Tag Archives: singing

THE CASE OF THE SINGING DOG

1 Aug

Holmes was at the end of his tether. Literally. He was writing a monogram on restraining vicious dogs whilst under attack, and had tied himself with a leather leash to a lamppost for experimental purposes.

You’ll have to help me here, Watson,” he begged.

I say begged. Maybe I should have said requested politely

Not that Holmes ever did anything with the totality of politeness. His ego saw to that!

It was last July when he had a case involving what some might call a vicious dog, hence the planned monogram and its associated research.

We were darning our socks in our room at 221b Baker Street, having nothing better to do and Mrs Hudson complaining of arthritic thumbs which made darning our socks herself an impossibility, when that good lady herself opened our door and introduced a new client, the Lady Bwahbwah Pondlife.

She was a fine woman in her middle years, possibly fifty, though she looked considerably older and had a face embarrassed by warts, and she was dressed after the manner of her class and, in order to stress her social standing had left both couturier’s outlet ticket and price tag on the collar of her outdoor coat.

I have come to engage you, Mr Homes,” Lady Bwahbwah said, addressing me.

That’s Holmes with the grey knee-lengths,” I said, indicating my friend who had his lips pursed as he threaded a needle with strong wool.

Then I have come to engage you,” she said to Holmes, scowling in such a way that a couple of her warts rippled. “I wish to have my husband, the Lord Pondlife, followed and any misdeed he is contemplating noted down. You may take a pistol and shoot him if it is serious enough: I have influence and there would be no prosecution!”

You must be mistaken,” replied Holmes crisply, “I don’t pursue domestic issues.”

You will pursue this one!” she said with ice and vitriol challenging each other for supremacy in the tone of her voice. “The Lord Pondlife is suspected of having a dalliance with a dancer!”

A dancer?” I exclaimed, “that’s pretty low!”

And not just any dancer,” continued Lady Bwahbwah, “but the one with the piggy nose and large posterior who entertains the riff raff at many a corner music hall. She who is alleged to reveal her ankles on a nightly basis and causing much dismay to others of her gender by the obscenity of it! And if it is true, if Lord Pondlife is dallying with the creature you may shoot both of them! You have my full permission, and I will see to it that the gendarmerie are not involved!”

But…” began Holmes, but it was obvious that he had lost before he started.

You will do it!” commanded Lady Bwahbwah, “and when you have done it I will reward you with one hundred pounds!”

There will be times in the future when such a sum may seem to be almost nothing, but in these times with Queen Victoria not long in her tomb it is a vast sum, and not to be sneezed at.

See to it!” barked the honourable lady, and she swept out.

This is a to-do, for sure, Watson,” muttered Holmes.

I don’t like the smell of it, Holmes,” I agreed.

Quite.” He paused for a moment, gazing blindly out of the window at the passing traffic.

Then he apparently came to a decision. “It would be an insult to so fine a lady to ignore her request,” he said slowly, “and I did see in The Times this morning that Pondlife was visiting Skegness, a charming seaside town in Lincolnshire, where he is probably to be honoured at a civic reception this very evening. So fetch my hat, Watson, and come! We must catch the 8.50 and so arrive in Skegness early this afternoon, refreshed by black smuts and smoke from the steam steed that will tow us along!”

That first part of the day went according to plan, and by two o’clock we were making out way to the civic centre in the seaside town.

I grabbed hold of Holmes by one shoulder when I spied her. “Look!” I gasped.

I know. I saw her ten minutes ago,” he replied. “It is the woman the good Lord Pondlife is alleged to be playing with. See, the piggy eyes, the cute complexion and the enormous bottom…”

And the pretty little ankles,” I added, a lump in my throat.

Quite,” he said, “though I still can’t see how an ankle can ever be properly described as pretty.”

It is most certainly her, Holmes,” I whispered.

And we will follow her,” said Holmes decisively.

You are quite masterful today,” I murmured in devout praise.

He nodded. “We might well need that hundred pounds,” he agreed.

We followed the beautiful piggy-eyed creature down one of the streets that lead, in Skegness, towards the sea. Her walk was provocative, to say the least, and that more than ample rear of hers wiggled and wobbled like a thing with a mind of its own.

I’ve never seen anything like it, Holmes,” I breathed.

It is a thing of wonder,” he agreed.

We arrived at the sands in due course, and the lady we were following actually put first one, then a second foot onto the powdery dry stuff before bursting into the most melodious singing I have ever heard. It was glorious, the way her voice rose and fell and trilled, and a growing crowd quickly gathered to her.

And then, from under her coat, she withdrew a sign attached to a post that she stuck into the sands.

SEE PONDLIFE THE SINGING DOG read the sign, in tasteful italics.

Pondlife, Holmes,” I breathed, pointing.

Yes, I see Watson,” he replied, “but look.”

The rare beauty with the wiggling bottom slowly and one must say with undue eroticism started to divest herself of her coat revealing a dress that was both sparkling and huge. Then, and here I almost faint at the thought of having to record this, she pulled her skirt to one side and a dog stepped out, a dog that must have been lurking within the folds of that garment.

It’s a dog, Holmes,” I gasped.

So I see, Watson,” he replied thoughtfully. “It would appear that the woman is going to sing, and the dog will perform with her, and they will create the most unlikely duet ever heard on Skegness beach!”

And then it happened just as Holmes had predicted.

The piggy-eyed singer started an aria of rapt beauty, her voice the most perfect sound heard on any beach anywhere. Then the dog, a handsome beast if ever there was a handsome beast, joined in. I don’t know how it managed to have such perfect pitch, but it did, and such was Holmes’ fascination that he pulled a small box camera from a hidden pocket and pointed it at the duo.

I must record this for posterity, Watson,” he murmured.

Taking the greatest of care he aimed the lens of his simple camera towards the stars of the show, and took careful aim.

Poor old Holmes! He wasn’t to know, and who could blame him, but that dog performed nightly with the lady with the pretty ankles during the last performance of the day at the music hall, and a stage-hand named Pierre (he was French) took delight in photographing the act. The flashing of the spotlight reflecting from the camera lens infuriated the dog, and this time, being not on a stage but on the beach, it decided to do something about it, and charged at Holmes.

Holmes was rewarded by capturing a perfect image of a row of savage canine teeth before they grabbed hold of him by a well darned sock, and he ran like the wind down the beach, towards the sea.

Pondlife!” shrieked the pretty singer, and the dog, wagging its tail at such fun, returned to the woman, and continued warbling in tune.

When he recovered his breath Holmes marched back to the station, a look of suppressed fury on his face, and he remained stalwartly silent until we arrived back in Baker Street.

The lady will pay,” he told me grimly as he sent for Lady Bwahbwah Pondlife, and when she arrived he delighted in receiving her note for one hundred pounds whilst informing her that if she was married to the Pondlife who accompanied a certain dancer and music hall entertainer then she must surely be wed to a dog, and he wasn’t in the business of shooting dumb animals.

Not that he can’t sing,” he added, “beautifully.”

© Peter Rogerson 22.07.17

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ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 10

1 Apr

10  CHARITY TALKS

Detective Constable Martin Thrives was a little uncertain as he stood outside the charity shop managed by Mrs Buttery and looked in the window. He was of the opinion that charity shops were the lowest in the chain of clothing outlets, and only frequented by those who couldn’t afford to go elsewhere. He was quite wrong, of course, but it was a common preconception among his class of the young.

The trouble with you, my good man, he said to himself angrily, is you’re a snob! Afraid that someone you know might see you going into a second-hand shop, as if it really mattered. Anyway, I’m a copper, I’m on duty and the charity shop is where I’ve got to ask questions, so it’s into the charity shop I go!

There were two women in the shop, both behind the counter and both sorting through a large carrier bag of clothes, debating their value and marking their decisions on tags that they punched onto the garments where they might easily be seen, and talking in loud voices, with their words interspersed by giggles and bursts of laughter.

“Detective Constable Thrives,” he said, holding his warrant card for their inspection. “I wonder if I can have a few moments of your time?”

“Is it about Miriam’s old man?” asked Alice Boneham, and judging from the way she pushed herself to the fore the constable decided that she was probably the senior of the two women if seniority played a part in the staffing of charity shops.

“Yes. Mr Buttery. You will have heard of the tragic circumstances surrounding his death?”

“Someone did for him, poor sod,” said Alice.

“We hardly ever saw the man,” put in Jackie Mansford, the other assistant, clearly aggrieved at being pushed to one side. “From what Miriam said he was a bit of a wash out, always on the look out for a bit of young skirt, and he the librarian too. Though I wouldn’t put too much truck on what she said about him because she didn’t seem to like him any more than she liked any bloke.”

“Now that’s not quite right,” snapped Alice Boneham. “Miriam said as he did that sort of thing, chasing skirts and bosoms, when he was young. Now he’s older he does as he’s told. She makes sure of that! And Miriam’s not perfect, believe you me. She might be boss of this shop, and I wouldn’t like you to think that she doesn’t do a good job, because she does, but she’s most particular in the moral department, especially where men are concened.”

“Meaning what?” asked an already bemused Constable.

“Well, from what she says, and she said it lots of times, she doesn’t appreciate being used as a woman, for, you know, womanly things…”

“You mean cooking and so on? Housework?” asked Martin.

Jackie gave a sharp laugh and shook her head. “Not that sort of womanly thing, silly,” she said.

“She wasn’t into sex,” explained Alice. “She said so many times I’ve lost count that once a woman’s had her kids then there’s no place in the bedroom for anything but sleep. And she said as her old man sometimes expected her to accommodate him, if you see what I mean, and she wasn’t going to have any nonsense like that, her words, begging your pardon, and not mine.”

“So she put him in the spare bedroom and made him stay there!” laughed Jackie. “I can’t see my old man taking kindly to that sort of thing, but she made her old man have a room on his own and said as he wasn’t even allowed to step foot in hers, which had once been the matrimonial bedroom! Even if she was dying, she said she told him, he was to keep out!”

“It’s no wonder their kids have grown up strange,” mused Alice.

“Strange? What do you mean by strange?” asked Martin.

“Well, they’re twins, you know, in their twenties and never out of each other’s company. It’s like they cling together for security or summat. Sometimes I think it ain’t natural, and then I remember that mother of theirs and think it stands to reason as they’re going to be different.”

“They’re nice enough,” put in Jackie, “at least she is, and he ain’t so bad either. If I was a bit younger I’d make a play for him, old man at home or no old man at home! There are things that a woman appreciates about a man, you know, important physical things … and you’re not bad yourself, for a copper!”

Martin was beginning to feel a little out of his depth. He was in a relationship (with Judy, a uniformed constable at the same nick, and he was pretty sure that he loved her with a heart-warming intensity), but was not used to strange ladies of a certain age, who had most likely brought up kids older than his Judy, making suggestive and provocative remarks to him as if he was some kind of ambassador of maleness.

“Mrs Buttery sings, I believe?” he asked, turning a statement into a question by inflecting his intonation.

“She’s got a good singing voice,” confirmed Alice. “She’s in a choral thingamajig, and they go out entertaining the old folks.”

“They sing opera stuff, and hymns. I’ve got no truck with hymns or all that religious rubbish, but she sings them fair well anyway.” declared Jackie.

“The old folks like them, or so she says,” added Alice.

”Well, ladies, I think that’s about it,” said Martin. “I seem to have a good enough picture of the way Mrs Buttery is. Tell me, do you enjoy working here?”

“You mean, do we like being bossed around by her?” asked Alice. “Well, she can be a bit of a tartar and she does believe a bit too heavily in the god-stuff, or says she does, but taken all round she’s okay and gives us summat to do with our time. And we mustn’t forget the discount. We get discount.”

“She’s into God much too heavily, if you ask me,” said Jackie.

“Well, it’s not a crime, ladies. Thanks for your time. Our little conversation has given me food for thought, I can tell you.”

“You can have a pair of nearly new boxers for half price!” teased Jackie, “special discount for a copper!”

“No thanks … I’ve no shortage in my underwear drawer,” he said, blushing.

“I’ll bet you haven’t,” giggled Jackie.

“Now don’t be so unkind to the young man,” chided Alice, “or he might get the wrong idea about you.”

“Or the right one,” grinned Jackie.

But by the time she’d finished he was out of the shop and the door was shut behind him. Furious with himself for blushing and showing his embarrassment he walked as quickly as he could to where he’d parked his car.

The sound of laughter, dimmed by the closed door, made him blush even more.

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 03.03.17