaint town of Puddleminster looking for peace and quiet, but soon found herself investigating a murder. As a newcomer she had at first enjoyed wandering around exploring, enjoying the fresh frosty air as she strolled through the historic graveyard, popping into the local shops and admiring arts and crafts in the little gallery. But she was also lonely, peace and quiet wasn’t as soothing as she had anticipated, so she had begun to make more of an effort to chat to locals, little thinking this would soon lead to her being embroiled in a murder enquiry.

Charlotte mused upon the drama she could get Lotte involved in as she walked. The victim could be an artist, perhaps a woman so no one would think she had stolen a real life murder, in the unlikely event the novel would be published and actually read by residents of Hambourne. She suddenly found herself near Robert Falstaff’s little road, or she assumed the barricaded lane and heavy police presence indicated this was where he had lived. Now she was there it was impossible to see what was going on and she felt uncomfortable. As she turned to work out which way led to her little flat in the high street she almost bumped into a familiar figure.

‘Oh, em Daniel isn’t it, you probably don’t remember me, new in Hambourne, Charlotte, I went to a few meetings of the Happy Creatives…’

She felt herself rambling on in an effort to be friendly, to assuage her guilt for ever suspecting him of murder. The man looked awkward, then visibly pulled himself together.

‘Yes of course Charlotte, I remember you, that dreadful man making you feel so small, no way to treat newcomers… oh I shouldn’t be speaking ill of the dead.’

‘You heard the news then, of course I hardly knew him. I gather this must be the mu… where Robert lived?’

‘Yes, not exactly the first murder we’ve had, or at least there have been strange events in Hambourne… ‘ he looked up as a police officer approached ‘…anyway, I must be going.’

Danny made a hasty exit and Charlotte wondered why had he come to the crime scene. Her thoughts were interrupted by the policewoman.

‘Good morning, do you live nearby, are you trying to get to your home?’

Charlotte felt herself flushing.

‘No, yes, I mean I’m new in the town, just strolling around and got lost, I’ve got a flat in Hambourne Mews.’

She hadn’t intended to give away where she lived. The policewoman gave her a patronising look.

‘You were heading in the wrong direction, but Hambourne often has visitors flummoxed. So if you are new you probably didn’t know the victim.’

‘No, well only a little.’

Charlotte immediately regretted her words as the officer’s face lit up.

‘Ah, I hope you don’t mind giving me your name and address, we do need to interview everybody who knew him.’

Charlotte felt a mixture of fear and excitement. She might end up a suspect, but it would be interesting research for her novel, to discover what it was like to be interviewed about a crime. Everyone meant they were bound to talk to Daniel as well, she was sure he had been uncomfortable hanging around near police officers…

Saturday Short Story – Hambourne Noir

You may like to read the first tale about Charlotte in this blog.

ttps://tidalscribe.com/2022/08/18/thursday-tiny-tale-2053/

Charlotte found inspiration for her new novel much quicker than she expected, but not in a way she welcomed. News spread fast in Hambourne, but while Charlotte enjoyed listening to local gossip she rarely took it seriously. As a newcomer she had no idea who they were talking about most of the time.

But today, sitting in the Hambourne Abbey Refectory, her favourite coffee stop, she heard shocked whispers at the next table then felt the gaze of the three women fall upon her. One of them she thought she recognised as the timid ‘mouse woman’ from the Hambourne Happy Creatives. She pretended to be absorbed in her phone, though she had no messages.

‘Charlotte isn’t it, you were at the group last week.’

Mouse Woman was addressing her.

‘Yes, yes, er I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.’

‘That’s okay, not many people do and when you’re new it’s hard isn’t it.’

Charlotte was happy to meet her again, she had been friendly and unintimidating at last week’s meeting.

‘Come and join us’ said one of the other women, who did look intimidating.

Charlotte imagined that mouse woman would not have issued the invitation herself, now she looked pleased to have official approval of her new friend. Like being the new girl at school, Charlotte felt pathetically grateful to be admitted to the inner circle.

‘I’m afraid we have heard some dreadful news Charlotte’ said the intimidating lady. ‘I gather you were a friend of the gentleman in question.’

Charlotte thought this unlikely as she didn’t have any friends in Hambourne yet and certainly not of the gentleman variety.

‘Oh I don’t think …’

Mouse Woman could not contain her excitement ‘Robert Falstaff, murdered.’

‘Oh no, are you sure, I mean perhaps it was natural causes, heart attack, not a suicide…’

‘Definitely murder’ said the intimidating woman.

‘Are you sure Erica?’ said Mouse Woman.

‘Yes Mini, he could hardly have stuffed his screwed up manuscripts in his mouth and cut his own hands off.’

There was a collective gasp and Charlotte felt quite sick. Hambourne Noir, what sort of place had she chosen to live? Mini the Mouse, for a moment she stifled a giggle at her appropriate name, Mini now had colour in her cheeks and it was the liveliest Charlotte had seen her. She looked around the café, a few other tables were occupied.

‘It wasn’t on the local news this morning and nobody else appears to be talking about it.’

Erica looked affronted at her doubt. ‘I happen to live a few doors away from Robert. I stepped outside to see what on earth all the commotion was this morning and there was Trudy his cleaning lady sitting on the steps of the ambulance, aluminium blanket round her, just like a TV drama.’

‘Lucky to get an ambulance,’ interrupted Mini ‘with all these strikes and hold ups at A&E, old Mr Reeves had to wait fourteen hours with his hip…’

Erica frowned ‘…so to cut a long story short I went over to see if Trudy was alright and insisted the police officers let her come inside my house and get warm, have a proper cup of tea and be interviewed away from prying eyes.’

‘You’re not supposed to give hot tea for shock’ said Mini.

‘That was hot sweet tea when my mother was with St. John’s, I didn’t put sugar in.’

‘But what did she say?’ The others were all agog.

“The blood will never come out of that Persian rug, Mr. Falstaff would be horrified at the mess.” She kept saying that over and over.’

Charlotte was wondering how long Erica was going to drag out the drama and indignant that this dislikeable woman should be privy to all the action when it was Charlotte who was the writer.

‘So how did you find out what actually happened Erica?’

‘Large drop of brandy in the tea and luckily the WPC, not that they call them that these days, had a call on her radio and went out into the hall to answer so we couldn’t hear. Managed to get the words out of Trudy before the police woman ushered me out of my own sitting room…’ she paused for effect then enacted the cleaning lady’s words. “Blue, his face all blue… and purple, bloated, then I noticed his hands were missing, well not missing, just not attached to his arms, placed neatly on his writing desk can you believe it… trail of blood all over the Persian rug, family heirloom it was, not that he had anyone to pass it on to…”

‘So she said quite a lot then’ said Mini.

‘Oh she was in a state.’

‘But who would have done such a dreadful thing’ said Charlotte. ‘Where is it you live Erica?’ she added, wondering if she could walk home that way and catch a glimpse of the drama scene, not the body obviously, but take in the atmosphere.

‘Well shall we say he wasn’t loved by everyone in Hambourne.’

‘Indeed, he was very nasty to Charlotte at the creative group’ said Mini.

Charlotte felt three pairs of eyes piercing into her soul, surely she wouldn’t be one of the suspects, just because Robert Falstaff had been scathing about her novel languishing on Amazon Kindle and her blog.

Read what happens next in the new blog…

Read tales from the Hambourne Chronicles in this collection.

Nimis Excitatus Imagination

Are you suffering from the above medical condition?

 See how you score on this test to find out.

1 You visit Specsavers for an eye test and after subjecting your eyeballs to blasts of air, laser beams and snapshots of your retina, the optician says he will take you back downstairs where a staff member will hep you select new frames. He offers to go down the stairs first as your eyes are not back to normal yet. DO YOU SAY

A Thanks

B Oohh… has anyone fallen down the stairs?

C ( to yourself ) Ah ha, flash fiction idea ‘Derek could never have imagined that his first day as an optician would end in the death of one of his customers…

2 You are popping round the corner to the shops. Do you

A Toss your door keys in your pocket and grab your phone to pay with.

B Pack your backpack with the following – water bottle, face mask, full set of door keys, purse with cash in case all the computers are down at the shops, credit and debit cards in case you have to book a hotel overnight ( see comments further on ) … notepad and pen, emergency chocolate rations, Kindle or paperback, smart phone. The latter four items so you will be prepared in case you return to find your road in lockdown, because a mad gunman is holding your neighbour hostage or a gas explosion / helicopter crash has left the whole street flattened.

C Take your back pack as above and stand in the queue at the till ‘writing’ your next novel. ‘Glenda could never have imagined that a quick trip to the shops could turn into a five day siege that would change her life for ever.’

3 You receive a text message from a loved one. Be a bit late, stuck on M25 in dreadful weather. Do you reply

A Okay, I’ll hold back on dinner.

B Oh NO… Keep me updated, but don’t use your phone while you’re driving and stop at the services and wait till the weather’s cleared, but let me know what’s happening. Have U got enough food with U?

C Feel you body fill with dread and picture the news headlines Bank Holiday Motorway horror as family all killed in massive pile up.

4 A police officer / fireman rings your doorbell and simultaneously bangs on your front door. When you open the door he says. ‘No need to panic, but we are evacuating the whole street, NOW. Do you say

A Okay, just a false alarm no doubt, some nervous neighbour thinks they can smell gas ha ha?

B Oh my God, what about the dog, have I got time to grab my handbag…

C Feel a mixture of fear and elation. At last you are participating in real life, some drama to blog about, inspiration for that novel you are trying to start…

Now add up your score. 1 point for answer A. 3 points for answer B and 5 points for answer C.

If you scored 4 you are totally laid back and never suffer from stress.

8-12 points – well done for being prepared and sensible, but be careful not to become obsessed and over anxious.

16-20 points – you are suffering from Nimis Excitatus Imagination or in lay terms, an overactive imagination. There is no cure and it could lead to total insanity or becoming a best selling author.

Verbum Anni

While others were posting their 22 achievements for 2022 and their 23 goals for 2023 on Facebook, I had got as far as putting the washing machine on. As bloggers wrote about their Word of the Year I was contemplating making chicken stock, checking the washing machine filter and finishing my Christmas cards.

On the writing and blogging front in the early 2020’s I have not had a novel on virtual tour, excitedly revealed my new cover or started a new novel.

If I am going to choose a word of the year perhaps it could be TIDY. Tidying is an unavoidable activity closely linked to cleaning; both are tasks that take us away from more creative pursuits. Whether you are tidying up after Christmas visitors or faced with dusting when you take your cards and decorations down, most of us start the year with tidying of some sort. We might even enjoy the virtuous feeling of getting the year off to a good start and after vacuuming turn to our computer to tidy up our internet banking or our digital lives.

Perhaps one of my aims for 2023, apart from starting a novel, could be to learn Latin. I love the brevity of Latin; Word of the Year replaces four words with two, Verbum Anni. It would take us half the time to write and read blogs if we all wrote them in Latin.

Do you have a word of the year or some worthy aims? Will you trek to Everest Base Camp or tidy your sock drawer?

NOVUS ANNUS

Scrabbletide

Do you only use two programmes on your washing machine? Do you ever set the timer on your oven to cook a meal while you are out?

When my oven was new it switched itself off a couple of times when I was in the middle of cooking a roast dinner; I had added an extra ten minutes to cooking time when I put the potatoes in, but instead it thought it had to turn off after ten minutes. I now never dare to touch the timer once it’s set or even better use the clockwork timer inherited from my uncle’s house. Yes I know you can set a timer on your iPhone, but I don’t want to interfere with Wordle or Planet Quiz… The clock on the cooker will be remaining on British Summer Time as I can’t take the risk of the oven not going on because the clock has been interfered with.

I use Word Press in a similar fashion, not daring to explore the other ninety per cent of things it can do for fear of annihilating the few things I can do. My greatest achievement is to post blogs at all; no one I know in ‘real’ life blogs or uses Word Press, so it either happened by magic or I set up my blog all by myself.

I have been trying to straighten up my WP dealings. I did manage to change to a paid plan without the blog disappearing; my simple aims were to get rid of advertisements for ear wax and to be able to store more of my photographs. There may be other benefits, but I have no idea what.

I have learnt many things from other bloggers, usually after already making the mistakes.  Beetleypete says he only follows one hundred bloggers, why didn’t I think of that? I also realised along the way that I could turn off email notifications, though I hesitated as I didn’t want to neglect or miss my favourite bloggers. Early on I had started following a blogger who loved reblogging and I would be inundated with hundreds of emails a day. I hastily unfollowed him.

When Beetleypete mentioned checking his spam folder I didn’t even know I had one. It turned out it was full of my greatest fans?

Lucky me I ran across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later

Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. 

Amazing how many stumble upon and book mark my blog. As I deleted pages of spam comment I came across one of my regular genuine bloggers, how did she have the misfortune to be mixed with the riff raff?

I have tidied up my list of interesting blogs I follow, but it is sad to remember bloggers you didn’t want to lose. What has happened to Biff Sock Pow! I just had to follow a blog with a name like that and I loved his drawings and funny writing. Kim used to post on Sunday morning three quick questions you had to answer without thinking, that was fun. She had chronic health problems and they sold their house for a simpler life on the road. That was interesting to follow until she decided to stop blogging. I wonder how she is getting on?

How many blogs do you follow? How do you choose who to follow?

Busy Buses

When I was lying on the couch having biopsies taken, the doctor said ‘Do you want to be treated at Bournemouth or Poole hospital?’ My immediate response was Poole, to her surprise. I explained that though I lived in Bournemouth and the hospital is nearer as the crow flies, my local buses both stop right outside Poole hospital, while Bournemouth hospital involves two buses, waiting and stress or perhaps one that only goes once an hour. After this discussion on buses it dawned on me she must have been certain, with all the tests I was having that morning at the Dorset Breast Screening Unit ( at Poole hospital ) , that I did have breast cancer.

I didn’t actually come back on the bus after my operation, but there were numerous routine visits and breast cancer patients are under the hospital for five years, so my decision was wise. Perhaps I should add that this bus journey does take an hour, which would horrify car drivers, but you can relax and catch up with blogs on your phone or people/passenger  watch/eavesdrop. The hospital is also a short walk from the main town with shops? – well modern shopping is for another blog – museum, eateries and Poole Harbour, so if you have only been to the hospital for a quick blood test you can at least make an outing out of it.

I have been using buses since before I was born, everywhere I have lived, except for an Australian country town; so I have earned my bus pass. If you don’t drive, walking, cycling, buses and trains are essential and we non drivers are good for the environment, not that anyone thanks us. But I totally understand that lots of people have no reliable public transport or just think we are insane. The typical new bus passenger gets on board explaining to everyone that he doesn’t normally go on buses, but his car is at the garage getting fixed. He then looks round for an empty seat or the least weird looking person to sit next to. If, when you go on a bus for the first time, you have waited a long time at the bus stop, the driver is rude, there are some very odd people on board plus the local drunk, the bus is packed with noisy school children and you are squashed standing in the aisle I can understand that you would vow never to go on a bus again.

But part of the fun of buses is you can never be sure what will happen! Sometimes something worse happens, such as hearing that your local bus company has suddenly gone into liquidation… That happened to our yellow buses, just as they were celebrating their 120th birthday. Luckily for me we have another bus company, suitably called More Buses, already running my favourite blue bus, M2, going frequently back and forth between Southbourne and Poole bus station with heating, on board Wi Fi, phone chargers and electronic boards and speaker messages telling you which bus stop is coming up. They stepped into the breach within days ( far more efficiently than governments run countries ) offering jobs to yellow bus drivers and bringing in More buses from all over the place. This has made local trips interesting as buses of all colours and ages have turned up, so you have to be very careful to check the numbers. Don’t get on the green bus covered in pictures of trees and ponies and highlighting the delights of the New Forest and expect to go to this fantastic National Park if it says 1a on the front. There have also been drivers who have to ask the passengers which way they are supposed to be going.

Hey Ho, all part of the fun of buses and then there are the passengers, can you even be a writer if you don’t take buses? Hearing people’s life stories, missing your stop because you have got so involved in the phone conversation going on behind you. One early evening I got on the bus at Poole and a chap at the front had a homemade guitar, literally made of bits of wood nailed together and string tied on. It did actually make notes and he was telling everyone about it, in fact he talked non stop till he got off in Bournemouth, at times like these I love buses.

Do you go by bus? If so, have you had any strange trips?

Just Going For A Walk

I had been planning to blog about our earliest form of transport for a while, then walking took on yet another aspect last week with the royal funeral, the various processions leading up to it and of course The Queue. But first back to basics.

Have you heard people comment, or perhaps you have said it yourself…

I don’t do hills. I don’t do walking. I don’t like walking.

I was once watching a comedy in which the teenager daughter greets her mother’s return home. ‘I didn’t know where you were, I thought you’d gone for a walk.‘ Mother replies ‘Walk! I’ve never been for a walk in my life.’

Someone describing how the heat was not a problem in Singapore with the air conditioned malls… I asked ‘What if you want to go for a walk?’ He replied looking puzzled ‘Why would you want to go for a walk?’

Why would you not want to walk, the most natural activity for humans, exercise that costs nothing and a handy way to get where you want to go. During Covid lockdown it was one of the few activities allowed and non dog owners discovered new delights. I love walking, but I have no desire to trek to either pole or up to Everest base camp; solo or with companions, who I would be intensely irritated with by the third day… But ordinary walking, enjoying the fresh air, scenery, perhaps photography and probably ending up at a nice cafe or pub is fun for everyone… What do non walkers do when they go for a day out or on holiday? You may think National Trust Houses have large grounds because the original owners owned all the local land; no, it’s so we can have a nice walk before having lunch in the restaurant and looking round the house. No holiday is complete without a walk along a cliff path or a steep ascent up a hill to enjoy the view.

Modern technology, from super electronic wheelchairs to state of the art artificial limbs allow many who are disabled to get out and about with their friends and family who are fit and able to walk. Walking is freedom and not to be taken for granted; those under repressive regimes or living in dangerous areas cannot just go out for a walk. If you are used to walking everywhere it’s a reminder of the privilege when you ‘do something’ to your back or knee and suddenly can’t walk. The leaflets we were given when having chemotherapy suggest that ‘going for a short walk will help combat fatigue’ – this turned out to be a joke as most of each three week cycle it was a struggle to get to the front gate or up the stairs. It was an insight into the chronic fatigue that people with Long Covid and other debilitating medical conditions have to cope with.

So back to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth 11. Whatever your views on royalty or television ( blanket ) coverage of the events, there was a fascination with both the formal traditions and the spontaneous acts of those who came to queue to watch a procession or for The Queen’s lying in. There is something dignified and humbling about the men of the family and others close to the royals walking slowly behind the coffin. Princess Anne joined them, as she did for her father’s funeral, a token man for the day? Presumably it is tradition that only the men walk. If any of the chaps didn’t like walking they were in for a tiring time. I like a brisk walk, walking slowly at a measured pace is much harder, I have tried it round the house. Nor did I go up to London to join The Queue, almost a pilgrimage. They had a long distance to cover at a very slow pace, I wondered if there were escape points for those who changed their minds and just wanted to go home.

There are environmental benefits if everyone walked on short journeys and for writers it is one of the best ways to see real life, but those are topics for another blog.

Are you a walker or non walker? If you enjoy walking what is your favourite sort of walk?

Thursday Tiny Tale – 2053

Charlotte was beginning to regret joining the new Hambourne Happy Creatives group. As a newcomer to the pretty town it had seemed the obvious group to join to keep her energised in her rocky writing career. She was eager to write a more cheery novel than her last and hoped Hambourne would inspire her to write about her new heroine, a recently widowed writer who moves to a country town for peace and quiet, but finds herself investigating a murder.

If she had been a local she would have known to keep Robert Falstaff at arm’s length. To Charlotte, at first, he was a charming man who had advice to freely offer, from dealing with computer problems to publishing and promotion. His apparent connections to television had her fantasising about a Sunday evening cosy drama.

Now, at this evening’s meeting, she found herself at the centre of attention, with her languishing novel ‘2053’ the topic of a discussion led by Robert. The other members were kindly in their questions, but she felt herself and the novel horribly exposed.

‘What made you choose the title, or that year Charlotte?’

‘I wanted it to be in the future, but still in a time frame when I could conceivably still be alive. How was I to know when I was writing it that all the events would come true by 2022!’

‘You could change the year, or perhaps call it The Covid Chronicles.’

‘Oh dear no, does anyone want to read novels about Covid?’

‘Hmm, I am writing a novel about Covid and the horror it brought to a town like Hambourne’ said a tight lipped woman.

‘Well, the novel is out there, published on Amazon,’ said Robert with an expression of disdain ‘so let’s concentrate on how Charlotte could do much better with promotion.’

‘Um, I was hoping to have a stall at your arts festival…’

‘Internationally I mean.’

‘I do have my blog and quite a few followers from every continent, except Antarctica.’

Robert scrolled down his iPad, Charlotte shuddered to see the familiar sky blue background of Thinking Through. Was her poor little blog to be exposed to ridicule?

‘Oh yes, I am thinking of starting a blog’ said a timid lady Charlotte immediately warmed to.

‘Silly Saturday, Silly Sunday, Monday Madness, Tuesday Tiny Tales, Wordless Wednesday, Thursday Trifles and Fun Friday’ sneered Robert. ‘Charlotte dear, you are not exactly coming across as a serious author.’

It’s a long time since I visited Hambourne and I wondered what had been going on there since 2013. You can read the Hambourne Chronicles in Hallows and Heretics.

Identity Crisis

Luke wished he could take his legs off, it was turning into a long evening. He had not expected the Clacket Lane Junior School Reunion to end with police questioning. Taking over the identity of the deceased Nigel Palmer had seemed a good idea at the time, a chap with no family or partner was not going to be missed. Nigel Palmer himself, who ironically died with his limbs intact, would not miss his passport and his wallet containing money, bank cards, NHS number and private health insurance details. The original plan had just been to return to England as a different person, start again. But the new life was halted before it started when Luke lost both legs above the knees. Ever one to look on the positive side, Luke realised that Nigel Palmer was going to get much better treatment and rehabilitation than Luke the Loser.

Now Luke cursed himself for thinking it a good idea to attend the reunion. The plan was to round off his knowledge of Nigel’s life, feel like a real person. Who could have predicted another Nigel impersonator would already be there.

At the hospital a police officer was interviewing an injured man who admitted he was not Nigel Palmer, obviously a man with mental health issues, his explanation made no sense. He had tried to escape from a hotel, but only escaped with minor injuries after the fire brigade had demolished half the gents’ toilet to release him from a window frame.

Back at the police station Detective Sergeant Dilly Deans finished interviewing the man with bionic legs. He was obviously the genuine Nigel Palmer, all the checks had come back positive. Goodness knows why that dreadful woman organising the reunion had insisted he was an imposter, just because he could not recall much about his junior school days, who does? His traumatic injuries had left him with gaps in his memory and all the poor man wanted to do was fill in the gaps.

‘I am so sorry we detained you Mr. Palmer, night duty will give you a lift to where you are staying.’

In his hospital bed Nicholas could not get to sleep, he was not at all sure what was going to happen next, would he be charged with any crime? One good thing had come out of this, more ideas than he expected for his new novel. A man who has a breakdown and wakes convinced he is Johnny, his classmate at junior school. While psychologists try to assess his rare condition the real Johnny confronts him and has old scores to settle…

Sunday Short Story – Sending Out An SOS

Nicholas felt like Winnie the Pooh after eating a whole jar of honey…though he was not stuck in Rabbit’s burrow, but in the window of the end cubicle of the Gent’s toilet. In one of his chaplit rom com novels this had always been an excellent way to escape embarrassing or dangerous situations. Now Nicholas had created his own dramatic scene.


His big mistake had been to keep one arm behind for manoeuvring, now this arm was firmly wedged between his stomach and the window frame. Nicholas looked down at the deserted alley below, at least no one could see his predicament.

The muted sound of music and lively chatter floated down the corridor to the hotel cloakrooms. Hopefully everyone’s attention was still focussed on the late arrival of the real Nigel Palmer at the Clacket Lane Junior School reunion. How long before they noticed that Nicholas the imposter Nigel Palmer had slipped out of the function room? The tough looking real Nigel with his beard, biceps and bionic legs was unlikely to have ended up in such a humiliating situation.

How long before someone sauntered into the Gents so Nicholas could yell for help, or preferably keep quiet. As he tried to stretch his outside arm he realised he could reach into his top pocket for his phone. Maybe the emergency services would rescue him before his old classmates found him; he would not tell them he was in trouble, he would report as an anonymous passerby.


There was shock for the Clacket Lane party as flashing lights and sirens were followed by all three emergency services bursting into the function room. It was a quiet night in the town and they were all glad to respond to confused 999 calls that could be a suicide, burglary or major terrorist incident.

Nigel’s plan worked, he was being rescued, or at least there was talk of equipment being fetched by the voices he could hear behind him. In the alleyway an ambulance lady tried to reassure him, while a police officer asked how many terrorists were in the hotel. He would have been further reassured if he could have seen his former class mates lying on the floor being checked for weapons.

All except Caroline Hepworth who had managed to slip away, determined to see who was ruining her well organised evening. When she heard someone say ’in the alleyway Sarge’ she crept out, one of the advantages of being a woman of a certain age, one was always invisible. Peering in the darkness she could see two figures in yellow jackets talking to a head sticking out of a window, when a torch beam moved she caught a glimpse of a face. Wedged in the window was the man who had been Nigel Palmer all evening until the appearance of the more exciting real Nigel Palmer.

‘Don’t let him go,’ she bellowed ‘he’s an imposter.’

‘Not much chance, he’s stuck fast.’

‘Oh dear, is it serious, I mean he might be real and the other chap an imposter.’