A NUN IS AN ONION

August 05, 2022

A Nun is an Onion – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first layer of this bitter fruit, refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 37     DATE: 16th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

A NUN IS AN ONION

 

Background briefing:

In a kidnap situation, a detective often wonders what has happened to the victims. We haven’t received any finger and thumbs, so we assume Andrew Baker, the Governor of the Veteran Islands, and his friends Tarquin, Winston, Josephine and Quinlan, along with his fiancé, Karen and his personal assistant the 'Third Recorder,' are still all in one piece. However, we have not received a ransom note; so we do not know what the kidnappers want. We suspect money is not the motive, and if we don’t find them soon, maybe we never will.

Case Note: 37 – A Nun is an Onion - 16th September 1990

It seems the ladies’ hair salon is the modern-day confessional. Information is freely passed around with remarkably little restraint. The hairdresser is without doubt the best-informed individual in the neighbourhood. Clients come regularly, not for the latest style, but to garner the latest gossip. The ladies of Lax have a clear insight into all that is going down, from illicit affairs to financial affairs, whilst the men walk round in a fog. It is for this reason we have ventured down to Get a Grip in the centre of town to interview its owner, and salon stylist, Elaine Grip, along with her most famous client.

Notes of Interview at “Get A Grip” Hair Salon

Saturday 28th September 1990 - 5.00pm
Interview at Get a Grip Salon
Detectives Ethan Jones and George Colt
Report Author George Colt

‘A nun is an onion’ she said. Maybe I should explain.

I had just typed up this morning’s revelations about naked yoga, when Ethan came off the phone. ‘Grab your coat,’ he said ‘we’re heading out.’ Ten minutes later we stood outside Get a Grip peering through the plate glass window. Only one chair was occupied. Grant the trainee, was removing the final curlers from a sumptuous shiny mane. We entered in.

‘Take a seat… be with you in a mo.’  

We sat down on the sofa while Grant brushed back the treacle coloured twists into a cascading, cloud of tumbling tresses. Stepping back, he perused the lustrous locks from every angle, then fussed around the edges before flashing the customer a questioning smile.

‘Wilder,’ demanded a screechy high-pitched voice.

Grant nervously nibbled a fingernail, before teasing out a few unruly strands.

‘Wilder!’ came the cry.

Grant laced his finger, looked up, said a few silent words, then got stuck in, tearing his tidy creation apart. A few minutes later he stepped back, wiped his brow, looked in the mirror and gasped. Being dragged through a hedge backwards could not have created a wilder result. He cringed apologetically.

‘Perfect,’ the screechy voice proclaimed. ‘Just perfect.’

There was an audible sigh of relief as Grant unfolded and regained his full height. ‘Wild enough?’ he asked.

‘Really wild,’ the voice confirmed cheerily.

Grant smiled at the happy customer and turned towards us. The smile slipped off his face and hit the floor with a thud. He shivered and squirmed as if he’d just sucked a particularly sour lemon. It seemed Ethan’s combination of brown suit, avocado shirt and ochre tie, had sent a fashion induced shockwave through his system.

‘And?’ Ethan said, fixing Grant with his usual steely gaze.

‘And what?’ Grant said, all sweetness and light.

‘And what is wrong with my outfit,’ Ethan demanded.

‘Well, where do I start. It’s not an outfit for one,’ Grant confided nervously.

‘And why would that be?’ Ethan probed.

‘An outfit suggests a degree of coordination. You look like you’ve come in fancy dress as a 1970s bathroom suite.’

I managed to strangle a laugh into a nervous cough.

‘Fortunately, my dress sense is of no cause for concern,’ Ethan concluded, although Grant’s expression suggested otherwise. ‘Is the proprietor around.’

Grant’s attention returned to his customer. He lightly fluffed the whirling tempest with fanned fingers. ‘Elaine?’ he queried absent mindedly, ‘She is otherwise indisposed.’

The sound of a toilet flush emerged from back of house. A door opened and a voice said ‘I’ll be with you in a moment Kate.’ A few seconds later Elaine emerged with a canister of mysterious mousse.

‘Oh!' She said, somewhat startled. ‘I’m sorry, we don’t do gentlemen. You need thingy, what’s his name, do-da down the road.’

‘Cutthroat Clive,’ Grant chipped in.

‘Yes… Clive.’ Elaine confirmed, passing Grant the mousse.

‘We haven’t come for a haircut,’ Ethan said

‘They’ve come for clothing advice,’ Grant suggested.

‘We do not need clothing advice.’ Ethan’s voice was dark and dangerous.

‘That is a matter of opinion,’ Grant said snootily.

Ethan combined a cold, cold stare with sinister silence. Grant’s head slipped into his shoulders, like a tortoise seeking refuge in its shell. He sidled behind Elaine. Satisfied his caustic critic was under control, Ethan addressed Elaine.

‘We are investigating the disappearance of the Governor,’ he said.

Grant's head popped out of his shell. ‘Ooh! Are you detectives?’ he said, all intrigued..

‘Yes,’ I confirmed.

‘I believe your client may be able to help us with our enquiries,’ Ethan said.

Elaine caught the eye of her client in the mirror. She nodded. Elaine grabbed the arm of the chair and span it around. Hair swished and swirled as if caught in a private vortex before gradually giving in to gravity. Sat in the styling chair was a demon imp; a skinny white woman in a tight fitting red dress, shocking red lips and wild eyes rimmed in black eyeliner. Hair resembling a storm at sea tumbled and crashed around her shoulders

‘George… meet Kate Lady-Garden,’ Ethan announced.

The Kate Lady-Garden!’ Grant screeched though his fingers. ‘Elaine, it’s Kate Lady-Garden… Kate Lady-Garden.’

‘I know.’ Elaine replied calmly.

 ‘The Kate Lady-Garden?’ I queried.

‘Yes… I am indeed, the Kate Lady-Garden,’ she said, leaning forward, holding us in her gaze.

‘The Kate Lady-Garden that sang… “Jane Eyre,”’ I continued.

‘That, would be me,’ She said, twirling her arms like a sorceress.

I jabbered like the flustered fan I am. ‘That… that… that is a fantastic track. I mean, I don’t know what it’s about… it’s kinda weird… the robot teacher… the head exploding an all… I love it.

‘Glad you like it,’ she said.

‘Kinda sexy,’ I continued, ‘don’t know why.’

Ethan had a theory. ‘I think it’s the straightlaced governess thing.’

‘Governess thing?’ Kate questioned.

‘Yeah, you know… the mousey modest woman, the observer, restrained by a high moral code, unable to show emotion, whilst all the while, a volcano is bubbling beneath the surface. Lift the lid and whoosh!’

‘Whoosh?’ She queried.

‘Yeah, whoosh! Passion and pent-up desire flood out? It’s a standard male fantasy.’

‘Really?’

‘Of course. You know, like Maria in the Sound of Music.’

‘Maria? Julie Andrews? You fancy Julie Andrews… in the Sound of Music?’ Grant spluttered in disgust.

‘Yeah… you know… it’s the nun thing?’ Ethan explained.

‘The nun thing?’ Grant repeated horrified

‘Yes… the nun thing,’ Ethan stated.

‘Is there really a nun thing?’ I asked uncertain.

‘Of course there’s a nun thing. We’d all like to peer under the habit, gaze into the unknown, pick the forbidden fruit and sample the delights from the Garden of Eden.’ Ethan held out his arms, palms up, expecting to receive our agreement. The room was deathly quiet.

‘Oh come on,’ he said. ‘There’s always been a nun thing, for as long as there have been nuns, there’s been a nun thing.’

Uncertain eyes glanced at each other.

‘There has,’ he stated again.

‘You’d like to peak… under a nun’s… habit?’ Elaine queried uncomfortably.

‘No! Well yes… maybe, metaphorically.’ Ethan said.

‘How would you go about it,’ Grant asked, concerned, ‘without upsetting the nun?’

‘Maybe a nun is like an onion,’ Kate said. You lift the edge of the habit and there’s another habit underneath, and another and another, you keep on grabbing until eventually you get to the centre and there’s nothing there, apart from a pair of red shoes and a note saying, ‘gone for lunch.’

‘I’m not actually going to peak under a nun’s habit,’ Ethan said forcefully. ‘It’s a fantasy.’

‘You could have a glass floor fitted in the convent,’ she said cheekily. ‘Sounds like it could raise a lot of money, I mean if it’s true you are all obsessed…’

‘Nobody is looking up a nun’s habit.’ Ethan snapped. ‘Now, can we please get on?’

‘You could have one of those blowers, like Marilyn Munroe in the “Seven Year Itch,”’ She said.

‘Yeah!’ Grant agreed. ‘You could get them to walk over it in a long line, it’d be like a wave, going up and down. You could use it to teach kids physiscs.’

Ethan rolled his eyes.

‘You could teach nuns the can can,’ I continued on theme. ‘Every day at twelve noon, they could come out onto the plaza, infront of the convent, and perform to the crowds. They’d make a fortune, assuming we are all…’

‘You could get them to parascend?’ Elaine suggested.

‘We could charter a submarine when they go for a swim,’ Grant proposed.

‘Can we please quit the nun nonsense,’ Ethan said, chopping the air with his hand.

‘Don’t you mean… nunsense,’ Kate smirked.

‘Enough,’ Ethan snapped.

‘We weren’t the one itching to jump Julie Andrews,’ Grant said.

‘Enough,’ Ethan roared.

Grant was wide eyed and indignant. ‘Well I must say, wanting to wear a nun’s habit, is looking slightly less controversial now. I just need to stay away from the police station.’

Ethan signed. ‘Can we please get back to the interview?’ he asked, although it was clear he was not looking for an answer. Everything went quiet. All eyes turned to Kate.

‘Miss Lady-Garden, am I right in believing you were the previous owner of Ivory Towers, before it was converted into the Governor’s residence?’

‘Well, yes, but it was called Ebony and Ivory Towers at the time.’

‘We are aware,’ Ethan replied. ‘And it was you that commissioned the house in the first place?’

‘Yes.’

‘We are trying to determine how the kidnappers got in, without anyone raising the alarm? How did they manage to subdue all of the occupants? It seems so unlikely.’

‘There was a ventilation system, ducts and grilles all over the house,’ Kate said. ‘Could they have gassed everyone?’

‘We’ve checked that out. Every room has a separate system. They terminate at roof level. It’s just not possible,’ Ethan advised. ‘Any weak points you are aware of?’

‘We needed good sound resistance for recording. All the floors are concrete, and all the walls are concrete blocks. I can’t imagine anyone breaking through that.’

‘Anything unusual about the building’ Ethan queried.

‘Not really,’ Kate said, ‘apart from the cleaning system?’

‘The cleaning system?’ Ethan said.

‘Yeah. The house was fitted with a special vacuuming system. All the rooms have a pipe which links down to a giant vacuum cleaner in the basement. There’s a round outlet on the skirtings. The vacuum head has a long flexible tube which you clip into the outlet. All the dust is collected in a giant bin down in the basement.’

‘I remember seeing a fitting on the skirting,’ I said. ‘I thought it was for something electrical.’

‘Hmm, and I’ve seen the cleaners,’ Ethan said. ‘They use ordinary vacuum cleaners.’

‘It hardly ever worked,’ Kate said. ‘It needed lots of repairs. You had to get parts from America. It was broken most of the time. In the end we gave up on it. It’s not been used for years.’

‘But the vacuum is still there, in the basement?’ Ethan asked.

‘I guess so,’ Kate said. We didn’t get rid of it. I don’t know what happened in the conversion.’

‘Where is the vacuum cleaner?’ Ethan asked.

‘I’m not sure exactly,’ Kate said. ‘It had a door to the outside so it could be emptied without anyone coming into the house. I think it was in the same place as the boiler.’

‘Hmm.,’ Ethan turned to me. ‘George, if I remember rightly, a heating subcontractor did some work to the boiler on the Friday 16th, two days before the Peace Ball. Get the company down to the house. I want them to have a look at that vacuum machine, see if it has been tampered with.

‘Friday 16th?’ Elaine Queried.

Yup, Ethan confirmed.

That was the day they were at the musical.

The musical? Ethan queried.

‘Yes.’ I confirmed. ‘There was an amateur production of the Sound of Music down at the School House Theatre.

‘You should have been there,’ Kate said. ‘Missed opportunity.’

‘Unbelievable,’ Ethan sighed.

‘Gloria Pond was Maria,’ Grant said. ‘She was very good.’

‘Perfect casting!’ Ethan’s tone was sarcastic.

‘She might let you have a peak,’ Grant said catching Ethan a sly look.

‘I do not want to look under anyone’s habit.’ Ethan stated categorically.

‘Everyone from Ivory Towers was there, just about,’ Elaine said.

‘If they were all at the Musical, there was no-one to supervise the contractor,’ I pointed out.

Even more of a reason to get them down to the house,’ Ethan continued. ‘George find out who they were and get them down there tonight.’

‘Just one important thing I need to ask Kate before I go,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ Ethan said intrigued.

‘Can I have an autograph?’

‘George GO!’

Ethan turned to Kate. ‘If a nun is an onion,’ he said, ‘surely she’s a nunion.’

SCOTCHGUARD

July 17, 2022

Scotchguard – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first chink in the armour, refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 35     DATE: 16th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

SCOTCHGUARD

 

Background briefing:

Some detectives do their best work on the toilet.

After all the evidence is pinned on the board, it comes down to connections; seeing how one thing relates to another. Away from the stress of the office, occupied by the simplest task, the mind has the capacity to string those connections together. That is why police canteens serve fast food. The additional contemplation due to constipation, straining on the loo, significantly improves rates of detection.

We too have reached that stage in the investigation. The evidence has been gathered and once we have made the connections, we will find the kidnapper’s hideaway and free the Governor of the British Veteran Islands and his entourage. That is why we’re bingeing on burgers.

Case Note: 35 – Scotchguard - 16th September 1990

Preparations for the Peace Ball were well under way. The British Veteran Islands and Oikland, the island chain to the east, were getting on like a house on fire, thanks to some timely interventions by the Governor and his friends. With preparations going so well, the Governor’s personal assistant, the Third Recorder turned his attention to other matters. As it was the Governor’s friends’ last few days on the island, he organized a series of excursions. The previous day's event, naked yoga, had been a surprising success.

Case Note: 35: Transcript of Video Recording - 16th September 1990, with additional interpretation by detective George Colt.

We are thankful to Anne the Housekeeper for her secret recording of events at the Governor’s private residence, Ivory Towers. Once again, she has stated categorically, the recording was never intended for extortion. However, as the tape was found in a Tupperware container labelled, “Transferable Assets”, open brackets, “Cash for Cruises,” close brackets, we have our doubts. Anne was well aware the Governor (Andrew Baker), his fiancé Karen and friends, Quinlan, Tarquin, Winston and Josephine, had been out all night at the yoga retreat and had anticipated some juicy gossip on their return. So, she abandoned her trusty tape recorder and set up the video equipment, normally used for training purposes, to capture the arrival of the dirty stop-outs.

Transcript:

Naked yoga on Saunter Island, had left the Governor so wonderfully free of life’s usual constraints, he refused to slip back into his leotard for the journey home. It was this free spirit that crashed through the front door, naked as a jaybird, singing ‘If you want my body, and you think I’m sexy, come on sugar let me know.’

Anne the housekeeper replied, ‘As a paid employee, I do not feel at liberty to comment.’ The Governor shrieked and span round to hide his embarrassment, which is when he heard the second part of her response, ‘Maybe you would like to ask the Vicar and his wife,’ which was who he was now facing. They were taking tea at the coffee table; the somber gentleman in traditional black cassock and dog collar, looking every inch a vicar, his substantial wife in a somewhat frillier fandango pink frock, looking every inch a fondant fancy. Both were frozen in time. The Vicar’s wife held a teacup close to her lip, ready to take a sip, and the Vicar, a chocolate digestive. They sat, mouth wide open, like hungry babies waiting for the airplane spoon to land. The Governor dropped his waist below the back of an armchair before addressing his guests.

Er… hi… hi there… Nice to see you… Glad you could make it… I hope you are being looked after. You’re here to run through the service of thanksgiving on Sunday aren’t you… it may have slipped my mind.

The Vicar’s wife, raised a finger like an alien out of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’

‘Oh this… er this,’ the Governor responded, waving a hand up and down his torso, ‘is… well it is… umm er…’ there was a pause as the Governor’s brain processed a million unworkable excuses, before he blurted out, ‘it’s naturist week in the house!’ Then, feeling rather satisfied with his hastily concocted explanation, he regained his composure, and addressed his guests as the seasoned diplomat he had now become. ‘Vicar, I must apologize, both to you and your delightful lady wife. Naturist week. I feel such a fool. I should have made you aware. I am so terribly sorry. I hope I didn’t cause you any distress. I’ll nip upstairs and put on something more… more restrained, and maybe, a little less… revealing.’ He chortled, politely.

‘I… I’m shocked,’ the Vicar replied somewhat shaken. ‘We… we didn’t know… if we had we wouldn’t have come… ‘

‘I know. I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t wish to impose my lifestyle choice on you and your dear wife, it’s unreasonable. I… I’m terribly embarrassed. I’ll just pop upstairs…’ The Governor smarmed.

‘No! No! You misunderstand,’ the Vicar said. ‘I meant to say, if we had, we wouldn’t have come… with our clothes on. Me and Martha, we are avid naturists.’ He joyfully clasped his hands together and beamed from ear to ear.

‘Avid,’ Martha enthused, pulling her dress away from her breasts, as if offering it to him.

‘We’re always on the nudist beach,’ the Vicar said chattily.

Always,’ Martha repeated, cheerfully kicking off her shoes.

‘It’s lovely to meet someone who shares our passion.’ The Vicar said, reaching out as if to embrace the Governor.

‘Lovely,’ Martha reiterated, happily hitching her dress up over her knees.

‘God gave us these beautiful bodies,’ the Vicar continued, ‘why it is almost blasphemy to cover them up.’

‘Blasphemy,’ Martha agreed, giving a wiggle as she nudged the dress up around her bottom.

‘It is a delight to shed this earthly apparel and revel in the clothes god gave us; to be as God’s creation,’ The Vicar proclaimed.’

‘God’s creation,’ Martha rejoiced, loosening the bow to her drawstring neckline.

At this point two things happened. Martha grabbed the pleated waist of her fondant frock and lifted it over her head, and the Third Recorder walked through the door followed by the Governor’s friends: Winston, Tarquin, Quinlan and Josephine, and his fiancé Karen, all dressed in their animal leotards. There was a moment’s pause, as minds tried to make sense of the scene before them. Then, having given up on making any sense of it, Winston decided to make fun of it.

‘Dam! You started the orgy without us,’ he quipped

‘A Vicar and tarts party and we weren’t invited!’ Quinlan added with mock outrage.

‘I can only apologize for my friends’ poor sense of humour,’ the Governor said. ‘As you are aware,’ he said to them, ‘this is a real Vicar, the real Vicar, the Vicar of St. Adjutor down by the harbour, and this, is a real tar… a real Vicar’s wife.’

At this point the Vicar was struggling to remove his cassock, and murmured ‘hello’ from beneath a sea of black cloth. The audience looked on with intrigue and uncertainty. The governor tried to explain. ‘I mentioned it is naturist week, here in the house, and surprise, surprise, they are both avid naturists… apparently.’ By now the Vicar’s wife had already unclipped her bra, which pinged across the coffee table, landing on the teapot. She had her hands on the waist of her nickers when the Third Recorder shouted ‘No!’

Everybody turned, relieved someone had finally put a stop to the madness. There is after all, a world of difference between nudity on an island retreat and bringing it into the workplace.

The Third Recorder coughed as if clearing his throat, while he figured out a line of attack. ‘Er… um… ah, ah yes, that’s right, the er Governor, has clearly forgotten, we postponed naturism week, till next week.’

‘But why?’ The Vicar grunted, standing there in his Y fronts, clearly disappointed.

‘Yes why?’ his wife snapped, arms crossed beneath her ample bosom, torpedoes ready to fire.

‘Er…’ All eyes turned to the Third Recorder, and then to heaven, praying for a convincing answer.

‘I… I… I’ve still got to, er… Scotchguard the sofas?’ The Third Recorder suggested tentatively.

The Vicar took a closer look at the furniture, rubbing his hand over the fabric. ‘Nubuck?’ he enquired.

‘Uhuh,’ the Third Recorder said nodding sagely.

‘Shame,’ the Vicar replied shaking his head.

‘I know,’ the Third Recorder agreed. ‘Stains so easily.’

‘We use leather effect vinyl in the rectory,’ the Vicar continued. ‘You can hardly tell the difference. So much more serviceable.’

‘Doesn’t it get a bit… sweaty?’ Karen asked. ‘We had vinyl in my dad’s car, when we were kids. On a hot day you’d be sliding all over the seats. The sweat would pool in the divots.’

‘They’re not perfect, but a quick wipe round at the end of the week, and they’re as good as new,’ the Vicar explained.

‘Quick wipe,’ Martha said, dipping a finger into a depression on the arm of the Chesterfield Sofa.

‘I’ll have to get some covers made up,’ the Third Recorder said, enthusiastically.

The Vicar brightened suddenly. ‘Ooh! I know,’ he said, pointing at the Governor and Karen in turn, ‘You, should have a naturist wedding.’

The Governor looked less enthusiastic. ‘I’m not so sure. I mean, we invited the whole island, not everyone will… ‘

‘It’d be wonderful,’ the Vicar continued eagerly. ‘The whole island bearing body and soul to God. What could be more honest, more true to yourselves, more reverential.’

‘Well if you put it that way,’ the Governor said, casting a sneaky smile at Karen, ‘maybe we…’

‘No!’ Karen screeched. ‘Are you out of your tiny little mind. Absolutely not. I am not being led down the aisle naked, with my dad, by my side, similarly undressed.’ She turned to the Governor, ‘And, even if you don’t fancy wearing any clothes, I am partial to a fabulous white wedding dress with an enormous train. And, there is no way on God’s earth I am getting married with a naked Josephine behind me to steal the show. She’d have to put on a whole lot of weight if she did.

Josephine shrugged her shoulders and smiled innocently.

‘Sorry Vicar,’ the Governor said. ‘As you can see there are just too many objections.’

‘We could follow the wedding with a blessing on the beach,’ the Vicar suggested hopefully. ‘The nudist beach.’

‘Why that sounds like a marvelous idea,’ the Governor said, clapping his hands together. ‘What do you think darling.’ He smiled sweetly, if not sincerely at Karen.

Karen almost erupted. ‘I am not kneeling in front of a naked Vicar. Just imagine,’ she said gesturing towards the area of concern. ‘I am not having that on my wedding video.’

‘We could judiciously place some flowers,’ Tarquin suggested, smiling sweetly.

‘Maybe a wicket fence.’ Quinlan chipped in.

Karen’s eyes narrowed and her jaw tensed. ‘No! Never! Not now, not ever. Not in a million years.’

‘Sorry Vicar,’ the Governor said with regret. ‘It is not to be.’

‘Shame.’ The Vicar sighed. ‘Let me know if you change your mind.’

‘I’ll give it careful consideration,’ the Governor said. ‘You never know.’

Karen’s eyes made it quite clear, she did know, and it was not going to change.  

Wedding resolved; the Vicar looked more closely at the clothing in front of him and frowned. 

‘Why the animal costumes?’ he asked.

‘Yoga,’ the Third Recorder said. ‘They’re leotards.’

The vicar’s eyes lit up as an idea slowly dawned. ‘Oo… oo… erm… er… yes,’ he garbled, waving his hands in the air, ‘Noah’s Ark! No… ah’s… Ark! You can be the animals.’

‘Well, er, I’m not sure… ‘ The Governor began,

The Vicar wiggled with excitement. ‘The kids will love it,’ he said

'No, please no,' Josephine whispered through gritted teeth to the Governor.

'I'm just not sure...' the Governor repeated.

'Especially those from the orphanage,’ the Vicar said, clasping his hands together with joy..

‘Oh god, there’s an orphanage,’ Quinlan whispered.

‘He’ll never hold out against that,’ Tarquin replied.

‘We’re doomed,’ Winston muttered

‘I'm not sure there’s a better use of these costumes,’ the Governor concluded.

‘Told you,’ Winston said.

‘I can see it now,’ the Vicar said. ‘You enter from the tower end, through the curtain, and dance up the aisle to the altar, as the animal, you are.’

‘Oh god, we’re going to dance as well,’ Karen whispered

‘Do penguins dance?’ Tarquin asked .

‘They do now,’ Josephine replied.

‘I think we should leave you to finalise the arrangements with the Vicar, while we go and get changed,’ the Third Recorder said to the Governor.

‘Thanks,’ the Governor replied with more than a hint of sarcasm.

So will you be able to pop down to the rectory for a practice Saturday morning 10.00am? the Vicar enquired.

The Governor’s eyes were drawn to the sofa. ‘Hmm, maybe we should have it here,’ he said.

‘Well it’s good to get that sorted the Vicar said. We’ve just got to choose the hymns. I was saying to the Recorder the other day, I think it is marvelous how you change the security code on the alarm system every week, depending on the hymn numbers we put up in the church on Sunday. Feels like you are trusting in God to keep you safe.

At that point the video tape ran out.

NAKED YOGA

July 10, 2022

Naked Yoga – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first chink in the armour, refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 34     DATE: 15th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

NAKED YOGA

 

Background briefing:

Searching an island is like combing for nits with a wide tooth comb. You can go over the same area, time and time again, and still miss the critters. You’d like to use a razer blade, but kids can be squeamish, and islands look better with the trees intact. That is why, in our search for Andrew Baker, Governor of the British Veteran Islands, we have ditched the comb in favour of the sieve. These case notes, tracing the Governor’s tracks, are shaken through the sieve until only the most important evidence is left. We have only a few more days to review. Soon we will have all the evidence, and the kidnappers, in custody.

Case Note: 34 – Naked Yoga - 15th September 1990

Andrew Baker was a hero. Oikland, once the Veteran Islands' greatest enemy was now its greatest ally. A ball had been organised to celebrate. It would also be the last day on the island for the Governor’s friends, who had helped to secure the peace, and save his job. As a thank you for all they had done, the Governor’s personal assistant, the Third Recorder, organised a series of excursions for their last week together. The first, a fishing trip, ended in disaster. Surely a yoga retreat would not end the same way.

Case Note: 34 – Record of an interview at Saunter Island Yoga Retreat.

Date: 28th September 1990

Trainee Interviewer: George Colt.
Observing Officer: Ethan Jones.
Interviewees: Fifi L’amour, Gloria Pond, Lillian Grey and Mavis Goon.
Location: The Subtle Rock Yoga Retreat, Saunter Island.
Subject: What the Governor got up to on the 15th September 1990

We pulled into the layby opposite the causeway at 10.00am, and stumbled along the rocky path to Saunter. We were lucky to make it. The tide was rising and waves were licking at our ankles. We climbed the steep path, up through the trees to the Subtle Rock, yoga sanctuary. There we met the Yogini and her students meditating on the terrace, to the gentle rhythm of the tranquil sea, lapping over the smooth white sand below. The serenity of the island was embodied in the still, silent, figure of Miss L’amour. The rise and fall of the turquoise sea reflected in the rise and fall of her turquoise leotard; the tumbling white breakers in the delicate lace of her Kimono. Her hair the colour of shadows on the sand, shadows that brushed her cheek, caressed her neck and kissed her naked shoulders. Her eyes… limpid pools, her nose the curve of a wave, and her lips the lure of a blood red anemone.

‘Steady on. I mean, I’m flattered but…’ said Miss L’amour

‘Just doing my job madam,’ the detective replied. ‘Police procedure. It’s for the record. Just has to be true and accurate.

‘Maybe but… ‘

‘For the tape, Miss L’Amour looks at the detective with suspicion, nervously pulling the kimono around her fulsome bre… ‘

‘Body! Fulsome body… you… you have got a problem?’

‘Sorry Miss L’amour,’ Ethan Jones, the observing officer said, stepping in. ‘George has been on a creative writing course. He likes to practice.’

‘Well he can practice on someone else.’

‘Me!’ Lillian said enthusiastically.

‘Sorry?’ Ethan asked, surprised by the response.

‘He can practice on me. I’ve always fancied being a character in a Mills and Boon romance.’

‘Well, I’m not sure we should encourage…’ Ethan said looking doubtful.

‘Don’t be a spoil sport,’ Lillian scolded. ‘Go-on George.’

‘Okay,’ Ethan agreed reluctantly. ‘George, you have free range… for the moment.’

‘Oh! Great… Thanks… Well, what can I say about Lillian Grey?’ George wiggled his lips as the grey cells got to work.

‘What part of the island do I embody?’ Lillian prompted.

‘Er hmm… let’s see now, the er… the trees maybe.’

‘The trees?’’ Lillian asked, uncertain.

‘Yes! The trees.’ George nodded. ‘Like the palm trees, Lillian Grey has a beauty that has matured with age. Tall, slender, and supple, she moves with the wind.’

‘Don’t we all.’ Gloria chipped in.

‘Shut it, Gloria,’ Lillian sniped. ‘Go-on.’

‘Her long silver hair, the colour of leaves in the moonlight; her dark, brown eyes the husk of a coconut, her bright smile, the white… white… flesh.’

‘You forgot to mention the wrinkles on her trunk,’ Gloria added.

‘Gloria!’ Lillian’s eyes narrowed to attack mode.

‘I thought it had to be honest?’ Gloria said, in her defence.

‘It is,’ Lillian snapped, ‘Kind of.’

‘So, what do you make of me, big boy?’ Gloria taunted.

‘Oh dear… er well…‘ George squirmed uncomfortably..  

‘Well?’ she prodded.

‘Gloria Pond… Gloria Pond is like… like… like a… a dolphin.’

‘A dolphin? Not a bottlenose I hope.’

‘No! Gloria Pond is a cephalorhynchus eutropia. Rare, mysterious, sleek, a deadly hunter, and at 1.7 metres long will fit comfortably into a king size bed.’

‘You gotta get the basics right,’ Gloria said.

‘Like the dolphin, she is playful and intelligent, with a pale white skin that glistens when moist.’

‘This creative writing course,’ Gloria enquired. ‘It’s not for porn is it?’

‘Romance,’ George advised.

‘Shame.’

‘There was a moment silence as all eyes turned to Mavis.’

‘This might be a challenge,’ Ethan murmured.

‘Hmm how to describe Mavis Goon,’ George contemplated.

‘How indeed,’ Ethan said.

‘You don’t have to make it sound quite so difficult,’ Mavis scolded.

George wriggled his lips, nibbled a fingernail, and rubbed his chin. He ran his eyes up and down Mavis Goon, then up and down again.

‘I think I’ve just been undressed?’ Mavis said wrapping her arms around herself.

‘You wish,’ Lillian countered.

George’s eyes sparkled with an idea, and a sneaky smile played upon his lips.

‘Go-on, what is it?’ Gloria asked.

‘Mavis Goon… Mavis Goon is a rock pool,’ George said, as if stating the obvious.

‘Really? A rock pool?’ Mavis repeated a little disappointed.

‘Yes, a rock pool. She may appear small and simple…’

‘She does that,’ Gloria cut in.

‘Gloria!’ Mavis snapped.

‘Yeah, give it a break,’ Lillian agreed. There was a pause while George regained his train of thought.

‘Mavis Goon is a rock pool. Dip your toe in the water and you will discover hidden depths full of mystery and intrigue, and maybe a little danger.’

‘She’s got crabs if that’s what you mean,’ Gloria cut in again.

Mavis clenched her fists. ‘Gloria. It’s my turn. Leave off.’

‘Sorry.’ Gloria said, seemingly repentant.

George waited for the audience to regain composure and continued. ‘When you return, to the surface, it never looks the same, for now you know the magic that lies beneath.’

‘It’s a good job none of you are suspects,’ Ethan said. ‘I’d hate to tell the boss we’re looking for a rock pool, a dolphin, a tree, and a small island. Maybe I should take over from now on.’

‘Sorry.’ George smiled apologetically.

‘You can write up the transcript,’ Ethan said. ‘That should keep your creative juices flowing.’

‘Thanks… sorry.’

‘So, Miss L’amour could you just run through the events of the 15th of September. Ladies, please feel free to contribute. From the beginning, please.’

‘Well they arrived at around 9.00am. They’d left it a bit late as the sea was just beginning to wash over the causeway. They took their shoes and socks off and hung them round their neck to paddle across. They walked up the path to the “Subtle Rock,” my psychic shelter, where I welcomed them, and led them through to the Terrace of Tranquility. Here I explained the seven chakra the eight limbs and of course, the asanas.

‘Of course,’ Ethan said dismissively.

‘Then we had green tea with fresh fruit sliced almonds and seeds served on banana leaves. Food and drink for a clear heart, pure spirit, and healthy body.’

‘Very nice. I’m more of a meat man, myself.’

Fifi wagged a finger. ‘Meat saps your strength, Join my yoga group. Two weeks and you’ll be transformed. You’ll have much more energy.’

‘Hmm, yes, I’m sure. So, what time was this?

’10.30am.’

‘Would the causeway have been unpassable by then?

‘Pretty much.’

‘Okay. What happened next?’

‘So, at that point I ran through the yoga we would be doing.’

‘Which was?’

‘Beach Yoga,’

‘Naked beach Yoga,’ Mavis chipped in.

‘Naked?’ Ethan looked confused.

‘Er yes… naked,’ Fifi confirmed with some hesitation.

‘With... no clothes on?’ Ethan clearly struggled with the notion.

‘Uhuh,’ Lillian said, looking a little embarrassed.

'No clothes... at all?' Ethan repeated.

'That is what naked means,' Gloria pointed out.

Ethan shook his head to clear away the insanity. He paused to consider the implications, all the time holding Fifi in his gaze.

‘Did the Governor’s party know that when they arrived?’ He asked.

‘Not exactly,’ Fifi said looking down.

‘What do you mean… “not exactly,”’ Ethan pressed.

‘Well… no!’ Fifi admitted.

‘I see,’ Ethan said. ‘So how did they take it?’

‘The Governor’s girlfriend was worst,’ Gloria said

‘She was afraid of sand, in... y’ know,’ Mavis explained.

‘It’s nothing to worry about, you just take a dip in the sea and…’ Lillian said

‘Thank you. I don’t need the details,’ Ethan said cutting the explanation short. ‘Was anyone else perturbed?’

‘The governor was quite rude about it,’ Fifi revealed. ‘He said, “I don’t want to be stared down by the one-eyed monster.”’

‘I see.’ Ethan nodded slowly, imagining the scene.

Fifi shrugged. ‘I said you can always go at the front. Then, there’d only be me to look at, and I’d be facing you.’

‘How did he react to that?’ Ethan asked.

‘Said he was worried about doing the plank,’

Ethan nodded.

‘So I said, “don’t worry about the er… plank, we’ve all seen the plank before.”’

‘I hadn’t,’ Mavis confessed.

Ethan gave Fifi a sideways look and rubbed his lip with his index finger.’

‘Does the er… plank often happen with naked yoga,’ He asked.

‘I don’t know,’ Fifi said. ‘We’d never done it before.’

‘Never?’ Ethan asked, surprised.

‘No,’ Fifi admitted.

Ethan stepped back, as if to see the bigger picture. He frowned.

‘So, why do it, on that particular day?’

Fifi glanced at the others. Gloria nodded encouragement. She sighed. ‘Well, to be honest, my yoga numbers were slipping. I was struggling financially. Things weren’t going well…’

‘And,’ Ethan prompted.

‘And I was chatting about it at the hairdressers in town.’

‘Get a Grip?’ Ethan asked.

‘Uhuh.’ Fifi agreed. ‘I was talking to Mavis Gloria and Lillian about it the day after the Governor came back from Oikland. I mentioned the Governor and his friends were coming over, but that was my lot for a while. If things didn’t pick up, I’d have to sell up, and leave the island.’

Gloria took up the reigns. ‘I said to Fifi, if she can get me and the governor naked on the beach I’d sign up to yoga for a year.’

‘I said the same about the foreign office chap,’ Lillian admitted.

‘And I didn’t care who it was,’ Mavis said.

‘I see.’ Ethan rolled his eyes and shook his head. ‘So, what happened next,’ he said.

Fifi shuffled her feet in the sand. ‘To be honest, when I suggested naked yoga, I was hoping they would say no. I did, honestly. I didn’t really fancy it myself, but the Third Recorder stripped off then and there and said “come-on what are you afraid of.” He said “Surely you want to get your chakras straightened out.” After that I felt like I had to take the lead, so I followed suit as did Gloria and Lillian. Mavis was already naked of-course.’

‘Of-course.’ Ethan said looking at Mavis, who flushed red.

‘The others tentatively peeled off their leotards leaving just Karen and the Governor. With everyone else standing there. I reckon the two of them felt more embarrassed with clothes on, than without.’

‘To be honest,’ Lillian said, ‘the governor was wearing the worst leotard I have ever seen. Naked had to be less embarrassing than that. We were doing him a favour.’

‘Indeed,’ Ethan agreed, with more than a hint of sarcasm.

‘And Karen’s leotard,’ Gloria said, ‘the zebra thing, that did nothing for her.’

‘Were you doing her a favour as well,’ Ethan enquired. They all looked a little sheepish.

‘So they rather reluctantly, took theirs off too,’ Fifi said.

‘What happened then?’ Ethan asked, wondering if things could get any more bizarre.

‘We did yoga on the beach, spent the day sunbathing and chatting on the terrace. Played beach volleyball, football, frisbee… swam in the sea.’

‘All naked?’

‘It was very liberating,’ Mavis said. ‘You really must try it.’

‘Really,’ Ethan said, making “really” sound more like no, than no itself. He pondered his next question. ‘So, why didn’t they all go back to Ivory Towers that evening?’

Fifi laced her fingers as in prayer and glanced around, searching for the best way to address the next awkward part of the story. 

‘Well… I had a conversation at the hairdressers.’

‘Another conversation?’ Ethan said.

‘Yes… another conversation.’ Fifi confirmed.

‘At Get a Grip?’ Ethan said.

‘Uhuh… at, Get a Grip,’ Fifi acknowledged.

‘And?’

Gloria cut in, trying to save Fifi some blushes. ‘I said, if Fifi could get the governor to sleep naked on the same beach as me, I’d pay for two subscriptions, for the year.’

‘And I said the same about the foreign office chap,’ Lillian said.

‘And I said the same, about anyone,’ Mavis admitted.

Ethan shook his head despondently. ‘So go on then, what happened?’

Fifi hesitated, but the train had left the station; she knew there was no going back. ‘Well, I arranged it so the evening meal was a bit late, we had drinks on the terrace, I lied a little about low tide, so when they wanted to leave, the causeway was underwater, and it was getting dark. They had to stay.’

‘They didn’t put their leotards back on?’ Ethan asked.

‘They were positively enjoying being naked by then,’ Fifi said. ‘The governor wouldn’t put that cow leotard back on for love nor money. I got some blankets out and suggested we all sleep on the beach. The wine flowed, we had a lovely evening, and fell asleep under the stars.’

‘Sounds heavenly,’ Ethan said, as if anything but.

‘Next morning, we had ring doughnuts for breakfast, which the Governor and Karen seemed to find very amusing, and Voila?’ Fifi threw out her arms out as if presenting the end of a magic trick.

‘Voila?’ Ethan queried.

‘I now have six one year subscriptions and I charged the Governor’s team for a night on the island, plus breakfast the next day. All in all, a good day’s business.’

‘You also held people against their will, obtained money by deception, and caused them to roam around butt naked for the entertainment of your friends. That is kidnapping, theft, and prostitution. Quite a catalogue of criminal offences for one day’s work.’

‘Does that really make me a bad person?’ Fifi enquired, hesitantly.

‘Does it make you a bad person? Let me see? Kidnapping, theft and prostitution. Yes! I'd say that definitely makes you a bad person,’ Ethan stated categorically.

‘Is there any way I can make amends.’ Fifi rolled her eyes in the most beguiling manner.

‘What, instead of a stretch at her majesty’s pleasure?’

‘Uhuh,’ she nodded, smiling sweetly.

‘We can’t send them to prison,’ George said. ‘What would be gained?’

‘Retribution, justice, rehabilitation, and a big warning not to do it again,’ Ethan suggested.

‘We’re not here to put the residents in Jail,’ George said. ‘We’re here to find the Governor.’

‘We’re really, really, really sorry,’ the four ladies chimed.

Ethan crossed his arms and stared at the repentant characters before him.

‘Hmm, well, if you can come up with anything else that could help my investigation, then I might, just might, let you off.’

‘That and a free one year’s yoga subscription,’ George chipped in.

Ethan looked at George with incredulity, then shrugged.

‘Okay, and a one year’s yoga subscription.’

‘You drive a hard bargain,’ Fifi said playfully.

‘I can’t get you off for nothing,’ Ethan said.

‘Really?’ Fifi said flashing her eyelashes.

‘I will have to say I negotiated a settlement… something.’

‘Okay, I’ll throw in the one year’s free yoga subscription.’

‘And some useful information,’ Ethan reminded her. ‘I need the useful information.’

Fifi racked her memory. ‘Let’s see, the Governor has a mole on the end… ‘

‘That, is not useful information,’ Ethan said.

‘There were those boats in the night,’ Lillian reminded them

‘That’s true,’ Goria said.

‘What kind of boats?’ Ethan asked intrigued.

‘Power boats,’ Fifi said. ‘like a speed boat but bigger. Two or three. Difficult to see in the moonlight. They headed up the coast. No lights.’

Gloria raised a finger, ‘Oh, and there was that guy that turned up around eight in the morning, washed up on the beach.’

Fifi nodded. ‘Oh yeah, said he’d been on a fishing trip… suddenly found himself in the water… not sure how he got there. Said something about whale music. Was a bit delirious. Thought he’d died and gone to heaven. I think it was the tropical island and degree of nudity.’

‘Do you know anything else about this gentleman?’ Ethan enquired.

‘You saw more of him than most didn’t you Mavis,’ Gloria said.

‘I brought him down gently from his state of delusion,’ Mavis said. ‘You don’t want to rush these things. There can be psychological repercussions. I let him believe it was paradise for a while. Give him time to adjust. He’s also got a mole…’

‘Anything other than moles?’ Ethan asked.

‘We didn’t do much talking,’ Mavis said bashfully.

‘He certainly went off with a smile,’ Lillian said,

Ethan glanced across at George and nodded. George nodded back. ‘Hmm okay. Well I think that’s about everything. I guess we’d better be on our way.’

‘I’m afraid you can’t. The er… causeway is under too much water,’ Fifi said.

What, really? Ethan asked.

‘Yup. You could always join us here for the day. We’re doing naked yoga.’ Fifi said.

‘I’d rather swim back.’ Ethan stated.

‘Oh! Okay. If you have to go, I guess, I could give you a lift back in the boat.’

‘There’s a boat?’

‘Of course, there’s a boat.’

THE SWISS ARMY WILLY

June 30, 2022

The Swiss Army Willy – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first cloud on the horizon refer to: Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 33     DATE: 15th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE SWISS ARMY WILLY

 

Background briefing:

We’re going to let the cat out of the bag, but first we have to find the bag. The cat is Andrew Baker, Governor of the British Veteran Islands. The bag, his kidnapper’s hideaway. In the bag with him are his fiancé Karen, his friends, Winston, Tarquin, Quinlan and Josephine, and his personal assistant, the Third Recorder. Our job is to find the bag before the cat loses his ninth life.

Andrew Baker became Governor for a number of reasons: he applied for the wrong job, there was a mix up in CVs, and an imminent invasion never occurred. He kept his job because his assistant agreed to train him, a Foreign Office investigator turned out to be a friend, his girlfriend can write best-selling novels, his pal knows a president, and he has a surprise passion for bamboo boxer shorts. That’s eight lives down already.

These case notes follow the cat as he explores his new territory, leaping over obstacles and squeezing through every opening to get where he needs. We are finally catching up with him; we are almost on his tail. Soon we will know how and why things turned sour, for the cat that got the cream.

Case Note: 33 - The Swiss Army Willy - 15th September 1990

Andrew Baker had turned Oikland from the Veteran Islands' greatest enemy into its greatest ally. A ball had been organised to cement the peace. It would also be his friends’ last day on the island before they returned home. The Third Recorder felt they should celebrate their few remaining days together. He cleared the Governor’s diary of all official appointments and arranged a series of ‘enjoyable,’ excursions. The first, a fishing trip, ended in disaster. What would today’s adventure hold.

Case Note: 33 - Transcript of a secret recording by Anne the Housekeeper, of conversation over breakfast.

Andrew Baker and Karen Hannah were the first down to breakfast.

‘I was pushed,’ Andrew said with absolute certainty.

‘You fell,’ Karen replied, equally assured.

‘I was pushed I tell you.’

‘How come nobody saw it?’

‘She had you looking for an imaginary whale at the front of the boat.’

‘We didn’t hear you scream.’

‘The engine was running and she put that terrible music on.’

‘It was whale song, to attract the whale.’

‘A whale no-one else saw.’

‘What were you doing at the back anyway?’

‘Throwing away the surplus bait, like she told me.’

‘You must have tripped.’

‘I was pushed.’

‘Well it was her that pointed out you were missing.’

‘’After how long?’

‘I don’t know, five or ten minutes. It wasn’t long.’

‘And how long did it take you to find me.’

‘An hour.’

‘An hour. You were five minutes away.’

‘It’s not her fault. The sea is a big place.’

‘She was steering the boat.’

‘She had us scouring the waves. You were impossible to see.’

‘I would be if you were going in the wrong direction.’

‘It was her that pulled you out.’’

‘After she had dropped me back in a couple of times.’’

‘You’re paranoid.’

‘She’s a master of deception.’

‘She’s not Paul Daniels.’

‘She is. She’s Paul Daniels. Same height and everything.’

She is not Paul Daniels.

Same sinister laugh

She’s got to be twenty years younger

Facelift

She’s a woman

Not necessarily

She was wearing chiffon.

Exactly. What could be more feminine?

‘She can’t be Paul Daniels, she’s got a sense of humour.’

‘Shouting “shark,” is not a sense of humour.’

‘We laughed.’

‘She’s a menace.’

‘She’s the sweetest thing. And I don’t care what you say, she’s coming.’

‘To the ball? You’ve got to be kidding.’

‘She’s coming. She knows the Majumpas. She’ll put them at ease, relieve the tension.’

‘What about me?’

‘We’ve got to invite you, you’re the Governor.

‘No! What about relieving my tension?’

‘That’s my job.’

‘Oh!... er, hmm… I’ll put in another order for strawberries.’

‘I’d prefer ring doughnuts.’

‘Playing hoopla again, Winston said as he arrived with Josephine.’

‘Only if the Third Recorder hasn’t organized another fishing trip,’ Karen replied.

‘I wonder what he’s got lined up for us today?’ Quinlan said dragging out a chair.

‘Where is he?’ Tarquin asked, doing the same.

‘Nobody knows,’ Andrew Baker said. ‘He’s disappeared.’

Conversation turned to the table as coffee was poured and marmalade spread. After a minute or two the big oak door swung open and the Third Recorder walked in.

‘Where have you been?’ Josephine asked.

‘Shopping. I’ve got presents.’

‘Ooh goody.’ Karen said, rubbing her hands with glee. ‘Come on, hand them over.’

The Third Recorder passed a parcel to Karen. ‘Here you are… Governor, this is for you… Winston… you Tarquin… this one’s Quinlan… and the last one is yours Josephine.’

‘What are they?’ Josephine asked.

‘Outfits, for today’s activity.’

‘Outfits?’ they all asked. ‘What for?’

‘Open them and see.’

The sound of eager unwrapping echoed round the dining room, followed by a moments silence as they inspected the goods.

‘Leotards! Why leotards?’ They all asked

‘We’re going to Fifi L’amour’s’ The Third Recorder announced with the enthusiasm of a character from an upbeat musical.

‘Fifi L’amour’s? Are we taking part in a drag act?’ Andrew Baker asked, with less enthusiasm.

‘Fifi L’amour is a highly respected yoga teacher… I’ve been told. We’re going to her retreat on Saunter.’

‘Saunter?’ Tarquin said. ‘Where is Saunter?’

‘Small island to the east.’ The Third Recorder clarified. ‘Beautiful beaches.’

‘I am not going on a boat again,’ Andrew Baker stated emphatically.

‘It’s joined by a causeway to the mainland, well at low tide it is. You park on Pootle and walk across. Come on, get your leotards on, we might as well arrive appropriately dressed.’

There was a rush to finish toast and drink a last cup of coffee, before everyone scuttled off upstairs to change. A few moments later they gathered back in the dining room. They chatted while they waited for the Third Recorder. The audio tape was still running.

‘Animal prints, why did he choose animal prints?’ Karen asked.

‘Well I think they’re fun,’ Josephine replied.

‘You would you’re a sexy leopard. I’m a zebra.’

‘Zebras are sexy.’

‘The stripes get fatter round the stomach. I look enormous.’

‘I thought they’d stretched wider,’ Andrew Baker said with the sensitivity of an Orc.

‘No hoopla for you this evening,’ Karen sniped.

‘I don’t know why you’re grumbling,’ Winston said. ‘What about me? All in grey, what am I supposed to be?’

‘You’re an elephant,’ Josephine stated, as if stating the obvious

‘There’s no trunk,’ Winston said.

‘There is from where I’m standing,’ Josephine advised.

‘Quinlan, what the hell are you?’ Karen asked

‘I think I’m a peacock, but I’m not sure.’

‘Well I have to say, it’s a very nice display, all the feathers fanning out like that, but shouldn’t they be round the back?’ Karen queried.

‘Oh yeah,’ Quinlan chuckled.

‘It kinda draws your eye to the centre,’ Karen suggested. ‘Looks like a weird red Indian chief, with a hook nose.’

‘I’ll turn it round,’ Quinlan said and skipped off upstairs.

‘I’m guessing you’re a penguin, Tarquin,’ Winston said.

‘Surprisingly smart,’ Josephine said. ‘If you added a tie, you could wear it to the office.’

‘Yeah,’ Tarquin agreed. ‘If James Bond did yoga, this is what he’d wear.’

‘Are you sure he wouldn’t wear this?’ Andrew Baker asked.

‘No-one in their right mind would wear that,’ Josephine said.

‘I know,’ Andrew Baker said.  ‘A cow, why choose a cow? I wouldn’t mind, but this dangly udder is just a bit weird. Looks like I’ve got five willies.’

‘One is never enough,’ Karen chirped.

‘It’s a Swiss Army Willy,’ Winston suggested.

‘I assume by Swiss Army Willy, you mean, like a Swiss Army Knife,’ Karen said. ‘I’m guessing most of the willies in the Swiss Army are actually a fairly standard mono willy, rather than the multi-functional willy to which you are alluding.’

‘Thank you, Miss pedantic. I do indeed mean, a Swiss Army Knife WIlly,’ Winston confirmed. ‘I wonder what the functions are?’

Tarquin took each teat in turn. ‘This one’s for filing your nails, this one’s a corkscrew, this one’s a bottle opener and I think this one is for getting stones out of horses’ hooves. I just can’t think of a good use for the last one.’

‘Do you mind? I don’t go around feeling your udder,’ Andrew Baker chided.

‘It’d be hell going to the loo,’ Winston said. ‘I mean, which one do you hold?’

‘What if they all fire at once?’ Tarquin said.

‘Messy in the bedroom,’ Josephine suggested.

‘Messy in the bathroom,’ Karen added. ‘You’d need a funnel,’

‘Or five loos,’ Winston said.

‘You could just sit on the loo,’ Josephine pointed out

‘But where would the fun be in that?’ Winston said.

‘I tell you what though,’ Tarquin said, knowingly.

‘What?’ Andrew Baker asked, intrigued

‘Your underpants would fit like a glove.’

Winston burst into fits of laughter, spluttering coffee all over the table. Karen and Andrew Baker fell off their chairs, then fell about laughing. Contagious giggling kept erupting, before the tremors finally died away. Josephine heard footsteps on the stairs.

‘Is that the Third Recorder?’ she said. ‘I wonder what he’s wearing?’

‘Fox,’ Winston suggested.

‘Shark,’ Karen said.

‘Silver Back Gorilla,’ Andrew Baker proposed.

‘Killer Whale,’ Tarquin chipped in.

The Third Recorder appeared at the door.

‘Oh how sweet… a pussy cat,’ they all said.

‘How misleading,’ Andrew Baker added.

‘Come on; time to go,’ the Third Recorder announced. ‘We mustn’t keep Fifi waiting.’

 

 

GONE FISHING

June 23, 2022

Gone Fishing – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

This is the last straw. For the first straw refer to: Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 32     DATE: 14th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

GONE FISHING

 

Background briefing:

Andrew Baker was a lucky, lucky, lucky bastard. He should never have been Governor of the Veteran Islands, yet he was; He should never have written a best-selling novel, but he has; he should never have won the heart of Karen Hannah, but he did. He was without doubt, a lucky, lucky, lucky bastard. That was then. Now his luck has changed. Now his life hangs in the balance, along with those of his fiancé Karen, his friends: Winston, Quinlan, Tarquin and Josephine; and of course, his personal assistant, the Third Recorder. They have all been kidnapped. If we are to find him, we need a clue. Even with Baker luck we don’t expect a star hanging over the hideaway; a neon arrow pointing the way; or a giant X marks the spot. We’re going to have to do this the hard way. These case notes trace his time on the island. Hopefully they will trace a path to his door.

Case Note: 32 Gone Fishing - 14th September 1990

Andrew Baker had achieved all his personal aims except one. Every Governor has a degree. The CV that got him the job had a degree. It was not his CV. He needed one to stay in post. He hoped his best-selling novel would get him an honorary degree. With Baker luck he might just be right.

Andrew Baker returned from Oikland on the 13th September to a hero’s welcome. The island’s greatest enemy was now its greatest friend, and any hint of an invasion had evaporated. It just needed a special event to cement the peace, but what should it be?

His friends were all due to leave on the 22nd September.  Tarquin had been advised of his next post, Quinlan needed to write a travelogue on Thailand, Winston had to get back to rugby training, and Josephine had to prepare her lectures for the new intake. The Third Recorder felt their last week together should be a week of rest and relaxation. He cleared the Governor’s diary of all official appointments and arranged a number of ‘enjoyable,’ excursions, the first of which was a fishing trip leaving at six o’clock… in the morning.

The following account is derived from a tape of the onboard video recording, discovered in Josephine’s bedroom. We attempted to interview the fishing boat’s captain, but she insisted, what goes on in the boat, stays in the boat, apart from bad fish, which are always thrown overboard.

Gone Fishing

The bleary-eyed bunch of reluctant sailors dragged themselves through the deserted streets down to the harbour. It was cold and damp with the smell of salty seaweed hanging in the air. The first sprinklings of sunlight sparked off the rippling ridges of the sea. They huddled together by the wall looking out over the marina, wondering which of the floating gin palaces, was theirs. Hidden amongst the slick yachts and stylish cabin cruisers, was a small white painted, wooden fishing boat, with a proud pop-up cabin. It was straight out of a children’s picture book. The captain however was not. They were beckoned forth by a waving arm and a cheerful ‘yoo-hoo, come along now, we don’t want to keep the fish waiting, do we.’ They wandered down the wobbly wooden pontoon to the boat. Painted on the stubby little prow was the name ‘Little Nose.’ Karen ran her finger along the sign.

‘I used to have a Long Nose,’ the captain said, ‘but it got me into all sorts of trouble. Little Nose is much more reliable. Keeps me on the straight and narrow.’

Karen placed a nervous foot on the wide wooden gunwale. The captain offered a delicate feminine hand for assistance. That was the first time Karen had really opened her sleep encrusted eyes that morning. The gnarled old sea dog with bushy white beard she had imagined, was rather at odds with the elegant lady in a long chiffon gown, trouser suit, and slingback sandals. She wobbled precariously.

‘Don’t worry my dear, you’ll soon get those sea legs,’ the captain said.

The men jumped in, as men will, stumbling into benches and tripping over buckets of bait. The captain sighed and shared a look of despair with Josephine as she guided her into the boat. There was a flurry of activity as the passengers scuttled around, likes hens in a new coup, pointing at every landmark and checking how easy it was to rock the boat. It wasn’t long however, before the steely gaze of the captain had them silently pinned to their seats.

‘I am Captain Ali, and this,’ she said tapping the engine cowl, ‘is Little Nose. First of all, a little health and safety. If you fall in, please don’t drown. You wouldn’t believe the paperwork. If you’re feeling sick, there is a big ocean out there, please aim for it. If you miss and it ends up in the boat, don’t worry, it won’t cause me any inconvenience, because you’ll be cleaning it up. If you are sick on me, your life won’t be worth living, so please avoid it, for everyone’s sake. I hope you have brought a jumper, coat and hat, otherwise you could get cold, wet and sunburnt.

Have you got anything, in case we get cold, wet and sunburnt?’ Andrew Baker asked.

Captain Ali gave him a cold stare. ‘Sympathy,’ she said, ‘but that is in short supply, so I wouldn’t bank on it.’

‘Andrew rubbed some warmth into his bare arms.’

‘We will be out for about four hours,’ Captain Ali continued. ‘Any questions before we leave?’

‘Are there any sharks?’ Karen asked.

‘Yes.’

‘What do you advise if we see a shark?’

‘Don’t fall in.’

Karen gulped and scanned the shimmering surface for a telltale triangle. Ali returns to her spiel.

The video camera here on the cabin, is for those who want a memento of their fun filled adventure. If you fall overboard, it is also to prove it wasn’t me who provided the push. It also encourages me to resist the temptation, no matter how idiotic my passengers may be.’ She smiled sweetly. ‘If you ever see me switch it off, I would take that as a warning. Should you want a copy of the video, see me at the end.’ Having dispensed a downbeat pep talk she smiled an upbeat smile. ‘Well, I think we should get this party started, don’t you?’ Everyone nodded.

Soon the little white boat was riding up over the swell and heading out towards the open sea.  The splutter of the engine, splash of water, and screech of gulls made conversation difficult. Everyone soon gave up trying and scanned the surface for fishy things instead, pointing and screaming ‘fish’, at anything that moved. Eventually the boat turned the headland and settled into an area of relative calm. The Captain cut the engine, and allowed the boat to drift. She addressed the crew.

‘This is where we’ll be fishing. There’s a rack of rods here, pick a rod, any rod. There are buckets of bait to stick on the hook. Go to it.’

‘Is that it?’ Winston asked.

‘Is that what?’ Captain Ali asked, with just a hint of menace.

‘Is that all the instruction we’re going to get?’ Winston said.

‘There’s a stick, some string, and a hook… we’re not talking flat pack furniture… how much instruction do you need?’ Winston looked suitably chastened.

‘Where do you cast the hook?’ Quinlan asked.

‘It’s simple. You see here, in the boat?’

‘Ye… s,’ Quinlan replied

She wagged her finger, ‘No fish. There,’ she embraced the ocean with dramatic wave of the arm, ‘many fish.’

‘So we cast anywhere?’ Quinlan asked tentatively.

‘No! You don’t cast anywhere. You lower the hook carefully into the water. The last thing I want is a lot of barbed hooks flying around. This is Dior,’ she said pointing to her shawl. ‘Snag a single thread in this garment, and we go fishing for sharks, with you as bait.’

‘What type of fish… are we catching?’ Josephine asked.

‘Let me see, you’ll find there are three types of fish in these waters,’ Captain Ali said.

‘Oh, and they are?’ Josephine queried.

‘Big fish and little fish.’

‘And the third?’

‘Middle sized fish.’

‘Don’t they have names?’ Karen asked

‘You can give them names if it make you feel better. But, a word of advice… ‘

‘Yes?’

‘Call the ugly fish Ali, and you’re walking home.’

‘But we’re in the middle of the ocean,’ Andrew pointed out.

‘I didn’t say it would be easy.’

‘When I said names,’ Karen said, ‘I meant species. What species are they?’

‘The big fish are mahousive the small fish minousive, and the medium fish… midousive.’ Ali advised.

‘You made those up,’ Winston said.

Ali rolled her eyes and shook her head. ‘Jeepers you’re a tough crowd. They’re fish, who cares what they’re called? You catch one and throw it back. Take a picture and look it up if you need to know.’

‘Hmm… Okay,’ Winston accepted grudgingly.

‘Have you been a captain long?’ Karen asked.

Ali’s eyes narrowed. ‘Not very,’ she replied, ‘Why do you ask?’

‘Well, you don’t seem to know the fish, and you are hardly dressed like a sea captain.’

‘Well, if you must know, it is a bit of a hobby. My husband is away a lot, and I need something to fill my time. But, I don’t see why being a captain means I have to dress shoddily. This way I can pop in for G & T with a friend on the way up from the harbour. It’s difficult to do that wearing a sou wester and a storm jacket. Now, can we get on with the fishing. Gentlemen, feel free to get your tackle out.’

They each chose a rod and grabbed a piece of bate from the buckets next to the rack. They stuck the bate on the hook and lowered it carefully into the sea. Staring at the end of a piece of string can’t keep anyone entertained for long. Soon they were utterly bored. Rods were jammed into the holders provided and left to catch fish on their own. They sat against the bulwark wondering what to do next. The captain had been expecting as much, and drew from the hold, a tray of heavy bottomed glass beakers, which she placed on the engine cowl. Then with a flourish she presented a bottle of gin, and one of tonic, which were met with a chorus of nods. She poured the drinks and handed them round.

‘I don’t blame you,’ she said. ‘Fishing is the most boring pastime on the planet. Nobody can be bothered for long. I hate it.’ She paused. ‘So, what is driving diplomats doolally nowadays?’

‘The Third Recorder laced his fingers and leant back to consider. ‘The trip to Oikland was a complete success,’ he said, ‘but we need to do something formal to cement the peace. I’m just not sure what that would be.’

‘What would you normally do in these circumstances?’ Ali asked.

‘Well normally we’d invite the President to speak at the Assembly. but... ‘

‘Oh, he won’t like that,’ Ali said dismissively. ‘He won’t like that at all.’

‘Why?’ Tarquin asked

‘President Majumpa hates public speaking.’

How do you know?’ Tarquin asked a little too abruptly

Ali smiled mischievously and raised a finger to the switch on the video camera. Tarquin gulped.

‘Sorry!’ He said nervously. Ali waved it away.

‘Well, if you must know, we lived on Oikland for a while. President Majumpa and his wife Yuwaring, were always popping round for pre-dinner drinks.’

‘Pre-dinner drinks,’ Andrew Baker said. ‘What are… pre-dinner drinks?’

‘Are you sure you are a fully qualified Governor,’ she said, eyeing Mr Baker with suspicion.

‘Er yes, of-course I’m er fully qualified, I’ve just not heard of the term before.’

‘The clue is in the name,’ Ali said. ‘Pre-dinner drinks… are drinks before dinner. Everyone knows that… everyone.’

‘So, if drinks before dinner are called pre-dinner drinks, what do you call drinks… after dinner,’ Andrew Baker asked as if reciting a tricky question from the English etiquette O’level examination.

‘Drinks after dinner,’ Ali replied, with the air of an expert in the field, ‘are called… drinks.’

‘Why aren’t they called post-dinner drinks? Andrew Baker asked

‘Because, pre-dinner drinks end at dinner. Nobody would know when post-dinner drinks ended.

‘Surely at pre-breakfast drinks,’ Karen chipped in.

‘Pre-breakfast drinks do not exist,’ Ali said exasperated.

‘So what do you call drinks before breakfast then?’ Andrew Baker asked.

‘A bad mistake, the slippery slope, an alcoholic’s appetizer, anything but pre-breakfast drinks.’

‘The rules don’t make sense,’ Andrew Baker asserted.

‘I don’t make the rules,’ Ali said matter of fact, ‘but at least I know what they are.’

The Third Recorder attempted to drag the conversation back on track. ‘So, if President Majumpa hates public speaking, what do you suggest instead.’

‘A ball!’ Ali proposed. ‘The Majumpas love a ball. He’s not a bad dancer as a matter of fact, and Yuwaring can be frightfully amusing,’ She said in a frightfully posh accent.

‘Hmm… a ball… a ball for peace… a peace ball. I like it. I like it a lot.’ The Third Recorder said.

‘And we get a chance to celebrate our last day on the island together,’ Josephine pointed out.

‘Yeah,’ Andrew Baker agreed. ‘It’s a great idea; a really great idea.’ He raised a glass to the captain who returned the gesture. She picked up the bottle and offered it round.

‘I assume you’ll want me to be there?’ Ali said, in her most beguiling manner.

‘Well, we could do with a waitress,’ Andrew Baker suggested.

At that point the video stopped abruptly.

HEROES WELCOME

June 11, 2022

Hero’s Welcome – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For Fates first twist on the dance floor of disaster, refer to case note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 31     DATE: 13th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

HEROES WELCOME

 

Background briefing:

The Veteran Islands are a Japanese Puzzle Box. We’ve been pushing and prodding, turning and twisting, searching for that elusive opening. The Governor, Andrew Baker is hidden inside. His life hangs in the balance. We have to lift the lid and lift it soon.

On the other hand, it is a beautiful box. It would be a crime not to enjoy it. Such lavish decorations: beach, bar, café, bar, beach. I mean, why would you cram yourself into a pokey little incident room up in the hills, when there is so much on offer?

To be honest, Andrew Baker should not be in the box. He should not be outside the box. He should not be here at all. He applied for the job of Governor by accident. He was the wrong man at the right time. The islands were about to be invaded. This unqualified, unskilled, unconnected, individual appeared to be the perfect patsy. The invasion never happened. Patsy is still in power. To stay there he needs a degree. An honorary degree is his only hope, a best-selling novel his only chance. The novel is out, the novel is news, the novel is big.

Case Note 31: A Heroes Welcome, 13th September 1990

The Governor and his entourage had been on a peace mission to Oikland, the hostile chain of islands to the east. Oikland is famous for bamboo products, from bikes to boxer shorts. When the Governor expressed a passion for bamboo, it was dismissed by the Oikland military chief as a publicity stunt, and a sham. The Governor and his entourage dropped their trousers to reveal bamboo briefs with the Oikland flag emblazoned on the front.

Photographs of the “brief incident” made front page news around the world. Headlines included: A case of brief madness, Bamboozled, and Y oh Y oh Y oh Y oh Y fronts. Sales of bamboo briefs sky rocketed, as did sales of the Governor’s book, ‘The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose.’ In one day the Veteran Island had been transformed from enemy to closest ally. This unorthodox approach to diplomacy had been an overwhelming success, and a technique copied the world over, with mixed results.

The Governor and his friends returned to the Veteran Islands as heroes. Crowds cheered as two open top limousines slowly wound their way up through Lax to the Assembly. There the Governor made a short speech, before they returned to Ivory Towers for a welcome rest.

The BBC included a half hour slot on a Saturday for locally produced programmes. The Veteran islands Media Company decided what could be better (or cheaper) than installing cameras in the hair salon in the centre of Lax and listening to what customers had to say. The first episode went out live, the day after the Governor’s heroic return from Oikland. It never went out live again. We include a transcript below as an honest portrayal of the Governor’s appeal at this time, and how he compared to previous incumbants.

 

BBC production from ‘Get a Grip’ salon, Lax’s Reality TV show 14th September 1990

In the salon Lillian leans back in the chair, resting her neck in the arc of the basin. She rolls her head back. Elaine collects her hair into the bowl, showering it with warm water. Mavis sits impatiently with her hair layered in foil envelopes as she waits for the colour to take. Gloria flicks through the magazines on the coffee table, then slowly slides one out. She checks to see if anyone is looking, then opens it up wide eyed and peers inside. Grant, the trainee, is fiddling with the new coffee machine. There’s a swoosh of steam. He jumps back nervously and eyes the machine with suspicion. Elaine looks at him and shakes her head, then rummages around on a shelf looking for the right product.  She squirts a little into her hand then draws it through the hair with her fingers.

So, what do you think of the new governor? She asks

‘He’s alright,’ Gloria replies, hiding the magazine down the side of the sofa. ‘He’s got the common touch. Easy on the ears.’

‘He don’t speak Latin and Greek like the last one,’ Mavis says. ‘That’s a bonus.’

Lillian is less enthusiastic. ‘I liked the Latin… it’s sophisticated… sexy. But he was a bit pompous.’

‘Pompous! Toffee arse twat, more like,’ Mavis blusters.

‘Toffee nosed, Mavis.’ Lillian lifts her head out of the bowl, much to Elaine’s annoyance, ‘It’s toffee nosed.’

‘He ‘ad enough arse lickers,’ Mavis says forcefully, ‘There must o’ been a reason.’

‘They were just trying to climb the greasy pole,’ Lillian says.

‘I wouldn’t put it past them,’ Mavis grunts snidely.

‘They were looking for a leg up like everyone else.’ Lillian continues, settling back over the bowl.

‘More like a leg over,’ Gloria chips in. ‘He was quite active with members in the Assembly, I hear.’

Elaine picks up the shower fitting to rinse Lillian’s hair. ‘Did they ever prove… he did, y’ know?’

‘They yanked him out pretty quick. There must a’ been a reason,’ Mavis snorts.

‘He didn’t even say goodbye,’ Lillian says, with a hint of bitterness.

‘Where’d he go?’ Elaine asks, rinsing away the last of the suds.

‘Saudi,’ Gloria says. ‘Out of harms way. No sheep in Saudi Arabia.’

‘It was a dolphin,’ Lillian says.

‘How do you know it was a dolphin?’ Elaine says looking up.

‘Sheep don’t swim,’ Lillian states.

‘And?’ Gloria asks.

‘They were scuba diving at the time, off the coast around Fritter, from that fancy hotel… the, er… Maharaja.’

‘It could have been apres scuba,’ Elaine suggests, ‘back at the hotel.’

‘Was it a bottlenose?’ Mavis asks.

‘Does it matter?’ Elaine says. ‘A dolphin’s a dolphin.’

‘You’d can never get a bottlenose back to the bedroom,’ Mavis explains

‘You’re right,’ Gloria chips in, ‘they’re a bugger to chat up are a bottlenose. Not a kinky bone in their body.’

Mavis rolls her eyes. ‘It’s got nothing to do with how frigid they are.’

Lillian is irate. ‘Hey! You can’t say frigid, it’s demeaning. They’re not frigid, they’re just choosy.’

‘You’re only saying that because your husband called you frigid.’ Mavis taunts.

Gloria raises her hand to her mouth ‘No! He didn’t, did he?’

Mavis nods. ‘She thought it was a term of endearment till I told her what it meant.’

‘He’s not my husband anymore.’ Lillian sits arms folded defiant.

‘You probably misheard. He probably called you Bridgette,’ Gloria says.

‘You think that’s any better?’ Lillian queries angrily.

‘It is your name,’ Gloria points out.

‘My first name yes, but I never use it.’

‘Maybe he forgot,’ Mavis says.

Lillian shakes her head. Elaine drags the conversation back on track.

‘So, assuming arousal is not the reason, ignoring cross species issues, and a lack of feet, Why wouldn’t a bottlenose dolphin follow you back to the hotel.’

‘They’re too big,’ Mavis says.

‘So?’ Gloria throws her hands out, ready to catch the response.

‘It’d never fit in a standard double bed,’ Mavis says smugly

‘Ah, but what about a King size bed,’ Goria says, ‘They’re bound to be king size at the Maharaja.’

‘A bottlenose dolphin is huge,’ Mavis points out. ‘You wouldn’t get one through the door.’

Lillian nods. ‘For Apres-scuba It’d have to be a Hector or a Maui dolphin.’

‘They’re so cute,’ Grant says gooey eyed.

‘Not cute enough to… though,’ Mavis says.

Grant shakes his head. ‘I could fix ’em up. A bit of mascara, eye shadow, and a little of blusher… they’d be irresistible.’

‘They could do with getting it on,’ says Gloria, ‘with each other that is. They need to get their numbers up.'

‘I hope there’s no dolphin/governor offspring,’ Mavis says

‘Why?’ Elaine asks, while guiding Lillian round to the styling station.

Mavis wags a finger. ‘You wouldn’t want that boring bastard swimming alongside your boat quoting Shakespeare. That’ll drive you onto the rocks better than any mermaid.’

‘I reckon it’s all a cover up anyway,’ Lillian suggests.

‘What do you mean, a cover up? Gloria asks.

‘The rumour about a dolphin is to cover up something much, much worse,’ Lillian says looking over her shoulder. Elaine gently guides her head back round to the front.

‘Worse than a dolphin!’ She says ‘What is worse than a dolphin?’

‘There’s loads worse than a dolphin,’ Mavis says a cheeky look in her eye.

Lillian points at Mavis in the mirror. ‘Please can we avoid going through the whole of the animal kingdom deciding which animal is worse than a dolphin?’

‘Well I think we can all agree, small is worse,’ Mavis suggests.

‘Please No! Enough. No more animal talk. I am a member of the WWF after all,’ Lillian says

‘Funny,’ Gloria says smiling. ‘You don’t look like a wrestler.’

‘The World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wrestling Federation,’ Lillian clarifies.

‘Thought it was odd,’ Gloria says knowingly.

‘I wasn’t talking about worse animals,’ Lillian strops. ‘I meant, I bet there is a real scandal, a terrible scandal. The dolphin is just a red herring.’

‘Now that would be worse,’ Mavis says.

‘Granted,’ Lillian accepts, ‘but something else was probably going on at the time. Something we all missed.’

‘If we missed anything, it'll be money, sex, drugs, murder, or treason,’ Mavis suggests.

‘Well I miss the money, sex and the drugs,’ Gloria chips in, ‘but I don’t miss the treason.’

‘They passed me by altogether,’ Mavis says looking a little disappointed.

‘There was that thing with the Saudi Prince,’ Elaine suggests, snipping at a few strands of hair.

Gloria smiles cheekily. ‘The one that liked to dress up as a dolphin?’

‘Yeah him.’ Elaine’s tone is sarcastic.

‘Anyway I’m glad they got rid of him,’ Mavis says

‘The Saudi Prince?’ Elaine asks.

Mavis shakes her head ‘No the old governor. What a tosspot.’

‘They were all tosspots till this one came along.’ Gloria says.

Mavis attempts a seductive pout. ‘And he’s a bit of alright.’

Gloria nods, ‘Shame he’s taken really. I would.’

‘We know you would,’ Lillian says. ‘If it moves you would.’

Gloria shrugs. ‘Who cares if it moves?

Elaine looks up from some tricky trimming. ‘He looked good in that open top limo on the way up from the harbour.’

‘That shirt with the open collar really suits him,’ Gloria says dragging at the neck of her blouse.

Mavis shakes her head. ‘I prefer the big black guy, the Rugby player. I’d like to play with his odd shaped balls.’

‘Mavis!’ Lillian chides.

‘Just saying.’

‘Well, if we had to make a choice,’ Lillian says, ‘I’d go for the James Bond look alike.’

‘The guy from the Foreign Office?’ Elaine asks.

‘Yeah him,’ Lillian agrees.

Grant places a cup of coffee on the low table next to Gloria.

‘Coaster!’ Elaine scolds, pointing.

Grant, grins a ‘sorry’ and moves the cup across. Gloria gives him a smile.

‘So Grant, who do you like, from the procession?’ She asks.

‘Me? I like the Governor’s Girlfriend,’ he says.

‘Really,’ Gloria responds, ‘I thought you had a different… perspective. I thought maybe… the blonde?’

Grant shakes his head. ‘Not my type.’

‘But the girl… Karen… you fancy her?’ Gloria asks, surprised.

‘I don’t fancy her,’ Grant says. ‘She’s fun, she’s a hoot.’

‘Yeah,’ Mavis says, ‘she is that. That was funny, when she stood up in the car and lifted her skirt to reveal the Oikland flag.’

Lillian laughs. ‘The best bit was when she bent over and there was a union jack on the other side.’

‘The old bloke next to me had palpitations,’ Mavis says, patting her chest.

‘I thought he was going to have a stroke,’ Lillian says.

‘He would, if he could reach,’ Mavis jokes. They all laugh

‘Tying underpants to the car aerials was a nice touch,’ Elaine suggests.

‘Did anyone throw their nickers?’ Gloria asks looking around.

‘I heard them suggest it on the radio,’ Lillian replies, ‘so I had a spare in my bag. She forgot,’ she says pointing to Mavis. ‘Ended up taking them off in the street.’

‘Mavis!’ Gloria says in mock horror.

‘I didn’t want to be left out,’ Mavis says.

‘Not very hygienic though is it Mavis,’ Lillian says, ‘An old pair of nickers, hitting you in your face.’

‘They didn’t hit him in the face.’

‘They did hit the blonde guy in the car behind though,’ Lillian points out.

Gloria squirms. ‘Hope he didn’t catch anything.’

‘That’s what did it for Tom Jones you know,’ Mavis says.

‘What?’ Elaine asks, frowning.

‘Chlamydia.’

‘Chlamydia?’ They all say together.

Mavis leans forward as if to share a secret. ‘When his career went quiet in the seventies. All those nickers… chlamydia overload.’

‘Why would chlamydia stop his career?’ Elaine asked doubtfully.

‘Apparently men’s… round things.’

‘Testicles,’ Gloria prompts.

‘Yes those,’ Mavis agrees, ‘they can swell up. Tom Jones gyrating like he does, they get a bit of a swing on them, disturbs the balance. He was all over the place.’

‘No!’ Elaine gasps.

‘A gyroscope out of control,’ Mavis says nodding.

‘He performed here one year you know,’ Lillian says. ‘He was visiting Ritchard Branston. Did a little concert, up at the assembly.’

‘Did you go?’ Elaine asks.

‘Of course I went,’ Lillian says. ‘Took a spare pair of nickers with me. She forgot hers again.’

‘Tripped down the steps, nickers around my ankles.’ Mavis clutches her hands embarrassed by the memories.

‘The Governor is a bit of a pop star himself now,’ Elaine says.

‘Well, he’s famous here. He’s hardly a world-wide phenomenon,’ Lillian suggests.

‘I don’t know, he was on the front page of all the papers,’ Gloria points out.

‘And that book of his, The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose, is a best seller,’ Elaine says. ‘I’ve got a copy.’

‘Any good?’ Gloria asks.

‘Well it’s alright, but it's no Violet Eyes.

 

Violet Eyes, is a new novel by Elaine Ramsey, published on August 28th 2022 by 'The Book Guild.'

 

 

ENGAGING WITH OIKS

June 05, 2022

“Engaging with Oiks” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first case on this carousel of catastrophe refer to case note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 30     DATE: 12th SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

ENGAGING WITH OIKS

 

Background briefing:

Sometimes an investigator is blinkered; strolls down a cul-de-sac and can’t find their way out. Maybe the cul-de-sac is pretty; they don’t want to leave. Throw off the blinkers, they still won’t turn around; they’re enjoying themselves far too much. Now I’m not saying the Veteran Islands are a cul-de-sac, but they sure are pretty.

I digress. The Governor of these fair isles, and his entourage have disappeared. We are here to find them and find them we shall. They have not fallen down a rabbit hole or strolled into a cul-de-sac. They may have been abducted by aliens, who knows, they’ve certainly been abducted by someone.

The Governor, Andrew Baker, has never lived in a cul-de-sac. This is just one of the many fascinating jigsaw pieces we have discovered. If we can piece, all those jigsaw pieces together, we will have a picture, a picture of where he is… or a picture of a dreary Tudor inn with a horse and carriage outside.

Remind me never… never ever… to write a report after going to Rumshackle’s Ramshackle Rum Shack. I’m not blinkered anymore… because, I can’t see. Maybe I’ve got my eyes closed. I’ll check in the mirror.

Case Note 30: Engaging with Oiks, 12th September 1990

Sorry about that boss. Jude here. I’ve taken over typing for now. Geoff’s birthday party last night. Tiny bit too much to drink. Temporary blindness is the least of his problems. When he eventually opens his eyes, he’ll realise he forgot to get dressed this morning. Well, he is wearing a traditional bow tie, but not necessarily in the traditional location.

So, where were we. Oh, yes, Case note: 30 Engaging with Oiks

Tensions are running high between the British Veteran Islands and Oikland, the island chain to the east. Oikland had tried to invade once, and was threatening to do so again. The Governor of the Vets and his associates held a meeting at Rumshackle’s Ramshackle, Rum Shack on the 1st September to discuss ways of reducing the tension. 

Following that meeting a number of things occurred. Tarquin Pallister managed to obtain funding for the literature for peace initiative; Andrew Baker convinced the publisher to help with costs; Winston Grahame telephoned Paranoid Majumpa and arranged a meeting in Oikland; and Tarquin Pallister also obtained a tentative agreement for the England Rugby team to stay over in Oikland for one night, on their return journey from their Pacific Tour. To make the meeting with Paranoid Majumpa feel more like a high profile diplomatic mission, it was agreed that Andrew, Winston, Josephine, Quinlan, Tarquin and Karen, accompanied by the Third Recorder would all visit Oikland together. Tarquin arranged a visit to the bamboo bike factory on the outskirts of the capital city of Dubious. Perhaps, most important of all, Andrew Baker bought everyone several pairs of bamboo briefs, made in Oikland. The following article is taken from the capital’s daily paper ‘The Dubious Observer.’

 

The Dubious Observer

Oikland’s No.1 local paper: Building a better community, with none of that namby-pamby left wing libertarian nonsense.

10.00 scruples. (If you lack any scruples refer to page 3 article, ‘how to dish the dirt on your neighbour for cash)

September 13th 1990

 

Contents

1: Editor’s Opinion – Pages 1 to 39

2: Facts – Page 40, column 4, last paragraph.

Visitors drop everything to show they care

Paranoid Majumpa’s invitation to the Governor of the Veteran Islands to visit Oikland, in order to defuse tension between nations, has proven to be a complete success. The Governor’s team included Winston Grahame, the well-known England international rugby star and his physiotherapist Josephine Carter; representatives of the British Foreign Office, Tarquin Pallister and Quinlan Weston-Smythe; the Governor’s personal secretary, Karen Hannah; and of course, the Third Recorder.

The day started with Winston Grahame teaching a group of school children how to form the perfect scrum. He then challenged them to stop him pushing his way from one end of the training pitch to the other. With several children wrapped around his ankles he collapsed within a few feet of the try line; the children collapsed with laughter.

After lunch Andrew Baker drove a lorry full of books to the secondary school in Goon. There he handed out copies of his new book ‘The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose.’ Over the next few days the lorry was to visit all the secondary schools in Oikland providing a book for every pupil as part of the President’s Great Literacy Initiative. Paranoid said the Governor’s book is a gas, great fun to read, and will make pupils realise the schools in Oikland are every bit as good as those in Great Britain.

Following dinner the guests visited the famous Bamboo Bike factory on the outskirts of the city. It was here that Leery Strudel, head of the army, and strong supporter of military intervention in the Veteran Islands, broke ranks with Paranoid’s diplomatic team, and declared the visit a pathetic attempt at appeasement. He went on to say the visit was a sham, a charade, and the guests had absolutely no interest in Oikland bamboo, and nothing they did could prove otherwise. There was stunned silence, while the diplomatic mission teetered on a precipice. All seemed lost until Andrew Baker, the Governor of the Vets gave the instruction to ‘drop ‘em.’ Five pairs of trousers and two skirts hit the floor to reveal bamboo briefs with the Oikland flag emblazoned across the front. The crowd went wild.

APPEASING THE OIKS

May 28, 2022

“Appeasing the Oiks” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first flush on this drain run to disaster, refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 29               DATE: 1st SEPTEMBER 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

APPEASING THE OIKS

 

Background briefing:

We’ve lost the car keys, somewhere in the house. We’ve done the cursory glance at the mantlepiece, on top of the bread bin, bathroom windowsill, and felt in the pocket of every casually discarded pair of trousers in the bedroom; no show. We go through the coat rack, kitchen table, chest of drawers and down the side of the settee; still no sign. At this point we have a choice: either, we take the house apart brick by brick, or we retrace our steps, rule in and rule out, until we find what we are looking for. Annihilation or investigation. We prefer the latter.

Our missing ‘key’ is Andrew Baker, our ‘house’ the Veteran islands, of which he is the Governor. He has not slipped down the side of the settee or been discovered on top of the mantlepiece. We are now retracing his steps. By doing so we hope to discover a whole set of keys on the same ring; namely, his friends: Karen, Josephine, Winston, Quinlan and Tarquin, along with the Third Recorder, his personal assistant.

Andrew Baker is the key that did not fit the lock; a key that opened a door to the prestigious post of Governor. An imminent invasion meant, for a while, any key would fit; it would soon be disposed of anyway, so who cares what it looks like. The invasion never happened. Andrew Baker is now being re-cut and re-shaped, by his personal assistant, with the right skills, knowledge and experience for the job. A degree is the only bit missing. He needs one before they change the locks. His only chance is an honorary degree; a best-selling novel, his best hope of getting one. The book is written, the book is published, the book is not selling well.

Case Note 29: Appeasing the Oiks, 1st September 1990

A lot has happened since our last Case Note on the 28th of July. Andrew Baker’s novel, ‘The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose,’ has been published and is languishing on shelves in respectable book shops everywhere. He has proved to be a popular Governor, and the Veteran Islands a paragon of efficient and effective administration. 

On the 1st of September Andrew Baker, his friends and the Third Recorder met at Rumshackle’s Ramshackle Rum Shack. There they discussed book sales, as well as the possibility of another invasion from Oikland, the hostile island to the east. Quinlan was still cycling round wearing a helmet fitted with a video recorder. We are fortunate he cycled to the Rum Shack that day and placed his helmet down on the table without switching it off. Below is a transcript of the recording.

Case Note 29: Transcript of cycle helmet recording device.

‘Book sales are good,’ Winston said. ‘Not best-seller good, but doing alright.’

‘That’s in the book shop on the island, nowhere else,’ The Third Recorder replied, ‘It’s not good enough. Sales need to be off the scale.

‘We need a new marketing angle,’ Josephine suggested. Andrew Baker nodded.

‘We need to sell a shed load of books and quick. Enough to push us right up the list. We need to get noticed.

How big a shed, is a shed load? Quinlan asked.

‘A very, very, very big shed,’ The Third Recorder advised.

Tarquin changed topic. ‘I’ve heard reports that the Oiks are getting uppity again. The military are undertaking manoeuvres.’

Andrew Baker frowned. ‘Do you think they are planning another invasion? I’m not sure we’ll be so lucky with a tidal wave, second time around?

‘An invasion looks likely,’ Tarquin advised.

Karen shook her head. ‘Why? Why would anyone want to invade the Vets?’

‘It’s the president,’ Tarquin advised. ‘His support is waning, he needs something to boost his popularity. An invasion might just be his best option.’

‘I guess diplomacy is out,’ Andrew Baker said. ‘There’s no point negotiating with someone who’s paranoid.’

‘He’s not paranoid,’ the Third Recorder stated.

Andrew Baker looked confused. ‘You told me Majumpa was paranoid.’

'No! He’s Paranoid Majumpa. That’s his name.'

Winston brightened. ‘Paranoid Majumpa is the president of Oikland?’

‘Yeah. Do you know him?’ the Third Recorder asked.

‘Of course. He used to be a rugby player. Some time ago now. He was pretty good. I’ve bumped into him at Twickenham before. He’s a massive rugby fan. Nice guy.’

‘Not at the moment,’ Tarquin said ‘At the moment he’s being a massive pain in the arse.’

‘He’s probably a bit upset,’ Winston said.

‘A bit upset!’ Andrew Baker said. ‘You don’t invade because you’re a bit upset.’

Winston explained. ‘That place he comes from, Oikland, were ruled out of the Rugby World Cup. Can’t remember why. Some technicality. I think he posted the submission form too late, or something like that. The Oiks are all crazy about the game. His ratings probably took a nose dive.’

‘Not just that,’ the Third Recorder said, ‘he was elected on the promise of improving literacy across the islands. But there’s been no change.’

‘Why? Karen asked. ‘Why has there been no change?’

The Third Recorder shrugged. ‘Not enough books.’

‘It’s a shame we can’t just send him thousands of copies of The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose,’ Karen said.

‘Why can’t we?’ Tarquin asked.

‘They’re in English,’ Karen replied.

‘They speak English in Oikland,’ Tarquin pointed out.

‘Do they?’ Karen asked.

‘Uhuh,’ Tarquin confirmed.

‘Well, it’s a very cheap book,’ Andrew Baker said. ‘I hear the author has waived all royalties for Oikland, and I’m sure he could persuade the publishers to see the marketing potential. We could get the price right down.’

The Third Recorder looked a little less enthusiastic. ‘You can’t sell them to him. That would be an insult. We’d be even more likely to get invaded.'

Tarquin smiled. ‘If the book is so cheap, I reckon I could get the Foreign Office to fund it as a diplomatic mission. Literature and peace, a perfect combination. I might leave out the title and author on correspondence. The Foreign Office will just assume we’re sending another set of Shakespeare plays that no-one will read.'

The Third Recorder still looked doubtful. ‘Oikland have broken off all diplomatic relations. If we can’t speak to him, then we can’t arrange a deal.’

‘He’ll talk to me,’ Winston said.

‘Are you sure?’ Andrew Baker said.

Winston nodded. ‘Yeah. I’ll ring him and suggest I’m trying to arrange a friendly game between England and the Oiks, “Can I come over with a few mates for a chat.” He’d be intrigued. He loves his rugby.

Josephine sighed. ‘It’s a shame the England team aren’t stopping off at Oikland on their tour. That might have calmed things down.'

‘Yeah, there’s nothing the Oiks would like more than to play England,’ Winston agreed.

‘I could have another word with the foreign office,’ Tarquin said. ‘see if we can get something set up.’

Winston chewed his thinking finger. ‘In the short term, I can get a few of my rugby mates over, make some waves, a few publicity shots with Oikland kids. That will buy Paranoid Majumpa some time. I reckon we can talk him round.’

'It can’t all be one way,’ the Third Recorder said. ‘Paranoid is a proud man. He won’t want this to be a sympathy mission. He’ll want to look strong. He’ll want to make out Oikland can hold it’s own. ‘

‘What’s Oikland’s main industries?’ Andrew asked.

Tarquin scratched his head. ‘Palm oil, coffee, bamboo bikes.’

‘Bamboo bikes?’ Andrew Baker asked.

‘Yeah, bamboo bikes,’ Tarquin confirmed.

‘Bikes, made out of bamboo?’ Andrew Baker asked again.

‘How many times?’ Tarquin said.

‘But that’s perfect,’ Andrew said. ‘What could be better than that. We can send a trade mission to Oikland, to learn about eco transport. We can make them out to be world leaders. We’ll herald the potential for bamboo everything, cars, planes, trains, boats, underpants, It’s perfect.’

‘Underpants?’ Karen asked.

‘Sorry that just slipped in,’ Andrew said.

Karen frowned. ‘Why bamboo underpants?’

‘I’m wearing some at the moment,’ Andrew Baker said rubbing his groin.

‘I’m glad you pointed to your groin,’ Josephine said, ‘cos I thought you’d be wearing them on your head.’

Quinlan still couldn’t believe it.‘You’re wearing bamboo underpants. Underpants made of bamboo?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Don’t they chafe?’ Josephine asked.

‘No! it’s not bits of bamboo. They’re made of bamboo material, like cotton. They’re quite comfortable.’

‘But why?’ Quinlan asked. ‘Why wear bamboo underpants?’

‘Bamboo wicks moisture away from the body,’ Andrew advised.

Winston screwed his face up in disgust. ‘Uggh! Doesn’t that mean the outside of your pants are all wet?’

‘No! It evaporates,’ Andrew Baker explained. ‘But, your bits stay dry. It’s the heat. I get a bit moist, a bit damp, so I ordered a load. They’re really good.’

Winston looked interested. ‘To be honest, I’ve had a bit of a butter butt myself.’

‘Butter butt?’ Josephine queried.

‘You know, when it feels like someone’s spread butter between your butt cheeks.’

Tarquin frowned. ‘I’ve never been in that kind of relationship, I wouldn’t know.’

‘I’m a margarine man myself,’ Quinlan said, ‘lower cholesterol.’

‘Your arse isn’t going to eat it,’ Karen said.

‘Someone else might.’ Quinlan said. ‘No, sorry, that’s strawberries and cream.’

‘Quinlan!’ Josephine chided.

He does have a point,’ Andrew Baker said.

‘With the strawberries and cream?’ Karen asked, looking doubtful.

'No! well yes, but with regards to margarine, it does spread better.'

‘True,’ Josephine agreed.

‘I bet you’re a virgin olive oil person,’ Andrew said.

‘Don’t call me Olive Oil,’ Josephine said.

‘Ha! Very good,’ Andrew Baker chortled..

Josephine looked coy. ‘Actually,’ she said, ‘I’m not immune to a sweaty betty myself.’

Winston raised an eyebrow. ‘I’m not sure what a betty is, but I get the gist.’

Tarquin nodded. ‘Presumably it’s the equivalent of a sticky dicky.’

‘Surely more swilly willy or pooly goolie,’ Quinlan chipped in.

‘Or maybe, grotty botty,’ the Third Recorder added.

‘Due to hotty botty,’ Andrew Baker suggested.

‘Leading to spotty botty,’ Karen concluded.

‘Well, it sounds like we all need bamboo briefs,’ Winston suggested.

‘I’ll get everyone a set,’ Andrew Baker said. ‘They’re made in Oikland, as it happens. They’ve got the Oikland flag on the front.’

‘Nice touch,’ the Third Recorder said. ‘Come-on. Time we were going back.’

‘Can we go back via the green grocers,’ Andrew Baker asked. ‘I want to buy some strawberries.’