It was such a clear day you could actually see the top of the Matterhorn from Zermatt. The physical beauty of the place was sadly let down by the lack of genuine reality. When in Zermatt get treated and rinsed like a tourist? The next day as I was following John P down the Brig Water Park slide at 100 - 200 kph, I reflected on the calm of the previous evening and how - now - why - my swimming shorts were up around my neck strangling me!
"There's no one queueing for the water slide Paulie." Said John P.
“Three more doubles please love thanks.”
We’d adjourned to the Borlaise Warren after Mrs Derwent’s house. I was looking at John, he was looking at me.
John P put the whiskey down on the table slightly exasperated:
“Frank enough! What was that all about, keys plumbers, fuckin Scottish trips - this and that!”
"Ok!, OK!" Said Frank Knocking back his Scotch.
“We did a bit of digging in the direction of Sophie’s Grandad Herbert. For a while the results of that investigation led me to believe that Sophie Derwent might be involved in the book’s disappearance.”
“Just listen Paulie, Mrs Derwent and Herbert married, later having a daughter named Francesca, Sophies Mother. Sorry to use a cliché but by some twist of fate when Sophie reached 21 on a family holiday / pilgrimage to the Lake District, she fell head over and later eloped to marry Ken Alpine.”
“Who’s Ken Alpine?”
“Let him talk Paulie! Go on Ken.”
“Ken Alpine was the son of the direct descendent of Kenneth MacAlpine the first King of Scotland.
“Course he was.”
“His father’s name was also Kenneth, incredibly wealthy landowner who fought to get his family title restored for years. Eventually he was given the title ‘Duke of MacAlpine’ which he settled for. His rightful title was 2nd or 3rd Viscount Of Scotland of course.”
“Frank! Frank! Where are we going with this?”
“The MacAlpines were rumoured only rumoured mind to be sworn enemies of Herbert of Derwent Water! When Herbert found out his daughter had married Kenneth MacAlpine well he took it rather bad.”
“How bad did he take it Frank?”
“He went up the flippin wall John!”
“Frank it’s Paulie, remember me? Is Sophie involved, yes or no?”
“Right good, John give us some money I’m going to the bar I need a drink.”
“Get us all one here, carry on Frank I’m interested.”
"Herbert took the marriage really bad, so did the Duke of MacAlpine, now Herbert’s daughter’s Father In Law. The two Father's disowned their children Son and Daughter respectively. Not only that they cut them off without a penny.
Young Francesca – Frances, and young Kenneth MacAlpine were up against it but they were so in love! They built a lovely modest life together then after a few years as you’d expect Frances became pregnant. She gave birth to twins, a difficult birth boy and a girl. They named them Sophie & Kenneth MacAlpine, although now they had shortened the surname to Alpine.
After the birth of the twins Frances became incredibly depressed. Worse still the young parents who were once so in love began to drift apart. Kenneth was completely ill equipped to cope with his wife’s depression turning to alcohol, hedonism, complete escapism.
One night alone in the house with the baby twins, Frances walked out into the night completely exhausted by depression, lack of sleep, desperation. Kenneth got home from work to an open front door, empty house and the twins crying. His heart melted at the thought of his wife, what could have happened? He comforted the twins then set off in his car to find his wife.
The rest is in a Police report, the car was involved in a terrible crash. It was discovered by a passing driver who stopped at a phone box called the Police & Ambulance."
"Come on Frank! What happened?"
"Kenneth had found his wife walking in despair along the road, apparently they'd made up and set off for home when the car unexpectedly left the road and hit a tree."
"Kenneth was declared dead at the scene but Frances was alive, could have been saved but she refused to leave his side holding him so tightly it was hopeless. She died in his dead arms 15 or so minutes later.”
“Here you go, 3 large Scotch Whisky’s cheer us up a bit, what's up with you two?”
“Basically after the tragedy and the twins were orphaned there was a custody battle between the two Grandparents. Stupidly they couldn’t reach an amicable decision, the court decided that the twins would be separated hoping that one of the parties would back down realising that was the worst thing that could happen"
"King Soloman Frank..."
"Exactly John, but this time it didn't work. Kenneth went to live with the Duke of MacAlpine, Frances went to live with the Derwent’s.”
“How cruel separating orphaned twins!”
“You know that John, it gets worse. As the children grew up both Grandparents disowned the opposite twin! Forbidding them from having anything to do with their sibling, it was tragic. Of course it didn’t stop the twins having intense feelings for each other, I know all about that. As soon as they were old enough they began meeting in secret, they learnt the whole stupid story of the feud that separated them.
Finally when Kenneth and Frances were 18 they begged their prospective guardian Grandfathers to give their blessing to them seeing each other, sharing their lives. They both refused the twins, threatening to cut them of without any inheritance or support.”
“Yes Paulie, it was only when Sophie’s Grandad Herbert died, that her Grandma turned a blind eye to the strict legal position that had been placed on the poor girl. Young Kenneth was not as fortunate, he completely rebelled against his guardian and the Duke cut him out of the family altogether. Sophie was distraught seeing her brother left in financial dire straits and was completely powerless to use her Grandma's unlimited wealth to help him.”
“And you thought she’d taken the book to give to her brother to help him financially!”
“It made sense Paulie, after all she could rightly reason that the book would belong to him one day just as much as her.”
“What made you change your mind Frank?”
“I haven’t John.” he stood up and swallowed his Scotch.
"I lied Paulie, Sophie is up to her neck in this but I need a day to sort it out. Can I have a day John?"
"Of course Frank do your thing, we trust you just call me tomorrow let us know what's going on. .. please!"
"What was that about Paulie! Fuck Sake, I don't know what's going on now do you?"
"I might need a day John, can I have a day?...
Ok! I'll see you tomorrow no need to be nasty..."
It wasn't that late when I got in. I was just in time to catch Mrs Nosey's parrot and Tom tom cat having a stare off at the window. To think i hadn't believed him. I swear the parrot was gesturing wanker with it's wing sending Tom up the flippin wall!
"That parrot's dark Tom! I saw that!"
"Just give me 5 minutes with the fukin parrot paulie just 5 minutes!"
"You might need more than that Tom, it's ex navy judging by it's language. It's got an American drawl could have been owned by a navy seal."
"I don't fuckin care I'll do the seal as well, it's been calling me a wanker all day. It repeats itself as well, one minute it's flirting with me.."
"Flirting with you?"
"Yeah calls me 'Pretty Boy' one minute, 'Wanker' the next!"
"That's the navy for you Tom, Come up for cuddle I'll close the blind. You don't fancy the parrot do you Tom? beautiful plumage...Ahhhh claws in Tom.."
The next day I got a morning wake up call from John saying we were meeting Frank at his brothers gym would I pick him up from outside the office at 9.30am?
"Morning Paulie where are you?"
"Where are you John can I make a suggestion?"
"I'm just going to park in the NCP where are you?"
"John can't you just park in the Lace Market multi storey save me driving into town? Meet you there we can get a Ranby's sausage cob?!"
"Just drive straight down Maid Marion way instead of turning right to park stay in the left hand lane follow it round. It's the road that run's along the top of Byard Lane where Paul Smith's is. Multi storey on the right I'll pick you up from where you drive in."
"Move it if you see a warden john, shall I get Frank one .. yeah I'll have it if he don't want it, have you got any cash?"
"You might clean in here every now and then Paulie, still nice though isn't it. Here tenner get 4, put the hazards on! Paulie Hazard lights!Sake!"
"Four sausage cobs takeaway love please how are you?"
"Alright Duck, ow's ya Dad cheeky bogger."
"That's him, thanks love bit of ketchup yes, salt, lovely. See you in a bit."
- Bzzzzz -
- Click! -
"Down here John, hope he get's you in the ring - keep your guard up your jab going, chase the fuckin chicken! Hello Ernest is Frank here? John P this Is Earnest Franks brother..."
"It's me Paulie Frank, morning John come on through to the office."
"What!" I felt really hurt that I'd been kept in the dark, more than hurt I started to the door.
"Fuck what's this don't tell Paulie time?!"
Frank followed me out down the stone stairs explaining enough for me to follow him back up two floors into the snooker club.
"Ok Frank what's going on I've had enough what's going on?! Does John know what's going on?"
He ordered 2 cafe cognac and then encore Cognac.
"Paulie thing's have got a lot clearer for me, I'm just working out the last bits of the puzzle. I haven't told you or John everything It's just the way I work. I hate the thought I've upset you, you're my partner, you know most of what's going on!"
"So why did we meet here, why didn't you let me know what was happening? Where's Earn?"
"Ok things got a little bit heavy with those fake plumber blokes you followed from mrs Derwent's. They found out 'Saul & Saul are involved Paulie, the book is worth a lot of money you know that. You trust me I know you do I know you do. Just listen while I tell you this then wait here, have another drink, promise?
"Paulie we might have to go and fetch Sophie from Scotland tomorrow. She has the book she's returning it but I'm not sure it's safe for her to do so now now. Earnest is at the Office with Jane, fake plumber and henchmen called in last night, they were very threatening. I tried to let you know but it all happened so fast. Earnest is with Jane at the office, if they come back he'll tell them not to start any trouble. "
As Frank turned to leave I felt something warm in my coat pocket and shouted after him.
"Got you a sausage cob from Ranby's Frank."
Start any trouble, we were camping in Cornwall I was 7 or 8 years old. Mum had just tucked me up in my sleeping bag when the frightening noise started. It sounded like 2 or 3 men shouting very loudly, throwing things - something hit the tent!
"Mum why are they shouting I'm frightened where's Daddy going?"
"Come out here I'll make us a nice cuppa tea, quiet though don't wake your sister. Daddy's just going to tell them not to start any trouble, well to just be a bit quieter."
Soon things were quiet again, Dad appeared with the sound of the tent zip twice. One up one down.
"Have I got a cuppa tea! What you doing still up." he said.
"We're on holiday Dad!" I said.
"That's alright then Son, you better ask your Mam if you can stay up for a bit, play cards with us..."
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