THE COPY EDIT

March 20, 2022

‘The Copy Edit” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first ingredient in this recipe for disaster, please refer to case note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 25               DATE: 18th JULY 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE COPY EDIT

 

Background briefing:

Andrew Baker is missing. That we know. Why, how and where, we don’t, but we’re working on it.

If the Governor of the Veteran Islands was a cake he’d be a baked Alaska; an aberration that should not exist. The ingredients are all wrong. Andrew Baker did not have: a degree, diplomatic experience, public school background, public profile or posh contacts. A baked alaska has icecream. However, a baked Alaska does make a perfectly good cake.

Andrew Baker needed a degree to square his qualifications with the CV (not his) that got him the job. His only hope was an honorary title. Writing a best-selling novel was how he intended to get one. With his friends help they had completed the first draft. Now came, the copy edit.

Case Note 25: The Copy Edit, 18th July 1990

The unexpected test of the security alarm at 7.00am had been a most unpleasant experience for all the residents of Ivory Towers. The sound effects: (charging buffalo, babies crying, shoot out at the OK corral and crashing piano), had induced a surge of adrenalin  that left them shaking in their slippers. Breakfast, was a welcome return to normality. They slowly began to unwind.

The following is a transcript of another one of Anne, the Housekeeper’s covert recordings. It starts with the Third Recorder explaining the next stage in the production of the book.

‘I’ve got someone coming round later to work through the manuscript,’ the Third Recorer said

‘Why? What more do we need to do?’ Quinlan Asked

‘She’s a copy editor. She’ll check all the grammar, punctuation, consistency etc. etc. etc.’

‘Reads okay to me,’ Andrew said. ‘Does it really need anyone to go through it?’’

‘I thought you did the punctuation before,’ Josephine said.

‘Just a first pass. It’s not good enough for publication,’ the Third Recorder explained.

‘Couldn’t you just go through it again?’ Tarquin asked’.

‘I’d miss things, a copy editor won’t. They’re… special,’ the Third Recorder advised.

‘In what way?’ Quinlan asked.

‘They are a breed apart. They are meticulous; painfully meticulous. Copy editing is something they do for kicks when they are not breaking codes at Bletchley Park, defusing bombs for the army, or repairing priceless artifacts. They have a level of concentration and attention to detail you could only dream of.’

‘Not a dream I’m really partial too to be honest,’ Andrew admitted.

‘Exactly. These people revel in precision, and cannot bear imperfection. They wince at a miniscule irregularity in the tick of a Rolex watch, grimace at the tiniest distortion in the mirror of an astronomical telescope, and cover their ears at the poor tuning of a single violin in a Philharmonic Orchestra. If a single comma is out of place, they will know before they turn the first page.’

‘Can’t a computer do that?’ Tarquin asked.

‘A computer can beat anyone at chess, plan a trip to the moon, and work out Pi to a million decimal places, but it cannot replace the copy editor.’

‘Why?’ Andrew asked.

‘Because literature is art; literature is emotion. Computers don't do emotion. A computer doesn’t understand how a joke works, why we cry, what makes us scared. A copy editor moves beyond the mechanical. They feel the emotion in a sentence and place the perfect punctuation in the perfect place.’

‘Once the copy editor has made their changes, will anybody notice the difference?’ Karen queried.

‘Only another copy editor,’ the Third Recorder admitted.

‘Does it matter then?’ Andrew asked.

‘It matters because other publishers employ copy editors to dissect a novel, spot the mistakes and slate it in the press, destroying the reputation of the novel, the author, and the publisher. We cannot let that happen; your honorary degree depends on it.’

Knock, knock, knock.

‘That’ll be her now,’ the Third Recorder said.

[Conversation continues as the Third Recorder makes his way over to the main entrance]

‘She sounds sort of terrifying.’

‘Like a cyborg with OCD.’

‘Or a dalek interrogator.’

‘Or even worse, our old deputy headmistress. She knew every mistake I made, before I made them.’

‘I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this.’

[Bolt is drawn on the door, and the door opens]

‘T.R. Hello Sexy. Is that your own body or did you hire it in just for me? I swear you get better with age. Are you man or Mouton Rothschild 1947?’

‘Morning Helen.’

 

 

 

THE ALARM

March 05, 2022

“The Alarm” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first step on this treadmill of despair refer to Case Note:1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 24               DATE: 18th JULY 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE ALARM

 

Background briefing:

Andrew Baker had tripped over many hurdles since becoming Governor of the Veteran Islands. The fact that he and they were still standing suggested God had a hidden agenda for our accident prone ambassador. Despite applying for the job by mistake, having none of the required qualifications or social standing, he was still in post. Proposing to his girlfriend Karen during his opening speech, and inviting all the islanders to the wedding, appeared to be a masterstroke that sealed his position as the people’s Governor.

He still needed that elusive degree to avoid incarceration. Writing a best-selling novel in pursuit of an honorary title was his only option. With the help of Karen, and his friends from school; Josephine, Winston, Tarquin and Quinlan; and of course, his personal adviser, the Third Recorder, he had completed the first draft. Publishers had been approached, and interest expressed. Things were looking up.

Case Note 24: The Alarm, 18th July 1990

The alarm system at the Governor’s residence, Ivory Towers, is a sophisticated affair, and so it should be. Despite the remote location, every Governor is a target for disgruntled individuals. Some feel the role embodies empire, foreign intervention, and oppression. Some don’t like the idea of a toffee nosed t**t telling them what to do. Others are just crazy loons that want to be heard.

Every alarm system has to be tested to check functionality and user response. The reports provide valuable information on the defenses that would need to be disabled for an undetected abduction to take place. We are fortunate that such a test had been scheduled by the Third Recorder for the 18th July at 7.00am. A representative from Lax Alarms was present to check all features were working correctly. They also used camcorders to record response times and the reaction of the residents. Full details are included in the technical report below

 

Lax Alarms

Relax with Lax

 

Test Report

 

Date 18th July
Time: 7.00am
Location: Ivory Towers
Client: Veteran Islands Assembly
Client Rep: Third Recorder
Client No. 1
Technician Peter Owt

 

Technician’s Report

The alarm was activated at 7.00am utilising the full surround sound system. Sound effects 1, 3, 5, and 7 were selected at maximum volume. Some cross contamination with the music system was noted during the test. The technician does not claim to be an expert in popular music, but believed the song playing in the background during the test was “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. The reaction by those staying at the residence was measured and restrained, considering the level of agitation experienced. Nobody fainted, took unnecessary risks, or suffered irreversible medical conditions. All things considered, the test was considered a complete success. Following a brief discussion with the Third Recorder, it was agreed to incorporate the background song as a permanent feature. This has now replaced sound effect number 4 (previously rampaging sheep).

 

In the following transcript of the ‘reaction and response’ recording, the Third Recorder and Governor are clearly identified. The remaining individuals were not known to the technician at the time, and therefore are referred to by description only.

 

Governor:                    Shit! What the f**k! Where is it? Karen!

Big Bloke:                    What the hell!

Mad Woman               Over here! I’m going down!

Nice Lady:                   Winston! Are we under attack?

Posh Person:              Get down! Can’t see anyone. Make for the door.

Beach Bum:                Where are they!

Mad Woman:              I’ve got the b******d!

Technician:                  Aagh!

Third Recorder:           It’s the alarm! It’s just the alarm!

Technician:                  Stop hitting me. Please stop. Help! Help!

Mad Woman:              Shut up b*****d or I’ll shove this truncheon where the sun don’t shine!

Governor:                    What! I can’t… Ooh… it’s stopped.

Nice Lady:                   Thank god!

Beach Bum:                Is everyone okay?

Technician:                  Aagh! Stop hitting me.

Third Recorder:           Don’t worry! Don’t worry! It’s all okay. Just an alarm test. Don’t worry…

Technician:                  Help!

Third Recorder:           That is the alarm technician you’re sitting on. I think you can get off him now.

Technician                   Phew! Thanks.

Mad Woman:              Did you say don’t worry? Don’t worry! I nearly s**t myself, you f**kin lunatic.

Third Recorder:           Okay! Calm down! Calm down! Please unhand me. It’s all over.

Governor:                    What are you wearing?

Mad Woman:              Ball gown.

Governor:                    Why a ball gown?

Mad Woman               It was in the wardrobe. I was trying it on when the alarm went off.

Nice Lady                    I think you may have got it on back to front. The plunging bit… I think it is supposed to be at the back.

Mad Woman               Oh! I thought it was a bit unusual. I… I… think I’ll… just go and er, spin things around.

Nice Lady:                   Are you okay?

Technician:                  Yes, I’m fine. Occupational hazard.

Nice Lady:                   I can imagine. Here, let me lend you a hand

Technician:                  thank you

Third recorder:            Sorry about the alarm. Just a test.

Big Bloke:                    A test! At seven in the morning.

Governor:                    I thought I was going to die!

Beach Bum:                I almost jumped out the window.

Posh Person:              What the hell was that sound?

Third Recorder:           It’s a mixture of things: charging buffalo, babies crying, shoot out at the Okay Coral, and loony tunes.

Governor:                    Loony tunes?

Third Recorder:           There are few things more scary than a plummeting piano.

Big Bloke:                    But it was all around us. Even in the bedrooms.

Third Recorder:           Surround sound. I had it fitted as part of the conversion. Good isn’t it.

Big Bloke:                    Good? It was terrifying. There were buffalo coming at me from all directions.

Third Recorder:           Great! I think we can confirm the test was a complete success.

Nice Lady:                   A complete success? I was scared out of my wits.

Third Recorder:           That’s the idea. We want to create as much confusion as possible.

Beach Bum:                Why?

Third Recorder:           To confuse intruders. In the chaos that ensues there’s always a chance one of us might escape, warn the authorities, leave a clue, or maybe even, with a bit of luck, injure, or kill one the intruders.

Nice Lady:                   kill them? What with?

Third Recorder:           A weapon.

Posh Person:              What weapon? Where?

Third Recorder:           I am not at liberty to show you.

Posh Person:              Why?

Third Recorder:           In case one, or more of you, is unstable, incompetent, a criminal or a terrorist.

Governor:                    Who?

Third Recorder:           Could be any of you. You look innocent but…

Winston:                      We look innocent because we are innocent. Why would you suspect any of us?

Third Recorder:           Well, you look like you could wrestle alligators; you have the deadly focus of an assassin; you already look like James Bond; you have a suspiciously weird occupation, and you… you are emotionally unstable.

Mad Woman:              I am not emotionally unstable. Take that back or I’ll break your neck.

Governor:                    You may be emotionally unstable, but you look beautiful in that dress.

Mad Woman:              Oh Really? You think so?

Governor:                   To be honest I preferred it the other way round.

Mad Woman:              Cheeky!

Winston:                      So what is Andy, apart from cheeky. Is he the incompetent one?

Third Recorder:           It’s not important. He is the governor. I am sworn to protect him, regardless.

Governor:                    Nice to know.

Big Bloke:                    Nice to know we’re trusted.

Third Recorder:           I’m sure you understand my dilemma.

Governor:                    Seems a bit extreme, but I guess you’ve got our best interests at heart.

Third Recorder:           Thank you. Now we’re all together, we might as well have some breakfast. Tea? Earl Grey? Anne, can you take the orders?

Mad Woman               I just need to change out of this dress. Andy, can you give me a hand with the zip?

Governor                   Sure.

[Governor and Mad Woman move off in the direction of their quarters]

Governor                    Where did you get the truncheon?

Mad Woman               I’m nervous of intruders. I keep it under the bed.

Governor                    Funny colour.

 
END OF TRANSCRIPT
 
It is clear from the report that the alarm system was working perfectly. For the intruders to enter undetected it must have been disabled beforehand. It would seem reasonable to assume the intruders had prior knowledge of the alarm system, and maybe even knew the codes.
 
We have made the following assumptions with regards the identities listed in the report:
Mad Woman - Miss Karen Hannah
Nice Woman - Miss Josephine Carter
Big Bloke - Mr Winston Grahame
Posh Person - Mr Tarquin Palister
Beach Bum - Mr Quinlan Weston-Smythe

THE ASSEMBLY

February 28, 2022

“The Assembly” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first episode in this box set of bewilderment see Case Note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 22               DATE: 13th JULY 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE ASSEMBLY

 

Background briefing:

Andrew Baker became Governor of the Veteran Islands through accident & emergency, but not the hospital department. The accident was applying for the wrong job. The emergency was an imminent invasion. The invasion meant the interview panel were looking for someone who was expendable. Andrew Baker was that someone. The invasion never materialised. So now, this seemingly unsuitable young gentleman has been left to run one of Britain’s most beautiful islands.

The interview panel were led to believe Andrew Baker had a degree. He doesn’t. To keep his pay and privilege, and avoid imprisonment, he is seeking to obtain an honorary degree by writing a best-selling novel. By now the book was well in hand, but the Governor had more pressing matters to attend to.

Case Note 22: The Assembly, 13th July 1990

The 13th of July was unlucky for some. In this case it was unlucky for Andrew Baker. He could no longer claim he had an imaginary contagious disease that required complete isolation. His days locked away in the comfort of ivory Towers had come to an end. It was time for the Governor to face the Assembly. He had been well prepared during those four weeks, with lessons in all the necessary skills.

Today was primarily a ceremonial affair. In a packed Assembly building the Governor would be sworn in. It is a simple, standard procedure, and would be of little concern, if it wasn’t for the speech. The Governor’s speech sets the tone for the whole of his time on the island. It provides an insight into what the islanders can expect. It is critical to a Governor’s success.  

Andrew Baker had assigned four of his friends a temporary appointment in order that they could attend the proceedings to bolster his confidence. Tarquin did not need such an appointment. He was already a Foreign Office Official. Neither did the Third Recorder, who was, of course the Third Recorder and already a senior member of the Assembly. The temporary appointments were as follows:

Winston:          Bodyguard (he had the body for guarding after all)

Quinlan:          Chauffeur (just for the uniform we suspect)

Josephine:      Performance Coach (even she did not know what that meant)

Karen:             Personal assistant.

In his new capacity, Quinlan had hired two pink Range Rovers for the task of taking the Governor and entourage to the Assembly Building, and a matching pink uniform. Whatever else, they were going to arrive in style.

The description of events below are taken from newspaper reports, television footage and the Assembly’s own recording of events.

The journey to the Assembly:

The cars left Ivory Towers at 9.15 am, travelled the rough track up to Gungad Inn, down the cobbled lane to Cockatoo, turned left onto Easy Street, then left again onto Victoria Avenue. Crowds lined the approach, hoping to get a glimpse of the new Governor. The cars pulled up under the Porte cochere at 9.30am. Winston climbed down from the passenger seat, dressed in black, with black shades, his face the picture of professional solemnity. He opened the rear door and a red shoe stepped out onto the red carpet followed by red hair that sizzled in the morning sun. Karen’s emerald green dress gently caressed her shapely figure. Josephine emerged from the second car, a powerful figure in electric blue. She joined Karen on the red carpet. They looked like film stars attending a premiere. Winston looked at the crowd then nodded at Karen. She, in turn, nodded to the man of the moment. Andrew Baker stepped out. Six foot five, dressed in a finely tailored ivory linen suit, royal purple shirt, an Ivory tie embroidered with the Island flag and the shiniest of Oxford brogues. He looked every inch a Governor. The crowd cheered. He looked around, waving his arm in the air, speech in hand; which is when it happened. A sudden gust of wind caught the papers and sent them flying out over the bay. The speech was lost. The Third Recorder slipped out the other side of the cars unnoticed, as was his way. He looked up at the papers as they fluttered in the breeze. He stroked his chin, then reached in and retrieved something from the glove compartment.

Andrew Baker’s face betrayed a moment’s panic. His cool and collected entourage guided him into the building away from observant eyes.

The following was picked up on the microphone as it was fitted to the Governor’s lapel. The tape is part of the sound testing prior to going live.

 

[Baker] … f**k, f**k, F**k, f**k. what am I going to do. I don’t know what to say

[Third Recorder] Don’t worry. Karen, Josephine and Winston brought additional copies. Karen?

[Karen] I er… didn’t have any pockets so I er, left it on the coffee table.

[Third Recorder]  Josephine?

[Josephine] I couldn’t bring a second copy. Not in this dress. Where would it go. The VPL was a big enough issue on its own. I’ve already abandoned my undergarments, I wasn’t going to stuff a piece of paper down my cleavage.

[Third Recorder] Winston?

[Winston] I think I took it out when I was fitting the communications stuff.

[Baker] We’re done for’.

[Third Recorder] Calm down, calm down. It’s just like any other speech you’ve given.

[Baker] I’ve not given any other speech

[Third Recorder]  You’ve practiced and practiced. You know what to do. As soon as you get going, it’ll all kick in. It’ll be automatic.

[Baker] Look at me, I’m shaking like a jellyfish, I can’t go out there.

[Quinlan]  Jelly fish don’t really shake, they sort of wobble and squidge.

[Baker]  Who cares what they do. I’m shaking so much if you put me in a bath with a bar of soap and your weekly wash, it’d come out whiter than white.

[Third Recorder] Don''t worry. You'll be fine. Visualize yourself as something strong and powerful, like a lion.

[Baker] Grrr.

[Third Recorder] I said lion, not pussy cat.

[Baker]  See, I can’t do it.

[Third Recorder]  Yes you can. Try the superman pose of power, arm thrust out fist clenched.

[Karen] That’s not Superman. You look like you’re owning up to a fart in a lift.

[Baker] It doesn’t matter who I look like, if I don’t know what to say.

[Third Recorder] Make it up. Improvise. Start off with all the people you’ve got to thank, you’ve done that enough times, you must have memorized that bit, then make it up.

[Baker] Make it up? Make it up? Are you mad? I can’t think. My mind has gone blank.

[Third Recorder] Look, I don’t normally do this, but this is an emergency. I er keep these with me just in case we have a problem. Here, take them, they’ll start to kick in as you begin your speech. You’ll feel a surge of energy and confidence. They will keep you going to the end.

[Baker] What are they.

[Third Recorder] They're a derivative of a well known recreational drug. 

['Tarquin] You can't give him cocaine, you don't know how he'll react.

[Third Recorder] I'm not saying it is cocaine. It is government issue. There are times in the diplomatic service when you have to resort to extreme measures.

[Karen] Don't do it. Don't take it. You don't know what will happen.

[Third Recorder]. It's not a street drug. It's not full or rubbish. It's pure, very pure.

[Quinlan] What about side effects.

[Third Recorder] Yes, there are side effects, any up has a down, but that won't kick in till later this afternoon. He'll be back in Ivory Towers by then.

[Winston] What if he has a bad reaction.

[Third Recorder] Nobody's died... as far as I know.

[Karen] I don't like it.

[Josephine] I don't either, but he clearly needs something if he's going to face that lot out there.

[Tarquin] I agree. We can't send him out as he is.

[Third Recorder] If the speech goes badly, the game is up. He has to succeed. This is his best chance.

[Baker]  Are you sure?

[Third Recorder]  Yes. It’s a risk worth taking.

[Baker]  Okay. I’ll give it a go.

[Third Recorder] Right, we are just waiting for your cue. That’s it, okay, go, go, go.

 

The speech

[Andrew Baker walks on stage waving to the enthusiastic cheering crowd. After a few moments the applause dies down. He walks up to the lectern, places his hands either side, as he has been taught to do, and addresses the audience.]

[Baker] Honourable Premier, Madame Deputy Speaker, Honourable Ministers, Honourable Attorney General, Madame Deputy Governor, Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Other Honourable Members of the House of Assembly, Members of the Clergy, other distinguished guests, members of the media and the listening and viewing audience… good morning.

Before I arrived on the Veteran Islands I thought a governor was a male governess, a sort of cross dressing teacher from a period drama. I have to admit, the dresses appealed [gentle chortle audible in the audience], but I am not here to teach; what can I teach you after all?

[Voice in audience] Latin and Greek.

[Baker] I’m sorry madam, I can barely speak English. I am not your Latin lover.

[Voice in the audience} You can still be my Greek god.

[Baker] I wouldn't recommend it. They were a funny bunch in the bedroom, the Greek gods. Zeus got dressed up as a swan and Poseidon as a horse. Bit too kinky for me. As I as saying, I am not here to teach, and, I am not here to govern. I am leaving that to madame prime minister and mister president. They know the ropes and you voted for them, so, if they get it wrong, it’s all your fault.

No, I am not here to teach, and I am not here to govern, but I am, here to learn, and I have got a lot to learn: your culture, your history, your traditions, your beautiful island, and of course, most of all, you, all of you. My job as Governor is to get to know you and do something useful. So I might as well get to know you, whilst I’m doing something useful. Think of me as a gift from the British Government; an all-expenses paid, pair of helping hands. But what can I do with these hands?

[Voice in audience] You can give me a massage any day.

[Baker] Hmm yes… well, I don’t think that would be entirely… No, I couldn’t possibly… could I? I mean, what harm would it do? Hmmm… why not! Why not indeed? Miss Hannah, my diary.

[Miss Hannah walks on stage with a Page-a Day diary.]

[Baker] Let’s see. 9.15 Wednesday. Does that work for you? Good. Can we get a massage bed in the Governor’s office?’

[One of the Governor’s aid nods.]

[Baker] Well that’s decided then. Let’s clear Wednesday of all my other appointments and we’ll make it a people’s day.

So, what else can I do for anyone? Hands up!

Yes sir?

[Voice from audience] Haircut.

[Baker] Risky, but hmm… your hair, can I really make it any worse? What time?

[Miss Hannah leans in with Page-a-Day diary. He consults]

Half an hour slots?

[Miss Hannah nods]

9.45? [Man in audience nods] You’re in. Right, who else?

Cook a meal? It’d have to be quick. If you can join with two people in the audience next to you, I’ll allocate three half hour slots.

[Voice in audience] I don’t know them.

[Baker] Who cares. You don't know me. We’ll all get to know each other. Shall we say 11.45 to 1.15? Can you all make it? [Heads nod in audience] Good. Is there a kitchenette we can use?

[An aid checks a diary and nods]

Right you’re booked in. Next!

[Voice in audience] Wash the car?

[Baker] Park it next to the main entrance, we’ll put some bollards out, and I’ll get a bucket of soapy water. I might need a hand. You’ll have to chip in. ‘[Man nods] Okay! 10.15. Anyone else?

[Voice in audience] ‘Bikini wax.’

[Baker] Bikini wax? Really sir, are you sure?

[Voice in audience] You gotta look your best on the nudist beach

[Baker] I guess. Can we do it as a charity thing? [Man nods. Baker turns to aid] Put a collection box by the door for when people leave. Can we record it… tastefully… to er prove it happened… Picture in the paper maybe, with a black rectangle?

[Voice in audience] For my eyes?

[Baker] No! You’ve got lovely eyes. Why would I want to cover your eyes. The rectangle is to cover your… er, common decency. [Man nods] Okay you’re on. 11.15? Good! Before lunch. Best not done on a full stomach. Next!

Driving lesson? Are you mad? [Lady in audience nods head] Oh, you are. Are you sure you should be driving then? [Lady shrugs] Well if you’re willing to give it a go, so am I. 1.15pm? [Lady nods]. Next!

[Voice from audience] Milk a cow.

[Baker] Can we get a cow into the Governor’s office? Would it fit in the lift? [Aid shakes his head].

[Voice from audience] On the farm. In the milking parlor.

[Baker] Hmm. Well, is that possible. [turns to Tarquin who shrugs]. I need to get around, see the whole island. Maybe we make Thursday an out and about day. What time?

[Voice from audience] 6.00am

[Baker] 6.00am? Are you mad?

[Voice in audience] No! I’m a farmer. It’s my wife that’s mad.

[Baker] She the one having a driving lesson? [Man in audience nods]. Okay. If I survive the driving lesson I’ll see you at 6.00am the next day. Any more requests?

[Lady in audience] ‘Do the hoovering?’

[Baker] The hoovering? How big is the house?

[Lady in audience] Four floors.

[Baker] Four floors! Four floors! Do you live in a windmill? [Lady nods] Oh you do? At least I won’t have to hoover into the corners. Next!

[Man in audience] Walk the dog.

[Baker] Walk the dog. Well, that shouldn’t be so difficult. How big is the dog? [Man indicate height with hand] Is that from your lap? [Man shakes head]. From the floor? [Man nods] Are you sure it’s not a horse. [Man shakes head and mimes a fearsome animal with big teeth]. A sort of saber-toothed donkey. [Man nods. Governor turns to aid] can you kit me out with chainsaw trousers, stab vest, cricket helmet, and welding gloves?’ [Aid nods]. Okay 9.00am Thursday, you’re on.

[‘Baker] Anybody else needing a hand? [Many hands are raised] I tell you what, for the next two weeks, from Tuesday to Friday, I’ll clear my diary for helping out. Tarquin here can do my routine stuff; he’s being doing a marvelous job in my absence anyway. I’ll leave my diary on reception and you can book an appointment for here at the Assembly, or for me to visit you. Monday I can do all the official stuff.

Before We move on to the other speeches, I would just like to ask a question. A very important question. It’s a question I wanted to ask many years ago, but didn’t get the chance. It’s a question for a very, very special lady. Mis Karen Hannah, will you please join me on stage. [Karen Hannah walks nervously on stage].

Karen. I am not well prepared to ask this question, and I don’t have the necessary accessories, but [Andrew Baker goes down on one knee and looks up at Miss Karen Hannah] will you marry me?

[Miss Hannah looks at him wide eyed with anxiety and shakes her head.] No! No! No! I can’t. I can’t. It wouldn’t be right. [She runs off crying. Andrew Baker looks bewildered. He turns back to the audience, looking shocked.]

Sorry! so sorry. I apologize. That was all a bit foolish of me. I took things for granted. [Audience ‘aahs’ in sympathy] Thank you. Very kind. I er think it is probably time I stepped to one side and welcomed your President, Mr Rambabu onto the stage. [Mr Baker moves to the side while the president takes the lectern. He looks anxiously towards the wings.]

The following was picked up off stage, on Winston’s security microphone.

[Winston] Karen Karen… Are you okay. Bit of a bombshell? Come here, over here, have a hug. There, there. You’ll be alright.

[Josephine] Here, let me sort out your make-up.

[Quinlan] What I don’t understand, is why, when you’ve been getting on so well, why you didn’t say yes?

[‘Karen] I couldn’t, I couldn’t, How could I?

[Quinlan] Why not?

[Karen] He was pumped full of those drugs the Third Recorder gave him. He could have been saying anything. How would I know if he meant it or not? How would he know? You’ve seen him out there, he’s acting like a rock star.

‘[The Third Recorder] I think you should have said yes.

[‘Karen] I couldn’t, the drugs!

‘[The Third Recorder] I only gave him paracetamol. He did all the rest. He was as sober as a judge. He just didn’t know it.

[Karen] You mean he was in charge of all his faculties?

[The Third Recorder] Uhuh.  

[Karen] Fully in charge?

[The Third Recorder] Yes, definitely. Fully in charge. Hey, where are you going?

The following is based on the continuing television coverage of the speeches.

[President Rumbaba] And we will work closely with the Governor, and the British Government, to ensure…

[Karen Hannah runs onto stage] Yes, Yes, I was wrong, I was so wrong, I will marry you, I would love to marry you, will you marry me?

[Baker] Yes! Yes! Of course I will.

[President Rumbaba] I think I’ve been upstaged. [He nods at Mr Baker, who runs up to Karen Hannah, they meet and kiss centre stage. The audience erupts into cheering and clapping.

[Baker] There’s going to be a wedding. A fantastic Veteran Island wedding. You are all invited. The whole island is invited.

End of transcript.

 

Fax response:

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team

 

Mrs D has been looking through the pictures you sent through of the speeches, and wants to know, where Miss Karen Hannah got that emerald-green dress. She asks “is it a Donna Karen?”

 

Fax response:

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

 

Hello Sir

We believe it is a Dorothy Perkins

 

Fax response:

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team

 

Mrs D asks is she Milan, Paris or New York?

 

Fax response:

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

 

Hello Sir

We think Scunthorpe. But there are branches everywhere.

THE PUBLISHER

February 20, 2022

“The Publisher” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first roll of the dice in this game of chance, refer to Case Note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 22             DATE: 12th JULY 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE PUBLISHER

 

Background briefing:

By a twist of fate, error of administration, and oodles of lies, Andrew Baker had become Governor of the Veteran Islands. He had to write a best-selling novel to gain an honorary degree. Without a degree to cement his position, the walls would come crumbling down, and all would be revealed. As always, The Third Recorder, being the Governor’s personal advisor, was keeping things on an even keel, and steering the Governor away from disaster.

Karen Hannah, an ex-girlfriend, was doing most of the writing, aided by Mr Baker and a group of friends from school. The story was based on a shared childhood adventure. Things were going well and there was a mood of optimism in the Governor’s residence.

Case Note 22: The publisher

The poem penned by Andrew Baker and given to Karen Hannah on the 27th June marked the turning point in their relationship. Outright hostility had been replaced with bright smiles, warm words and a tender touch. Sporadic laughter was heard from the happy couple in the writing room, and conversations over dinner were cheerful and friendly. The Third Recorder relaxed some of the health and safety restrictions he had put in place to protect the Governor from Karen’s volatile nature. Gradually, ornaments, and other blunt objects returned to the writing room, followed by cords of one type or another, and finally pointy objects such as scissors and letter openers. The windows were unlocked, as were the doors to the Juliet balcony, and toiletries and medicines returned to the ensuite bathroom cabinet.

The writing was going so well he introduced a couple of games sessions to break up the busy schedule, and retrieved badminton, cricket and croquet sets from the basement. Andrew even managed competing against Karen without getting hit over the head with a mallet, racket, or cricket bat, although Winston and Quinlan suffered a few knocks.

The book progressed quickly and the first draft of early chapters were printed, double spaced, for checking by the 1st July. Winston, Josephine, Quinlan, and Tarquin were lined up along the conference room table, each with a copy of the same chapter, and each with a different coloured pen to add their comments. The Third Recorder advised on spelling and punctuation and counselled any disputes. The marked-up chapters were returned to the writing room, reviewed, and incorporated. This process would continue for the next two weeks, when the first, full manuscript was ready.

The time had come to find a publisher. They all sat round the conference table flicking through publishing guides, making suggestions to the Third Recorder. Fortunately, the book sessions were recorded on the audio-visual equipment used for training purposes. In this case it was because no-one was willing to take notes. Josephine spoke first.

Transcript of book session at Ivory Towers: 12th July 1990

‘There’s the Great Auk Printing Press and its subsidiaries Gannet, Gull and Guillemot. Will they do?

The Third recorder was sceptical. ‘Too big, too overpowering. We’d be a small fish in a very big sea. You have to ask yourself, “Is the Gannet hungry enough?”’

‘Random Moose?’ Winston proposed, but the Third Recorder shook his head.

‘Like the Great Auk, they are too big. Mr Baker is not an established name. In a forest of mature writers he is merely a sapling. The moose would walk on by.’

‘Half a Colon?’ Quinlan suggested, but the Third Recorder shook his head again.

‘Bit of a sausage machine. In many ways we are the perfect fit, but will Half a Colon push it out when there are others in the pipeline?’ 

‘Shy Man on a Scooter?’ Tarquin chipped in.

‘Marketing and distribution could be a weakness.’

‘Cleaver Press,’ Josephine contributed. 

‘Keen, sharp, good when you need to carve out a niche, but will they want too big a slice.  I think we should look elsewhere.’

‘Big Mac Millan Publishing?’ Winston suggested

‘Another whoppa. We need someone smaller, more agile, someone who can see the potential and run with it.’

‘What about The Book Guild?’ Tarquin proposed.

‘Hmm… The Book Guild?’ the Third Recorder pondered.

‘The Book Guild,’ Andrew said. ‘I like the name. Sounds like a secret society: The ancient Guild of Bookmakers. Oak panelled rooms, leather inlay, quills dipped in Indian ink, contracts scribbled on frayed parchment, briar pipes and funny handshakes. If we have to wear ceremonial robes and perform rituals involving naked virgins I’m…’ he looked across at Karen who glared a warning. ‘I’m out, I am definitely out.’

‘I believe they’re a modern organisation,’ Winston advised. ‘They don’t prey on young virgins anymore, accessibility and inclusion are the buzzwords nowadays. They don’t like to discriminate; goblins to grannies, anyone’s game.’

Josephine leaned across the table. ‘And, with gender equality,’ she said, looking Winston in the eye, ‘it could be a hairy arsed bloke.’

‘Blokes don’t have hairy arses,’ Andrew Baker said.

‘Some do,’ Josephine asserted.

‘Do they?’ Andrew Baker asked.

‘I couldn’t possibly comment,’ Karen said looking the picture of innocence.

‘Yes they do,’ Josephine confirmed.

‘Have you been judging a naked bottom competition again?’ Winston enquired.

‘I get around,’ Josephine advised.

‘I thought you were… ‘ Quinlan started.

‘Who says I’m not?’

‘Was this in your professional capacity?’ Winston enquired.

‘Uhuh.’

‘What has a hairy arse got to do with sport,’ Tarquin said, looking doubtful.

‘Prevents chafing. Same as a hairy Mary.’

‘You’re making it up.’ Andrew Baker said.

‘No I’m not.’

‘Winston, I have to know, do blokes have hairy bottoms?’ Andrew demanded.

‘Me? Why ask me?’

‘Rugby! You share a bath with fourteen other bottoms. You must have seen one now and then.’

‘We’re in a bath how would I know?’

‘You’re not telling me it’s full of bubble bath.’

‘No. We’re sat on our arses most of the time. They’re difficult to see.’

‘Someone must have bent over to find the soap,’ Tarquin suggested.

‘We’re discreet.’

‘Really?’ Andrew Baker looked sceptical.

‘Really! I take it you don’t have a hairy arse yourself then.’ Winston said.

‘No! of course not.’ Andrew stated quite categorically.

‘How do you know?’ Josephine enquired.

‘I just know,’

‘Looked in the mirror have you?’ Josephine continued.

‘How can I? The mirror’s on the bathroom cabinet.’

‘You could stand on a stool,’ Tarquin suggested.

‘And look through my legs. I’m not a gymnast.’

‘You must have a mirror at a lower height,’ Josephine said.

‘I don’t have a rear-view mirror. No-one has a rear-view mirror.’

‘You do in the car,’ Quinlan pointed out.

‘I am not getting naked in my car just to check if I have hair where the sun don’t shine,’ Andrew stated.

‘The inside light is conveniently placed though,’ Quinlan advised.

‘’The mirror’s not big enough,’ Josephine chipped in

‘My backside is not that big.’

‘How do you know?’ Winston queried. ‘You probably can’t see it through all the hair.’

‘I do not have a hairy backside. Karen, tell them.’

‘Karen has seen your bottom? Things have moved on,’ Tarquin said

‘I might have caught a glimpse,’ Karen confirmed.

‘Well?’ They all asked’.

‘I wasn’t carrying out a medical inspection. I don’t know.’

‘We need a real expert to advise on this,’ Andrew said banging his fist on the coffee table.

All faces turned towards Quinlan.

‘Hey! Don’t look at me. I’m no expert.’

‘We’ve got an expert,’ Andrew suggested, ‘We just need independent verification.’

‘Well… ‘ Quinlan paused for thought, ‘I would tend to side with Josephine.’

‘Have you quite finished?’ The Third Recorder said, like a teacher reprimanding an unruly class. The room fell silent and six embarrassed faces nodded apologetically. ‘Can anyone remember where we were up to?’

‘The Book Guild,’ Karen reminded him.

‘Ah yes: The Book Guild. Looking through the particulars, they are small, nimble and commercially minded. They could be just right. Put them at the top of the list.’ The Third Recorder leaned back in his chair. ‘That’s all for now. We’ve got to prepare Mr Baker for the big day tomorrow.

‘Big day?’ Andrew Baker looked surprised.

‘Tomorrow you are sworn in as Governor of the Veteran Islands. You’ll have to give a speech.’

Mr Baker looked terrified.

‘Play time everyone,’ The Third Recorder announced. ‘Back here in fifteen minutes.’

As they filed out of the room the audio-visual equipment picked up the following: ‘I have not got a hairy bum.’ ‘Well let me have a look at it then.’ ‘How can I trust your word?’ ‘I’ve got a camera. I’ll take a photo.’ ‘And where are you going to get it developed.’ ‘Boots.’ ‘ I don’t want my bottom passed round all the shop assistants in Boots.’ ‘Well then, you’ll have to sit on the photocopier, won’t you?’

End of transcript

The following note was found amongst Andrew Baker’s things. It appears to be a note circulated to all the members of the household from Anne, the Housekeeper.

Note from Anne the Housekeeper to residents of Ivory Towers.

 

Dear Residents

Can someone please let me know who broke the photocopier. I know photocopiers are temperamental and break down easily, however, in this case we extracted from the rollers a mangled piece of A3 paper, which when flattened revealed the cause. If no-one comes forward, the evidence will be used to identify the perpetrator in a line-up. Ladies need not attend.

End of note.

 

We do not know the outcome. Though we suspect… hairy.

LET ME IN

February 12, 2022

“Let me in” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first stone to be turned, refer to case note: 1

 

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 21             DATE: 27th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

LET ME IN

 

Background briefing:

Andrew Baker became the Governor of the Veteran Islands by deceit. He needed to write a best-selling novel to obtain an honorary degree to save his job and prevent imprisonment.  His friend, Miss Josephine Carter, had sent for Karen Hannah to help out. Karen was a former girlfriend of Andrew Baker but after a cataclysmic end to their relationship, had threatened to kill him on numerous occasions, and for good reason (refer to case note 14 for details). They were not getting on.

Case note 22: Let Me In

Following the explosive events of that morning, Karen locked herself in the Writing Room and would not come out or let anyone in. Lunch and Dinner were passed through a kind of letterbox incorporated into the bottom of the door. Apparently, this room was designed to be a holding cell for anybody trying to maim or kill the governor, hence the tray slot. By the evening Andrew Baker was concerned Miss Hannah may never come out. His friends advice was well meant, but he wasn’t sure ‘smoking her out,’ would have a positive effect in the long term. He needed advice from an expert in relationships. Someone who knew how to deal with tricky characters. He telephoned his mum.

It seems that all the Governor’s telephone conversations were taped. According to the housekeeper, this was to ensure a clear and comprehensive record of all his activities. It was not, and she makes this very clear, for the purpose of extortion and blackmail. However, as they were found in her room, in a big metal box labelled ‘Pension Plan,’ we have our doubts. Still, they have proved a valuable source of information, and so we are grateful for her fastidious record keeping.

Transcript of a telephone conversation between Mr Andrew Baker and his mother on the 27th of June 1990.

Hi Mum

Hello dear.

Mum, I need some advice.

Yes dear. What kind of advice?

Boy, girl stuff.

I thought we went through all that when you were fifteen.

No! No! No! Not… that kind of advice. I wouldn’t want to go through that again.

Well what then?

Karen came to visit

The Karen?

Yes… the Karen.

The Karen that said she would rip off your balls and wear them as earrings?

Yes… that Karen

The Karen that said she would pickle you dick in vinegar and serve it as a gherkin?

Yes, yes, that Karen

The Karen that said she would blow your brains out… with a straw.

Yes, yes, yes, I know.

The Karen that said she would remove your heart with a spoon… if you had one?

She’s very… creative.

Creative hmm? Is that why she said she would drop you in a pool of piranha, just one, so she could watch you slowly nibbled back to the bone.  

She was upset.

And what is the problem

She’s upset.

I see. Andrew… isn’t it time to cut your losses, and leave the poor girl alone? Hasn’t she suffered enough?

But mum this is my one chance to get her back.

Okay, okay. So, what did you do to upset her… apart from burn down Bilton and put half the family in hospital?

That was a long time ago.

So what did you do this time

I called her ‘ugly,’ and ‘not a looker.’

Personally, if I were you, I would run away. Leave tonight and give no forwarding address.

I said it a long time ago, when I was at school. She’s only just found out.

Oh… Okay. There’s a chance then. A slim chance.

Any chance is better than none. What can I do?

What’s the situation, the situation on the ground?

She’s locked herself in a room, and refuses to let anyone in.

So she’s captive?

Sort of.

Good. Has she got any matches, scissors, open windows… gun?

No! But I don’t think she’d hurt herself.

I was thinking of you.

Oh! I see.

But it also means anything you give her, she can’t set fire to, cut up, or throw away.

I guess, but what should I give her?

There is only one thing that could work.

Which is?

A love poem.

Not a poem. I’m crap with words. You know I am. I got grade 4 CSE in English. I can barely spell my name. I can’t. It won’t work.

Write her a love poem. She’ll know how hard that is for you. She’ll sympathize. She’ll appreciate it.

But how do I start a love poem. I only know roses are red violets are blue.

If you start a poem with roses are red, I will give her the gun to shoot you with myself.

So what do I do?

Forget about rhyme and rhythm and all that nonsense. Just let her know how you feel about her. When you’ve figured it out, stack the sentences one above the other, leave a few gaps, and it’ll look like a poem anyway. The important thing is to write how you feel; write what you want her to know.

Did dad write you any love poems.

No. But, I didn’t lock him out of my room, and he didn’t set fire to Bilton.

‘I’m just not sure.’

‘It’s the only thing that will work.’

Okay, okay… I’ll do my best.

If I receive a gherkin in the post, I’ll know it went badly.

Thanks mum

Andrew… you can do this… you can. Let her know how much you need her… how much you love her. It’ll work.

Really?

Really.

Okay. I’ll give it a go. Bye mum.

Bye Andrew.

End of telephone conversation

 

Mr. Andrew Baker’s love poem was inserted through the ‘letterbox,’ at 9.00pm on the 27th of June 1990. The microphone monitoring the writing room picked up the characteristic ‘plop, drop,’ of the letter landing on the floor and the flap closing once again. This was followed by the sound of footsteps and an envelope being opened. There was a pause, presumably while the poem was read. The poem itself was discovered folded up under the keyboard to Miss Hannah’s word processor.

 

Love Poem written by Mr. Andrew Baker to Miss Karen Hannah.

Karen

 

You hate me. You are right to hate me.

You blame me. You are right to blame me.

You want to hurt me. I deserve to be hurt.

 

So let me in.

 

If you think I suffer most when I cannot be with you

You are wrong.

 

Nothing hurts more than being with the one you love

When the one you love does not love you

So, if you really want to hurt me

Let me in

 

If you think I suffer most when I cannot talk to you

You are wrong

 

Nothing hurts more than talking to the one you love

And hearing indifference

So if you really want to hurt me

Let me in

 

If you think I suffer most when I cannot touch you

You are wrong.

 

Nothing hurts more than touching the person you love

And feeling them recoil

So if you really want to hurt me

Let me in.

 

If you think I suffer most when I cannot see you

You are wrong

 

Nothing hurts more than seeing the one you love Is sad.

I cannot bear to see you sad

So, if hurting me makes you happy

Let me in.

 

But

 

If you are hurting because you want to be held

By someone who loves you passionately

I love you, passionately, so please

Let me in

 

If you are hurting because you want to share your thoughts

With someone who loves you deeply

I love you, deeply, so please

Let me in

 

If you are hurting because you want to share your life

With someone who loves you forever

I love you, forever, so please

Let me in

 

Karen

I love you,

I have always loved you,

I will always love you.

 

And I know, you love me too.

 

So please, for the love of God… LET ME IN.

 

End of Poem

 

After the poem was read, we think the tape indicates gentle sobbing. Then the latch was turned, the door opened, there was again, a short pause, then a ‘Waah!’ which we think is Mr Baker being yanked into the room.

 

Fax response:

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team

 

I’ve been reading the case notes to my daughter as a bedtime story (I’m on an efficiency drive, doubling up, it’s the only way I can fit things in). She’s desperate to know what happened when Andrew Baker entered the room. Can you send me a transcript of the tape following Mr. Bakers entry?

 

Fax response:

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

 

How old is your daughter?

 

Fax response

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team

 

Eleven. Why?

 

Fax response

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

 

Err… well… hmm… I’m not sure we can. There were plenty of noises, but very little conversation on the tape. We can only guess what was going on and, I think we would rather not. With regards your daughter, I would just say, ‘the frog turned into a prince by the usual means.’

THE WRITING STALLS

February 05, 2022

“The Writing Stalls” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first strand in this tangled web refer to case note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 20               DATE: 27th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE WRITING STALLS

 

Background Briefing: Mr Andrew Baker had to write a best-selling novel to obtain an honorary degree, in order to save his job as Governor of the Veteran Islands and avoid imprisonment. The novel is based on events from his childhood, events shared with his friends: Winston, Tarquin, Josephine, and Quinlan, and his former girlfriend Miss Karen Hannah. Karen, a wannabe author, had been recruited to help with the writing. However, ten years ago, Andrew Baker accidentally put half her family in hospital, destroyed two cars, killed the dog, and burnt down the terrace in which she lived. She had never forgiven him. She had joked, in order to make amends, he should be strapped to a big wheel while she threw daggers at him, blindfold.

Case Note: 20 The Writing Stalls

The writing routine remained the same over the next few days. Karen Hannah would set the “writing team” various tasks, and then she and Andrew Baker would spend most of the day in the writing room. Mr Baker would jot down his recollection of events and pass them on to Karen to provide literary flair. Occasionally he would venture out for briefings in the ways of the Assembly, lessons on classical literature, and how to tie a bow tie, but little else. There was a certain tension in the air, due to Miss Hannah’s deep-seated loathing of Mr Baker. But, despite this, the days gradually set into a steady and reasonably comfortable pattern. The Third recorder noted in his journal that he was pleased with progress, and that maybe, this crazy madcap adventure might work. On the 27th of June However, things took a turn for the worst.

Anne had been keeping a keen eye on proceedings in the writing room. She had not placed any recording devices in the room, presumably because there was nowhere to hide one. For safety reasons, almost everything had been removed to storage. There was nothing more than a desk, two chairs, and a sofa. Miss Hannah had a volatile temper. There was nothing left she could use as a weapon. As Anne could no longer place a tape recorder behind a carriage clock or bust of the queen, she had drilled a hole through the floorboards of the room above and lowered down a small microphone. It poked through the plasterboard, just above a rather gaudy chandelier. So far, it had not been detected. The following is a transcript of the tape when it all kicked off.

Transcript of a heated discussion between Miss Karen Hannah and Mr Andrew Baker in the writing room on the 27th June 1990.

‘C’mon, pass me the next section,’ Miss Hannah demanded.

‘I’d rather not,’ Mr Baker replied.

‘It has to be covered. It’s essential to the story.’

‘I know. I’m just not sure. You know… you say things as kids… ‘

‘I’m a mature woman now. I’m not affected by things we said as kids.’

‘Maybe. I just don’t want you to think badly of me.’

‘It’s too late for that. What on earth could make me hate you more than I hate you already.’

‘There was just this bit when I was feeling confused and… ‘

‘If you want to keep this fancy house and avoid jail, hand it over.’

‘Okay. Okay. Here you are.

‘And why are you moving away from the desk.’

‘I just thought it might be wise.’

‘You are so, so childish. Don’t you trust me? What could you say that… “Ugly? Ugly!”’

‘Not me. I didn’t think that. I was just saying that someone else might… ‘

‘“Nice eyes.” Is that all? That’s not a lot is it?’

‘You’ve got beautiful eyes. I’ve always liked your eyes.’

‘Not much help if they are set in a pumpkin now is it. Maybe I should only go out on Halloween.’’’

‘You look beautiful now. All of you looks beautiful now.’

‘But I looked like a dog then. A dog with nice eyes.’

‘I said I liked the way you were.’

‘“Not a Looker! Not a Looker!” What does that mean?’

‘What is a looker anyway. I’m just saying there are different forms of beauty, and you didn’t fit... ‘

‘ “Didn’t fit!” If you give me that “beauty within,” crap I’ll rip out your innards and use them as Christmas decorations.’

‘You were beautiful, you were… but not… in a conventional way.’

‘Aagh! There’s never a candlestick, revolver, dagger, lead piping or a rope when you need one.’

‘I kissed you. I must have liked you.’

‘Hoping I’d turn into a princess I assume. Who screwed this monitor to the desk. At least the keyboard…’

[At this point there was a lot of crashing and banging, which we think was probably Karen beating Andrew over the head with the keyboard. Then there was a heavy thud, when he probably fell over the footstool and landed by the sofa, followed by a couple of oomphs when we think he may have been kicked. It was probably a good thing that all Karen’s footwear apart from a couple of pairs of slippers and some flip flops had also been removed to storage. Following the oomphs, she unlocked the door and burst out onto the landing.

‘Find me a big wheel and a set of daggers… and skip the blindfold.’

 

End of transcript.

 

The Third Recorder witnessed the apocalypse and sighed. Later he wrote in his journal, “Karen Hannah and Andrew Baker are two peas in a pod. Different pods, on different plants, on different planets, but they’re both peas. They would be so much happier if they realised they are both peas, got together and do what peas do… get mushy.”

THE EXAMINATION

January 29, 2022

“The Examination” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first steps in this fandango refer to case note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 19               DATE: 19th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE EXAMINATION

 

Background Briefing: Mr Andrew Baker had to write a best-selling novel to obtain an honorary degree, in order to save his job as Governor of the Veteran Islands and avoid imprisonment. The novel is based on events from his childhood, events shared with his friends: Winston, Tarquin, Josephine, and Quinlan, and his former girlfriend Miss Karen Hannah, all of whom were present at the Governor’s residence. Karen, a wannabe author, had been recruited to help with the writing. However, ten years ago, Andrew Baker accidentally put half her family in hospital, destroyed two cars, killed the dog, and burnt down the terrace in which she lived. She had never forgiven him.

The Examination

The following examination paper was discovered amongst the reams of paper in the Writing Room. It was an exercise Miss Hannah set for Winston, Tarquin, Josephine and Quinlan on the morning of the 19th June. Whilst Anne, the housekeeper was finalising arrangements for the Writing Room, Karen typed up and printed an examination paper, and placed four copies face down on the conference room table. The examination was set to commence at 10.00am and run for three hours till lunch at 1.00pm. The four participants took their seats at ten minutes to, and watched the clock tick down. At 10.00am Karen gave the order to start, papers were turned over. The ends of pencils were chewed as instructions were read and then the scribbling began. Karen cast an invigilator’s eye over proceedings and nodded approval. She then left to begin a trip down memory lane with Mr Baker, in the Library.

It should be said, that as soon as Karen had left the room, laughing and joking commenced, paper was made into aeroplanes or scrunched into balls and thrown around, and Anne, the housekeeper brought through some light refreshments.

 

Writing Exercise set by Miss Karen Hannah on the 19th June 1990

Participants: Tarquin Pallister, Quinlan Weston-Smythe, Josephine Carter and Winston Grahame.

 

THE BOY AND THE BRIEFCASE… AND THE MOOSE

EXAMINATION PAPER 1 - RECALL

Duration          3 hours

Start time        10.00am

Completion      1.00pm

 

NAME:                        __________________________________________

DATE OF BIRTH:       __________________________________________

PAGE                          _____

 

This exercise is to test your memory of the momentous events that took place at Harribold School fifteen years ago. In order to rekindle those memories I am placing you under school examination conditions, which are:

No copying, no slacking, no gassing, no tea breaks, and no messing around. Should you need a toilet break you will be escorted to the bathroom by a member of staff, otherwise, you can use the jug on the table.

Don’t forget to write your name at the top of the paper. It’s a rookie mistake and we’re not rookies anymore. The date of birth is just in case any of you want to send each other birthday cards in the future. Just in case, mine is 2nd October 1961.

As Andrew Baker was the main instigator of those terrible events and is supposed to be the author of the book, I am going to write the story from his point of view. Delving deep into the mind of a deranged lunatic is likely to be a traumatic experience, so, if you are experiencing any difficulties remembering events, don’t expect any sympathy from me.

I am not a mind reader. Pease provide enough context, so I know what the hell you’re talking about. Focus on events where you were the sole observer. Include any dialogue that sticks in the mind. Details that emphasise the incompetence and inadequacy of Andrew Baker are particularly welcomed. They will provide humour and a little light relief, and I can add them to my “What was I Thinking,” scrap book.

If you have the urge to write down a tirade of abuse aimed at Mr Baker please feel free to do so. I know I have found this very therapeutic in the past. However, try to limit this to only ten minutes at a time as it can become all-encompassing if you are not careful.

Anybody completing less than three sides of A4 paper in small, neat, and closely spaced handwriting will stay behind. If you find yourself struggling… tough… think harder. Remember, there are no retakes. On completion please staple all your sheets together in the correct order and hand them back to the invigilating officer… that’s me.

Papers will be marked, and I will expect a B, at the very least, from everyone present.

KAREN

January 23, 2022

‘’Karen – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

To trace the history of this melancholy menage refer to case note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 18               DATE: 19th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

KAREN

 

Background Briefing: The Governor of the Veteran Islands, Andrew Baker had to write a bestselling novel to obtain an honorary degree to save his job and avoid imprisonment. A former girlfriend Karen Hannah had been roped in to help with the task. Their friends hoped they’d get back together, but the only passion she experienced was hatred.

Case Note 19: Karen

This account of the conversation between Miss Karen Hannah and Mr. Andrew Baker at breakfast has been pieced together from a number of recordings found in various rooms. It seems everyone, apart from Andrew Baker and Karen Hannah had slipped a recording device of one type or another, within range. The descriptions are from a video tape. The camcorder was probably placed on the top shelf of the Welsh dresser. Although Andrew Baker wasn’t particularly early that morning, there was no-one else around when he sat down at the breakfast table. A minute or two later, Karen arrived and sat down opposite him. It would appear everyone else had decided the happy couple should be left in peace.

Transcript of a conversation between Miss Karen Hannah and Mr Andrew Baker at breakfast.

‘Where is everyone?’ Karen asked fixing Andrew with suspicious eyes.

‘Don’t know. They seem to be having a lie in.’

‘Did you send them away?’ She leaned forward, staring accusingly across the table.

‘No! Why would I?’

‘To get me on my own.’ She held her cutlery in clenched fists.

‘No! Not at all. No! Why?’ he garbled.

‘To talk me round. Get me to help you out with this chicken brained scheme to write a best-selling novel.’ She cleared a small path through the tableware, as if preparing to launch an attack.

‘No! no! no! That’s not it.’ He leant back in his chair.

‘So why did Josephine drag me all the way out to this godforsaken island?’ She angled her knife at Mr Baker, as if to devour him.

‘She thought you could help.’ He pushed back on the table. The wooden chair rocked precariously.

‘But you don’t want my help?’ She reached forward.

‘No! No! No! I desperately, desperately need your help. Desperately.’ He pushed again, the chair reached tipping point. His arms whirled around like a gyroscope, but failed to stop the inevitable. Karen looked on with disdain. He returned to the table with as much dignity as he could muster, placing his chair a little further away.

‘So why don’t you want my help?’ She toyed with the salt cellar.

'I do! I do! I just know it… it is a big ask, after, y’ know… is everyone alright?’

‘They survived. We survived. The dog didn’t.’

‘He was twelve though wasn’t he?’

‘And?’

‘Well he’d done alright.’

‘Done alright?’

‘Had a good innings.’

‘Good innings? I loved that dog. I’d had him since I was eight. He was everything to me. He could have lived another four years.’

‘So… when you were twenty four, the dog would have been dead anyway.’

At this point the salt cellar flew across the room narrowly missing Andrew Baker’s left ear, followed by the pepper pot, which he caught, his hands being strategically placed in front of his face. He returned the pepper pot slowly to the table.

Karen spat her words across the table. ‘You can’t just kill things off because they haven’t got long to live. You wouldn’t shoot your gran. I don’t know, maybe you would.’

‘No, no… of course not.’

‘We’re lucky you didn’t kill my aunt. It turned out she had far more than four years to live.’

‘How is your aunt?’

‘Doing well. Hip’s still a bit dodgy.’

‘And your dad?’

‘Recovered physically. I’m not sure about his mental state.’

‘He always was a bit… you know… ‘

‘A bit what?’

‘You know!’

‘I’m not sure I do.’ She glared at him. ‘A bit what?’

Andrew Baker nibbled a finger nervously. ‘A bit… a bit… unstable?’

‘Unstable! Unstable! Anybody would be unstable after five years with you. Look at me. I’m a f**king wreck.’

‘You… er… you look alright. You look normal.’

'Really?'

‘Er… yes. I think so.’

'Not been out with many women have you.'

'Not a lot.'

You’ve got no idea what normal is. This,’ she pointed to herself,’ is not it.’

‘But, who wants to be normal anyway.

I do! I want to be normal. I was normal till I met you. Now I’m a f**king nutcase. I will never, never, never, forgive you for what you have done to me, and my family.’

 ‘I know! I’m not asking forgiveness, I’m just hoping, one day, sometime in the future, you might… forget.’

‘Forget! Forget? It is seared into my memory banks. If I die and they dissect my brain, they will find “Andrew Baker f**ks you up,” written in red through every slither, like a stick of Blackpool rock. A hundred hypnotists could not erase that memory. A thousand years of therapy wouldn’t do it.’

'At least you’re not trying to kill me anymore.'

'I wouldn’t count on it.’ She reached for a vase of flowers.

‘Please, no more throwing; it’s like a war zone?’ She gave him a long silent stare. Her shoulders relaxed, she stretched out the fingers of her clenched hands, leaned back, and looked away. She sighed.

‘Alright. I’ll stop throwing. Anyway, there are not enough missiles on the table to appease my anger.’

‘I’m sorry. I’m really sorry for all that happened. I know that’s not enough, but it’s all I’ve got.'

‘Why? Why did you do it? Why did you have to borrow the car anyway?'

‘I wanted to take you somewhere nice, somewhere special.’

‘But you told me, and you told my dad, that you had passed your driving test the day before.’

‘I know.’

‘But you hadn’t. You weren’t even allowed to drive. You were illegal. You lied. You lied to me. Why did you do it?’

‘I really, really wanted to take you somewhere special.’

‘Somewhere special? What could have been worth f**king up that badly.’

‘It was important.’

‘Important?’

‘I… I… I… was going to…’

‘Going to what?!’

'I was going to…'

'Yes?'

'Propose.’

‘You were what?!’

‘I was going to propose. Ask you to marry me.’ There was a pause. They both looked at each other in silence. Karen broke the silence.

‘Aaaghh! You… you… you… twat! That makes it ten times worse. It should have been the best… the best day of my life and you… you pissed on it. You ruined it.’ This time she threw the vase, just missing his right ear. Fortunately, the vase was plastic and remained intact, but water and flowers hit the wall and cascaded down onto the floor. She picked up the sugar bowl with a similar intention.

‘Please, please, no more throwing.’

She released her grip, and leaned back in her chair, shaking her head in disbelief.

‘You broke my heart that day.’ She said.

 ‘It broke my heart as well. I loved you. I wanted to marry you. I wanted to be with you. It all went wrong. It was such a mess.’ Andrew Baker held his head in his hands.

‘Don’t you start crying. Don’t you dare. I won’t wipe those tears away.’

Andrew Baker rubbed his eyes with the heal of his hands, drew them down his face, and flicked a few drips onto the floor.

‘I’d do anything to put it right, I would, anything, anything at all.’ He looked down, seemingly unable to meet her gaze.

‘Anything?’

‘Anything.’

‘Anything at all?’ Karen smiled mischievously.

‘Yes! Anything. Whatever!’ Andrew looked up.

‘Hmm. Stripped naked and strapped to a large rotating wheel, while I throw daggers at you blindfold, sounds good,’ she said.

‘Why Blindfold?’

‘That’s for the very, very, very small part of me that still has some feelings for you. The tiny fragment that still wants you to live,’ she said, with an evil glint in her eye.

‘I don’t think we’ve got a big rotating wheel. Will anything else do?’

‘Let me see: trip on a yacht, fancy ball, expensive meals… I’ll make a list.’

‘So, will you help?’

‘With this book thing?’

‘Yeah, the book thing.’

‘Why me?’

‘You’re a brilliant writer,’ Andrew said. Karen appeared to mellow

‘Not helped me get anything published though has it?’

‘Just unlucky.’

‘Okay! I’ll help. It will be a touch sickening if my only published book has your name on the cover.’

‘You’ll get all the royalties.’

‘I should bloody well hope so,’ she replied. Andrew leaned back in his chair and sighed with relief.

‘Thanks! That’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I can relax at last.’

‘Hey! I’m not doing it on my own. You’ll have to write it with me. Feed me all the details. Quinlan, Josephine, Tarquin and Winston will also have to give me their accounts.’

‘So I can’t just leave you to it?’

‘No!’ she stated categorically.

Andrew grimaced. ‘Are you sure?’ he pleaded.

‘Yes! This is your story not mine. I’ll need to know everything, absolutely everything from your point of view.’

‘Including the kiss?’

‘Especially the kiss.’

‘Will you let me lie a bit? Can I leave out the embarrassing parts?’

‘If this is to be a best seller I’ll need know everything; everything you saw, heard, touched, tasted, smelt… and thought.’

‘Everything I thought?’ Andrew looked worried.

‘Yes! I want to know everything. Everything you thought, about me, her, and the moose.’

‘I might as well get myself strapped to that wheel now.’

End of Transcript

 

At this point the other residents joined Karen and Andrew at the breakfast table. Conversation turned to passing marmalade, cups of tea, and what condiment to apply to one’s sausage. There was nothing more of relevance to the case. The most important outcome had already been decided. Miss Hannah would help with the novel. In theory it should have been plain sailing from this point on. However, theory and practice are often at odds.