THE WRITING ROOM

January 15, 2022

The Writing Room – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For a brief summary of events refer to case note: 14

For the first steps in this sorry saga, refer to case note: 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE:17      DATE: 19th JUNE 1990     

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE WRITING ROOM

Background briefing: The Governor of the Veteran Islands, Andrew Baker, had to write a best-selling novel in order to gain an honorary degree, save his job and avoid imprisonment. His friend, Miss Josephine Carter, had sent for Karen Hannah to help achieve this aim. Karen was a former girlfriend of Andrew Baker but following separation had threatened to kill him on numerous occasions, for perfectly understandable reasons (refer to case note 14 for details). The Third Recorder (the Governor’s adviser) was in charge of arrangements.

Case Note 17: The writing Room

The following record is a note left by the Third Recorder for Anne the housekeeper regarding arrangements to create a room for Andrew Baker and Karen Hannah to write in… safely.

 

Instructions to the housekeeper.

Author: The Third Recorder.

Date: 19th June 1990

 

Anne

Please would you organise the moving of furniture etc to create a writing room for the Governor and Miss Karen Hannah on the third floor of the north east tower? On second thoughts, that room has access to the roof. Karen appears to be somewhat volatile. I don’t think we should provide an open invitation for Miss Hannah to push Mr Baker over a precipice. Goodness knows, I’d find it difficult to resist the urge myself, and she has a hundred times the justification I have. I suggest we change the room to that on the second floor. That room does have a Juliet balcony. Could you ensure the doors are firmly locked? Can you switch on the air-conditioning so we can lock the windows as well?

Remove any hard, weighty objects that could easily become a missile in her hands. She threw her shoes at the governor with some force on arrival. They would have hit him square between the eyes, if he hadn’t ducked. The ladies cricket team could do with a bowler. Maybe you could see if she is amenable? It would be so much better coming from you. It might be a way to work off some of that anger and frustration.

Remove any breakable items from the room, especially anything that could fragment into jagged edges. Also remove anything sharp and pointy, even pencils. I don’t fancy cleaning up after a major stabbing.

Get rid of anything that can be wielded such as a candlestick, lead piping, or anything else that you might expect to find in a game of Cluedo.

Let’s use the big oak desks from the guest bedrooms. They’re heavy and difficult to move, and the rounded edges reduce the risk of a significant head injury following a “fall”. I would also use the original oak desk chairs. They are much heavier than the normal office chairs. I doubt even she could wield one of those with ease.

Check for any cords, tie backs, pulls etc that could be used as a ligature, and take away. I would also remove the cushions; they could be used to smother a victim.

Can you go through the bathroom cabinet in the ensuite and remove anything you could pour or grind to put in a drink. On second thoughts, just clear out everything. I wouldn’t trust Miss Hannah with a pair of tweezers.  

Remove anything valuable. I don’t think Miss Hannah is a thief, but items could easily get broken or scratched in the heat of battle.

Stick to large heavy soft sofas for general seating. They can’t be used as weapons and can provide a soft landing if you find yourself thrown across a room.

Can you make some enquiries? Is there one of those metal detector things at the airport that we can borrow? It might pick up any weapons she attempts to smuggle in. We could install it in the doorway, and disguise it somehow. I guess the luggage x-ray machines wouldn’t be suitable. We’d have to feed her through on the conveyor belt. She might get suspicious.

I doubt we could get someone from security to frisk Mis Hannah when she enters the room. She’s a bit prickly. I suspect they’d leave holding their vitals, hopefully still attached. Instead, when she is otherwise engaged, could you go through her clothing and unpick the pockets as subtly as you can? Maybe form a hole in any that are not easily removed.

I suggest we leave them both with a Parker ballpoint pen, one of those ones with a chain that can be secured to the desk. The ones we use in the Assembly foyer to stop the public stealing them will do. Also provide plain white loose-leaf paper. I think we can disregard the danger from paper cuts. Finally provide Miss Hannah with a word processor. She fancies herself as a writer, so I assume she can type.

Make sure you have the doctor’s number handy, and I suggest you knock on the door and offer cups of tea at regular intervals, just to keep an eye on things. The first aid kit is in the right-hand drawer of the Welsh dresser, if you need it.

I am not sure if Karen Hannah is from heaven or hell. As long as she gets the novel written I don't care, providing we are all still alive to tell the tale.

A WILD AND STORMY GUEST

January 09, 2022

A Wild and Stormy Guest – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the complete catalogue of catastrophic events, please start at Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 16               DATE: 18th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

A WILD AND STORMY GUEST

 

For the beginning of events on the 18th of June, please refer to Case Note 14.

Location: The Governor’s Residence.

Briefing notes: The Governor of the Veteran Islands, Andrew Baker, had to write a best-selling novel in order to gain an honorary degree, to save his job and avoid imprisonment. His friend, Miss Josephine Carter, had sent for Karen Hannah to help achieve this aim. Karen was a former girlfriend of Andrew Baker but following separation had threatened to kill him on numerous occasions, and for good reason (refer to case note 14 for details).

The following account of Miss Karen Hannah’s arrival at the Governor’s residence on the evening of 18th June was written the morning after. Somewhat surprisingly it is written by both the Governor and Miss Karen Hannah. It was another one of the Third Recorder’s writing exercises, discovered amongst his files. This time the exercise was aimed at Miss Hannah, rather than Andrew Baker.

 

Writing Exercise dated 19th of June 1990 set by the Third Recorder
 

Dear Miss Hannah

While we are organising a writing room for the purpose of the novel, I propose a creative writing exercise to get you in the mood. You will be writing the novel as Mr Baker, so I thought the following might be appropriate.

I discovered the Governor’s diary this morning and tore out his entry for yesterday covering your arrival. I suggest you take his childish scribbles and reinterpret them in a more literary fashion. I have jotted down his notes in blue. Please add your thoughts below.

We ran back from the boathouse. It was pissing down. We got drenched. We just got back before the thunder and lightning.

On leaving the boathouse an ominous wall of angry clouds rose up, arching over me like a giant wave, casting a deathly shadow over the land. A grave omen; the past was catching up with me at last. I ran like a soul pursued by the devil, lightning snapping at my heels. As I burst through the door, the wave broke, and the sky came crashing down, consuming the house in its fury. Swirling gusts clawed the walls, shook the shutters, and rattled the windowpanes. There was no escape. The forces of hell had been let loose; Karen was coming.

I ran upstairs to get changed for dinner.

I collapsed, exhausted, soaked to the skin. I dragged my feeble frame over to the fireplace and let its flames warm my bony body. I struggled to my feet and stumbled awkwardly to the bedroom, discarding damp clothes as I went. I looked in the long mirror. A pale and pasty, gangly figure, with a tiny little penis stood before me. I drew closer. The crooked teeth, bent nose, and bat ears that once lent a boyish charm looked ill-conceived and hair that in my youth, might have been considered wild and carefree, was now scraggy and lank. I washed and combed and moisturised and trimmed, but, at the end of the day, you can’t polish a terd. You can however dress one. I donned a clean white shirt and tailored suit and made my way down to dinner.

I sat down to dine. There was a knock on the door. Karen had arrived. I was more than a little nervous.

I joined the others at the table. They were calm and collected. I was a nervous wreck. I had always been a chicken-shit coward with balls the size of a baked been, but it was too late to run away. Karen was coming, and if I didn’t have the courage to face her, she would find me and rip off my balls with a pair of tweezers. A cold sweat mingled with tears dripped down onto my lap, where a yellow stain was beginning to form. My hands shook and my teeth chattered. There was a knock on the door. I didn’t have the guts to answer it myself, so I sent the housekeeper. She drew back the top bolt; I chewed on my fingernails. She drew back the bottom bolt; I chewed on my toenails. She drew back the middle bolt; I chewed the table. She turned the key in the lock; I screamed like a baby.

She was every bit as scary I remembered.

The door flung open throwing Anne over the sofa and onto the tiger skin rug. The storm took possession of our sanctuary. Chandeliers swayed, thunder roared, and torrential rain flooded in. Standing in the open doorway was a vision from the deepest darkest depths of hell, from a place beyond the Pit of Despair, where even demons fear to tread. Silhouette against a blinding explosion of bright lightning, was a figure more terrifying than any creature Satan could devise. Karen had arrived.

She was furious. Still, she looked alright.

The flaming red hair toyed with the wind, twisting and turning it to match her wild and tempestuous nature. The light cotton blouse and culottes embraced the contours of her body; rain flowing down and around her fulsome breasts, over the soft pink skin of her midriff and down her long powerful legs. Her eyes were the colour of incandescent rage, her lips the colour of blood. No she devil was more terrifying, or more beautiful.

God she can swear. I didn’t understand half the words. I reckon she made them up on the spur of the moment. Thank god for Josephine. She calmed the raving lunatic and took her off to get changed, but not before she threw her shoes at me.

She spoke in tongues, conjuring the elements, cursing me with a fate I have yet to discover. Her swirling arms conjured a gimbling gyre. Two shoes, caught in the vortex shot past me and hit the wall behind. She moved towards me, like a panther seeking its prey. I hid under the table like a pathetic wimp. Josephine, who is twice the man I will ever be, came to my rescue, though god knows I didn’t deserve it.

‘Karen! Karen! Lovely to see you. Come on in. You need to get out of those soaking wet clothes. I’ll show you to your room. You can dry yourself off, then join us for dinner.’

When she came back down, she looked completely different.

A short while later Karen returned calm and collected. Gone was the image of a powerful sorceress, and in its place, a regal princess. The long emerald dress revealed her elegant figure, and the pendant earrings and deep red hair framed a face of rare beauty. Only her dark and deadly eyes betrayed the danger; that and her constant reminders she will kill and mutilate me before the week is out.

When she forgot about me she was as I remembered. I missed her. I wondered if we could ever get back together.

When she forgot about me, and was talking to someone else, lost in conversation, she was as I remembered… funny… intriguing… clever… creative… and beautiful… astonishingly beautiful. For the five years before I tore our world apart, she had brought so much love and laughter into my life. We had something special; we were soul mates. How did I screw up so badly? Why did I throw it all away? I knew, there was no way she would ever stop hating me. There was no way she would ever let me back into her life. I was, after all, a totally f**king useless piece of s**t that needed to be wiped off the face of the earth.

I knew I would not be able to relax for a moment while she was here. There are a thousand ways to murder, and she had rehearsed all of them in her mind.

Hmm… yes… er…well… that is not quite as I remember it, but far more entertaining. Well done Miss Hannah. I look forward to the novel.

 

End of exercise.

 

In addition to the exercise above, we have received this letter from Mr Winston Grahame’s mother. She was told about the disappearance and was obviously keen to provide any information that might help. It was posted shortly after Karen’s arrival and may provide a more measured account of the circumstances.

 

Letter from Winston Grahame to his mother dated the 19th June 1990

Dear Mum

The Governor’s residence is a madhouse.

Andy has got to write a bestselling novel to keep his job and avoid imprisonment. Josephine has roped Karen in to lend her a hand. You remember Karen? She was Andrew’s girlfriend until he set fire to half of Bilton. It left her a little unhinged. She underwent a long period of psychotherapy. Well, I’m not sure it has worked. Her arrival was like a scene from the Exorcist. Torrential rain, thunder, lightning, and a screaming lunatic.

It didn’t help that the taxi driver had heard about Andy’s pretend contagion and for fear of catching a terrible disease, abandoned her, halfway down the track. She dragged her oversized suitcase over rocks and rubble in the pouring rain. I think it was falling over, getting covered in mud, and grazing her knees that tipped her over the edge, and turned her into the Monster from the Deep.

She threw her shoes at Andy. All the way across the room. Missed by a millimetre. She's got a good arm on her.

I think Josephine has some romantic notion of getting the two of them back together. Karen is more likely to murder him than marry him.

The only person who is truly happy about the turn of events is the Third Recorder. He reckons if Karen can express in writing, one tenth of the emotion she displays in person, then the novel is a sure fire success.

Lunacy aside, this is a wonderful place for a rest. The Veteran Islands are a tropical paradise, the house is fantastic, and it is great to see everyone again. I hope we can help Andy. It would be good if he could keep this job. If he does, I’ll make sure you get an invite.

 

Lots of Love

 

Winston.

 

End of Letter

THE BOATHOUSE

January 03, 2022

The Boathouse – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For a brief resume of events refer to Case Note:14

For full details of this embarrassing affair, please start at the very beginning, Case Note 1, it’s a very good place to start.

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 15               DATE: 18th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE BOATHOUSE

 

The following discussion took place in Ivory Towers, the official residence of the Governor of the Veteran Islands. It was recorded on a camcorder at the end of a training session and is a continuation of the recording in Case Note 14. The Governor (Andrew Baker), the Third Recorder (his personal assistant), and Winston, Josephine, Quinlan and Tarquin (the Governor’s friends), were all in attendance. They were trying to help the Governor write a best-selling novel in order to protect his job (for details refer to Case Note 14). To help with the writing, Josephine had sent for Karen, a friend from school. However, Karen had threatened to kill the Governor on numerous occasions, for good reason. He was feeling a little anxious.

Case Note: 15

Quinlan decided Karen’s imminent arrival meant a little relaxation was in order. ‘If we are about to receive reinforcements, we should take a break, go up to the lake and get a boat out.’

‘Master Weston-Smythe,’ the Third Recorder responded, ‘I am trying to maintain the little momentum we have so far achieved. It would seem reckless to take my foot off the pedal now.’

‘Oh don’t be a misery,’ Winston chipped in. ‘With Karen on board pages will fly out of the typewriter.’

‘Okay! A short visit. I only hope your faith in this… Karen is well placed.’

‘It is,’ Winston confirmed.

‘Follow me,’ Quinlan instructed, and headed outside.

[There is no record of the walk up to the boathouse. To explain the context, the following extract is taken from Hugo Weston-Smythe’s “Visitors Guide to the Veteran Islands.”]

If you leave Ivory Towers and walk up the dirt track that skirts the side of the hill, along the edge of the tea plantation, you will eventually come to an old timber boathouse hidden away amongst the trees. The sludge green boarding and cedar shingles provide the perfect camouflage. Fight your way through the branches and blossom that brush up against the side of the building, and you emerge on the banks of a small lake nestled in the hills. On a calm day the water mirrors the sky; clouds gently drifting across the surface until they slip beneath the lush green foliage that lines the banks. This is a place of peace and tranquillity enjoyed by the island’s inhabitants since time immemorial. So tourists, please ignore the path, and instead, take your garish shorts, happy chatter, and discarded condoms to Paddy’s Irish Bar down by the harbour in Lax. Here you can drink to your hearts content, dance on the tables, and enjoy good old fashioned Irish hospitality. There is even a bin outside for discarded condoms. I wouldn’t want you to think we islanders have anything but the warmest affection for Mr Top-o-the-Morning Tapdancing O’Doherty and his happy-go-lucky team of leprechauns. We need each other. Ours is a symbiotic relationship. In much the same way that oxpeckers pick the parasites off a hippopotamus, Mr O’Doherty picks up the tourists from the taxi rank on their arrival and returns them at the end of their stay. The rest of our island idyll is left untarnished. Our only unanswered question, the same question that has vexed island dwellers the world over is, ‘why travel all this way to find an Irish Bar, when, we are led to believe, there are plenty of perfectly acceptable Irish Bars… in Ireland.’

For those who do not heed our well-meant advice, continue round to the far end of the lake where a small stream tips over the lip and cascades down the hillside, tumbling over rocks and plunging into pools, till it reaches Quaggy Bridge. This is very much like the water slide at your local swimming pool. Feel free to jump in and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget to scream as you pass under the bridge and are jettisoned out over the sheer drop down to Quaggy Cove. If the cool clear waters of a mountain stream hold little attraction there is always Hades Cavern. Just before the stream trips the lip, it circles around a huge, column of stone, a column supporting the entrance to an enormous cave. If legend is to be believed, the interminable corridors lead all the way down to Hades’ land of the dead. A visit is highly recommended.

 

The following statement was taken at the boathouse. The words are those of the chair of the rowing club who was present when the Governor and his friends arrived on the 18th June 1990.  

Interviewer: Reginald Swipe (Foreign Office Investigation Team)

Interviewee: Miss Geraldine **** Chair of the Veteran Islands All Gentleman Rowing Association. Miss **** became Chair against all odds, by securing desperately needed sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company. They didn’t even need to change the initials on the side of the boats, just add ‘Powered By.’

As the batteries in my recording device were dead, I typed the statement out on an old typewriter in the boathouse office. Miss **** sat by my side, advising on any corrections as I typed. She confirms the following is a true and accurate account of proceedings.

 

I was happily putting away my skull. That’s skull, with a C nitwit. With a C! Let me spell it for you: S… C… U… L… L. I can hardly take the bones out of my head and stack them on the shelf; moron. It’s a boat, a long thin boat… well actually the skulls… I’m waiting… sculls… thank you… the sculls are actually the oars. I was putting everything away, when they all waltsed in. That’s waltz with a zed… W… A… L… T… Z, waltz… that’s right, it’s a dance. No! they weren’t dancing. It’s a phrase, like over the moon. No-one is actually over the moon are they, they’re just pleased. I agree astronauts may be, but I don’t think it’s pertinent to the case is it? Okay, okay… they walked in. The Third Recorder… you want a description? Tall black guy? No I’m not giving you more. He’s the Third Recorder, there’ll be photos everywhere. A description won’t help. All right, all right! I’ll give you a description: wooden leg, parrot on the shoulder and goes Aah. Yes it is a pirate. You’re good. As I was saying, The Third Recorder said to the Governor… you want a description of him as well? There must be photographs; he’s the Governor for Christ’s sake. Oh, how he seemed. Well he did look rather pale… like he’d seen a ghost. Kept saying ‘f**king Karen, not f**king Karen, she’ll f**king kill me.’ Why the asterix? You don’t like swearing? It’s a police statement. Surely you can’t leave letters out. So, if I said w**k you wouldn’t be able to type it? And t**t? What about b*****d? or ****. Hang on a minute, that’s got no letters at all. How is someone going to guess that? Too rude? That’s ridiculous. You can’t leave out all the letters. I don’t care if it is a psychological condition! I know we have to make allowances, but that’s taking the p**s. Look, it’s like a fireman with a wooden leg…  not helpful.

Where were we? Oh yes, the Third Recorder said to the Governor, ‘we’ll take a boat out,’ and the Governor says, ‘that’s not a boat, it’s a f**king pencil.’ I says, ‘you’ll be alright in the eight, it’s stable enough with experienced rowers.’ Then Winston, the rugby player… no I’m not doing a description… he says ‘But, there’s only six of us.’ At that moment Monty and Tobias turned up. That’s Monty B****rsides-S**tface and Tobias B*****kbrain-D**kwit. Of course, it’s their real names. They agreed to join them. So the tall black girl… athletic… long hair, she says ‘That’s fine.’ So I says, ‘hey! You can’t leave your c***s out.’ What! No, no, that’s c***s… C… O… X, not c***s. The person who sits at the back of the boat and steers. I said I would cox them over to the other side of the lake and back. We got the boat out and they all got in. I explained the principles to the newbies, got in myself, and we set off. It was hopeless at first. Every now and then the governor would shout ‘f**king Karen’, lose concentration, oars would collide, and we’d be lucky not to roll over. In the end we incorporated it into a rhythmic chant in time with the rowing: f*… *king… Ka… ren, f*… *king… Ka… ren. That got us over to the other side, where they got out to have a look at Hades Cavern.

I stayed behind with Tob and Monty looking after the boat. There was no one hanging around. I thought I heard rustling… movement in the bushes. Could have been someone listening in I guess. Hades Cavern is shaped like a trumpet. People go in for illicit liaisons thinking no one can hear. In reality, any sound is magnified several times over when it reaches the entrance. Combined with the echo, it sometimes sounds like a couple of elephants humping in there. I didn’t hear anything specific, only ‘F**king Karen, king Karen, king Karen, king Karen, king Karen.

I could see the clouds were rolling in. I didn’t want to row back in a storm, not with that dipstick of a Governor. I gave them a shout, and we headed back to the boathouse. Got there just before the heavens opened.  We put the boat away. The Third Recorder told us not to mention the Governor’s visit to anyone. Then, they disappeared down the track to Ivory Towers.

The only other thing that comes to mind is a poem. The Third Recorder had entered the Hades Cavern annual poetry competition. He had come second again. He was having a right rant about it. Seems the same person wins every year. You’ll have to go over to the cave to find out who. It’ll be on the notice board. He’d ripped his poem off the wall and left it in the boat. Here it is.

Statement of Geraldine **** Concluded.

 

The Third Recorder’s poem ‘Orpheus leads Eurydice’ is included below for completeness.

I’ve done a bit of research, and it seems the story of Orpheus and Eurydice (pronounced your-id-i-see I believe), is one of the greatest of the Greek tragedies. Hades, the god of the underworld, allowed Orpheus to lead his dead wife Eurydice out of hell, provided he did not look round at any point on the journey. At the last moment Orpheus looks, and his wife is dragged back to the underworld.

 

Orpheus Leads Eurydice (another take on a tragedy)

 

Orpheus leads Eurydice

Through dark as black as ebony,

A speck of light their destiny.

She yearns to be set free.

 

No blood, no breath, no chemistry,

No trace of her vivacity,

A phantom or a fantasy?

She yearns to be set free.

 

Her silken feet step solemnly,

Her silver lips pray silently,

Her limpid eyes gaze longingly.

She yearns to be set free.

 

He wants to turn so desperately,

She wants the same, but knows she’ll be

Damned for all eternity.

She yearns to be set free.

 

He sees her in his memory,

She leads him through their history

From first kiss to fatality.

She yearns to be set free.

 

They met she teased so playfully,

They laughed and loved so joyfully,

She gave herself completely.

She yearns to be set free.

 

He held her close so jealously,

He watched her moves so carefully,

He punished her so ruthlessly.

And each and every injury

Cut into her vitality,

Till all he left was misery.

She yearns to be set free.

 

He sees the snake so vividly,

He sees her reach so purposely,

She takes the bite so willingly.

She yearns to be set free.

 

He weeps for all his cruelty,

He weeps for all her agony,

He weeps for his humanity.

He turns and sets her free.

 

I thought you might like that sir. Combines the classics with a number of interesting legal questions.

1 - Is this a simple case of domestic abuse?

2 - If Orpheus turns knowing Eurydice is condemned to death, is it murder?

3 - Is Orpheus of sound mind? He claims to have negotiated with the god of the underworld. That makes him a fruitcake in my kitchen. Manslaughter?

4 - Is turning to set Eurydice free, really the moral solution?

5 - Is Orpheus leading Eurydice to the surface and killing himself a more acceptable outcome?

6 - If Eurydice is dead, can she be killed again?

7 - If the dead are sentient, as suggested, should they get the same legal protection as the living?

THE ELEPHANT IN THE OTHER ROOM

December 25, 2021

The Elephant in the Room – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the those wondering how on earth we got here, please refer to Case Note 1,

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 14               DATE: 18th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE OTHER ROOM

 

Just in case, you decided to review these case notes by starting in the middle (it happens), I thought I should summarise the situation as it stood on the 18th of June 1990.

The Governor, his friends, and the Third Recorder (his personal assistant) were inhabiting the Governor’s residence in the Veteran Islands. The incumbent, Andrew Baker, became Governor through a combination of accident and artifice. If he didn’t maintain his position, the artifice would inevitably lead to imprisonment. Three things were required for Mr Baker to maintain the charade. The first was time. This was provided by an imaginary, infectious disease, that kept him out of the public eye. The second was training in the skills required for his new role. This was ongoing. The third, and somewhat more difficult, was an honorary degree from Cambridge University. To obtain the degree, he had to write a best-selling novel, the best-selling novel, a worldwide best-selling novel. If he did, Cambridge would not be able to resist the common touch; even the most elite, like a little… ‘rough’, now and then. He had at hand, an excellent plot, a story based on events from his childhood, events shared with his friends. It just needed to be written.

Case Note, number 14.

The following conversation was recorded on a camcorder, left running at the end of a training session in public speaking. Mr Baker was, as always, the speaker, and his friends the audience. He stepped off the dais and slumped down exhausted onto a disappointingly firm, Chesterfield leather sofa. Quinlan attempted a few polite claps, but in the absence of any accompaniment, quickly ceased.

On the coffee table between sofa and chairs was a typed manuscript covered in red ink and question marks. Winston tousled his beard, Tarquin nibbled the knuckle of his index finger, Josephine toyed with her long flowing locks, and Quinlan rested his chin on the twin thumbs of his twin fists, his elbows resting on the arms of his armchair. The mood was sombre.

‘So, what do you think?’ Andrew Baker asked, nervously nibbling a fingernail.

Quinlan raised his head off his hands, leant back in his chair and shrugged his shoulders. ‘Well… It’s not Shakespeare?’

‘I’m not aiming for Shakespeare,’ Andrew said in his defence.

‘Good job,’ Tarquin responded. ‘Because, I’d say, it’s fairly evident, you missed.’

‘By a country mile,’ Josephine confirmed.

Oh come-on, it’s not that bad… Winston, what do you think?

‘Shakespeare is pants.’

‘And… ‘

‘And this is worse than pants,’ Winston said apologetically.

'Worse than pants with skid marks,’ Tarquin added.

'Worse than pants with skid marks and a fart with follow through,’ Quinlan said.

Worse than pants with skid marks, a fart with follow through, and… a partridge in a pear tree,’ Josephine said

‘A partridge, in a pear tree?’ Andrew queried.

‘Yes!’ Josephine confirmed.

‘A partridge… in… a pear tree?’ Quinlan asked again.

‘Uhuh,’ Josephine agreed

‘This isn’t Christmas,’ Tarquin pointed out.

‘I know,’ Josephine stated

‘So… why the partridge?’ Andrew Baker said, hands out, palms up, ready to receive a reply.

‘I didn’t want to say the real thing,’ Josephine answered.

‘What real thing?’ Winston gave her a curious sideways glance.

‘The thing I was going to say,’ Josephine added.

‘Why?’ Quinlan asked.

‘Because it didn’t sound nice… to have in your pants,’ Josephine explained.

‘To be honest, there are few things worse, to have in your pants, than a partridge in a pear tree,’ Tarquin pointed out.

‘This is worse,’ Josephine said, looking down embarrassed.

‘It can’t be that bad,’ Quinlan suggested.

‘It is,’ Josephine confirmed.

‘Well what is it then?’

I don’t want to say.

‘What is it?’ They all chorused.

‘You’re going to have to tell us now,’ Winston said. ‘We’ve come too far. I for one, won’t be able to sleep tonight if I don’t know.’

‘Okay, okay. I’ll say it.’ Josephine accepted. ‘It… it… it… was…

‘Get one with it,’ Winston prodded.

‘Okay. It was… thrush in the bush,’ Josephine mumbled as quickly as she could

What? They all asked.

‘Thrush… in… the… bush,’ Josephine stated, slowly emphasising each and every word, then hiding her head in her hands.

'I guess that sort of explains... "partridge in a pear tree",' Quinlan said.

‘Josephine!’ Winston chided shaking his head. ‘I expect more from you. I thought you had standards. You may have fallen below Baker level.’

‘I’ve got my standards,’ Andrew Baker responded in outrage, ‘and I’m not raising them for anyone.’

‘I know,’ Tarquin said,’ looking at the coffee table, I read the manuscript.’

‘Ha, Ha.’ Andrew laughed theatrically.

‘It’s not that funny,’ Tarquin said seriously, ‘what can we do to sort it out?’

‘Well,’ Andrew replied, ‘I suggest, that twice a day, you apply an ointment to the affected area. It always works for me.’

Josephine gave him a withering look, and he withered appropriately. ‘To the manuscript dipstick,’ she said

‘It is a good story,’ Winston advised. The others looked doubtful. ‘It is! You know it is. It was amazing. I don’t think I will ever experience anything as exciting as that ever again, and that includes, playing rugby for England. But this,’ he gestured towards the papers on the coffee table, ‘this… is… crap.’ He grimaced and shook his head.

‘It’s certainly not heading for the best seller list,’ Tarquin added. ‘I don’t think there’s enough polish in the world to get this terd onto the shelves.’

Josephine decided it was time to address the uncomfortable truth. ‘We all know there is an elephant in the room,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately, however, the elephant isn’t in this room. If we are ever going to breathe life into this ‘story’ we need that elephant and we need it now.’

Winston nodded slowly in agreement, but Quinlan and Tarquin looked bewildered. Andrew Baker leant back in the sofa, looking anxious, hands in front, as if pushing back on a heavy weight, the weight of an elephant. 

‘Are you talking about the elephant?’ he asked and swallowed hard.

‘Yes, the elephant.’ Josephine stated strongly.

‘My… er elephant,’ Andrew Baker continued, pushing back a little harder.

‘Yes… your elephant,’ Josephine confirmed.

‘Oh no! Not my elephant. No, no, no, no, no! I…er… I… I… I… am not going to face that elephant. Not that particular elephant,’ Andrew garbled, shaking his head and sinking further back into the sofa.

‘You’re going to have to face that elephant sometime,’ Winston said, in his most comforting manner.

‘No I don’t. I don’t have to face that elephant at all. Not now, not ever.’

‘Look, we all have our elephants to face,’ Winston said, like a therapist addressing a client.

‘Do we? Do we really?’ Andrew asked desperately.

‘Yes!’ Josephine confirmed. ‘And you have to face yours now.’

Quinlan and Tarquin looked more and more confused. Then Quinlan’s eyes lit up.

‘Does this elephant have red hair?’ Quinlan guessed.

‘Yes!’ Josephine responded

‘And, is often seen in libraries?’ Tarquin added.

‘Was seen in libraries,’ Josephine corrected.

‘And plays netball?’ Quinlan asked.

‘Did,’ Josephine corrected once more.

‘Oh, oh oh!’ Tarquin said recalling the elephant in question.

‘Oh indeed,’ Winston added.

‘Oh my god!’ Quinlan exclaimed, reaching out with excitement  ‘it… it… its… the elephant… its…’

‘Karen,’ Andrew said with dismay. ‘The elephant is Karen.’

‘Karen! Wow! That is one hell of an elephant,’ Tarquin stated.

‘Can we just drop the ‘elephant’ thing now,’ Josephine requested. ‘I know I started it, but It does sound rather disrespectful, and I struggle with the image of an elephant with red hair.’

‘Wow! It would be great to see Karen again.’ Tarquin said

‘Yeah, of course it would. It would be great.’ Quinlan agreed.

‘I don’t think Karen would want to see me… unless she was armed,’ Andrew said despondently.

‘Oh, come on, it was over ten years ago, she’s bound to have forgiven you by now,’ Winston Suggested.

‘I don’t know. The restraining order was only lifted five years ago,’ Andrew replied.

‘Personally, I don’t think she would have killed you,’ Josephine said.

‘You didn’t see the look in her eyes,’ Andrew said anxiously.

‘It was only a minor accident, nobody died,’ Winston commented.  

‘Just the dog. I don’t think dogs count, really,’ Josephine chipped in.

‘It wasn’t your fault. Not entirely. You didn’t know the car was in reverse,’ Winston advised, ‘and, if the garage door had been stronger, you would never have gone straight through it.’

‘How were you to know they had a vintage car?’ Josephine said reassuringly.

‘If they hadn’t been changing the oil it would never have caught fire,’ Winston said.

‘It was just unfortunate the fire spread to the house.’ Josephine shrugged.

‘And anybody would have rammed the gears into forward after that,’ Winston stated.

‘The dog should really have been in the house,’ Josephine said.

‘It was only a glancing blow to her Aunt. She wasn’t in hospital for long. I think she liked being pushed around in a wheelchair?’ Winston said cheerily.

‘And you didn’t hit the car in the road at any pace. You only dented the radiator grille.’’ Josephine said, with sympathy.

‘Of a Rolls Royce,’ Andrew pointed out.

‘Anybody would have rammed the gears back into reverse,’ Winston added. ‘Her dad shouldn’t have been looking at the garage.’

‘He did make a full recovery,’ Josephine added.

‘No long term harm done,’ Winston suggested.

‘It’s just a shame they were end terrace. Who knew the lofts were connected like they were?’ Josephine looked up, ‘Only God.’

‘Please no more!’ Andrew called out, head in hands.

‘The faulty boiler at number three. That was unexpected,’ Winston pointed out.

‘I said no more!’ Andrew groaned.

‘Sorry. But, it could have been worse,’ Winston counselled.

‘And how exactly?’ Andrew demanded.

‘They could have been next to… an ammunition store, a nuclear power station or an oil refinery,’ Winston proposed.

‘You mean the only way it could have been worse, is if it was truly apocalyptic.’ Andrew said.

‘Er… I guess so,’ Winston replied apologetically.

‘I can’t ring her. I can’t ask her to come over! I can’t. She’ll kill me,’ Andrew pleaded, and then added, ‘She really might.’

‘Don’t worry, we won’t make you call her,’ Josephine said sympathetically.

‘Thank God… Thank you.’ Andrew covered his face with his hands. ‘I really don’t think I could…’

‘Because I already have. She’ll be here later today,’ Josephine advised.

‘Oh shiiiiit!’

 

JOSEPHINE AND WINSTON

December 18, 2021

Josephine and Winston – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For those that wish to dredge the bottom of this pit of ineptitude, refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 13               DATE: 17th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

JOSEPHINE AND WINSTON

 

Mr Reginald Gump (Age: 58, Ht:5’8”, Wt: 182lbs, Gender: male, Hair: Brown, Ethnicity: white, Manner: friendly) at ‘Veteran Island Airport Arrivals’ witnessed a Winston Grahame (Age: 30, Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 230lbs, Gender: male, Hair: black and curly, Ethnicity: black, Manner: threatening) and his ‘assistant,’ Josephine Carter (Age:young, Ht tall, Wt: shapely, Gender: all woman, Hair: silky, Ethnicity: black, Manner: alluring) pass through Gate No. 1 at 4.30pm on 17th June 1990. From Gate No. 1 they proceeded in a northerly direction, entering Wings Café at approximately 4.33pm. They took possession of table number three where they ordered a café late, earl grey tea, and two iced Danish pastries, one of which had a cherry on the top.

Apologies for the above. Trainee! From the Met! He is currently undergoing gender equality training, cleaning the toilets off the incident room, with a toothbrush. This will be followed by training in 'relevance' (‘Gate No. 1’? There is only one gate! 'Cherry!' Why?), and 'race relations' (threatening? on what planet? Mr Grahame autographed the guy's cap. Maybe he had an offensive pen). I reckon we are going to have the cleanest toilet in the Veteran Islands for some time to come. If he shows improvement, we’ll give him a separate toothbrush for cleaning his teeth.

As I am sure you are aware, the Veteran Islands indulges an expat enthusiasm for anything English and few things are more English, than an England international Rugby player. The Capital City, Lax was all agog at the arrival of prop forward Winston ‘Big Butt’ Grahame, the sturdy rock of the England scrum. He is something of a hero in this forgotten outpost of the British Empire. Front, back and centre pages of the daily paper ‘Always Lax’ were filled with rugby anecdotes. Covered, with considerable glee, was the recent trouncing of the old enemy France, at Twickenham, and with considerable disdain, the despicable foul that led to Big Butt’s knee injury and premature end to his season.

Glossy pictures of the England international and his physiotherapist, were splashed all over the colour supplement, ‘Even More Lax’. The centre pages, however, were, as always, reserved for pictures of the Royal Family. Many in the Vets refuse to read anything other than a broadsheet newspaper. A colour supplement is considered a vulgar modern intrusion. To avoid the fate of the short lived island tabloid ‘More Than A Little Lax’, flattened in a drive-by steamroller incident, the magazine proprietor included the royals in every issue. A true blue ‘Vet’ would never deface a royal.

Injured, and temporarily out of work, the invitation to visit the new governor of the Veteran Islands could not have come at a better time for Winston. It was the perfect opportunity for rest and recuperation, and to meet up with old friends.

The following are a selection of headlines and associated articles:

Butt in a rut – Winston “Big Butt” Grahame is resting his heroic rump here in the Veteran Islands. Josephine Carter, lecturer in sports science at Loughborough University, will be providing “support” to Winston during his stay.

Style with a smile. Before taking a taxi to the governor’s residence, Josephine and Winston shared a coffee at “Wings” café, where they kindly posed for photographs. Josephine Carter wore an elegant sleeveless dress, in mauve with a delicate white floral motif that picked out her bright white smile. Mauve perfectly suited her coffee-coloured complexion, and long black hair. Bigg Butt, sported a loose green leather jacket, bright floral short sleeve shirt, plain green knee length shorts, and blue training shoes. Altogether two of the most stylish visitors to the Vets this year.

‘I like Big Butts and I cannot lie,’ says Josephine Carter the beauty who accompanied Winston Grahame on his trip to The Vets. ‘We have been friends since school. We get on so well, we live each side of a semi in Leicester. We love to chat over the garden fence. The Veteran Islands are simply stunning,’ she said, ‘The jewels in the British Crown.’ Apparently, when first invited, they could not locate the islands on a world atlas. They had been omitted in error. An unexpected result of the island’s function as a secret base during the Second World War.

Allow Big Butt some space – Taxi driver, Trevor Nutt, who transferred Winston from the airport to the governor’s residence in his new BMW 720, the widest seat in the fleet, insisted Big Butt needed all the space he had to offer. ‘He carried a lot of junk in the trunk,’ he said. Another benefit of the spacious BMW.

Butt Out? Following the ruling that clothing must be worn at red winkle bay, the local nudist beach, many are hoping Big Butt will join them at Wednesday’s “Dickie Bow” protest. The organizers believe his involvement would significantly increase exposure. Bush hats are available for the ladies.

Nutt Butt versus Big But – Local golfing coach Janice Nutt, famous for cracking nuts with her butt, challenged Big Butt to a nut butt show down. Ever the ecologist, Janice says ‘no nuts will be wasted.’

 

PRETTY IN PINK

December 12, 2021

Pretty in Pink – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first page in this catalogue of errors please refer to Case note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 12               DATE: 15th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

PRETTY IN PINK

 

The following Case Note 12 describes the arrival of Mr Weston-Smythe at Ivory Towers, the Governor’s residence in the Veteran Isles. The account was written by Andrew Baker himself. It is one of a series of creative writing exercises set by the Third Recorder in his quest to create a best-selling author. They were discovered in the wastepaper bin, along with several red felt tip pens, the nibs frayed from over-use. At this stage in his education, Mr Baker’s writing style would probably be described as… ‘naïve.’ It had an innocent charm, unsullied by experience or natural talent. Scribbled in red ink, are a number of suggestions put forward by his writing team. We have included these comments, typed in red, in the text below. Next to these inclusions we have added the name of the assumed contributor, based on handwriting style and content.

A.M. Baker’s account:

Quinlan was a man. He had blond hair and blue eyes. He had a stubbly chin and sunglasses. He wore a pink tee shirt, big shorts, and sandals.

Did you ever get past Janet and John at school. I thought Watership Down was your favourite book. Try channelling that. [Third Recorder]

Quinlan was a rabbit.

Can someone else take over while I find something sharp and pointy. [Third Recorder] Be more emotive. Say it with feeling. [Tarquin Pallister]

Quinlan was a god. His mane of golden locks glowed like a halo in the sun, yet his coarse stubble told me, he was very much, a man. He had come straight from the beach, and the wet pink tee shirt clung to every contour of his muscular physique, as did the light cotton shorts. His manhood was evident. He shook his mane and droplets of sea water and sweat headed my way. I caught them on my tongue, savoured the taste, and shivered as they slid down my throat.

We are not writing pornography. A little less feeling please. [Third Recorder] See you after work, sexy. [Quinlan Weston-Smythe] Somewhere in the middle maybe? [Tarquin Pallister]

Quinlan Weston-Smythe looked even more like a Californian beach bum than he did at school. The long wavey blond hair and piercing blue eyes had now been joined by a stubbly chin and broad smile. The bright pink tee shirt, Bermuda shorts, and open toe sandals certainly fitted the image more convincingly than the school blazer and patent leather shoes I last saw him wearing. With the sun shining through his golden mane he looked like he had walked out of an advert for Timotei shampoo. His manner was equally casual.

Finally something palatable. [Third Recorder] Not as palatable as my sweat though [Quinlan Weston-Smythe] Right, why not try a little dialogue? [Third Recorder] Okay [Andrew Baker]

 

Quinlan and the Governor

By

Andrew Baker

 

‘Hi Andy. Wow! Governor of the Vets.  That’s some trajectory, what’s next, Prime Minister?’ Quinlan said, somewhat impressed.

‘Er… I doubt it,’ I said, without any doubt.’

‘He really shouldn’t be here at all,’ Tarquin said.

‘That’s a bit harsh. I know governors are generally from Eton or Rugby, but ‘the times they are a changin.’ Anyone can climb the greasy pole nowadays.’ Quinlan suggested

‘No, he really, really, should not be here,’ Tarquin clarified. ‘His C.V. got mixed up with Peregrine Winterbottom’s.’

‘The Peregrine Winterbottom? The slimy toad that got Smithers expelled from Rugby School?’

‘Yes, that Peregrine Winterbottom. I’ve dredged the bottom of my vile file and discovered more than enough dirt on Peregrine to put him out of the picture. I’ve also stalled the Foreign Office for a few months. But eventually, they will be wanting a Cambridge degree.’

‘So have you got one?’ Quinlan asked me.

‘Not yet,’ I replied.

‘Not yet! Not yet! How are you going to get a degree in a few months?’’

Tarquin explained. ‘He’s writing a best seller, the best seller, with our help. Then, all we have to do is wangle an honorary degree. Can your Uncle help? He taught at Cambridge didn’t he?’

‘He did. The creative writing course as it happens. He wouldn’t help with the writing, but he might nudge a suitable story under the nose of the selectors. So what is the story?’

‘The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose,’ I said.

‘Oh! Really?

‘Yes really,’ I confirmed.

‘Well, it’s a hell of a story,’ Quinlan said enthusiastically.

‘True,’ Tarquin agreed. ‘We need your help with some of the detail.’

‘You mean, from the time you two were round the other side of the swimming pool?’ Quinlan asked.

‘Yup,’ I agreed.

‘But you’ll also need Winston and Josephine’s account,’ Quinlan said. ‘They were involved before we were.’

‘I know, but they won’t be able to afford a holiday in the Veteran Islands,’ I said.

‘Andrew! You are the Governor,’ Tarquin pointed out. ‘You just request first class tickets from Britain to the Vets and they pick them up at the airport.’

‘Is that possible?’

‘Of course,’ Tarquin advised

‘I’ll get them on the phone,’ I said, and wandered back inside.

When the door closed, Quinlan knew the moment had passed. The governor’s tall gangly physique, pale pasty complexion, and dated hair style, may not have been to everyone’s taste, but… [Quinlan Weston-Smythe] Well, thank you very much! [Andrew Baker]

EVERY STORY NEEDS AND ANIMAL

December 03, 2021

Every Story Needs an Animal – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the origin of these unlikely events refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 11               DATE: 15th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

EVERY STORY NEEDS AND ANIMAL

 

 

At 7.00am on the 15th June 1990, Tarquin Pallister and Andrew Baker sat down to breakfast in the dining room of the Governor’s Residence in the Veteran Islands. Their conversation was recorded by Anne the Housekeeper, on an old portable cassette recorder located in an open drawer of the Welsh dresser. She later explained, the cassette, along with others dating back thirty years, were to help write her memoirs when she retired. ‘They were not,’ she said, ‘in any way shape or form, intended for blackmail.’ However, one tape bearing the title, ‘I’ve got the b****rd this time,’ casts some doubt on this assertion.

The transcript is as follows:

 

‘So Andrew, how far have you got with that best-selling novel.’

‘Not far. I’m still working on a title. It could be one of three.’

‘Three? Sounds promising… what are they?’

‘ ’Revenge of the Kittens’, ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’, and ‘The Parrot that Squawked.’ ’

‘Unusual titles. What are they about?’

Well, if you must know:

Revenge of the Kittens
Is about a group of villains that break into a mansion. They take hostage the lady owner and her cat. However, they fail to spot a steady stream of kittens sneaking out the cat flap. The kittens enter the hothouse where a bare-chested beast of a gardener is pruning the clematis. They arrange themselves into an arrow pointing at the mansion followed by a sad face. He takes the hint, breaks down the door and slaughters the villains. She is passionately grateful. Steamy ending surrounded by kittens

Puppy Dog Eyes
Is about a revolutionary operation where a man has an eye transplant from a puppy and develops dog like super-powers. His girlfriend doesn’t understand why he starts… y’ know… doing everything like a dog, gets really annoyed and kicks him out. Villains break into the house and take her hostage. Even though he is several blocks away, he hears her screams with his special doggy hearing, rounds up the local strays and races to the rescue. They break into the house and slaughter all the baddies. She decides she likes the doggy thing. Steamy ending surrounded by dogs.

The Parrot that squawked.
In this one, a parrot is the only witness to a murder by a brutal gang of villains. But, due to PTSD it can no longer talk. A cop notices the parrot squawk as a car goes past the police station. He opens the window for a better look. and the parrot… our parrot… PTSD parrot, flies out and chases the car. The cop jumps into his patrol car and chases after the parrot. A lady keeper is about to feed her own precious parrots, when the parrot… our parrot… PTSD parrot, flies by the aviary and calls to his mates for help. They, nip out of the gate to answer the call. The lady keeper jumps into her ‘Parrot Passion’ wagon to chase after the breakout birds. They all arrive at an abandoned empty warehouse on the edge of town. Cop and Keeper drive straight through the rusty metal roller shutter, right into the middle of the gang. They’re future looks bleak. Until that is, the parrots swoop in and the villains are pecked to death.

‘Is that it? What about…’

'I haven’t finished yet. Give me a chance.'

'Sorry.'

'Now, where was I. Oh yes… pecked to death… apart from one. He aims his gun at the keeper. The parrot… our parrot… PTSD parrot, screams ‘behind you!’ The cop spins round and shoots the villain first. The parrot is cured and the keeper is saved. Steamy ending surrounded by parrots.’

'Thank goodness! It wouldn't be the same without a steamy ending.'

'Yeah well, sex sells, apparently.'

'And what did the parrot have?'

'PTSD.'

'I must have missed that.'

So, what do you think?

‘Hmm... well, I like them, especially the parrots, but if you want to write a great novel, you have to write from your own experience. Do you know anything about kittens, puppies or parrots?’’

‘No, but the Third Recorder thinks it’s always good to have an animal in the story. People like animals.’

‘Why don’t you use your own experience of an animal?’’

‘I haven’t got experience of an animal?’

‘Yes, you have.’

‘Have I?’

‘Of course, you have.’

‘When? Where?’

‘It’s obvious, isn’t it?’

‘No?’

‘From school… from the exchange… what happened on the first day. It’s a great story.’

‘You mean… ‘The Moose?’

‘Of course I mean the moose! What else could it be?’

‘Wilderbeast, giraffe, donkey, ostrich, wolf, poodle, orc, bat, praying mantis.’

‘Bit parts, no more than a mention. The Moose was at the heart of everything.’

‘I can’t just call it ‘Moose.’ ‘

‘Well, what else was involved... apart from animals?’

‘A briefcase?’

‘And?’

‘A boy?’

‘So… put them together and what have you got?’

‘Moose, briefcase boy.’

‘Sounds like the world’s worst superhero. Can’t you think of something better?’

‘The Boy and the Briefcase and the Moose?’

‘Perfect.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes, really. Now you’ve got the title, all you have to do, is write down what happened.’

‘I’m not sure I can remember it all. I wasn’t there for all of it.’

‘Don’t worry, I’ll fill in my bits. Quinlan can fill in his.’

‘How is he going to do that?’

‘He’s visiting his Uncle over the other side of the island. I’ll give him a call, get him to come on over.’

‘Oh… Okay.’

THE FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATES

November 28, 2021

The Foreign Office Intervenes – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the tawdry start to this torrid affair please refer to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 10               DATE: 14th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE FOREIGN OFFICE INTERVENES

 

On the 13th June, Tarquin Palaster, an aspiring young official within the Foreign Office was assigned to the Veteran Islands to investigate and report. At the top of his agenda were the Governor’s health and the military threat posed by Oikland following the failed invasion. At the time no one within the Foreign Office, including Mr Palaster himself, were aware of his previous connections with the Governor. If it had been known, and someone else allocated, we can only assume the outcome would have been somewhat different.

He arrived barely two days after the arrival of the Governor himself. Tall, with short black hair and handsome features, immaculately dressed in a grey pin stripe suit, he was the epitome of the charming and efficient civil servant. His manner was forthright and assertive. He had a job to do, and he intended to do it quickly before returning to London, if possible, on the same day.

Before Tarquin’s arrival the Third Recorder advised Andrew Baker that in all probability, their ‘gaff had been blown,’ and this could be the end of their short-lived adventure. He advised Mr Baker to remain in bed wrapped up with as little showing as possible, while he made a last-ditch attempt to rescue their situation. On Arrival Tarquin asked to be escorted immediately to the Governor’s bedside, ignoring all advice to the contrary. Once in the room, he placed a camcorder on the mantlepiece to record events. This was for him to refer to when writing his report on the plane back to London. The camcorder was subsequently discovered during the initial sweep of the premises, on the same mantlepiece. The recording forms the basis of this case note.

At the bedside he peered in at the pair of eyes peeking out from between the covers, and noted a spark of recognition. This person knew him, but from where? He peeled back the covers, wrenching them free from the firm grip of the frail patient, frowned, and then gasped.

‘Andrew Baker,’ he cried, ‘the Andrew Baker.’

The figure in the bed nodded meekly, pulled the covers back up to his chin, and smiled innocently. Tarquin looked aghast.

‘What, in the name of Mary Poppins are you doing here?’

‘I’m the Governor.’

‘When, where, and how, did you manage to achieve this stratospheric rise to stardom?’ Tarquin asked.

‘Largely by accident.’

‘Do you two… know each other?’ the Third Recorder interjected, somewhat surprised by the turn of events.

‘We went to school together,’ Tarquin explained.

‘I didn’t… I would have never… really?’ The Third Recorder said.

‘For three weeks,’ Andrew explained. It was a sort of exchange.

‘Oh I see. And was the experience a err… positive one?’ The Third recorder enquired hopefully.

‘Well, I’m not sure; I’ve not thought about it before; maybe, yes, yes, over all, I think it probably was.’

‘Yes! I’m pretty sure it was,’ Andrew Baker said, throwing back the covers and spinning round to sit on the edge of the bed. ‘Tarquin Palaster, fancy meeting you here.’

‘So, not quite as ill as you were making out.’ Tarquin stated. ‘What the hell is going on.’

The Third Recorder explained the series of events leading up to the Governor’s bedside. He decided, honesty was the best policy. He felt divine intervention was probably required to save them and didn’t want to endanger his chances with a few lies, in case, God was indeed watching over him.

Tarquin assessed the situation. ‘So, you say the other interviewee for the job was Peregrine Winterbottom.’

‘Indeed,’ the Third Recorder replied.

‘I know him from Rugby School. A truly foul and objectionable character. I wouldn’t have wished him on anybody, let-alone a whole island. Who organised the interview?’

‘Jasper Eghart,’ the Third Recorder advised. ‘I’m pretty sure it was he who switched the CVs.’

‘Hmm Jasper Eghart… He is, without doubt, the most objectionable, insidious, and downright disreputable individual the foreign office has to offer. I have plenty of dirt on Peregrine that will stop him pursuing his missed opportunity, and I’m sure I can find something on Jasper.

It seems to me, your only hope is for me to send an official report to the foreign office, stalling any further investigations and preventing the appointment of a replacement Governor. Let me see; yes, I think it should contain…

 

The official report is included below.

 

The British Veteran Islands

British Protectorate

 

OFFICIAL REPORT

Issued by Tarquin Palaster to the British Foreign Office

 

Governor and Oiks

I have reviewed the situation in the British Veteran Islands and advise as follows:

  • The damage to the Oikland military capability has been vastly exaggerated. They remain a significant threat. The Governor has made initial diplomat contact with the President of Oikland and diffused the situation somewhat. As he has developed a rapport with the Oikland President, I suggest he continues with this initiative and attempts some form of reconciliation between the islands.
  • The Governor is indeed of ill health, although the main concern is contagion. Should anyone else catch the disease the chance of widespread infection is very real, and others may suffer far more. I feel he should remain in quarantine for the next few weeks, in line with the doctor’s recommendations.
  • The suggestion that the Governor is not suitably qualified or naturally talented for the role are unsubstantiated. I have found he has a clear grasp of protocol, procedures and diplomatic sensitivities. However, I propose to remain here in the Veteran Islands for the next few weeks to help with administration whilst he remains bed bound.

I envisage returning to Great Britain in six to eight weeks’ time.

Give my love to Aunt Petunia.

Regards Tarquin.