It was 10.30am when I awoke on real Sunday. Not half past Saturday which I called the lonely thinking about goldfish time, or the getting up to no good time. Or finishing off a party and then getting up to no good time.
I parked the heap at the Trent Bridge Inn end of the embankment and selected a CD to listen to on my run. ’The Queen Is Dead’ that will do. I pressed play and set off towards Lady Bay Bridge cutting over the grass so I could run right alongside the Trent.
It was high, up to the last two extra large stone steps that ran the length of the embankment.
I smiled to myself as I got into my stride passing the narrowboats on the far side. It wasn't just an outside smile, this continued all the way through to the crown in my hair on the back of my head, I was happy in this moment. That’s what enjoyable moments were invented for, not just to remember but also to look forward to, most importantly to enjoy at the time!
The amount of times I had longed for my own flat when I was younger, to be able to go jogging by the Trent on a Sunday morning. That was looking forward to this, now I was enjoying it, every moment of every step, so I could remember it clearly in the future.
I was soon over the footbridge getting slightly annoyed with my so called - ‘non skip discman’, “ggggirlfffrnend innn a commmma.”
I didn’t remember my tape player ever doing this, I remembered It wasn’t a Sony. I had really wanted a Sony.
What I got, well what I got was a Boot’s home branded dogs dinner.
“But it has a radio on as well.”
The Boot's dog's dinner was a horrible looking thing, it did play tapes but the radio was useless.
"Did you hear me! The radio Is useless and I really wanted a Sony".
"Oh your just paying for the name..."
I had put the not getting a Sony Walkman memory on the disappointment shelf in my mind. It was a large shelf on the left at the back and was quite full for a while. Soon there would be a waiting list but the dog's dinner fitted neatly beside the not getting a Parker ink pen memory. I had really wanted a Parker ink pen at school, a lot.
Almost all of my half a dozen school friends had Parker ink pens, including Michael Hatton who I sat next to in class for the first two years of comprehensive. I liked it when he ceremoniously filled it with ink, the lid on the bottle was reassuringly big, it was Micheal Hatton hand size and made one of the best sounds as it turned open and touched the glass. With the lid off and placed purposefully on the desk, it was time to prepare the pen. The lid of the Parker clicked open with a well made sound and Micheal placed it with care next to the ink bottle. Now the real business started, this was trickier, sometimes Micheal had previously screwed the pen together too tight, or if it was summer his fingers might be sweaty. I could judge by his face if any of these problems was happening, I had been watching this a long time. In fact from the moment he had returned to school after the Xmas holidays two years ago, you could say I had taken a keen, well let’s say very keen interest.
The sound the pen made when it touched the inside of the ink bottle’s neck was definitely on a par with the lid sound.
Normally Micheal did one squeeze on the ink container/sucker/filler, then lifting the disassembled Parker out of the bottle he would hold it up at face level, his now expert eye judging the success of the refill. If it was a successful fill he would turn towards me, nodding slightly with satisfaction.
For me this was Micheal acknowledging my small involvement in the refill, after a while that led to me replacing the lid on the ink bottle while he reassembled the Parker. I never got to put the lid on the pen though, I had really wanted to put the lid on the pen.
I do remember the occasional time when he had to repeat the filling process, but two squeezes was rare normally due to a very low ink level in the bottle.
Off course in the eventuality of the ink bottle being empty, Micheal could quickly adapt the Parker to receive Ink cartridges.
These were just pushed firmly home in near silence, although I'm sure it gave some degree of satisfaction and once I'm sure I heard a tiny dull thud. Micheal Hatton always had ink cartridges, Parker ink cartridges. He had not joined the many in getting cheaper even very stumpy looking cartridges that Shelborns news agent sold on the cheap. I always respected him for that and on the rare occasion when he was low on ink and cartridges he would look at me as he unscrewed his pen, turned it up side down and tapped on the Parker cartridge releasing a reserve of ink from the reserve bit. He would never nod to me after though, possibly annoyed with himself for getting into this ink shortage situation.
After two circuits of my running route I returned to the Heap reassuringly tired. I remembered an item from a previous itinerary before conscientiously covering the leather Bristol drivers seat with my sweatshirt.
“You have one new message” said car phones reunited.
“Paulie it’s JohnP can you pick me up later, Flight BA702 from Milan to East Midlands, gets in around six PM tonight. See you then!”
So much for his week away and me solving the mystery of Mrs Derwent’s book. Still it was good news I did miss him. I looked at my new Tag Heure F1 purchased from Walker and Hall with my new credit card. It said 12.45 which gave me plenty of time for a late breakfast on the way home.
I held up the cardboard with 'Professor John P' written on and he smiled as he saw it.
Arms out cuddle, “Back early? All good?”
“All brilliant.” Said John. “Come on I’ll tell you on the way home.”
“That’s much better.” John said picking up car phones reunited as we got into the Heap.
“Who is Frank Thominson? and where did you get that watch!”
By the time I had parked the Heap on John P’s drive in Clifton Village he had already sided with Frank.
“He’s right!” were his exact words. “See if he’ll call in tomorrow will you, in fact tell him you’ll pick him up.
Thanks for getting me today at short notice buddy, here.”
John passed me a small wrapped box that might have been a tiny coffin.
“Duty free, see you in the morning, you better be on time as well.” He reached in the open window and tapped the none scratch mineral glass on my new watch with his finger nail. I liked the sound of that.
I called Frank straight away and arranged to pick him up at 9.30 in the morning. He still thought we were going to London but he was so deaf on the phone it would have taken me half an hour of shouting to explain.
“IS YOUR PHONE BROKE?”
He wasn’t deaf in real life, I wondered to false conclusions if there might be something wrong with car phones reunited?
“JOHN can you hear me? I’M PICKING….”
“…frank up at 9.30, he still thinks we’re going to London to examine the book though.”
“We might be yet, did you like your present? Remember you left your old pair in that English bar in Monte Carlo..what was it called, singing brazil nuts are nice…”
I knew straight away what was inside the tiny coffin package now, but black or tortoise shell?
“Flashman’s, we couldn’t find a campsite, slept in the car, cooked in a layby. Beans on toast turned out be peas on Madeira Cake. Then you drove around the coast while I was asleep. I woke up in the car, you weren't there."
“Flashman's that’s it, Flashman's. I was trying to remember all the way home on the flight. I couldn't sleep and set off back but I was knackered."
"All I could see was a wall in front of the car. I got out looked over the wall, it was the most beautiful bay I'd ever seen with you lying in the middle on the sand asleep. Remember the toilet, turd in the hole, with that flush!"
"You made me drive back to Cassis to get your red 'Wild Clothing' shorts. 100 km and they'd gone when we got there! See you in the morning mate.”
"Love you John, see you tomorrow x”
I opened the tiny coffin package remembering a special precious adventure to and through the South of France & Italy with John P. They were black Wayfarers, he’d remembered.
“I’d get black ones if I had another pair…”
The next morning I dropped Frank off outside the office then luckily found a parking space at the side of the pictures.
John and Frank were both bent over the coffee machine when I got into the office.
“What has she done to this? What’s this thermos flask wedged in here for? Where is she?"
“She takes coffee home in it John. I think she broke the glass coffee jug, I’ve not been getting involved and I recommend you do the same. She’s was filtering Coop instant on Friday. Her day off on Monday, remember you cut cards for it at xmas. Ace high low takes, she got a two..”
“Yes alright, did you show her how to use it?”
“You should have shown her how to use it.” Added Frank
“I did! she's not au fait with coffee, she's from Sneinton!”
“I’ll have a nice cuppa tea John.” Said Frank pouring soothing water on whatever it was you poured soothing water on.
Half an hour later John’s office resembled an incident room at New Scotland Yard. Using his note book and John’s big white flip pages Frank had collated all the information we had gathered so far. He then created a timeline starting at the approximate date the book went missing based on the information I got from the second prettiest girl I had ever seen. You know what that included by now.
“We’re missing information vital to this case, with no sign of a break in, I checked with my contacts at Radford Road someone must have gained authorised access to Mrs Derwent’s house. That person stole the book!”
“Shall I talk to Sophie again Frank?”
“I suggest you both visit the house, John it sounds like you're the one to talk with Mrs Derwent. Take this time line, write down the name of everyone they remember visiting the house as close to a date as possible. In my experience it will be someone you least expect, it can’t be a long list because we’re starting at zero according to Sophie and Mrs Derwent.”
“What about the book Frank?"
Frank turned and flipped a new blank page over on the flip pad.
“John that’s a separate line of enquiry. If the book in London is Mrs Derwent’s we can work backwards from that. If It isn't we have eliminated it from the investigation.”
“Will you be able to tell Frank, if it is the book for sure. You would think the book dealer would be able to tell?”
“Almost certainly, and you're right Paul, the book dealer does already know I bet ya. What did he say, exactly?”
"I've got it hang on."
I walked to my office desk, picked up the still slightly creased itinerary where written on the back was word for word what the book dealer had said to Jane.
“Here we go, - he said: there were no obvious signs that a page was missing from the front of the book, but he wasn’t prepared to examine it any further because he was frightened of damaging the spine one spoon per, 'no just' because he was frightened of damaging the spine.”
John got to his feet, “Ok, this is bollocks, Frank are you onboard with this? You probably haven’t discussed it with Paulie but I can give you a fair consultant fee, to bring you up to date. If you are onboard you’re the person to view the book. What do you think?”
Frank took a step forward and held out his hand.
“I’m onboard John, let's call up to now my trial period. I’ll go and look at the book tomorrow.”
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