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The Great Escape…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

(From the Diary of Dr Watson)

Now that I’m safely back home and nestling my head in the bosoms of my dear wife, I shall take this opportunity to consider the events of the last few days. My previous diary entry reveals how we found ourselves trapped in the school, desperately waiting for someone, anyone, to come to our aid. Holmes, as usual, had professed little faith in my abilities and consequently I took matters into my own hands…

Tippy, myself and Miss Machine, took stock of our situation and my companions decided, with some gentle persuasion on my part, that our best option was to dig a tunnel. We aimed to begin this task at the south wall of the cellar under the playground (above which our deadly feathered fiends were still squawking loudly), and dig our way out onto the steep bank of the river, a mere half a mile yonder. Gathering the now (thankfully) docile children, we armed ourselves with a variety of spoons and began the task of hacking away at the (again, thankfully), soft clay we found after removing a portion of the cellar wall.

In less than six hours, we had tunnelled almost three feet and just as I was beginning to think our work would never end, the roof of our lowly tunnel collapsed.

When the dust had cleared, I peered upwards and saw to my joy a glimmer of moonlight (for night had now fallen). Listening out for the slightest sound, I immediately noticed the lack of squawking – the birds had gone! I determined to forgo our tunnelling venture and spirit away, under cover of darkness, myself, the girls and the children, up through this narrow passage, across the playing field to the river and safety.

I had, however, given in too readily to the idea that the birds had deserted their posts, for no sooner had I engineered to have all of us out onto the grass, than a loud squawk echoed across the land. In seconds, the savage creatures were upon us, clawing and shrieking like clawy, shrieky things. I recall thinking that I should have listened to Holmes, when a sudden brightness caught my eye.

Across the playing field, dozens of lights were hurtling towards us, their sharp beams slicing through the darkness like shite off a hot shovel. The sudden interruption startled our attackers and the creatures rose up as one, leaving us momentarily free. At that point, someone grabbed my arm and I turned to stare into the soft, squidgy face of my old school chum Jessica Fletcher.

“Come, Johnny, come,” she yelled and turned to run back through the crowd of individuals who I now know as the local Light Aircraft Fanciers Society, their heads somewhat curiously adorned with propeller hats, and each of them waving a large torch.

Surrounded by our saviours, we were hurried across the grass to a waiting motor launch, where a certain Captain Jacqueline Sparrow had hot buttered scones and tea ready and waiting.

With all the children aboard, I sat down heavily next to Jessica and turned to smile at her. “Jessie, Jessie, Jessie,” said I, gazing into those beautiful blood-shot eyes. “How can I ever thank you?”

Jessica gave me one of her famous winks and muttered, “Oh, don’t you worry, Johnny, I’ve got plans for you…” And with that she slid her hand down my trousers.

I won’t go into all the shenanigans that followed once we were snuggled up in the safety of the ‘The Frigg and Whippet’ in Cabot’s Cove – suffice to say Jessica rounded things off rather masterfully, revealing the culprit behind the apparent madness of the bird population. Performing one of her famous unmasking ceremonies, Jessica gathered us all together and asked our friendly local school teacher, Miss Florence Machine, to step forward. With a sudden upward swing, Jessica smashed a four-pound hammer into the poor woman’s face.

I see now that it was perhaps rather remiss of me to scream quite so shrilly, but in my defence, I was truly shocked by what I saw. As Florence’s’ face literally slid off and crashed to the floor, the mess of cogs and chains inside her head left no doubt as to who, or should I say, what, she really was.

I imagine the idea of naming her ‘Miss Machine’ was one of Moriarty’s sick jokes, for it is he (I am convinced) who is the real mastermind behind this madness, and he, also, who created the thousands of mechanical birds who (thankfully, yet again) have now all been destroyed.

As a footnote to this episode, a northern film director has asked if he might utilise the remains of the previously mentioned mechanical creatures, as he has a plan to make a ‘moving picture’ detailing our adventures. Dear Tippy, too, has been approached with a view to portraying herself in what sounds like a pretty unrealistic plot. I mean, mechanical birds are one thing, but no-one would ever believe a plot centered around the idea that several thousand starlings could turn against the human race.

I will forward a copy of this episode to Holmes, though he will no doubt reply with his usual, “Tish, tish, Watson, you really have no imagination!”

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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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Watson Has Left the Building…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Doctor Watson:

(By Telegram to Cabot’s Cove)

Watson
I thought I had made my position absolutely clear as to the Real and Present Danger of venturing outwith the School Buildings – do you honestly believe that I say anything which is not based entirely on fact-based supposition? Have you still not grasped this simple truth, in all the years we have been fighting Crime and Corruption; after all the Situations we have found ourselves in together, hard up against the ugly Face of Depravity and back to back against the most Venal and Ruthless Individuals, hell-bent on forcing their twisted and dissolute Will on the innocent and unblemished Countenance of this Fair Land.

I know I wax lyrical, Watson, but I have been doing some serious Reflection, and I do believe that, at heart, we are a decent Nation, compared with some of our Global Cousins…..but I digress……I cannot believe you were stupid enough to leave the safety of the Buildings – whatever were you thinking? You knew I was on the Way. It is just a blessing that Major Tom had witnessed your rash and foolish action, and sent a Message via his patented Unmanned Gyroscope to nearby Cabot Cove, to the residence of the wonderful Jessica Fletcher, Novelist and Amateur Sleuth, who has been clever enough to solve several Local Mysteries and Criminal Acts, thus earning herself a number of accolades and Mentions of Honour in the Criminologists’ Code of Conduct; Ms Fletcher, alerted to your Self-inflicted Dilemma, was immediately able to Summon help from the nearby Light Aircraft Fanciers Society, who subsequently came to your Aid.

Now that you are all safely being put up by the helpful residents of Cabot Cove, I can concentrate on solving this Case…without having to worry about your actions…by the way, no-one was taken in by your explanation for Ms Hedren’s state of undress when you were rescued, Watson –  one does not have to remove that many garments in an asthma attack.

Your somewhat irritated colleague, SH.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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As the Vultures Gather…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

(delivered by hand by Ex-Major Tom, formerly of Bowie Street Barrac1500_scene-from-the-birds1ks)

Holmes,
Thank you for your telegram, which I received yesterday morning, but I have to inform you that such matters as disgruntled librarians are the least of our troubles.

As your messenger will have no doubt confirmed, myself and Tippy are at this very moment trapped in the schoolhouse on Seagull Lane (together with an agitated teacher and several screaming children), surrounded by thousands of birds – the dreadful creatures can be seen gathering on telephone wires, tops of walls and in the trees surrounding the playground.

But I digress – Tippy arrived in my hotel room shortly after your telegram and had begun to tell me of your ‘adventures’ (you cad, Holmes, how could you?), when a boy appeared with a message from Miss Florence Machine, a teacher at the very same building of educational instruction in which we are now trapped. Her message was addressed to Messrs Holmes and Watson and simply read:

“Come to the school at once. The Eagle has landed.”

On our arrival, it was plain to see that our formerly-feathered-friends, were gathering in great numbers all around the school. Even as Tippy and I made our way as quietly as possible and with the utmost care to the front door, the activity of the birds became more blatant. The creatures clearly have a leader – a large eagle who has perched himself rather worryingly on top of the children’s swings. Once again, I am reminded of a certain acquaintance of ours whose features seem indelibly part of that noble bird’s dominion. Yes, Holmes, I know it’s ridiculous but I am convinced that Moriarty is somehow a part of this whole bird-related episode.

Urging the teacher and children to withdraw to the uppermost floor of the building, it was at this point I noticed a flashing light from a house in the distance. At first I thought I was imagining it, but then I realised someone was transmitting Morse Code. Scribbling down what I could grasp of the sender’s message, I soon deciphered it. However, since it concerns the cleavage of a certain barmaid at the Hog’s Head Arms, I have no need to reiterate the contents of that message. I whipped out my own make-up mirror (I’ll explain later) and began flashing in the direction of Major Tom.

Thankfully the Major quickly grasped the details of my predicament and signalled that he would contact you as soon as humanly possible. I think he was a little annoyed at my insistence on sending such a lengthy communication when I could more easily have condensed it into a few words, but I know how you like to be informed of all the relevant details.

In short, Holmes, please come quickly.

Yours, somewhat upset,

Watson

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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Those Flocking Seagulls…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

From the Diary of Dr John Watson.

To say that I was a little irritated by my companion’s disappearance is only scraping the surface of that particular Holmesian iceberg, but to then be forced to spend two whole days trying to solve the difficulty of these flocking birds by myself, has had me at my wits end.

This morning, finding I was (yet again) left to my own devices, I made my way to the local library where I spent a rather fruitless morning going through back issues of ‘Mad Cornish Birds’ in search of clues to our feathery mystery. Unfortunately, it turned out that the phenomenon had not vanished with the night. On leaving the building at the side of a rather pretty young librarian (who had been assisting my search), a flock of seagulls swooped at us from out of nowhere, forcing me to push my new friend to the ground and leap on top of her in an effort to protect her womanly virtues.

I did offer to take her out to lunch as some meagre form of recompense, but the girl simply gave me a funny look and turned away. As I watched her walk off, I realised my flies were undone, which may explain her reaction. Then, gazing around me, I became engrossed in examining one of the dead seagulls which had attacked us – the dreadful creature was definitely deceased, but gazing into its lifeless eyes, I couldn’t help but think I’d seen its face somewhere before.

I had been back at the hotel only a few minutes, when I took delivery of another note from Holmes, this time conveyed by carrier pigeon. This in itself was rather curious – the bird did not arrive at my room in the usual manner, but appeared to have made its journey on foot. The strange creature rapped its beak on the door, untied the knot that held the message to its leg and held out the note in its beak, all the while staring at me with, again, a strangely familiar face.

Unfortunately (again), I fear Holmes has gone off on one of his ‘episodes’ and I may still be faced with solving this mystery on my own…

 

Watson
Whatever feelings of Irritation and Annoyance you are harbouring towards me, be assured that I possess them tenfold…you cannot imagine the turbulent maelstrom which is my Being at this moment in time –  the giant waves of virulent reprehension which are crashing on the rocky shores of my person threaten with each pounding volley to drown me in the boiling Seas of Despair and Despond…I cannot believe that I succumbed once again to the Siren Call of The Waters of Oblivion, to the seductive charms of Lethe, to seeking out the darker Roads to Freedom…but of course, all too soon they shape-shift in to our Gaolers and Tormentors, trapping us in the dingy, sordid cells of our very own Newgate – our Minds, which keep us captive, delighting in inflicting the most ingenious means of Punishment their twisted, bitter thoughts can concoct.

I shall start at the beginning…little did I realise the Horror which would ensue…It began with a chance encounter in Theosophilus Screech’s Tobacco Emporium. I was musing on the points of comparison between Black Harrington Twist and Worsted Old Shag, when I gradually became aware of a voice, penetrating my cogitations – “Why! – if it isn’t old Stinker Holmes himself!” (my habit of conducting chemical experiments even then left its often noxious impression on my clothes and hair earning me the unwelcome appellation).  I turned, to see Shufflebottom Minor’s familiar  bluff features beaming with simple pleasure  –  “Just the man I would wish to accompany us on our Expedition!” It turned out he was about to become joined in Holy Matrimony with the only daughter of one of our country’s Minor Nobility, and had planned a Last Blow-out with some of his Cronies, one of whom happened to be our friend RLS…need I say more.

I shall send you details of the ensuing Fracas once I have had a soothing and restorative Brew.

Prepare Yourself.

To Be Continued.

SH.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Birds are Flown…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Doctor Watson:

Watson
I thought I had better let you know that Miss Hedren and myself are safe and unharmed; I trust you will not be offended by our sudden departure during your slumbers – we attempted to wake you, but you were like the proverbial log.

I Did advise that another Crème de Menthe might just be de trop – but by that time, your every fibre was energised to the nth degree, and your insistence on acting out every episode of “Murder She Wrote”  took precedence – your imitation of Joan Hickson’s “Marple” was consummate, and we were all agog at your “Poirot” as played by the thesp Suchet…to cut a long story short, Tippie  had had a telephone call,  forwarded by a certain Mr Farrell, from her daughter, Melanie, in a state of complete consternation, conveying disturbing revelations concerning her domestic arrangements – she had caught her husband, Antonio, in a compromising situation with a Mr Pitt and his good lady Angeline, a Mr Depp and his current paramour and various other members of the Acting Fraternity, and was consequently contemplating drastic ends.

Miss Hedren stated that you had had previous dealings with such ménages, and would have proved useful in the situation, but we were rewarded with nothing more than a prolonged snore and a small rivulet of drool for our efforts. I admit that I had no idea of this facet of your previous existence, but thought it best to remain silent, and let Miss Hedren call the shots, as my own rather cloistered life in that respect put me at a slight disadvantage.

I will send you further details as and when I am able,

SH.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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Tippy’s Top Tips for Love Birds…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

From the Diary of Dr John Watson.

Cornwall
Holmes was unusually quiet on the trip down to Cornwall and spent most of the journey with his nose in a book (a collection of stories entitled The Apple Tree), which he assured me was ‘necessary research, my dear Watson’ and would say no more on the matter.

Arriving at the village station, we were met by my old pal Tubby Tippy Hedren who allowed me a peck on the cheek, but immediately insisted that I drop the ‘Tubby’ epithet or she would ‘slap ten shades of shit’ out of me. (I assumed she was joking, but though it best to heed her words in case not). Holmes said nothing as we walked to the waiting hackney, though I noticed how he watched Tippy closely, noting her features in that secretive way of his, no doubt filing them away in that rabbit warren of a brain of his for future reference.

We stopped off on the way to the hotel as Tippy was keen to pick up a pair of love birds for a young man she’d taken a shine to, so Holmes and I sat in the cab waiting. After a moment, Holmes leaned forward and muttered,

“You’re a fan of those gaudy fourpenny flicks, aren’t you Watson?” I nodded, wondering where such an offhand comment might be leading. After a moment, he continued: “The rather round gentlemen emerging just now from the shop doorway…isn’t he connected with the film business?” He turned his beady gaze on me and raised an eyebrow.

I glanced at the man in question who was by now scuttling along the street with a couple of toy poodles in tow. “Ah yes,” I nodded, “I believe it’s that chap Alfie Hitchcock. Noted for appearing unobtrusively in his own films.”

Holmes snorted. “Unobtrusively, my arse. These artistic types are al the same – drowning in their own self-importance.”

“Oh, I don’t know…” I began, defensivley.

“Tell me what you see, Watson,” said Holmes suddenly, in that rather deliberate, slightly accusing voice of his, as if I’d clearly missed some obvious clue.

I looked across at the shop where Tippy was still talking to an assistant. “Well, er..”

Holmes laughed harshly. “Not in there, dolt!” He thrust an arm upwards. The sky, Watson, the sky”.

Leaning out of the window, I did as I was asked and at once took in a very peculiar scene: above us along the gutters and gable ends of the shops and houses were hundreds of birds, sitting in long rows as if attending some sort of mass gathering. I moved across and peered out of the other side of the cab – it was the same, everywhere, hundreds of birds, starlings, seagulls, cormorants, even the occasional kestrel.

“How very queer,” I said.

“Queer indeed, Watson,” said Holmes. “Quickly!” And with that he jumped from the cab and ran into the shop. I watched helplessly as he dragged Tippy and her purchase out into the street and pushed her into the cab. As soon as they were seated, Holmes rapped on the window and the cab lurched away.

“What the f…” Tippy started, but Holmes held up a hand, silencing her instantly.

“Look here,” he whispered, lifting the cage onto his knees. “See how they watch us, peering, scrutinising our every move.”

“They’re just love birds Mr Holmes,” said Tippy, reapplying her makeup. “Harmless love birds.”

Holmes laughed his harsh laugh again. “Love birds they may be, Miss Hedren, but harmless…never!”

To be continued…

Watson

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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And the Birds of the Air…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

Dearest Holmes
Thank you so much for your visit yesterday, and for the half-ounce of Goode Hard Shag, which I enjoyed several times last evening (so much so, that my old pipe was fairly throbbing by the time I eventually went to bed). As you anticipated, I found myself much recovered this morning and lost no time heading homewards into the arms of my loving wife. Mrs Watson, however, has abandoned me for a period of weeks as her cousin Sir Jasper Fforde has once again come down with the dreaded lurgy (more likely the demon drink, I suspect), and will require my wife’s ministrations until Thursday next.

My Gloucester colleague Dr Foster has been seeing to my caseload, so my surgery is distinctly empty for the rest of the week. This, together with my missing wife and the lack of any Hard Shag, left me at somewhat of a loose end and eventually I had no alternative but to go through my correspondence. As luck would have it, I discovered among said correspondence a missive from my old school chum Tubby Tippy Hedren who has requested our assistance down in Cornwall where she has been having a few problems with the local population of starlings. Apparently, these and several other species have been inexplicably attacking village residents and she wonders if you and I might be able to shed some light onto the affair.

If nothing else, she’s offered to put us up at the village hotel for a few days and I was thinking it might be good for you, Holmes, to take some sea air?

I can make all the arrangements if you are amenable.

Let me know soon, old thing

Watson

PS Incidentally, Tubby isn’t so tubby these days – I’ve attached a photo.hedren

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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