Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Surprise! 3

The Reverend Panderby, at St Barnabas’s, was a stickler for the traditional observation of the harvest festival. Other younger pastors in the diocese might grow beards and pluck guitars whilst extolling the Life Force or Mother Nature and advocating environmentalist pray-ins. Panderby preferred his celebration of God’s bounty to be more conservative. He turned a blind eye to the shameless priapism of Mayday with its maypoles and Morris Dancers, because he knew the same May Revellers would appear with fulsome offerings to his Harvest Festival when the time of plenty came.

Then he would bedeck his church with their donations. Monstrous marrows and cabbages, boxes of juicy apples, piles of pears, punnets of strawberries, gargantuan loaves of bread, whole cheeses, even cascades of grapes and flagons of elder wine. They would hold a service of thanksgiving followed by tea on the vicarage lawn, while the Reverend Panderby supervised his curate, Mullens, in the storing of the choicest items in his outsize pantry. The residue went to the Cottage Hospital in a returnable basket.
One year, after the service the Reverend Panderby and Mullens returned to carry off the cornucopia of local produce, to find the church empty. Everything edible had been stripped away. And a note left which read, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’

“Witchcraft! Blasphemy!” wheezed the Reverend Panderby as Mullens hastened him away.

The Police could find no evidence of larceny. The vehicles necessary to effect such a theft would have been seen and weren’t. Panderby raged at them all.

But it was only when filling in the insurance claim that Mullens suggested the affair might come under the category of Act of God that the Vicar succumbed to his final apoplexy.

A fine sheath of corn and a mound of fruit are etched into his tombstone.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Surprise! 2

“He won’t know what hit ‘im,” Constable Hipkiss observed with some satisfaction as he and Sergeant Potts concealed themselves about the luxury suite in the Grand Hotel. “Gentleman Cat Burglar? Rat in a trap, more like!”

Concealment was no easy matter; Potts had an ample figure which protruded beneath the floor length velvet drapes now drawn across the window. And Hipkiss, having received permission to take his helmet off, was still finding it difficult to fold himself into the wardrobe, hung with expensive Parisian frocks and exotically scented with Lady Lobelia Carson’s perfumes. What his wife was going to say, he shuddered to think.

The drapes rose and fell with Potts stertorous breathing and his voice was muffled as he spoke, “Mind the language, Hipkiss, You’re working with the Yard now.”

The Yard in the form of Inspector Cutler and Detective Sergeant Walsh was endeavouring to hide itself behind an enormous bouquet of roses set in a free-standing Chinese vase of Imperial dimensions. It was never going to work so Walsh yielded to rank and disconsolately crammed himself under the king-size bed.

“Right, absolute silence,” commanded Inspector Cutler. “Nobody moves a muscle till he’s in and opened the safe.”

And they waited. And waited.

Until Lady Lobelia Carson staggered through the door clinging on to a young airman and a bottle of champagne. Giggling and tottering she pulled off her clothes and then dragged him down on the carpet with her.

“But the bed...” he protested.

“Too far away,” she replied and fell hungrily upon him.

At one point in the proceedings she was down on all fours when, opening her eyes, she caught sight of Sergeant Walsh’s baleful stare from under the bed.

“Oh, bugger,” she sighed, maintaining a firm grip on the carpet. “I knew I’d forgotten something.”