The Detectives' Exchange Scheme

  Lower Twining was a dirty little village, always had been, always would be. The people here were cheapjacks on the slide, two-time losers who'd found themselves a hole to crawl into while they licked their wounds and plotted for one more roll of the dice. Bathchair warriors and faded memsahibs living on memories and gin pahits, soured dykes who couldn't make it on the London artsy-craftsy scene any more, pansy decorators who didn't know where their next silk scarf was coming from, au pair girls who'd been run out of St. Mary Mead for making eyes at the boss, out of favour curates who'd started in on the incense habit or asked one too many questions about Albigensianism, cribbage hustlers and planchette pushers. From the village green where toddlers roamed wild while their governesses flirted with bike-straddling delivery boys, to the churchyard where for a donation to the roof fund the verger would look the other way while brass-rubbers pursued their solitary vice, the whole rotten thorpe gave off a miasma of corruption and doom. Even Pevsner noted it.
  Every time I visit Lower Twining I wish I had on brass knuckles and the kind of waders sewage workers use. Today I was wearing my good pearls and a new permanent. I was calling on quality. Sir Oliver Lionel, Bart., needed a little old lady detective who wouldn't drop her teeth in the soup or leave damp stains on the sofa. Sir Oliver owned Twining Hall. It had twenty-two rooms, hot and cold running maids, a folly in the garden and a body in the library.
  I smoothed down my skirt and rang the bell. A dome-headed butler answered the door and looked at me down a nose that made De Gaulle's seem retroussé. He looked as if he would give me the time of day if he had two watches and I showed him a notarized character reference from Baden-Powell's aunt.
  "I'm collecting for the Unmarried Mothers' Home," I told him. "Does Sir Oliver have any unmarried mothers to donate?"
  Before he could close the door on me I opened my handbag and showed him my card, the one without the butterscotch stains on it. Surprise flickered across his face like a mountain goat skipping around Mount Rushmore.
  He said, "If you will come with me, Madam," and we both followed his nose across an acre or so of the kind of hall you expect to see Douglas Fairbanks Jr. fencing back and forth in.
  In the library was a tall, bony, tweeded party with a moustache that made me feel somewhere a dustpan was missing its mate. Next to him was an elegant Horse and Hound magazine pin-up with a face to launch a thousand county fairs. This was Sir Oliver and his lady. In the middle of the room stood a prize specimen of rustic constabulary looking pained and unhappy. Spreadeagled at his feet was a little balding man in black with a dog-collar. He looked as though he'd got down to examine the weave of the carpet and was surprised at what he'd found. Sticking out of his back was a fancy oriental letter-opener. He was deader than Pharaoh's cat.
  "Miss Marple!" cried Lady Twining. "I'm so glad you could come. Lady Maskelyne told me all about how clever you were in that matter of her bracelet. I'm sure you can help us."
  "The name's Marlowe," I told her, "and help doesn't come cheap. I run to half a bottle of lavender water a day and all the scones I can eat. What gives here?"
  The unhappy cop clutched his helmet tightly for comfort and sighed, "We can't rightly fathom it. Reverend Fairbrother's been stuck with one of they kris knives from yonder antique cabinet. Room was locked from the inside and all of the house party have an alibi for the time of death."
  "None of m'guests could have done it of course," rumbled Sir Oliver, "and servants been with us for years."
  "I feel sure it must have been a gypsy, or a travelling tinker," said Lady Twining.
  So that was the game. "See here, sister," I snarled, "if you're looking to hang a frame on some passing Romany you're barking up the wrong spinster. If I take this job you might not like what I find, but if I find it you'll swallow it and grin, understand?"
  Lady Twining blinked in surprise. "Of course, Miss Marlowe."
  I held my snarl for a couple of seconds, just to keep in practise, then said, "All right, where are the rest of the cast and chorus?"
  "Everyone's in the drawing room with Inspector Hargreaves," said the flatfoot.
  "Take me there, Twinkletoes."
  "Uncommon woman, Miss Marlowe," muttered Sir Oliver as we followed the policeman out. "Like her spirit."
  "I think she could use a good depilatory," murmured his wife.
  In the drawing room the rest of the party were being lightly grilled by a detective who knew his place. He looked as though he was grateful for not being made to come in through the tradesman's entrance and he handled his suspects as though they were made of Meissen china. I offered round my cheap dime-store grin to whoever wanted it, sat down unobtrusively in a corner and took out my knitting. Don't mind me, anyone. Nothing to see here. Just Little Miss Marlowe knitting to beat the band. Long woollen bedsocks for the Tiller Girls and a little red scarf for Chairman Mao. You wouldn't want the Tiller Girls to catch cold, now, would you? So leave Marlowe to her knitting and go on about your business. Old Marlowe loves to knit. Yard-a-day Marlowe, the Purling Queen. Just pass her some tea and biscuits every once in a way and she'll be fine. Just another little old lady who says nothing, hears nothing, sees nothing. Yeah, like hell she doesn't, you squares.
  "So you were the last one to see him, Miss Helmsley?" The Inspector held his pen over his pad like an attentive waiter.
  "Look here, Inspector, I don't like what you're implying," spluttered a lisping cherub in a tennis blazer who would resemble a young Sir Oliver when his chin grew in. "My fiancee has an alibi, as do we all. We were playing sardines when the vicar was killed. All seven of us were in a cupboard in the west wing when we heard the scream."
  "It's all right, Nigel," said a brunette with curves to make Rubens chew through his paintbrush. "I don't mind answering. James was alive and well when I saw him. He said he was just popping into the library to work on his sermon." She gave the Inspector a smile I could feel under my petticoats and crossed her legs in a way that must have seen the local dry-cleaners through many a lean spell. I growled deep in my throat.
  "Dropped a stitch," I said when everyone turned to look.
  "Must object to your pestering m'guests, Inspector," said Sir Lionel. "Thing's preposterous."
  The detective rose and tugged at his forelock. "Perhaps I could have a word with the servants."
  "M'servants are below suspicion of course."
  "Yes, but they may have seen a tinker or a tramp in the neighbourhood."
  The kaffeeklatsch began to break up. The chinless wonder and the Helmsley drifted out into the garden and started to talk together in low voices. It was none of my business so I followed them.
  "And who's that ghastly square-jawed old biddy?" I heard before they turned around.
  "The name's Marlowe," I said with a smile. "Sexless old maid and poor relation for hire."
  The girl blushed and said, "How do you do? I'm Diana Helmsley."
  "This is a terrible business, Miss Helmsley. How long had you known the Reverend?"
  "We met for the first time yesterday."
  "And yet you called him James. You got pally pretty quick, huh? He tell you what his sermon was going to be about?"
  "I say," said Nigel, "how dare you ask such impertinent questions. Who on earth are you, anyway?"
  I widened my smile by about the span of a gnat's wing. "I'm Mrs. Bunn the Baker's wife. Who the hell are you, fish-face?"
  He turned an unlovely beet colour. "I don't care for your tone, Madam. I don't know who invited you here but I think you'd better leave."
  I ratcheted up my smile another couple of gnat wingspans. "You'll have to pardon me, I'm becoming a little deaf. Could you hold my wool for me, young man?" Nigel frowned in annoyance as I took his hands and started to wind the yarn around them. When he was good and tangled I hauled off and slugged him in the jaw. He went flying back a couple of yards and ended up sprawled across a garden table.
  "Let that be a lesson to respect your elders," I chided. "Next time I'll take you across my knee and spank you."
  "You demented old bat!" Nigel picked himself shakily up. "I'll have you turned out of the house!" He stormed inside.
  "I'm quaking in my pumps," I sneered.
  Diana was staring at me open-mouthed. Her mouth could have been booked for incitement to riot.
  "Please excuse Nigel, Miss Marlowe," she said at last, letting her hand rest on the sleeve of my twinset. "He's very protective. I don't know how to apologize."
  "Sure you do, sweetheart." I took hold of her and planted a long deep wet one on her lovely lips.
  "Miss Marlowe!" She pulled away, wide-eyed.
  "Don't pretend you didn't want that," I said.
  Her eyes went wider and she slapped me on the face and stalked off round the corner of the house.
  I chuckled to myself and powdered my cheek where she'd slapped me. Someone else chuckled too. I looked round to see a toothless, sunburned old coot plying a wheelbarrow. He had enough dirt on him to keep Hedda Hopper grinning for a year.
  "Proper spitfire, our Miss Helmsley be," he leered.
  I scowled at him. "You're either the gardener or the before part of a soapflake ad. A man in your position must get to see a lot of what goes on around here."
  He shrugged and looked crafty. "I don't know nothing, I don't."
  "Sure," I said soothingly, "you and Bernard Shaw both." I looked him over and reached into my bag. "It's my habit at this time of day to take a piece of shortbread. Would you by any chance be a shortbread man?"
  He licked his lips and stared at it hungrily. "Only when I can get it."
  "This is the real stuff," I said. "Scotch." I broke off a piece and handed it to him. He took a couple of careful nibbles at it and then finished it in a long careless swallow. He got that look of contentment and gratitude a man gets when he needs a piece of shortbread badly and you give it to him.
  "That's the good stuff, all right," he sighed.
  "If God made anything better, he kept it to himself," I said agreeably. "This business with the Reverend Fairbrother, now. Who'd have reason to do him in?"
  The look of contentment vanished and he drew himself up stiffly. His eyes went distant and his voice wooden. "I'm obliged to you for the shortbread, Madam, but now, if you'll excuse me, I must be about my business."
  "We're just speculating," I coaxed. "Just between friends." From out of my purse I extracted a bright shiny shilling and laid it on the table. I broke off another good big slab of shortbread and placed it on top of the coin.
  He stared at them in an agony of indecision. "I got my job to think of."
  "Sure you do." I pushed the shortbread two inches closer to him. Oh, it's a lovely old lady Marlowe is, all right, bullying a shortbread fiend. She'd get schoolkids hooked on her cough medicine to get her way.
  He glanced around wildly and snatched it up, the coin vanishing almost as an afterthought. "Not here," he said through a full mouth, spraying me with crumbs. He grabbed me by the arm and led me down the garden and into the woods. When we reached the folly he stopped and peered about then turned and gripped me urgently by the shoulders.
  "Fairbrother got on the wrong side of the Women's Institute," he said in a low frightened voice. "In a village this small the Women's Institute runs everything. They've got the whole place sewn up tight, see?"
  "What did Fairbrother do to upset them?"
  "Way I heard, he made a fuss about the tombola money from the village fete. He was a fool. He - " He stopped with a gasp, staring at something over my shoulder, eyes wide with terror. There was a sound behind me and something connected with the back of my skull. Funny, I thought, I didn't think they celebrated the Fourth of July in England, but here were all the fireworks. Then I fell through a long dark tunnel into a deep dreamless sleep.
  My first waking thought was that someone should ring the Greenwich Observatory and tell them Halley's Comet had fallen out of orbit and hit me on the back of the head. It was still there, glowing and throbbing, if they wanted to come and collect it. It was a fine thing when a respectable female impersonator couldn't take a walk in the woods without being felled by stray comets any more. Someone should write a letter to the Times about it. Not me, though, because just for a while I had to lie very still and embrace this cool, surprisingly soft stone floor I was lying on.
  By inches I managed to open my eyes to survey the wreckage. I was relatively intact. I was growing a second head and I had a ladder in my stockings, but other than that I was just peachy. The gardener was not so fortunate. He was lying next to me in the folly, face down and with the end of one of my knitting needles protruding from the base of his skull. He was deader than Dorchester on a wet Sunday.
  "This isn't good, Marlowe," I told myself. "This isn't good at all." As voices approached through the woods I made a note to myself, if I ever got out of this, to kick Marple's cat and be sure and swap with Maigret next year...

  Meanwhile in L.A. ...

  As soon as the blonde walked through the door Miss Marple could tell she was no better than she ought to be. That bottle-blonde hair that she couldn't help feeling made girls look so cheap, and a pair of high-heeled shoes that must have played havoc with her poor ankles, and a red dress that she was sure must have been very chic but which really left little to the imagination, and perfume which must have been expensive but which was really quite overpowering and which she must have splashed on from a gallon drum.
  'Oh dear,' thought Miss Marple, 'what a terrible old cat I am. I really shouldn't judge. But she does remind me of that girl who came to work in the tobacconists in St. Mary Mead and got her claws into poor Mr. Joskyns, and him a churchwarden and married twenty years.'
  She had plenty of what the young people called S.A., Miss Marple supposed as the girl swayed teeteringly across the office - really, how those shoes must cripple her feet! - what in her younger days had been known as 'come-hither' or It. Miss Marple remembered endless discussions about what It was and who had It. Whatever It was, this girl had it in spades.
  "Philip Marlowe?" said the blonde huskily, if a trifle puzzledly.
  "I'm afraid not, my dear," said Miss Marple. "I am merely wearing his suit. Mr. Marlowe is not here at the moment. We have a little arrangement, you see, whereby once a year I look after his practice for a week and he takes care of mine. It prevents our growing stale and allows us to cross-dress. My name is Marple. Please, won't you take a seat?"
  Miss Marple watched attentively as the girl seated herself, crossed her legs and lighted a cigarette, knowing that Mr. Marlowe would like her to describe these things in detail upon his return.
  "My name is Adele Sylvester," said the girl. "I need you to find my husband Nick." She put a photograph on the desk. "He disappeared three weeks ago and I haven't heard from him since."
  "I am sorry," said Miss Marple. "Perhaps your cooking was unsatisfactory?" Miss Marple had found that that was often a cause of marital discord. Mr. Joskyns had left the girl from the tobacconists in the end, she remembered, saying he missed his wife's suet pudding. Really, she suspected most men would find all that constant Sex Appeal and come-hither terribly fatiguing after a while.
  The blonde narrowed her eyes and blew smoke. "Not funny, Marple. Not even fresh. Nick had no intention of leaving me. He was skipping out on a gambling debt. Big Lloyd Bentsen had his marker for fifteen G's and was starting to put the screws on. Nick planned to disappear and come up with a new identity. I was supposed to meet him in Reno a week ago but he never showed."
  Miss Marple frowned. Oh, dear. It was going to be one of those stories. She opened the bottom drawer of the desk and looked longingly at the emergency pot of tea she kept there. Perhaps not just yet. It wasn't quite eleven o'clock. Regretfully, she shut the drawer.
  "Do you have any idea where he might be now?" she asked.
  The blonde put an envelope on the desk. "Two days ago I got a letter from a cheap punk named Carmine Riviera. He and Nick used to run together back in Fresno. He said Nick was in trouble and I should send money. He enclosed Nick's signet ring. When I confronted him and demanded to know where Nick was, he denied all knowledge of him or the letter."
  Miss Marple sighed and opened the bottom drawer again. Just one cup wouldn't hurt her.
  "Tea, dear?" The blonde shook her head. Miss Marple poured a cup and drank deeply. Really, she would know she had a problem when she started taking it straight from the pot. "That's better. Am I to understand that you believe this Mr. Riviera actually does know the whereabouts of your husband?"
  "I'm sure of it."
  "And you would like me to pay him a visit and, ah, put the screws on him?"
  The blonde looked Miss Marple up and down. "Are you sure you're up to it? Riviera's a cheapie but he can get rough when he has to. He sells tea down in Bay City."
  "A tea shop!" said Miss Marple. "How nice. I like tea."

  The address the young lady gave her turned out to be in a not very salubrious neighbourhood. Miss Marple didn't imagine the tea shop would do much business in such a location. Indeed, it didn't seem to be a shop at all, but a rather seedy-looking house with a neglected lawn. Miss Marple parked her shopping trolley on the sidewalk and walked over.
  The door was ajar and swung further open as she knocked on it. A racket of jazz music was coming from within. There was no reply to her knock. Miss Marple crept into the dusty hallway. There was a heavy but not unpleasant smell in the house - an exotic fragrance that reminded her of an aromatherapy treatment she had once been given. Beneath that, though, there were other, less agreeable smells.
  The music was coming from a room on her left. Miss Marple went in and found an exceedingly cluttered and dirty living room. Lying full length on a couch was the man in the photograph Miss Sylvester had given her. His face was contorted and there was a ragged black hole in his stomach and blood had spilled all over the couch and onto the carpet. 'That will stain,' thought Miss Marple, but she supposed it didn't matter as they were an old couch and carpet anyway.
  Miss Marple checked the rest of the house and found it empty. She returned to the scene of the crime and turned off the radio from which the music had been coming.
  Just then there was a squeal of brakes outside and moments later two large, rather surly-looking men burst into the room. The bigger of the two marched straight over to Miss Marple and pinned her roughly against the wall while the other eyed the body with revulsion.
  "Belly-shot," he grunted. "Who the hell are you?"
  "My name is Jane Marple, Private Investigator, licensed to operate by the State of California and the chief constable of Barsetshire. I am here in connection with a case. May I ask the same question of you?"
  The man flashed a badge. "Detective Lenahan, Bay City Police Department. This is Detective Green. Someone reported a gunshot."
  Detective Green flung Miss Marple down into an armchair and growled, "Why did you kill him?"
  "But I didn't, you know."
  "Oh yeah?" sneered Lenahan.
  "She's lying," said Green, clenching his fists. "Let me slap her around a little."
  "Easy, Dixie. If you didn't kill him, who did?"
  "Well, you know, I'm afraid it seems rather obvious who killed him," said Miss Marple apologetically.
  "Oh, yeah? Suppose you enlighten us."
  "Oh, dear," said Miss Marple. "I really wouldn't like to make any accusations - really, I have no evidence, you know - I was simply going by my observations - "
  "Refusing to talk, huh?" The policemen exchanged glances. "Down here in Bay City we have a way of dealing with smart-aleck dicks who get coy on us. That your shopping trolley outside? Seemed to me it had a defective offside wheel, what do you think, Dix?"
  "Yeah," said Green with a slow smile. "And I think she was drunk in charge of it, too." He went over to a cupboard and came back with a bottle of whisky. "Take a drink," he growled, thrusting it at Miss Marple.
  "Thankyou, no, I occasionally take a small drop of sherry in the afternoon, but - "
  Detective Green hauled Miss Marple out of the chair, pinched her nostrils shut, and poured half the bottle of whisky down her throat when she opened her mouth.
  "Juiced to the eyeballs," he muttered. "And she was a mean drunk, too. She resisted arrest, right, Pat?"
  Green slapped Miss Marple brutally across the face several times and proceeded to bounce her energetically off all four walls.
  "That's enough," snapped Lenahan suddenly, dragging him off. "How about it, Marple, you ready to talk?"
  Miss Marple wiped blood off her mouth and hauled herself painfully to her feet. "Well, you know," she said, "I really don't like to make accusations - really, I am just a silly old woman, of course, and I would hate to make a mistake - I do get in a muddle sometimes - and now you have got me so flustered, and I've spilled blood and whisky all down Mr. Marlowe's nice suit, and I believe you have broken several of my ribs - and of course I have seen very little of the world, but then I have always thought, you know, that one learns more about life just living in a little village and observing people - don't you think? And really, it seems to me that whoever committed this crime must be exactly like little Tommy from St. Mary Mead, Mr. Perkins the greengrocer's youngest, you know - "
  "What the hell are you wittering about?" yelled Lenahan. "You gave her too much booze, damn it."
  "Booze nothing, she's on the reefer," muttered Green. "Let me work her over with a tyre-iron."
  "Tommy Perkins was such a rascal," Miss Marple went on more composedly. "As a child he used to put mice and frogs down the back of ladies' blouses in church. And whoever killed poor Mr. Sylvester must have had the same mentality. Being belly-shot is such a painful way to die, you know. The killer must have been someone with a sadistic streak, like Tommy - someone like Detective Green here, for example."
  Green coloured and stepped forward. "What are you saying?"
  "You see, it did seem peculiar to me that Detective Green didn't so much as glance at that rather gruesome corpse when he first came in - and it does seem odd that he knew exactly where to find that whisky - really, I should say it was obvious that Mr. Green has been in this room before."
  Green lurched towards Miss Marple but Lenahan stepped in and restrained him. "Easy there," he murmured, looking thoughtful. "You're making a serious allegation, lady," he said over his shoulder. "You'd better keep talking."
  "Christ, Pat, you aren't going to listen to her?" Green threw Lenahan off him and stepped back angrily.
  "Of course I would hate to cast any aspersions," said Miss Marple, "and I am sure that the Bay City Police Department has a sterling record of integrity, but I have heard that there is such a thing as graft - P.C. Hubbard at home, you know, will occasionally wink at a spot of after-hours drinking, or unlicensed fishing - "
  "You seemed to find this house pretty easily," said Lenahan staring bleakly at Green. "And who exactly was it rang to tell you about the shot?"
  "Now see here - " Green's mouth worked. He picked up the whisky and took a swig. "Supposing I had been here before. Supposing I did have a little arrangement here. I would have cut you in eventually, Pat. And suppose something went wrong - who's going to miss a little punk like this?"
  "We're talking about murder, Dixie! You know I can't protect you."
  Green's arm whirled out and the bottle broke over Lenahan's head. Lenahan dropped to the floor and lay there bloody and groaning.
  "I'm sorry, Pat," muttered Green thickly, taking a revolver out of his shoulder holster. "You wanted it like this." He aimed the gun at Lenahan's head and started to squeeze the trigger.
  But by that time Miss Marple had her own gun out. Her first shot blew half his neck away, sending a fountain of arterial blood jetting all over the wall, and the second took the top of his head off.
  'Oh dear,' thought Miss Marple, blowing smoke from the barrel, 'I don't suppose they will ever get this room clean.'

  "The owners of the tea shop were paying off the detective, you see." Miss Marple leaned forward and lit Adele Sylvester's cigarette, igniting the match with a practised rasp of her thumbnail. "Why a tea shop should have to pay off the police I have no idea. Something to do with the zoning laws, I expect. But then they tried to blackmail him into doing other things and it turned nasty."
  "But what did it have to do with my husband?" asked Miss Sylvester. Really, Miss Marple had to admit she did look quite fetching in her mourning black.
  Miss Marple smiled apologetically. "Of course, he wasn't really your husband, was he? You haven't been strictly truthful with me, have you, my dear?"
  The blonde widened her eyes. "You mean you know?"
  Miss Marple put her feet up on the desk and started to fill Mr. Marlowe's pipe. "I know that once upon a time three people named Carmine Riviera, Adele Kuberman and Jimmy the Beak had a sweet little racket forging Treasury bonds with stolen plates, and running an innocent tea shop on the side. Things were ticking over nicely until a man named Nick Sylvester, with whom you had gone through a form of marriage back in Kansas City, showed up. Although you had abandoned him for Jimmy the Beak, Sylvester pleaded with you to come back to him, telling you he had just inherited his wealthy father's fortune. A mercenary child, you agreed. But then things went wrong. Jimmy the Beak had stolen the plates for the T-bonds from a mobster named Dutch Kaminsky. Dutch found out and ordered a hit on Jimmy. Unfortunately Dutch's goons saw you with Nick Sylvester, who bore a passing resemblance to Jimmy the Beak. Sylvester was killed in mistake for Jimmy and fed to the fishes off Catalina. You decided to get out while the going was good, move back to KC and claim Sylvester's estate as his widow. However the lawyers told you that you would need a body to prove Nick's death. Jimmy the Beak hatched a plot to force the crooked policeman who protected the tea shop to provide a body from the police morgue that could pass as Sylvester. But Green turned leery and plugged Jimmy. So you planted documents on Jimmy's body which would identify him as Sylvester and came here with a moonshine story about wanting to find your husband, giving me a photograph of Jimmy. You intended me to identify the body as Nick Sylvester, thus satisfying the legal niceties and enabling you to claim his estate."
  Adele looked astounded. "How do you know all that?"
  "I'm afraid it was obvious from the beginning, my dear. The same thing has happened many times in St. Mary Mead, on a microcosmic level." Actually Miss Marple had pieced it together from Jimmy the Beak's diary and the confession Detective Lenahan had pistol-whipped out of Carmine Riviera, but she was an old woman and pretending to be omniscient was one of her few joys in life.
  Adele got up and came over to Miss Marple. Really, she did have a delectable figure. "Are you going to turn me in?" she said breathily. "I didn't do anything really wrong, did I? I just had a lot of bad breaks. I'm going straight now, honest I am."
  "Well, my dear..." Miss Marple rose and studied the girl. There must be some good in the child, and she really was far too pretty to send to jail. That scent was really quite nice, she decided. "The police appear to regard the case as closed, so I suppose we can leave you out of it."
  Adele smiled. "You're good people, Marple. You won't regret this."
  "I knew you were trouble," said Miss Marple ruefully.
  "I don't know how I can ever thank you."
  "As to that, my dear..." Miss Marple seemed flustered. "I understand that there is a certain reward traditionally rendered for acts of gallantry performed by a detective...I haven't indulged in any sapphic activities since the late 1920s, but you really are very lovely, and Mr. Marlowe was most insistent that I fulfill all his duties...the agency has a reputation to uphold, you know..."
  Adele blinked. "I don't think I know what you mean."
  "Sure you do, sweetheart," said Miss Marple, pulling her close.

17th Dec 01

* A few months back, i.e. Autumn '03, someone got in touch to say this had been badly ripped off on a BBC radio sketch show, but was unable to say which programme or give an exact date. If anyone can provide details please contact me.

Edit Jan 08:
Arse on it, just been re-reading the Flashman books and it turns out I unconsciously nicked 'curves to make Rubens chew through his paintbrush' from one of them.