“Come and get me, copper!”
East End saying
Dark doings in murky waters open Part 6.
Specifically- The attempted theft of dozens of priceless artworks from under my very nose!
I regret to advise Mrs Biggs and her new young husband, Lucian Twistleton-Ernle-Earle-Plunkett-Drax III (aka “Lucky”), are in the frame.
Recently arrived, Lucky landed on the Kent coast in a small privately chartered French craft. Kindly assisted by cheering matelots of the French Navy, whose ship just happened to be in the vicinity, and our plucky boys and girls of the Clandestine Border Force, Lucky scrambled up the beach to safety from war-ravaged France.
Allah be praised!
A trifling hiccough over his identity papers was soon brushed under the carpet; sadly lost overboard in a wretched momentary fumble when embarking Calais beach at 3am. Turns out this fumbling syndrome was as contagious as Covid, because everyone in the craft also lost their papers in exactly the same way at precisely the same moment. Who could possibly have foreseen this? I suppose Professor Ferguson could have modelled it, when he wasn’t poking that big old bird.
Lucky made his way to our charming and remote village in the South West via Holiday Inns in Newcastle, Liverpool, Nantwich and Crewe.
Here he hoped to find a bride or three, he told me. A new life with free housing, free education and free health care. Turn the Women’s Institute into a mosque? And why ever not?
Given a few hundred in readies by the Immigration Service to get by, he acquired the new surname by deed poll in advance of the wedding, which was celebrated in the vegetable section of the village Co-operative store. The name was alighted upon the better to fit into the upper echelons of British society, he told me. He had obviously consulted Debrett’s.
A whirlwind romance!
Mrs Biggs was swept off her feet in just three and a half minutes. Love at first sight is a truly wonderful thing. Especially between an 82 and 32 year old. What is a mere 50 year age gap between ardent lovers! Just look at Sir Mick and tell me I’m wrong.
The wedding reception was memorable:
Bronzed native dancing maidens, from Newton Abbott Comprehensive and paid for by the local authority Equality and Diversity Dept.
Moving and swaying just like the dusky young bare-breasted houris singing and dancing for King Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi’s pleasure in the opening scenes of Zulu. We remember them. Particularly uplifting for men of the older generation.
By now, you will have also guessed that Mrs Biggs is a widow. She has no living relatives. In my role as seignory, my permission was necessarily sought for her to be given away.
Bracing myself to my duties, I interrogated Lucky closely and at length on his credentials and as to his intentions:
He assured me he came from a long and distinguished line of Somalian/Nigerian neurosurgeons, stretching back over 350 years.
He has an “O” level and a diploma in brain surgery from a university in Africa, the name of which I didn’t catch. He volunteered what seemed a freshly printed numbered diploma certificate in “The Science and Practice of International Money Transfers”. It was granted by a Nigerian College of Extremely Advanced Education. Signed in green ink by the Supreme High First Principle (sic), George Ackdenowa, or some such name.
Questioned about his immediate family, he said his younger brothers Mustapha and Salim were with him on the journey from Calais, aged 18 and 19. Rocket scientist and nuclear physicist, respectively. His parents live in a one-man tent near Calais and are just waiting to come over, with their parents, as soon as the immigration people here are squared.
Asked how he was intending to support Mrs Biggs, he seemed momentarily lost. He then said he had applied for a job at the Village Health Centre as a peripatetic apprentice neurosurgeon, doing day brain surgery operations. He didn’t think the absence of any evidence of medical qualifications would be an issue, as he had a pal who worked in a printers.
His account seemed perfectly reasonable and above board to me. Plainly, there was no way he or his parents or their parents would be a drain on the British taxpayer. He must also have so satisfied the immigration authorities to have been let in and given indefinite leave to remain. Way to go Priti!
I gave my blessing.
They will be trying for children, he also added. Free AIS is available to women over 80 on rNHS if a successful asylum seeker is married, apparently.
A bit of background.
Those who have been vaguely following this series, while supping their sixth or seventh Stella infused with spiced kummel, will know that Mrs Biggs is an old retainer. She has been in service with the family since the late 1940s.
She joined at 7, as an odd job girl. A new hybrid post necessitated by post-wartime labour shortages; bringing in the coal, taking out the coal, washing the coal, drying the coal, bleaching Great Granny Cocklecarrot’s bed sheets, pillows, quilts and blankets, wheelchair, knives and forks and, indeed, Great Granny herself, from time to time. These were her core duties. She carried them out dutifully and faithfully.
Over the years, she became thoroughly trusted. Rising seamlessly through the household ranks to become Head of Cleaning the Collection, chauffeuse and my own personal masseuse. The latter argues a lot of trust, believe me.
What happened to the art?
The careful reader will recall I could not locate the Argie picture with which to start Part 5. It seemed nothing at first. Just not in its proper place, the South American Room.
Mrs Biggs denied all knowledge of its whereabouts, even after a light touch of peine forte dure which an employer is always entitled to apply in these kinds of workplace investigations.
I don’t know why but I decided to check the Early Renaissance Room (ERR). These pictures were not to have featured in the series here. The works are simply too good, too rare and too valuable. The EER is also permanently locked for insurance reasons.
I add I had also noticed some worrisome envy creeping into the comments of previous Parts, notably one or two from direct descendants’ of Bill Sykes. East End villain par excellence.
And what did I find?
Or, rather, what didn’t I find, more to the point.
Immediately on the phone to PC Plod.
I had to ring him at home as I could make no sense of the automated crime reporting call centre;
“We are experiencing very high call volumes. All our operators are busy at the moment. You are placed in a queue and your call will be answered shortly. Your call is extremely important to us. It is. No, really. Please keep waiting until the phone is answered by someone who will tell you he is called “Dave” and who will talk to you about the weather in an accent you may find rather challenging”. Or something similar.
Then, after 45 minutes of “The Wandering Minstrel I”, I am pretty sure I heard “Can you now just fuck off the phone now, you silly old twat ” before the line went dead. To be fair, that could well have been Lady C trying to dial out, as I thought it maybe was her voice.
PC Plod told me the “incident” would be logged as a crime and gave me a crime number (No 405,097 Devon 2020) but no-one would visit unless it was also a hate crime. Could it be so described?
I told him it most certainly was a hate crime. Hate against Art and the Early Renaissance. Period. Not only that, but it greatly offended me that he could suggest it was not a hate crime. Had he not heard the wisdom of Karl Moron-Turner MP, pronouncing that such words were themselves a criminal abuse of free speech deserving of severe sanction by the criminal courts?
Persuaded by Mr Moron-Turner’s masterly exposition of the intricacies of the criminal law, he eventually stirred his stumps, picked up his detective tools, over-time and sickness absence forms, and came over.
He inspected the scene of the crime, from which a feather duster and a pair of what looked like Mrs Bigg’s Long Johns were retrieved. They were bagged up and sent to forensics. As in Bullitt. You remember the bit.
PC Plod decided to raid Mrs Biggs’ tied cottage, without a warrant. They were in bed. Together. Both arrested from a safe distance and taken back to the police station in the new Beige Maria. Both claimed to be suffering from Covid 19.
In the backroom, PC Plod found a number of canvases. All Early Renaissance from the Towers. Here is a picture of part of the stash.
Exhibit A for the prosecution;
Although I should not have done it, while the cataloguing of the loot was undertaken, I retrieved one of the pictures and put it back on the wall of the ERR.
[The Argie picture was never found.]
This is “A Kneeling Angel” after the Fresco by B Luini. Sublime. We have sore need of such angels now. Although not the kneeling kind. That is just too BLM.
The criminal investigation was taken over by the Chief Constable herself after her nails had dried and her hair had calmed down.
Forensics confirmed that Lucky’s fingerprints were plastered all over the feathers of the feather duster. Further, that certain stains confirmed the Long Johns were those of Mrs Biggs. They also revealed the DNA of a mystery third party. Who might that have been?
Surely they were going to get 20 years hard labour?
The two suspects were interviewed under caution. They immediately confessed to the actus reus; the taking of the pictures.
They firmly denied possessing the mens rea, on the grounds that at the time they were so confused by Covid infection!
Yes, their solicitor, Mr Slimy-Bastard, of Bastard, Bastard, Bastard, Bastard and Slimy-Bastard & Co, who sat in on the interviews, confirmed they were relying on the Margaret Ferrier Defence.
The legal analysis is this; it was admitted they took the pictures but they did not intend to dishonestly appropriate them intending permanently to deprive me of them because the CV infection negated the intent.
The Slimy Bastard!
To those less-learned in the law than Mr Moron-Turner, this defence is a novel form of non-insane automatism hitherto only thought to be available to MP’s who are also members of the SNP.
In layman’s terms;
“I didnae know what I was aboot ‘cos o’ Covid, Jimmy. Gie me ma £80,000 per year, plus expenses, noo, ye sumph and feck off! ”.
So no crime is committed, because there is no criminal intent.
Forgive my Scotch. It is not what it was.
A complete defence. All charges dropped. Compensation claim incoming against PC Plod and the Chief Constable for lack of diversity in the interview questioning.
To add insult to injury, Lucky and Mrs Biggs have got Legal Aid to sue me for aiding and abetting a malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. Plus making wholly scandalous allegations that I regularly tortured Mrs Biggs purely for licentious gratification and treated her as my sex slave.
I have to away now to consult my solicitor so I am prepared for the inevitable onslaught of writs.
There will be no more Art in The Towers for a while. I feel there may an employment tribunal case in the offing, assuming Mrs Biggs has the temerity to make a claim. For naturally I had summarily dismissed her while she was in the bed with Lucky, for gross misconduct.
© Mr Justice Cocklecarrott 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file