April 16, 2022

‘Ugly Fish” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first note in this concerto of catastrophe, please refer to case note 1




CASE NOTE: 27               DATE: 18th JULY 1990





Background briefing:

We are looking for a needle in a haystack. The haystack is the Veteran Islands, the needle is Andrew Baker, its Governor. We don't want to comb through every strand of straw to find the needle, no siree. We need a metal detector. These case notes are that metal detector. They'll lead us to the needle sooner or later. We, are the detectorists.

Andrew Baker has lived a charmed life. Up to arriving on the Veteran Islands the charms had been cast by a malevolent and mischievous imp with an appalling sense of humour. Since his arrival, a much kinder sprite had been stirring the caldron. Mr Baker was wholly unqualified, wholly inexperienced, and wholly unsuitable, and yet he was still in post. He was slowly gaining the knowledge, skills and experience he needed. The only thorn in his side was the lack of a degree. He needed one. His only hope was an honorary title, and writing a best-selling novel, was his best chance of getting one. He was well on the way. With the help of his friends: Winston, Tarquin, Quinlan, Josephine and Karen, and that of his assistant, the Third Recorder, the first draft was now complete. The copy editor, Punctilius Grunge, was locked away in Ivory Towers, hard at work checking all the details. Punctilius, or Punk as she was known to her friends (and enemies, of which there were considerably more), was best left alone, for everyone’s sake. So, they abandoned the Governor’s residence and made their way to a local watering hole.

Case Note 27: Ugly Fish, 18th July 1990

Rumshackle’s, Ramshackle Rum Shack, is a favourite bar for those in the know. It is not a tourist destination; not because it is an unfriendly place; quite the contrary. It is one of those places where everyone knows everyone else. A fresh face would assume it was intruding on a birthday celebration, flush red, spin round, and leave, taking its body with it. For the familiar face it is a place to chat and relax and let your hair down, while your body takes a hell of a beating. The drinks have a strong narcotic effect. Soon the troubles of the world seem to have drifted away, along with all dignity and self-restraint.

The Third Recorder, the Governor and his friends had left the Governor’s Residence, and driven up to the Assembly in Lax. There they parked, before gathering at the gate to the compound.

The following Transcript is taken from Tarquin Pallister’s Dictaphone. This had been switched on to record events during their walk down through Lax. This is the unedited version before the essential elements of the meeting on fish quotas had been extracted and edited down.




‘Rumshackle?’ The Third Recorder enquired.

‘Rumshackle?’ Andrew Baker questioned.

‘Rumshackle’s Ramshackle Rum Shack,’ The Third Recorder clarified.

‘Where’s that?’ Winston asked.

‘’It’s at the end of Easy Street,’ The Third Recorder said looking down the road. Everyone followed his gaze.

‘I thought Heartbreak Hotel was at the end of Easy Street,’ Quinlan said, referring to the Elvis Presley Classic.

‘That’s Lonely Street,’ Tarquin corrected, singing, ‘It’s down at the end of lonely street, At Heartbreak Hotel. I’m feeling so lonely baby, I’m feeling so lonely I could die.’

‘Easy Street is the song out of Annie,’ Karen advised. ‘It’s a bit more upbeat.’

‘You’ll find nowt but happiness at the end of Easy Street,’ Winston said, matter of fact.

‘I thought It was the Cat and Fiddle at the end of Easy Street, not Rumshackle,’ Andrew Baker queried.

‘It is,’ the Third Recorder confirmed. ‘Rumshackle is further on.’

‘Cat and Fiddle? Is that the house of ill repute? Tarquin asked.

‘Told you, nowt but happiness,’ Winston confirmed.

‘A brothel? I thought the er ‘Cockatoo,’ was the house of ill repute,’ Josephine said.

‘That’s the up-town brothel,’ the Third Recorder advised. ‘The downtown brothel is the Cat and Fiddle. They’re quite different establishments.’

‘Different in what way?’ Karen asked. The Third Recorder explained.

‘The Cockatoo is a risky decision, you have to ask yourself “can I live with that risk”, the Cat and Fiddle is a rash decision, you ask yourself “can I live with that rash”.’

‘At least it doesn’t have a dodgy name. like Cock-or-two,’ Josephine said

‘I think Cat is a euphemism for a euphemism,’ Quinlan advised.

‘You mean… Ugghh.’

‘Does a town this size really need two brothels?’ Josephine asked.

‘Don’t ask me. I’m not a frequent flyer,’ Andrew replied.

‘Flyer?’ Winston queried. ‘Have you been jumping off the wardrobe again.’

‘No, the women I make love to are all angels.’

‘What do you mean… women?’ Karen sniped.

‘Woman. The woman I make love to is an angel.’

‘How sweet,’ Josephine said. ‘Do those wings take you to heaven?’

‘Heaven and beyond,’ Andrew replied.

‘Funny, cause you’re often down in the mouth,’ Quinlan said, and smiled.

‘What?’ Andrew Baker said, bemused.

‘Down in the mouth, down, as in feathers. The wings,’ Quinlan clarified.

‘Very good, for you that is. Are you doing panto this year?’

‘So where is Rumshackle?’ Karen asked, dragging them down to earth. The Third Recorder clarified.

‘You carry on past Easy Street down Lover’s Lane,’ he said.

‘Makes sense,’ Winston said nodding. ‘Easy Street followed by Lover’s Lane.’

‘Is it followed by Mother’s Regret Road and Absent Father Alley?’ Josephine chipped in.

‘You’re such a pessimist,’ Tarquin said.

‘Realist!’ Josephine corrected.

‘How could you regret having lots of sweet little kiddlychinks,’ Quinlan asked.

‘A baby is the size of a bowling ball. It comes out of a hole that big.' she made a ring by touching the ends of her thumb and index finger, then on second thoughts overlapped the two.  She winced. 'I think I could regret it,’ she advised.

‘It’s worth it,’ said Winston

‘Says a man,’ Josephine replied.

‘Mum says you forget the pain, you don’t remember it.’ Andrew said ‘She’s had four bowling balls.’

‘That’s childbirth,’ Josephine stated. ‘Post-traumatic stress – selective amnesia – like army veterans get.’

‘I guess mum did have me,’ Andrew pointed out. ‘That would make it all feel worthwhile.’

‘You’re right,’ Karen said. ‘The pain of childbirth would be nothing compared to bringing you up.’

‘Are you the youngest?’ Tarquin asked.

‘Why?’ Andrew replied

‘Well, if she didn’t have any more. You may have been the bowling ball that broke the camel’s back.’

‘I’m not the youngest,’ Andrew said, ‘and my mum is not a camel.’

‘You’d have thought she would have learnt from her mistakes,’ Winston said.

‘I am the Governor of the Veteran Islands. How could I be considered a mistake?’ Andrew stated.

‘You’re only the Governor if we can drag you out of the shit you’ve gotten yourself into,’ Karen pointed out.

‘True’ Andrew Baker acknowledged.

‘It’ll be a miracle if you come out smelling of roses,’ Josephine said.

‘Are we back onto childbirth,’ Winston enquired.

‘If he did come out smelling of roses, that would have been the last time,’ Karen said.

‘Do you mind not trashing my tragic life.’

‘So, where are we going?’ Karen butted in. She wasn’t sure she had heard the name correctly. It had sounded like the Third Recorder had been slurring his words, but to be honest, the name is easier to pronounce after several glasses of liquor.

‘Rumshackle!’ The Third Recorder said.

‘Where is it again?’ She asked.

‘It’s round the other side of the bay. You can see it from the quayside. Look, over there.’

‘There’s only those dilapidated fishing huts over that side,’ Winston said pointing.

‘That, is Rumshackle,’ the Third Recorder advised.

‘That! is Rumshackle. That chaotic collection of corrugated iron, is a rum shack?’ Karen asked, in disbelief.

‘Uhuh. I did say “shack”’

‘When you said “shack”, I didn’t know you meant “shack”’ Karen insisted.

‘Is it safe?’ Josephine queried.

‘The building’s fine, but the drinks are dangerous.’

‘Why go there?’ Tarquin asked.

‘The quality of the company,’ the Third Recorder said. ‘They are the nicest folk.’

‘Why have you never taken us before?’ Andrew questioned.

‘I didn’t want to upset the balance,’ the Third Recorder said innocently.

‘Charming.’ Andrew Baker suddenly raised a finger and pointed at Tarquin. ‘Hey Tarquin, aren’t you supposed to be going to a meeting?’

‘I am.’

‘Well then, why are you here?’ Andrew Baker asked.

‘This is the meeting.’

‘It is?’

‘Yes, we are discussing fishing quotas.’

‘We are?’

‘We will be.’

‘Shouldn’t there be a conference table, reports, and a secretary taking minutes?’ Andrew enquired.



‘I’ve rigged my Dictaphone up to this microphone,’ Tarquin explained.

‘Which microphone?’ Andrew asked looking for a large, handheld object.

‘This microphone, see, here, on my lapel?’

‘That, it’s tiny.’

‘The military use them for spying. They’re really rather good.’

‘What about the minutes?’

‘I hand the recording to the secretary, she types it up.’

‘Bottoms. Big bottoms, small bottoms, mid bottoms and willies.’

‘Winston, we’re in a meeting, please refrain,’ Andrew chided.

‘Can I just say Oikland Fishermen need bigger… tits.’

‘Winston!’ Josephine scolded.

‘Sorry, I meant quotas.’

‘Actually I think they do.’ Tarquin said.

‘Need bigger tits?’ Winston queried looking doubtful.

‘Quotas!’ Tarquin corrected.


‘To reduce animosity between nations,’ Tarquin continued.

‘Good idea. Anything to lower the tension. We’ll double the quota,’ Andrew Baker said decisively.

‘Twice nothing is still nothing,’ Tarquin advised.

‘I see,’ Andrew replied. ‘How do you work out a quota?’

‘By weight, depending on the type of fish,’ Tarquin explained.

‘So big fish, big quotas, small fish small quotas?’

‘No! You might have lots and lots of small fish and hardly any big fish.’

‘Can’t the fisheries people work it out based on scarcity?’

‘I guess, but then there is managing fish stocks around the globe.’

‘So, they liaise with the Ecology Department.’

‘And the Veteran Island fishermen, they catch some fish which they’d want to protect but don’t bother with others.’

‘Input from Works and Pensions?’

‘There’s also the risk of Oikland military personnel masquerading as fishermen.’

‘Homeland Security?’

‘Dumping poor quality fish on the islands.’

‘Food Standards Agency.’

‘Policing the agreement.’

‘Royal Navy.’

‘Contravention of other trade agreements.’

‘Government Legal Department.’

‘It could tie up the whole assembly for weeks. You’ll never get a decision in time to make a difference,’ Tarquin insisted.

‘Hey Andrew,’ Karen said, pointing. ‘Isn’t that the fish restaurant you took me to the other day. The one where you pick the fish out of the tank. The one with the incredibly ugly fish?’

‘That’s it! That’s the answer’ Andrew stated.

‘What’s the answer?’ Tarquin asked.

‘Make it a 100 tons of ugly fish.’

‘Ugly fish?’ Tarquin asked.

‘Nobody cares about ugly fish. They only care about pretty fish.’

‘Sounds like a metaphor for life,’ Karen said.

‘Darling, you’ll never be an ugly fish to me,’ Andrew said.


‘What was that for?’ Andrew said, holding the side of his face.

‘That is for even thinking I might be an ugly fish.’

‘What do you mean, “nobody cares for ugly fish?”’ Tarquin asked.

‘The restaurant owner, he said, the pretty fish cost twice as much as the ugly fish, but they taste the same. Nobody’s interested in ugly fish. So, let them have the ugly fish.’


‘What was that for?’ Andrew Baker said holding his face again.

‘That was for getting me an ugly fish, because it was cheap.’

‘I thought it was a pretty fish.’

‘It had three eyes and squint.’

‘It only had a squint in one eye, the other two eyes were fine.’

‘It had legs,’

‘They were tentacles… I think,’ Andrew said. ‘It did taste nice though, didn’t it?’

‘It would have tasted nicer with a blindfold.’

‘For you or the fish.’


‘Can we get back to the quota please?’ Tarquin pleaded.

‘Sorry, yes, what do you want to know?’ Andrew Baker apologized.

‘How do I know which are the ugly fish for the quota?’ Tarquin asked.

‘If they’ve got three eyes, they’re ugly,’ Karen said.

‘You must know ugly when you see it,’ Andrew said. ‘Think about what makes an ugly person and apply it to fish.’

Tarquin looked at Josephine.

‘Look at me like that again, and I’ll rearrange your features into something more presentable.’

‘I was looking at beautiful, so I could make a comparison with ugly,’ Tarquin insisted.

‘If you look at me now, you’re in big trouble,’ Karen sniped.

‘You are both beautiful,’ Tarquin charmed. ‘Andrew is my only ugly reference, but he’s not fishy enough.’

‘Thanks,’ Andrew said sarcastically. ‘If you want my advice, the ugly ones have the lobsided faces and lazy eyes.’

‘aren’t they just a pretty fish that’s had a stroke?’ Tarquin queried.

Andrew shook his head. ‘Why don’t you ask the guy, the restaurant owner. He can tell you the ugly fish that no-one wants. Then, you work it into a quota. We’ll announce it tomorrow.’

‘It’s not very scientific,’ Tarquin said, somewhat unsure.

‘It’s politics,’ Andrew stated.

The Third Recorder looked at his pupil and nodded. ‘My, you have come on,’ he said.


April 02, 2022

‘The Copy Editor” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first drop in this ocean of incompetence, please refer to case note 1




CASE NOTE: 26               DATE: 18th JULY 1990





Background briefing:

Andrew Baker is not here. The Governor’s disappearance is a mystery; a mystery that is ours to solve, and solve it we shall.

The Governor was an accident waiting to happen, and then, an accident that had happened. This unqualified, inexperienced, unexpected individual was the accidental administrator of a ragtag collection of islands in the Pacific. Much to his surprise, he quite liked being a Governor. There was just one thing he needed to cement his position. A degree. His only hope was an honorary title, and writing a best-selling novel, was his best chance of getting one. With his friends help they had completed the first draft. It was a rough diamond. It just needed a copy editor to apply the polish.

Case Note 26: The Copy Editor, 18th July 1990

Helen Grunge changed her name by deed poll to Punctilious Grunge when she was eighteen years old. Few knew her original name, and even fewer, what punctilious meant. She was known affectionately as Punk. However, she was more often known with hatred and loathing as PUNK. The difference being entirely in the telling. She had an unfortunate manner, which fortunately suited her chosen career as a copy editor. She had an inane ability to pick out the little imperfections in everything, and everyone, and an insane desire to share her thoughts. She lived in an abandoned village on the far side of the island to Lax. Rumour has it, the village was a thriving, community when she moved in, before doom and despondency took their toll. Those that didn’t follow the lemmings over the cliff edge, moved to the other side of the island, or beyond. That is not to say she was the cause. In the investigation business, we all know correlation is not always causation, but in this case, I’d bet my life savings on it.  

The following is a continuation of the transcript in Case Note: 25. It is from a covert recording made by Anne the housekeeper. Punctilious Grunge has arrived at Ivory Towers. The Third Recorder answers the door.

‘T.R. Hello Sexy. Is that your own body or did you hire it in just for me? I swear you get better with age. Are you man or a Mouton Rothschild 1947?’

‘Morning Helen.’


‘Mr Recorder, my darling, we’ve known each other long enough to use terms of endearment. You may call me Punk. I’ll call you Kink.’

‘Helen, please can we just address the matter in hand?’

‘What matter?’

‘The copy edit.’

‘Of course; after I’ve been introduced to everyone. So, this is your merry band of scribblers.’

‘Helen, can we please avoid the usual…’

‘Don’t listen to him. He has probably told you I hate little imperfections. Truth is, I love them. I adore the irredeemable qualities in an individual. He should know. He has lots of little imperfections to keep a lady entertained, don’t you, Kink?’

‘Helen, No!’

‘Take that nose: slightly too big, too bulbous, too bent, nostrils too hairy (you really should have kept on top of that), skin too flaky, pores enlarged, and a pustulant spot forming just there, where grease collects in the crevice. But, what a great big beautiful nose, a beautiful nose with a slight bend to the right.’

‘Is that why you call him kink?’ Winston enquired.

‘Not necessari…’

‘Yes! Absolutely. Now, please can we get to the matter in hand?’

‘But Kink? I’d only just covered your nose, there’s the rest of the face, and then… there’s your big and beautiful body… yummy, yum, yum.’

‘Helen! A little more decorum.’

‘That’s not what you said to me up at the lake that time.’

‘That, was a long, long time ago.’

‘Maybe we could go for a wander later, relive the old Kink.’

‘Helen! No! And please address me as the Third Recorder.’

‘I could never address you as Third Recorder. You’ll always be First Bassoon to me. I’d like to play a tune on…’


‘Alright! I know my place. Aren’t you going to introduce me to your menagerie?’

‘This is Winston Grahame, the England Rugby Player. Winston this is Helen…’

‘Kink!’ Punk wagged a finger at the Third Recorder, who shrugged and started again.

‘This is Punctilious Grunge, Known as Punk to her friends, if she still has any.’’

‘Hello Punk,’ Winston said.

‘Hello my dear. I saw you on the T.V. game against France. You were quite good.’

‘Quite Good? I was man of the match.’

‘True, but you know you should have been better.’


‘Lower in the scrum. You wouldn’t have been turned, if you had been lower.’

‘You can’t know…’

‘And don’t keep swerving to the right. You’re too predictable.’

‘I scored a try.’

‘Missed a few though didn’t you?’

‘You can’t know the swerve was responsible.’

‘That big French number eight, he knew. He knew, before you went, every time.’

‘It’s not that obvious.’

‘Watch the video!’ Punk said. Winston viewed her with curious eyes. The Third Recorder broke the silence.

‘I’ll find it for you later. She’s probably right.’ He turned to the next member of the “scribblers,” ‘this, is Josephine. She’s a sport therapist, and sport psychologist.’

‘You are almost,’ Punk said

‘I am.’ Josephine replied indignantly.

‘You are almost,’ Punk continued, ‘almost a perfect physical specimen my dear.’

‘Thank you, I think?’

‘If it wasn’t for the hair there’d be nothing to discuss.’

‘My hair?’

‘Your hair.’

‘What is wrong with my hair?’

‘Really? A ponytail, at your age. You are not a teenager.’

‘I am only thirty. I like to look youthful.’

‘There’s a difference between youthful and immature.’

‘It’s carefree.’

‘Careless! And with your face shape. Tsk, tsk!’

‘What about my face shape?’

‘Wide head and square jaw, it looks all wrong.’

‘I have not got a square jaw.’

‘The mirror doesn’t lie.’

‘Winston, have I got a square jaw?’

‘Er, not that you’d notice,’ Winston replied.

‘You mean I have got a square jaw?’ Josephine probed again.

‘I’d say dignified rather than square,’ Winston clarified.

‘I’ve got a square jaw,’ Josephine looked shocked. Punk flicked her palms upward and shrugged, as if just revealing an obvious truth.

‘Don’t worry, it suits your square head,’ she said.  ‘And who is this vision in piggy pink?’

‘Hot Pink!’ Quinlan said. ‘This tee shirt is Hot Pink.’

‘It was hot, now it’s not. Hot pink always comes out piggy pink in the wash. And, those shorts…’

‘What’s wrong with the shorts?’

‘Style or colour?’

‘We’ll stick with colour.’

‘Piggy pink.’

‘What is wrong with piggy pink?’

‘There’s nothing wrong with piggy pink.’

‘Well that’s good to know.’

‘The colour is fine. But on you?’

‘On me?’

‘It matches your skin tone perfectly.’

‘That’s a good thing isn’t it?’


‘On what?’

‘Depends, if you want to look naked or not.’


‘Well, I mean, from a distance, in that tee shirt, with shorts that tight, shorts that short, I wouldn’t know.’


‘I bet you’re responsible for those rumours of a naked lady running round the lake.’


‘Well, you’ve hardly got the physique of a man, have you?’

‘Yes I have, including all the appendages.’

‘Well, you’d have to get pretty close to see your...’

‘Helen!’ The Third Recorder spoke her name like a teacher reprimanding a pupil.

‘Just saying,’ she replied innocently. ‘So, who is Mr Posh?’

‘This is Tarquin Pallister,’ the Third Recorder said. ‘He’s from the Foreign Office.’

‘Indeed he is,’ she said looking him up and down.

‘Oh, the clothes,’ Tarquin acknowledged, running a hand down his suit. ‘I’ve got a meeting to go to.’

‘I suppose you have to dress to fit the mould.’

‘It’s a sort of uniform. We all wear it.’

‘The pin stripe, old school tie and cuff links. Very smart.’

‘Thank you. People have expectations.’’

‘Nobody wants an individual.’

‘You have to be consistent.’

‘Lots of little clones, lots of little drones. That’s what the Queen Bee needs.’

‘There is a government line in most things.’

‘Free will, it’s not part of the job description.’

‘I do choose to wear these clothes.’

‘I’m sure you think you do.’

‘I do.’

‘Best to keep telling yourself that.’

‘I do.’

‘You couldn’t change your socks without a direct order.’

‘I can.’


‘Yes! Really.’

‘If you say so.’ She turned her back on Tarquin who was inspecting his clothing with uncertainty.

‘And who, are you?’


‘Karen, such a sweet name.’’

‘But?’ Karen said

‘But what?’ Punk replied

‘I’m waiting for the “but”,’ Karen’s eyes flashed a warning.

‘What ‘but’?’ Punk continued, ignoring the danger signs. Karen stared unflinching as she replied.


Such a sweet name… but, tart in every other way

Such a sweet name… but, oh so bitter

Such a sweet name… but, what a sour puss

Such a sweet name… but, a bilious temperament

Such a sweet name… but, a face like an arse that’s been sucking a lemon.

Such a sweet name… but your tits are too small, your bum is too big, your toes are turned in and you waddle like a duck.

Those ‘buts’.’

‘There are no buts,’ Punk said indignantly.

‘Uhu. Really?’ Karen replied sarcastically.

‘There’s only an ‘and’,’ Punk said.

‘Okay. What is it?’ Karen asked leaning in, clenching her fists.’

‘Such a sweet name, and… so self-aware.’

‘Aaghh!’ Karen launched herself at Punk. The Third Recorder inserted himself between the two, and held up his hands, signaling stop.

‘I’m sorry Karen,’ he apologized, on Punk’s behalf. ‘It’s a compulsion, she can’t help it. It’s a type of Tourette’s syndrome.’

‘And what about me,’ Andrew Baker asked, drawing attention away from the angry exchange.

‘Aah yes,’ the Third Recorder said. ‘Helen, this is the Governor. Meet Andrew Baker.’

‘Oh my god,’ she said. ‘You are gorgeous. So many little imperfections.’

‘And a few big ones,’ Karen murmured under her breath.

‘Where do I start,’ Punk clenched her fists and wiggled like an enthusiastic child.

‘Helen! Careful!’ the Third Recorder instructed. ‘I’ve spent the last five weeks bigging him up. Now is not a good time for him to come crashing down.’

‘Bigging up? He doesn’t need bigging up, he needs coaching.’ Punk advised.

‘He has been coached,’ the Third Recorder replied.

‘You could have included dress sense, posture, and personal hygiene.’

‘We have.’

‘Is he a slow learner?’

‘That, is quite enough.’ The Third Recorder scolded. ‘I’ve put the manuscript on the conference table. Make a start. We are going out.’

‘But when will I get a chance to play the bassoon?’ Punk enquired playfully.



‘We are leaving. If you need anything just ask Anne.’ With that he waved everyone towards the door. ‘I think it is safer outside.’

Anne wagged a finger at her unwelcome guest. ‘If you criticize my tea just once, you will end up wearing the urn.’

‘Maybe, I’ll have a coffee instead.’

As they were heading out the door Andrew Baker turned to Karen.



‘How does an arse, suck a lemon?’


March 20, 2022

‘The Copy Edit” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first ingredient in this recipe for disaster, please refer to case note 1




CASE NOTE: 25               DATE: 18th JULY 1990





Background briefing:

Andrew Baker is missing. That we know. Why, how and where, we don’t, but we’re working on it.

If the Governor of the Veteran Islands was a cake he’d be a baked Alaska; an aberration that should not exist. The ingredients are all wrong. Andrew Baker did not have: a degree, diplomatic experience, public school background, public profile or posh contacts. A baked alaska has icecream. However, a baked Alaska does make a perfectly good cake.

Andrew Baker needed a degree to square his qualifications with the CV (not his) that got him the job. His only hope was an honorary title. Writing a best-selling novel was how he intended to get one. With his friends help they had completed the first draft. Now came, the copy edit.

Case Note 25: The Copy Edit, 18th July 1990

The unexpected test of the security alarm at 7.00am had been a most unpleasant experience for all the residents of Ivory Towers. The sound effects: (charging buffalo, babies crying, shoot out at the OK corral and crashing piano), had induced a surge of adrenalin  that left them shaking in their slippers. Breakfast, was a welcome return to normality. They slowly began to unwind.

The following is a transcript of another one of Anne, the Housekeeper’s covert recordings. It starts with the Third Recorder explaining the next stage in the production of the book.

‘I’ve got someone coming round later to work through the manuscript,’ the Third Recorer said

‘Why? What more do we need to do?’ Quinlan Asked

‘She’s a copy editor. She’ll check all the grammar, punctuation, consistency etc. etc. etc.’

‘Reads okay to me,’ Andrew said. ‘Does it really need anyone to go through it?’’

‘I thought you did the punctuation before,’ Josephine said.

‘Just a first pass. It’s not good enough for publication,’ the Third Recorder explained.

‘Couldn’t you just go through it again?’ Tarquin asked’.

‘I’d miss things, a copy editor won’t. They’re… special,’ the Third Recorder advised.

‘In what way?’ Quinlan asked.

‘They are a breed apart. They are meticulous; painfully meticulous. Copy editing is something they do for kicks when they are not breaking codes at Bletchley Park, defusing bombs for the army, or repairing priceless artifacts. They have a level of concentration and attention to detail you could only dream of.’

‘Not a dream I’m really partial too to be honest,’ Andrew admitted.

‘Exactly. These people revel in precision, and cannot bear imperfection. They wince at a miniscule irregularity in the tick of a Rolex watch, grimace at the tiniest distortion in the mirror of an astronomical telescope, and cover their ears at the poor tuning of a single violin in a Philharmonic Orchestra. If a single comma is out of place, they will know before they turn the first page.’

‘Can’t a computer do that?’ Tarquin asked.

‘A computer can beat anyone at chess, plan a trip to the moon, and work out Pi to a million decimal places, but it cannot replace the copy editor.’

‘Why?’ Andrew asked.

‘Because literature is art; literature is emotion. Computers don't do emotion. A computer doesn’t understand how a joke works, why we cry, what makes us scared. A copy editor moves beyond the mechanical. They feel the emotion in a sentence and place the perfect punctuation in the perfect place.’

‘Once the copy editor has made their changes, will anybody notice the difference?’ Karen queried.

‘Only another copy editor,’ the Third Recorder admitted.

‘Does it matter then?’ Andrew asked.

‘It matters because other publishers employ copy editors to dissect a novel, spot the mistakes and slate it in the press, destroying the reputation of the novel, the author, and the publisher. We cannot let that happen; your honorary degree depends on it.’

Knock, knock, knock.

‘That’ll be her now,’ the Third Recorder said.

[Conversation continues as the Third Recorder makes his way over to the main entrance]

‘She sounds sort of terrifying.’

‘Like a cyborg with OCD.’

‘Or a dalek interrogator.’

‘Or even worse, our old deputy headmistress. She knew every mistake I made, before I made them.’

‘I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this.’

[Bolt is drawn on the door, and the door opens]

‘T.R. Hello Sexy. Is that your own body or did you hire it in just for me? I swear you get better with age. Are you man or Mouton Rothschild 1947?’

‘Morning Helen.’





March 05, 2022

“The Alarm” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first step on this treadmill of despair refer to Case Note:1




CASE NOTE: 24               DATE: 18th JULY 1990





Background briefing:

Andrew Baker had tripped over many hurdles since becoming Governor of the Veteran Islands. The fact that he and they were still standing suggested God had a hidden agenda for our accident prone ambassador. Despite applying for the job by mistake, having none of the required qualifications or social standing, he was still in post. Proposing to his girlfriend Karen during his opening speech, and inviting all the islanders to the wedding, appeared to be a masterstroke that sealed his position as the people’s Governor.

He still needed that elusive degree to avoid incarceration. Writing a best-selling novel in pursuit of an honorary title was his only option. With the help of Karen, and his friends from school; Josephine, Winston, Tarquin and Quinlan; and of course, his personal adviser, the Third Recorder, he had completed the first draft. Publishers had been approached, and interest expressed. Things were looking up.

Case Note 24: The Alarm, 18th July 1990

The alarm system at the Governor’s residence, Ivory Towers, is a sophisticated affair, and so it should be. Despite the remote location, every Governor is a target for disgruntled individuals. Some feel the role embodies empire, foreign intervention, and oppression. Some don’t like the idea of a toffee nosed t**t telling them what to do. Others are just crazy loons that want to be heard.

Every alarm system has to be tested to check functionality and user response. The reports provide valuable information on the defenses that would need to be disabled for an undetected abduction to take place. We are fortunate that such a test had been scheduled by the Third Recorder for the 18th July at 7.00am. A representative from Lax Alarms was present to check all features were working correctly. They also used camcorders to record response times and the reaction of the residents. Full details are included in the technical report below


Lax Alarms

Relax with Lax


Test Report


Date 18th July
Time: 7.00am
Location: Ivory Towers
Client: Veteran Islands Assembly
Client Rep: Third Recorder
Client No. 1
Technician Peter Owt


Technician’s Report

The alarm was activated at 7.00am utilising the full surround sound system. Sound effects 1, 3, 5, and 7 were selected at maximum volume. Some cross contamination with the music system was noted during the test. The technician does not claim to be an expert in popular music, but believed the song playing in the background during the test was “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. The reaction by those staying at the residence was measured and restrained, considering the level of agitation experienced. Nobody fainted, took unnecessary risks, or suffered irreversible medical conditions. All things considered, the test was considered a complete success. Following a brief discussion with the Third Recorder, it was agreed to incorporate the background song as a permanent feature. This has now replaced sound effect number 4 (previously rampaging sheep).


In the following transcript of the ‘reaction and response’ recording, the Third Recorder and Governor are clearly identified. The remaining individuals were not known to the technician at the time, and therefore are referred to by description only.


Governor:                    Shit! What the f**k! Where is it? Karen!

Big Bloke:                    What the hell!

Mad Woman               Over here! I’m going down!

Nice Lady:                   Winston! Are we under attack?

Posh Person:              Get down! Can’t see anyone. Make for the door.

Beach Bum:                Where are they!

Mad Woman:              I’ve got the b******d!

Technician:                  Aagh!

Third Recorder:           It’s the alarm! It’s just the alarm!

Technician:                  Stop hitting me. Please stop. Help! Help!

Mad Woman:              Shut up b*****d or I’ll shove this truncheon where the sun don’t shine!

Governor:                    What! I can’t… Ooh… it’s stopped.

Nice Lady:                   Thank god!

Beach Bum:                Is everyone okay?

Technician:                  Aagh! Stop hitting me.

Third Recorder:           Don’t worry! Don’t worry! It’s all okay. Just an alarm test. Don’t worry…

Technician:                  Help!

Third Recorder:           That is the alarm technician you’re sitting on. I think you can get off him now.

Technician                   Phew! Thanks.

Mad Woman:              Did you say don’t worry? Don’t worry! I nearly s**t myself, you f**kin lunatic.

Third Recorder:           Okay! Calm down! Calm down! Please unhand me. It’s all over.

Governor:                    What are you wearing?

Mad Woman:              Ball gown.

Governor:                    Why a ball gown?

Mad Woman               It was in the wardrobe. I was trying it on when the alarm went off.

Nice Lady                    I think you may have got it on back to front. The plunging bit… I think it is supposed to be at the back.

Mad Woman               Oh! I thought it was a bit unusual. I… I… think I’ll… just go and er, spin things around.

Nice Lady:                   Are you okay?

Technician:                  Yes, I’m fine. Occupational hazard.

Nice Lady:                   I can imagine. Here, let me lend you a hand

Technician:                  thank you

Third recorder:            Sorry about the alarm. Just a test.

Big Bloke:                    A test! At seven in the morning.

Governor:                    I thought I was going to die!

Beach Bum:                I almost jumped out the window.

Posh Person:              What the hell was that sound?

Third Recorder:           It’s a mixture of things: charging buffalo, babies crying, shoot out at the Okay Coral, and loony tunes.

Governor:                    Loony tunes?

Third Recorder:           There are few things more scary than a plummeting piano.

Big Bloke:                    But it was all around us. Even in the bedrooms.

Third Recorder:           Surround sound. I had it fitted as part of the conversion. Good isn’t it.

Big Bloke:                    Good? It was terrifying. There were buffalo coming at me from all directions.

Third Recorder:           Great! I think we can confirm the test was a complete success.

Nice Lady:                   A complete success? I was scared out of my wits.

Third Recorder:           That’s the idea. We want to create as much confusion as possible.

Beach Bum:                Why?

Third Recorder:           To confuse intruders. In the chaos that ensues there’s always a chance one of us might escape, warn the authorities, leave a clue, or maybe even, with a bit of luck, injure, or kill one the intruders.

Nice Lady:                   kill them? What with?

Third Recorder:           A weapon.

Posh Person:              What weapon? Where?

Third Recorder:           I am not at liberty to show you.

Posh Person:              Why?

Third Recorder:           In case one, or more of you, is unstable, incompetent, a criminal or a terrorist.

Governor:                    Who?

Third Recorder:           Could be any of you. You look innocent but…

Winston:                      We look innocent because we are innocent. Why would you suspect any of us?

Third Recorder:           Well, you look like you could wrestle alligators; you have the deadly focus of an assassin; you already look like James Bond; you have a suspiciously weird occupation, and you… you are emotionally unstable.

Mad Woman:              I am not emotionally unstable. Take that back or I’ll break your neck.

Governor:                    You may be emotionally unstable, but you look beautiful in that dress.

Mad Woman:              Oh Really? You think so?

Governor:                   To be honest I preferred it the other way round.

Mad Woman:              Cheeky!

Winston:                      So what is Andy, apart from cheeky. Is he the incompetent one?

Third Recorder:           It’s not important. He is the governor. I am sworn to protect him, regardless.

Governor:                    Nice to know.

Big Bloke:                    Nice to know we’re trusted.

Third Recorder:           I’m sure you understand my dilemma.

Governor:                    Seems a bit extreme, but I guess you’ve got our best interests at heart.

Third Recorder:           Thank you. Now we’re all together, we might as well have some breakfast. Tea? Earl Grey? Anne, can you take the orders?

Mad Woman               I just need to change out of this dress. Andy, can you give me a hand with the zip?

Governor                   Sure.

[Governor and Mad Woman move off in the direction of their quarters]

Governor                    Where did you get the truncheon?

Mad Woman               I’m nervous of intruders. I keep it under the bed.

Governor                    Funny colour.

It is clear from the report that the alarm system was working perfectly. For the intruders to enter undetected it must have been disabled beforehand. It would seem reasonable to assume the intruders had prior knowledge of the alarm system, and maybe even knew the codes.
We have made the following assumptions with regards the identities listed in the report:
Mad Woman - Miss Karen Hannah
Nice Woman - Miss Josephine Carter
Big Bloke - Mr Winston Grahame
Posh Person - Mr Tarquin Palister
Beach Bum - Mr Quinlan Weston-Smythe


February 28, 2022

“The Assembly” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first episode in this box set of bewilderment see Case Note: 1




CASE NOTE: 22               DATE: 13th JULY 1990





Background briefing:

Andrew Baker became Governor of the Veteran Islands through accident & emergency, but not the hospital department. The accident was applying for the wrong job. The emergency was an imminent invasion. The invasion meant the interview panel were looking for someone who was expendable. Andrew Baker was that someone. The invasion never materialised. So now, this seemingly unsuitable young gentleman has been left to run one of Britain’s most beautiful islands.

The interview panel were led to believe Andrew Baker had a degree. He doesn’t. To keep his pay and privilege, and avoid imprisonment, he is seeking to obtain an honorary degree by writing a best-selling novel. By now the book was well in hand, but the Governor had more pressing matters to attend to.

Case Note 22: The Assembly, 13th July 1990

The 13th of July was unlucky for some. In this case it was unlucky for Andrew Baker. He could no longer claim he had an imaginary contagious disease that required complete isolation. His days locked away in the comfort of ivory Towers had come to an end. It was time for the Governor to face the Assembly. He had been well prepared during those four weeks, with lessons in all the necessary skills.

Today was primarily a ceremonial affair. In a packed Assembly building the Governor would be sworn in. It is a simple, standard procedure, and would be of little concern, if it wasn’t for the speech. The Governor’s speech sets the tone for the whole of his time on the island. It provides an insight into what the islanders can expect. It is critical to a Governor’s success.  

Andrew Baker had assigned four of his friends a temporary appointment in order that they could attend the proceedings to bolster his confidence. Tarquin did not need such an appointment. He was already a Foreign Office Official. Neither did the Third Recorder, who was, of course the Third Recorder and already a senior member of the Assembly. The temporary appointments were as follows:

Winston:          Bodyguard (he had the body for guarding after all)

Quinlan:          Chauffeur (just for the uniform we suspect)

Josephine:      Performance Coach (even she did not know what that meant)

Karen:             Personal assistant.

In his new capacity, Quinlan had hired two pink Range Rovers for the task of taking the Governor and entourage to the Assembly Building, and a matching pink uniform. Whatever else, they were going to arrive in style.

The description of events below are taken from newspaper reports, television footage and the Assembly’s own recording of events.

The journey to the Assembly:

The cars left Ivory Towers at 9.15 am, travelled the rough track up to Gungad Inn, down the cobbled lane to Cockatoo, turned left onto Easy Street, then left again onto Victoria Avenue. Crowds lined the approach, hoping to get a glimpse of the new Governor. The cars pulled up under the Porte cochere at 9.30am. Winston climbed down from the passenger seat, dressed in black, with black shades, his face the picture of professional solemnity. He opened the rear door and a red shoe stepped out onto the red carpet followed by red hair that sizzled in the morning sun. Karen’s emerald green dress gently caressed her shapely figure. Josephine emerged from the second car, a powerful figure in electric blue. She joined Karen on the red carpet. They looked like film stars attending a premiere. Winston looked at the crowd then nodded at Karen. She, in turn, nodded to the man of the moment. Andrew Baker stepped out. Six foot five, dressed in a finely tailored ivory linen suit, royal purple shirt, an Ivory tie embroidered with the Island flag and the shiniest of Oxford brogues. He looked every inch a Governor. The crowd cheered. He looked around, waving his arm in the air, speech in hand; which is when it happened. A sudden gust of wind caught the papers and sent them flying out over the bay. The speech was lost. The Third Recorder slipped out the other side of the cars unnoticed, as was his way. He looked up at the papers as they fluttered in the breeze. He stroked his chin, then reached in and retrieved something from the glove compartment.

Andrew Baker’s face betrayed a moment’s panic. His cool and collected entourage guided him into the building away from observant eyes.

The following was picked up on the microphone as it was fitted to the Governor’s lapel. The tape is part of the sound testing prior to going live.


[Baker] … f**k, f**k, F**k, f**k. what am I going to do. I don’t know what to say

[Third Recorder] Don’t worry. Karen, Josephine and Winston brought additional copies. Karen?

[Karen] I er… didn’t have any pockets so I er, left it on the coffee table.

[Third Recorder]  Josephine?

[Josephine] I couldn’t bring a second copy. Not in this dress. Where would it go. The VPL was a big enough issue on its own. I’ve already abandoned my undergarments, I wasn’t going to stuff a piece of paper down my cleavage.

[Third Recorder] Winston?

[Winston] I think I took it out when I was fitting the communications stuff.

[Baker] We’re done for’.

[Third Recorder] Calm down, calm down. It’s just like any other speech you’ve given.

[Baker] I’ve not given any other speech

[Third Recorder]  You’ve practiced and practiced. You know what to do. As soon as you get going, it’ll all kick in. It’ll be automatic.

[Baker] Look at me, I’m shaking like a jellyfish, I can’t go out there.

[Quinlan]  Jelly fish don’t really shake, they sort of wobble and squidge.

[Baker]  Who cares what they do. I’m shaking so much if you put me in a bath with a bar of soap and your weekly wash, it’d come out whiter than white.

[Third Recorder] Don''t worry. You'll be fine. Visualize yourself as something strong and powerful, like a lion.

[Baker] Grrr.

[Third Recorder] I said lion, not pussy cat.

[Baker]  See, I can’t do it.

[Third Recorder]  Yes you can. Try the superman pose of power, arm thrust out fist clenched.

[Karen] That’s not Superman. You look like you’re owning up to a fart in a lift.

[Baker] It doesn’t matter who I look like, if I don’t know what to say.

[Third Recorder] Make it up. Improvise. Start off with all the people you’ve got to thank, you’ve done that enough times, you must have memorized that bit, then make it up.

[Baker] Make it up? Make it up? Are you mad? I can’t think. My mind has gone blank.

[Third Recorder] Look, I don’t normally do this, but this is an emergency. I er keep these with me just in case we have a problem. Here, take them, they’ll start to kick in as you begin your speech. You’ll feel a surge of energy and confidence. They will keep you going to the end.

[Baker] What are they.

[Third Recorder] They're a derivative of a well known recreational drug. 

['Tarquin] You can't give him cocaine, you don't know how he'll react.

[Third Recorder] I'm not saying it is cocaine. It is government issue. There are times in the diplomatic service when you have to resort to extreme measures.

[Karen] Don't do it. Don't take it. You don't know what will happen.

[Third Recorder]. It's not a street drug. It's not full or rubbish. It's pure, very pure.

[Quinlan] What about side effects.

[Third Recorder] Yes, there are side effects, any up has a down, but that won't kick in till later this afternoon. He'll be back in Ivory Towers by then.

[Winston] What if he has a bad reaction.

[Third Recorder] Nobody's died... as far as I know.

[Karen] I don't like it.

[Josephine] I don't either, but he clearly needs something if he's going to face that lot out there.

[Tarquin] I agree. We can't send him out as he is.

[Third Recorder] If the speech goes badly, the game is up. He has to succeed. This is his best chance.

[Baker]  Are you sure?

[Third Recorder]  Yes. It’s a risk worth taking.

[Baker]  Okay. I’ll give it a go.

[Third Recorder] Right, we are just waiting for your cue. That’s it, okay, go, go, go.


The speech

[Andrew Baker walks on stage waving to the enthusiastic cheering crowd. After a few moments the applause dies down. He walks up to the lectern, places his hands either side, as he has been taught to do, and addresses the audience.]

[Baker] Honourable Premier, Madame Deputy Speaker, Honourable Ministers, Honourable Attorney General, Madame Deputy Governor, Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Other Honourable Members of the House of Assembly, Members of the Clergy, other distinguished guests, members of the media and the listening and viewing audience… good morning.

Before I arrived on the Veteran Islands I thought a governor was a male governess, a sort of cross dressing teacher from a period drama. I have to admit, the dresses appealed [gentle chortle audible in the audience], but I am not here to teach; what can I teach you after all?

[Voice in audience] Latin and Greek.

[Baker] I’m sorry madam, I can barely speak English. I am not your Latin lover.

[Voice in the audience} You can still be my Greek god.

[Baker] I wouldn't recommend it. They were a funny bunch in the bedroom, the Greek gods. Zeus got dressed up as a swan and Poseidon as a horse. Bit too kinky for me. As I as saying, I am not here to teach, and, I am not here to govern. I am leaving that to madame prime minister and mister president. They know the ropes and you voted for them, so, if they get it wrong, it’s all your fault.

No, I am not here to teach, and I am not here to govern, but I am, here to learn, and I have got a lot to learn: your culture, your history, your traditions, your beautiful island, and of course, most of all, you, all of you. My job as Governor is to get to know you and do something useful. So I might as well get to know you, whilst I’m doing something useful. Think of me as a gift from the British Government; an all-expenses paid, pair of helping hands. But what can I do with these hands?

[Voice in audience] You can give me a massage any day.

[Baker] Hmm yes… well, I don’t think that would be entirely… No, I couldn’t possibly… could I? I mean, what harm would it do? Hmmm… why not! Why not indeed? Miss Hannah, my diary.

[Miss Hannah walks on stage with a Page-a Day diary.]

[Baker] Let’s see. 9.15 Wednesday. Does that work for you? Good. Can we get a massage bed in the Governor’s office?’

[One of the Governor’s aid nods.]

[Baker] Well that’s decided then. Let’s clear Wednesday of all my other appointments and we’ll make it a people’s day.

So, what else can I do for anyone? Hands up!

Yes sir?

[Voice from audience] Haircut.

[Baker] Risky, but hmm… your hair, can I really make it any worse? What time?

[Miss Hannah leans in with Page-a-Day diary. He consults]

Half an hour slots?

[Miss Hannah nods]

9.45? [Man in audience nods] You’re in. Right, who else?

Cook a meal? It’d have to be quick. If you can join with two people in the audience next to you, I’ll allocate three half hour slots.

[Voice in audience] I don’t know them.

[Baker] Who cares. You don't know me. We’ll all get to know each other. Shall we say 11.45 to 1.15? Can you all make it? [Heads nod in audience] Good. Is there a kitchenette we can use?

[An aid checks a diary and nods]

Right you’re booked in. Next!

[Voice in audience] Wash the car?

[Baker] Park it next to the main entrance, we’ll put some bollards out, and I’ll get a bucket of soapy water. I might need a hand. You’ll have to chip in. ‘[Man nods] Okay! 10.15. Anyone else?

[Voice in audience] ‘Bikini wax.’

[Baker] Bikini wax? Really sir, are you sure?

[Voice in audience] You gotta look your best on the nudist beach

[Baker] I guess. Can we do it as a charity thing? [Man nods. Baker turns to aid] Put a collection box by the door for when people leave. Can we record it… tastefully… to er prove it happened… Picture in the paper maybe, with a black rectangle?

[Voice in audience] For my eyes?

[Baker] No! You’ve got lovely eyes. Why would I want to cover your eyes. The rectangle is to cover your… er, common decency. [Man nods] Okay you’re on. 11.15? Good! Before lunch. Best not done on a full stomach. Next!

Driving lesson? Are you mad? [Lady in audience nods head] Oh, you are. Are you sure you should be driving then? [Lady shrugs] Well if you’re willing to give it a go, so am I. 1.15pm? [Lady nods]. Next!

[Voice from audience] Milk a cow.

[Baker] Can we get a cow into the Governor’s office? Would it fit in the lift? [Aid shakes his head].

[Voice from audience] On the farm. In the milking parlor.

[Baker] Hmm. Well, is that possible. [turns to Tarquin who shrugs]. I need to get around, see the whole island. Maybe we make Thursday an out and about day. What time?

[Voice from audience] 6.00am

[Baker] 6.00am? Are you mad?

[Voice in audience] No! I’m a farmer. It’s my wife that’s mad.

[Baker] She the one having a driving lesson? [Man in audience nods]. Okay. If I survive the driving lesson I’ll see you at 6.00am the next day. Any more requests?

[Lady in audience] ‘Do the hoovering?’

[Baker] The hoovering? How big is the house?

[Lady in audience] Four floors.

[Baker] Four floors! Four floors! Do you live in a windmill? [Lady nods] Oh you do? At least I won’t have to hoover into the corners. Next!

[Man in audience] Walk the dog.

[Baker] Walk the dog. Well, that shouldn’t be so difficult. How big is the dog? [Man indicate height with hand] Is that from your lap? [Man shakes head]. From the floor? [Man nods] Are you sure it’s not a horse. [Man shakes head and mimes a fearsome animal with big teeth]. A sort of saber-toothed donkey. [Man nods. Governor turns to aid] can you kit me out with chainsaw trousers, stab vest, cricket helmet, and welding gloves?’ [Aid nods]. Okay 9.00am Thursday, you’re on.

[‘Baker] Anybody else needing a hand? [Many hands are raised] I tell you what, for the next two weeks, from Tuesday to Friday, I’ll clear my diary for helping out. Tarquin here can do my routine stuff; he’s being doing a marvelous job in my absence anyway. I’ll leave my diary on reception and you can book an appointment for here at the Assembly, or for me to visit you. Monday I can do all the official stuff.

Before We move on to the other speeches, I would just like to ask a question. A very important question. It’s a question I wanted to ask many years ago, but didn’t get the chance. It’s a question for a very, very special lady. Mis Karen Hannah, will you please join me on stage. [Karen Hannah walks nervously on stage].

Karen. I am not well prepared to ask this question, and I don’t have the necessary accessories, but [Andrew Baker goes down on one knee and looks up at Miss Karen Hannah] will you marry me?

[Miss Hannah looks at him wide eyed with anxiety and shakes her head.] No! No! No! I can’t. I can’t. It wouldn’t be right. [She runs off crying. Andrew Baker looks bewildered. He turns back to the audience, looking shocked.]

Sorry! so sorry. I apologize. That was all a bit foolish of me. I took things for granted. [Audience ‘aahs’ in sympathy] Thank you. Very kind. I er think it is probably time I stepped to one side and welcomed your President, Mr Rambabu onto the stage. [Mr Baker moves to the side while the president takes the lectern. He looks anxiously towards the wings.]

The following was picked up off stage, on Winston’s security microphone.

[Winston] Karen Karen… Are you okay. Bit of a bombshell? Come here, over here, have a hug. There, there. You’ll be alright.

[Josephine] Here, let me sort out your make-up.

[Quinlan] What I don’t understand, is why, when you’ve been getting on so well, why you didn’t say yes?

[‘Karen] I couldn’t, I couldn’t, How could I?

[Quinlan] Why not?

[Karen] He was pumped full of those drugs the Third Recorder gave him. He could have been saying anything. How would I know if he meant it or not? How would he know? You’ve seen him out there, he’s acting like a rock star.

‘[The Third Recorder] I think you should have said yes.

[‘Karen] I couldn’t, the drugs!

‘[The Third Recorder] I only gave him paracetamol. He did all the rest. He was as sober as a judge. He just didn’t know it.

[Karen] You mean he was in charge of all his faculties?

[The Third Recorder] Uhuh.  

[Karen] Fully in charge?

[The Third Recorder] Yes, definitely. Fully in charge. Hey, where are you going?

The following is based on the continuing television coverage of the speeches.

[President Rumbaba] And we will work closely with the Governor, and the British Government, to ensure…

[Karen Hannah runs onto stage] Yes, Yes, I was wrong, I was so wrong, I will marry you, I would love to marry you, will you marry me?

[Baker] Yes! Yes! Of course I will.

[President Rumbaba] I think I’ve been upstaged. [He nods at Mr Baker, who runs up to Karen Hannah, they meet and kiss centre stage. The audience erupts into cheering and clapping.

[Baker] There’s going to be a wedding. A fantastic Veteran Island wedding. You are all invited. The whole island is invited.

End of transcript.


Fax response:

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team


Mrs D has been looking through the pictures you sent through of the speeches, and wants to know, where Miss Karen Hannah got that emerald-green dress. She asks “is it a Donna Karen?”


Fax response:

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations


Hello Sir

We believe it is a Dorothy Perkins


Fax response:

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team


Mrs D asks is she Milan, Paris or New York?


Fax response:

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations


Hello Sir

We think Scunthorpe. But there are branches everywhere.


February 20, 2022

“The Publisher” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2022: All rights reserved

For the first roll of the dice in this game of chance, refer to Case Note: 1




CASE NOTE: 22             DATE: 12th JULY 1990





Background briefing:

By a twist of fate, error of administration, and oodles of lies, Andrew Baker had become Governor of the Veteran Islands. He had to write a best-selling novel to gain an honorary degree. Without a degree to cement his position, the walls would come crumbling down, and all would be revealed. As always, The Third Recorder, being the Governor’s personal advisor, was keeping things on an even keel, and steering the Governor away from disaster.

Karen Hannah, an ex-girlfriend, was doing most of the writing, aided by Mr Baker and a group of friends from school. The story was based on a shared childhood adventure. Things were going well and there was a mood of optimism in the Governor’s residence.

Case Note 22: The publisher

The poem penned by Andrew Baker and given to Karen Hannah on the 27th June marked the turning point in their relationship. Outright hostility had been replaced with bright smiles, warm words and a tender touch. Sporadic laughter was heard from the happy couple in the writing room, and conversations over dinner were cheerful and friendly. The Third Recorder relaxed some of the health and safety restrictions he had put in place to protect the Governor from Karen’s volatile nature. Gradually, ornaments, and other blunt objects returned to the writing room, followed by cords of one type or another, and finally pointy objects such as scissors and letter openers. The windows were unlocked, as were the doors to the Juliet balcony, and toiletries and medicines returned to the ensuite bathroom cabinet.

The writing was going so well he introduced a couple of games sessions to break up the busy schedule, and retrieved badminton, cricket and croquet sets from the basement. Andrew even managed competing against Karen without getting hit over the head with a mallet, racket, or cricket bat, although Winston and Quinlan suffered a few knocks.

The book progressed quickly and the first draft of early chapters were printed, double spaced, for checking by the 1st July. Winston, Josephine, Quinlan, and Tarquin were lined up along the conference room table, each with a copy of the same chapter, and each with a different coloured pen to add their comments. The Third Recorder advised on spelling and punctuation and counselled any disputes. The marked-up chapters were returned to the writing room, reviewed, and incorporated. This process would continue for the next two weeks, when the first, full manuscript was ready.

The time had come to find a publisher. They all sat round the conference table flicking through publishing guides, making suggestions to the Third Recorder. Fortunately, the book sessions were recorded on the audio-visual equipment used for training purposes. In this case it was because no-one was willing to take notes. Josephine spoke first.

Transcript of book session at Ivory Towers: 12th July 1990

‘There’s the Great Auk Printing Press and its subsidiaries Gannet, Gull and Guillemot. Will they do?

The Third recorder was sceptical. ‘Too big, too overpowering. We’d be a small fish in a very big sea. You have to ask yourself, “Is the Gannet hungry enough?”’

‘Random Moose?’ Winston proposed, but the Third Recorder shook his head.

‘Like the Great Auk, they are too big. Mr Baker is not an established name. In a forest of mature writers he is merely a sapling. The moose would walk on by.’

‘Half a Colon?’ Quinlan suggested, but the Third Recorder shook his head again.

‘Bit of a sausage machine. In many ways we are the perfect fit, but will Half a Colon push it out when there are others in the pipeline?’ 

‘Shy Man on a Scooter?’ Tarquin chipped in.

‘Marketing and distribution could be a weakness.’

‘Cleaver Press,’ Josephine contributed. 

‘Keen, sharp, good when you need to carve out a niche, but will they want too big a slice.  I think we should look elsewhere.’

‘Big Mac Millan Publishing?’ Winston suggested

‘Another whoppa. We need someone smaller, more agile, someone who can see the potential and run with it.’

‘What about The Book Guild?’ Tarquin proposed.

‘Hmm… The Book Guild?’ the Third Recorder pondered.

‘The Book Guild,’ Andrew said. ‘I like the name. Sounds like a secret society: The ancient Guild of Bookmakers. Oak panelled rooms, leather inlay, quills dipped in Indian ink, contracts scribbled on frayed parchment, briar pipes and funny handshakes. If we have to wear ceremonial robes and perform rituals involving naked virgins I’m…’ he looked across at Karen who glared a warning. ‘I’m out, I am definitely out.’

‘I believe they’re a modern organisation,’ Winston advised. ‘They don’t prey on young virgins anymore, accessibility and inclusion are the buzzwords nowadays. They don’t like to discriminate; goblins to grannies, anyone’s game.’

Josephine leaned across the table. ‘And, with gender equality,’ she said, looking Winston in the eye, ‘it could be a hairy arsed bloke.’

‘Blokes don’t have hairy arses,’ Andrew Baker said.

‘Some do,’ Josephine asserted.

‘Do they?’ Andrew Baker asked.

‘I couldn’t possibly comment,’ Karen said looking the picture of innocence.

‘Yes they do,’ Josephine confirmed.

‘Have you been judging a naked bottom competition again?’ Winston enquired.

‘I get around,’ Josephine advised.

‘I thought you were… ‘ Quinlan started.

‘Who says I’m not?’

‘Was this in your professional capacity?’ Winston enquired.


‘What has a hairy arse got to do with sport,’ Tarquin said, looking doubtful.

‘Prevents chafing. Same as a hairy Mary.’

‘You’re making it up.’ Andrew Baker said.

‘No I’m not.’

‘Winston, I have to know, do blokes have hairy bottoms?’ Andrew demanded.

‘Me? Why ask me?’

‘Rugby! You share a bath with fourteen other bottoms. You must have seen one now and then.’

‘We’re in a bath how would I know?’

‘You’re not telling me it’s full of bubble bath.’

‘No. We’re sat on our arses most of the time. They’re difficult to see.’

‘Someone must have bent over to find the soap,’ Tarquin suggested.

‘We’re discreet.’

‘Really?’ Andrew Baker looked sceptical.

‘Really! I take it you don’t have a hairy arse yourself then.’ Winston said.

‘No! of course not.’ Andrew stated quite categorically.

‘How do you know?’ Josephine enquired.

‘I just know,’

‘Looked in the mirror have you?’ Josephine continued.

‘How can I? The mirror’s on the bathroom cabinet.’

‘You could stand on a stool,’ Tarquin suggested.

‘And look through my legs. I’m not a gymnast.’

‘You must have a mirror at a lower height,’ Josephine said.

‘I don’t have a rear-view mirror. No-one has a rear-view mirror.’

‘You do in the car,’ Quinlan pointed out.

‘I am not getting naked in my car just to check if I have hair where the sun don’t shine,’ Andrew stated.

‘The inside light is conveniently placed though,’ Quinlan advised.

‘’The mirror’s not big enough,’ Josephine chipped in

‘My backside is not that big.’

‘How do you know?’ Winston queried. ‘You probably can’t see it through all the hair.’

‘I do not have a hairy backside. Karen, tell them.’

‘Karen has seen your bottom? Things have moved on,’ Tarquin said

‘I might have caught a glimpse,’ Karen confirmed.

‘Well?’ They all asked’.

‘I wasn’t carrying out a medical inspection. I don’t know.’

‘We need a real expert to advise on this,’ Andrew said banging his fist on the coffee table.

All faces turned towards Quinlan.

‘Hey! Don’t look at me. I’m no expert.’

‘We’ve got an expert,’ Andrew suggested, ‘We just need independent verification.’

‘Well… ‘ Quinlan paused for thought, ‘I would tend to side with Josephine.’

‘Have you quite finished?’ The Third Recorder said, like a teacher reprimanding an unruly class. The room fell silent and six embarrassed faces nodded apologetically. ‘Can anyone remember where we were up to?’

‘The Book Guild,’ Karen reminded him.

‘Ah yes: The Book Guild. Looking through the particulars, they are small, nimble and commercially minded. They could be just right. Put them at the top of the list.’ The Third Recorder leaned back in his chair. ‘That’s all for now. We’ve got to prepare Mr Baker for the big day tomorrow.

‘Big day?’ Andrew Baker looked surprised.

‘Tomorrow you are sworn in as Governor of the Veteran Islands. You’ll have to give a speech.’

Mr Baker looked terrified.

‘Play time everyone,’ The Third Recorder announced. ‘Back here in fifteen minutes.’

As they filed out of the room the audio-visual equipment picked up the following: ‘I have not got a hairy bum.’ ‘Well let me have a look at it then.’ ‘How can I trust your word?’ ‘I’ve got a camera. I’ll take a photo.’ ‘And where are you going to get it developed.’ ‘Boots.’ ‘ I don’t want my bottom passed round all the shop assistants in Boots.’ ‘Well then, you’ll have to sit on the photocopier, won’t you?’

End of transcript

The following note was found amongst Andrew Baker’s things. It appears to be a note circulated to all the members of the household from Anne, the Housekeeper.

Note from Anne the Housekeeper to residents of Ivory Towers.


Dear Residents

Can someone please let me know who broke the photocopier. I know photocopiers are temperamental and break down easily, however, in this case we extracted from the rollers a mangled piece of A3 paper, which when flattened revealed the cause. If no-one comes forward, the evidence will be used to identify the perpetrator in a line-up. Ladies need not attend.

End of note.


We do not know the outcome. Though we suspect… hairy.


February 12, 2022

“Let me in” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first stone to be turned, refer to case note: 1





CASE NOTE: 21             DATE: 27th JUNE 1990





Background briefing:

Andrew Baker became the Governor of the Veteran Islands by deceit. He needed to write a best-selling novel to obtain an honorary degree to save his job and prevent imprisonment.  His friend, Miss Josephine Carter, had sent for Karen Hannah to help out. Karen was a former girlfriend of Andrew Baker but after a cataclysmic end to their relationship, had threatened to kill him on numerous occasions, and for good reason (refer to case note 14 for details). They were not getting on.

Case note 22: Let Me In

Following the explosive events of that morning, Karen locked herself in the Writing Room and would not come out or let anyone in. Lunch and Dinner were passed through a kind of letterbox incorporated into the bottom of the door. Apparently, this room was designed to be a holding cell for anybody trying to maim or kill the governor, hence the tray slot. By the evening Andrew Baker was concerned Miss Hannah may never come out. His friends advice was well meant, but he wasn’t sure ‘smoking her out,’ would have a positive effect in the long term. He needed advice from an expert in relationships. Someone who knew how to deal with tricky characters. He telephoned his mum.

It seems that all the Governor’s telephone conversations were taped. According to the housekeeper, this was to ensure a clear and comprehensive record of all his activities. It was not, and she makes this very clear, for the purpose of extortion and blackmail. However, as they were found in her room, in a big metal box labelled ‘Pension Plan,’ we have our doubts. Still, they have proved a valuable source of information, and so we are grateful for her fastidious record keeping.

Transcript of a telephone conversation between Mr Andrew Baker and his mother on the 27th of June 1990.

Hi Mum

Hello dear.

Mum, I need some advice.

Yes dear. What kind of advice?

Boy, girl stuff.

I thought we went through all that when you were fifteen.

No! No! No! Not… that kind of advice. I wouldn’t want to go through that again.

Well what then?

Karen came to visit

The Karen?

Yes… the Karen.

The Karen that said she would rip off your balls and wear them as earrings?

Yes… that Karen

The Karen that said she would pickle you dick in vinegar and serve it as a gherkin?

Yes, yes, that Karen

The Karen that said she would blow your brains out… with a straw.

Yes, yes, yes, I know.

The Karen that said she would remove your heart with a spoon… if you had one?

She’s very… creative.

Creative hmm? Is that why she said she would drop you in a pool of piranha, just one, so she could watch you slowly nibbled back to the bone.  

She was upset.

And what is the problem

She’s upset.

I see. Andrew… isn’t it time to cut your losses, and leave the poor girl alone? Hasn’t she suffered enough?

But mum this is my one chance to get her back.

Okay, okay. So, what did you do to upset her… apart from burn down Bilton and put half the family in hospital?

That was a long time ago.

So what did you do this time

I called her ‘ugly,’ and ‘not a looker.’

Personally, if I were you, I would run away. Leave tonight and give no forwarding address.

I said it a long time ago, when I was at school. She’s only just found out.

Oh… Okay. There’s a chance then. A slim chance.

Any chance is better than none. What can I do?

What’s the situation, the situation on the ground?

She’s locked herself in a room, and refuses to let anyone in.

So she’s captive?

Sort of.

Good. Has she got any matches, scissors, open windows… gun?

No! But I don’t think she’d hurt herself.

I was thinking of you.

Oh! I see.

But it also means anything you give her, she can’t set fire to, cut up, or throw away.

I guess, but what should I give her?

There is only one thing that could work.

Which is?

A love poem.

Not a poem. I’m crap with words. You know I am. I got grade 4 CSE in English. I can barely spell my name. I can’t. It won’t work.

Write her a love poem. She’ll know how hard that is for you. She’ll sympathize. She’ll appreciate it.

But how do I start a love poem. I only know roses are red violets are blue.

If you start a poem with roses are red, I will give her the gun to shoot you with myself.

So what do I do?

Forget about rhyme and rhythm and all that nonsense. Just let her know how you feel about her. When you’ve figured it out, stack the sentences one above the other, leave a few gaps, and it’ll look like a poem anyway. The important thing is to write how you feel; write what you want her to know.

Did dad write you any love poems.

No. But, I didn’t lock him out of my room, and he didn’t set fire to Bilton.

‘I’m just not sure.’

‘It’s the only thing that will work.’

Okay, okay… I’ll do my best.

If I receive a gherkin in the post, I’ll know it went badly.

Thanks mum

Andrew… you can do this… you can. Let her know how much you need her… how much you love her. It’ll work.



Okay. I’ll give it a go. Bye mum.

Bye Andrew.

End of telephone conversation


Mr. Andrew Baker’s love poem was inserted through the ‘letterbox,’ at 9.00pm on the 27th of June 1990. The microphone monitoring the writing room picked up the characteristic ‘plop, drop,’ of the letter landing on the floor and the flap closing once again. This was followed by the sound of footsteps and an envelope being opened. There was a pause, presumably while the poem was read. The poem itself was discovered folded up under the keyboard to Miss Hannah’s word processor.


Love Poem written by Mr. Andrew Baker to Miss Karen Hannah.



You hate me. You are right to hate me.

You blame me. You are right to blame me.

You want to hurt me. I deserve to be hurt.


So let me in.


If you think I suffer most when I cannot be with you

You are wrong.


Nothing hurts more than being with the one you love

When the one you love does not love you

So, if you really want to hurt me

Let me in


If you think I suffer most when I cannot talk to you

You are wrong


Nothing hurts more than talking to the one you love

And hearing indifference

So if you really want to hurt me

Let me in


If you think I suffer most when I cannot touch you

You are wrong.


Nothing hurts more than touching the person you love

And feeling them recoil

So if you really want to hurt me

Let me in.


If you think I suffer most when I cannot see you

You are wrong


Nothing hurts more than seeing the one you love Is sad.

I cannot bear to see you sad

So, if hurting me makes you happy

Let me in.




If you are hurting because you want to be held

By someone who loves you passionately

I love you, passionately, so please

Let me in


If you are hurting because you want to share your thoughts

With someone who loves you deeply

I love you, deeply, so please

Let me in


If you are hurting because you want to share your life

With someone who loves you forever

I love you, forever, so please

Let me in



I love you,

I have always loved you,

I will always love you.


And I know, you love me too.


So please, for the love of God… LET ME IN.


End of Poem


After the poem was read, we think the tape indicates gentle sobbing. Then the latch was turned, the door opened, there was again, a short pause, then a ‘Waah!’ which we think is Mr Baker being yanked into the room.


Fax response:

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team


I’ve been reading the case notes to my daughter as a bedtime story (I’m on an efficiency drive, doubling up, it’s the only way I can fit things in). She’s desperate to know what happened when Andrew Baker entered the room. Can you send me a transcript of the tape following Mr. Bakers entry?


Fax response:

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations


How old is your daughter?


Fax response

From:   Foreign Office London – Director of Operations

To:       Veteran Islands Investigation Team


Eleven. Why?


Fax response

From: Veteran Islands Investigation Team

To:       Foreign Office London – Director of Operations


Err… well… hmm… I’m not sure we can. There were plenty of noises, but very little conversation on the tape. We can only guess what was going on and, I think we would rather not. With regards your daughter, I would just say, ‘the frog turned into a prince by the usual means.’


February 05, 2022

“The Writing Stalls” – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the first strand in this tangled web refer to case note: 1




CASE NOTE: 20               DATE: 27th JUNE 1990





Background Briefing: Mr Andrew Baker had to write a best-selling novel to obtain an honorary degree, in order to save his job as Governor of the Veteran Islands and avoid imprisonment. The novel is based on events from his childhood, events shared with his friends: Winston, Tarquin, Josephine, and Quinlan, and his former girlfriend Miss Karen Hannah. Karen, a wannabe author, had been recruited to help with the writing. However, ten years ago, Andrew Baker accidentally put half her family in hospital, destroyed two cars, killed the dog, and burnt down the terrace in which she lived. She had never forgiven him. She had joked, in order to make amends, he should be strapped to a big wheel while she threw daggers at him, blindfold.

Case Note: 20 The Writing Stalls

The writing routine remained the same over the next few days. Karen Hannah would set the “writing team” various tasks, and then she and Andrew Baker would spend most of the day in the writing room. Mr Baker would jot down his recollection of events and pass them on to Karen to provide literary flair. Occasionally he would venture out for briefings in the ways of the Assembly, lessons on classical literature, and how to tie a bow tie, but little else. There was a certain tension in the air, due to Miss Hannah’s deep-seated loathing of Mr Baker. But, despite this, the days gradually set into a steady and reasonably comfortable pattern. The Third recorder noted in his journal that he was pleased with progress, and that maybe, this crazy madcap adventure might work. On the 27th of June However, things took a turn for the worst.

Anne had been keeping a keen eye on proceedings in the writing room. She had not placed any recording devices in the room, presumably because there was nowhere to hide one. For safety reasons, almost everything had been removed to storage. There was nothing more than a desk, two chairs, and a sofa. Miss Hannah had a volatile temper. There was nothing left she could use as a weapon. As Anne could no longer place a tape recorder behind a carriage clock or bust of the queen, she had drilled a hole through the floorboards of the room above and lowered down a small microphone. It poked through the plasterboard, just above a rather gaudy chandelier. So far, it had not been detected. The following is a transcript of the tape when it all kicked off.

Transcript of a heated discussion between Miss Karen Hannah and Mr Andrew Baker in the writing room on the 27th June 1990.

‘C’mon, pass me the next section,’ Miss Hannah demanded.

‘I’d rather not,’ Mr Baker replied.

‘It has to be covered. It’s essential to the story.’

‘I know. I’m just not sure. You know… you say things as kids… ‘

‘I’m a mature woman now. I’m not affected by things we said as kids.’

‘Maybe. I just don’t want you to think badly of me.’

‘It’s too late for that. What on earth could make me hate you more than I hate you already.’

‘There was just this bit when I was feeling confused and… ‘

‘If you want to keep this fancy house and avoid jail, hand it over.’

‘Okay. Okay. Here you are.

‘And why are you moving away from the desk.’

‘I just thought it might be wise.’

‘You are so, so childish. Don’t you trust me? What could you say that… “Ugly? Ugly!”’

‘Not me. I didn’t think that. I was just saying that someone else might… ‘

‘“Nice eyes.” Is that all? That’s not a lot is it?’

‘You’ve got beautiful eyes. I’ve always liked your eyes.’

‘Not much help if they are set in a pumpkin now is it. Maybe I should only go out on Halloween.’’’

‘You look beautiful now. All of you looks beautiful now.’

‘But I looked like a dog then. A dog with nice eyes.’

‘I said I liked the way you were.’

‘“Not a Looker! Not a Looker!” What does that mean?’

‘What is a looker anyway. I’m just saying there are different forms of beauty, and you didn’t fit... ‘

‘ “Didn’t fit!” If you give me that “beauty within,” crap I’ll rip out your innards and use them as Christmas decorations.’

‘You were beautiful, you were… but not… in a conventional way.’

‘Aagh! There’s never a candlestick, revolver, dagger, lead piping or a rope when you need one.’

‘I kissed you. I must have liked you.’

‘Hoping I’d turn into a princess I assume. Who screwed this monitor to the desk. At least the keyboard…’

[At this point there was a lot of crashing and banging, which we think was probably Karen beating Andrew over the head with the keyboard. Then there was a heavy thud, when he probably fell over the footstool and landed by the sofa, followed by a couple of oomphs when we think he may have been kicked. It was probably a good thing that all Karen’s footwear apart from a couple of pairs of slippers and some flip flops had also been removed to storage. Following the oomphs, she unlocked the door and burst out onto the landing.

‘Find me a big wheel and a set of daggers… and skip the blindfold.’


End of transcript.


The Third Recorder witnessed the apocalypse and sighed. Later he wrote in his journal, “Karen Hannah and Andrew Baker are two peas in a pod. Different pods, on different plants, on different planets, but they’re both peas. They would be so much happier if they realised they are both peas, got together and do what peas do… get mushy.”

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