To describe the party's escapades on The Bass Rock would takeup 700 pages of foolscap covered in tiny writing and of such multifarious detail and full of such 'inside baseball' references that only a social scientist or prurient seeker after what he might call aberrant or perverse behaviour would be interested in – suffice to say, the Rock was a sans mans enclave that entire day and the ladies all thoroughly enjoyed themselves, with the entire Ship's crew together with Effie and her staff all joining in: you might call it a saturnalia, but, in truth, Saturn had fuck-all to do with it for this day, Venus Rools was writ upon the Rocky Crag and even Tuffy Bathgate's rendition of Bonnie Tyler's 1977 Disco Classic It's a Heartache with her own mondegreen lyrics – no-one ever managing to persuade her that she had misheard them on her first encountering the song - “It's a Hard Egg, Nothing bit a Hard Egg” was unanimously voted the Karaoke Top of the Pops for the day, but, for the nonce, Teri was so active and pre-occupied that she barely had thyme to thype these words before she was wheeched off in another frenzy of activity and pleasure and just managed, as she abandoned her tablet on a rocky shelf, to click on Submit
Which was just as well, for out at sea, in the bleak fastness of the German Ocean, where the waves roll in thunderous motion, rain and sleet fall in sheets that would slice a man in two – no thanks, one is more than enough, and so say all of us lah! – the hardy adventurers had come, had seen and had conquered: the approach had been choppy, perhaps not quite so perilous as Teri might lead you to believe, but certainly several members of the Ship's Company got slightly splashed with the spray; the landing was well enough effected once Lulu had leapt ashore and tied the ropes to the stanchions so that The Lady, comfortably moored, simply rode the tide; and Phemie led the party up the path to the cheery sight of The Bass Rock Tearoom and Hostel where they were all made welcome by Phemie's cousin Effie, honestly not a pseudonym for they were both named Euphemia by their twin sister mothers, and logically chose variations of the pet form to avoid confusions, who's neat little waitresses scurried around making sure that everyone was cosy and comfy and taking orders – quite a lot of cocoa, and a few double whiskies for starters and Irn Bru for the red-heads in the party; outside – and the view really was spectacular with the sea spreading away beneath them in all directions while they sat atop this craggy eminence: “rather like a big toe sticking up at the foot of the bath,” said Lettice Pumpherston to many laughs, cat-calls and a number of hoots, but it broke the silence and soon every was chatting away and when the drinks arrived and they had all warmed up even Lulu and her three chums seemed to visibly relax and become rather less atrabilious, and Maude realised that, although they lived right beside the seaside, and certainly Lulu was full of a pugnacious bravado, they none of them had ever been on a boat and this was in fact therefore their first trip to The Rock and when she found a moment she touched Lulu gently on the arm and thanked her for keeping her charges safe on board and tying the boat up at the quay, adding, “it's our first time here, too, you can still be a virgin at some things, even at our age,” indicating her Edinburgh friends,” and Lulu gave her a wink, and a nod, in acknowledgement, saying “well, you're a pretty game bunch, but we'd best all be careful on the rocks,” and Maude shook her hand; and though there were maps and drawings and photographs of the rock (and even a road sign giving the speed limit as 1 mile per hour, though Effie said they'd have to work out for themselves what proportion of a mile they might manage to walk over the rocky Bass, “or Toe,” and she grinned at Lettice who accepted the acknowledgement graciously) and at last Phemie said that if they all felt up to it, she felt it was high time they did their exploring and photographing and whatever else they wanted, and everyone agreed and got themselves ready to brave the elements again, and the sun shone down merrily on the assorted party (or Dolly-mixtures as Lulu dubbed them all) as they emerged from the tea room and gazed in wonder at the prospects which spread golden, and blue and silver and steely-grey, and there were double rainbows on two sides and it was breathtaking!
Which is why, later that same day, two industrious Revenue Officers made their way – not to Rose Street, but to Young Street and The Oxford Bar, for the O'Hooligan Sisters had gone there at lunchtime and had found the company so convivial that they had stayed through the afternoon, at a table with two Police Scotland Inspectors – Gordon Brevity and his erstwhile superior, Bruce Bruse; all four of then had tackled every puzzle in Bruse's morning newspaper of choice and by the time Annabelle and Traci pushed their way past the smokers outside and entered the Bar, the four puzzlers were toasting themselves and proposing to form a Pub Quiz Team and perhaps even enter the TV Eggheads competition; so it was with some slight awkwardness that the sisters-in-law drew up two more chairs and joined the quartet, “my goodness,” said DCI Bruse, gazing somewhat enigmatically at Annabelle, “what a fine head of True Scarlet, you have there, it's one I'm sure many would envy,” and Annabelle, her shoulders squared and her bosom fine and proud, acknowledged the compliment and thanked Bruse – calling him by his given name, because she had assisted him on several of his cases, when he needed to know something of a victim or suspect's financial situation, most particularly and spectacularly when he had been investigating the suspicious death of a prominent businessman and Councillor in a brothel near York Place, where the Inland Revenue Special Investigation Team was based; and then the two police officers rose from the table, for they both had places to go, but assured the O'Hooligan sisters that they weren’t levanting and they paid for the afternoon's drinks before leaving – Brevity to home, where his wife Goldy was expecting him, and Bruse back to his duty for he had suspects to investigate; and this left the four women alone, during which time Traci exungulated her already perfect fingernails, for want of any other innocent way of passing the time, until a few minutes later they were joined by Bernie Westwater; and after some commonplace remarks, it was Traci who 'cut to the chase' and explained – without naming him, Lionel's desire to spy on the notorious QC and perhaps plant a surveillance camera in his bedroom; the three O'Hooligans burst out laughing, and it was Dixie who first regained control of her mirth and explained to the two Revenue girls that they already had that all set up: she told them about a system The Economic Migrant had established, by hacking into the computer network in Elginbrod's house and also his telephone system – both landlines and mobiles; and all without having to set foot inside the building; and as proof, Dixie produced a folder of colour prints taken from every room in Elginbrod's house that had either a Smart TV, PC, laptop or tablet – the two Revenue Officers were amazed and delighted, but something troubled Traci, and she voiced it: “all of this means that if my friend were to gain access, he would be caught on camera,” and Bunty nodded, “yep, sure as eggs is eggs, I'm afraid, but I'll tell you what, The Economic Migrant will know of the 'dead times' when there's no-one meant to be in the house, so I could ask him, well, pay him, to switch the cameras off for, say, an hour, if you could let me know exactly when” - now, it will be understandable that Traci MacGillivray felt rather uneasy about the position Lionel would be in if there was any photographic evidence of him being in Elginbrod's home, so she told the O'Hooligans (which is to include Bernie, a cousin of The Twins) that she would have to think carefully about this as she had some doubts about the ability of her friend to enter and leave such a house without leaving any incriminating evidence, having no experience of housebreaking and, being an ordinary honest person, no contacts with anyone who did, and that she was in a mind to ask him to abstain from such a risky enterprise, but Dixie tried to cut through the ballyhoo and offered her own services to assist Traci's friend; she had considerable experience as a 'cat burglar', she said and both Traci and Annabelle were impressed when she laid out her credentials; Traci felt somewhat mollified and said that she would speak to her friend later and maybe they could meet with Dixie again tomorrow – at which everyone joined in heartily when Bunty proposed a toast to the success of the venture and the downfall of the Elginbrod Empire!
To what, sweetheart, do I deserve the honour of being called a Strawberry Jelly?” asked Annabelle, adjusting her bra straps and looking archly at her Supervisor; “could it be because of these?” and she glanced down at her breasts, “it's ages since you showed them their due appreciation and respect,” and she laughingly spooned a generous portion of jelly into her mouth; “oh, darling,” sighed Traci, “I'd never show them such disrespect as to use a euphemism for them, since our Green Gown afternoon, do you remember, out by the source of The Water of Leith, when we had been to Rullion Green, I have only cherished them with love and devotion – you know I always make sure that my fingernails are well exungulated before touching them, lest I should scratch the snowy whiteness of your delicate skin,” and Annabelle snorted, almost choking as a sliver of jelly went down the wrong way and gasped as another landed on the sheer alabaster of one of them; “do you know how many times we have made love?” she asked, “since that first time, when you took my virginity,” and her long-time lover, supervisor and, now, sister-in-law gazed at her in amusement: “have you been keeping count?” asked Traci, surprised that she had not thought of doing so herself – but then she had also experienced a goodly number of other lovers, while she knew that Annabelle had always been faithful to her, she secretly now felt guilty, that she, herself, should have been more loyal, monogamous even, then Annabelle said: “the last time, why it brought us up to MCMXCIX,” and Traci could not conceal her amazement: “one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine times?” she stammered, “really? almost two thousand,” her eyes were wide in astonishment, “are you sure?” and Annabelle laughed, her breasts quivering just like the forgotten jelly, “this is the Revenue department,” and both laughed together, “we never lose count of what truly matter,” and they set aside their coffee cups and tumbled into each other's arms, whispering words of devotion co-mingled with the more raunchy words of love, lust and lechery; oh, and later, when they toasted their reaching the double chiliad, it was Traci who changed the subject, for she had an enquiry that she thought Annabelle might be able to help her with, “it's about this person I've been seeing a bit of,” she started to explain, in that tone Revenue Officers use when they are using the shield of confidentiality to avoid giving too much detail on the person they are discussing, and so she was slightly surprised when Annabelle said, “the guy you've been shagging, like a pair of lovestruck rabbits on Viagra?” and laughed – “it's hardly a secret that you lock the door every time he comes in to see you, and his business went down the plug-hole months ago, so you can't have any professional interest in his affairs now, can you?” and she winked that wink which tells you, and clearly told Traci, that she's been rumbled – she blushed crimson to her roots, and threw her hands in the air: “bang to rights,” was all she could say, then:” well, down to the nitty-gritty,” and Annabelle put a hand on her knee, “we've just been there, sweetie, but if you really want another round, I'm your girl and you're my Boss,” and it was all Traci could do to restrain herself and stick to the matter she wanted to raise: “well, he's got good cause to detest Martin Elginbrod, as, I know, do also a whole Legion of other clients of ours, but it's almost personal – not almost, it is; and he has a plan to get in to Elginbrod's house and I was wondering – you are quite close to the O'Hooligan girls, aren't you?” and Annabelle grinned and rolled her eyes, “I'm pretty close to Bunty and did you know that Dixie's back in town? just a few weeks, but I've also had a few encounters with Bernie, who's now shacked up with, wait for it, Tammy Shanter! do you remember that odd bird Tabby at uni? some kind of counter-espionage thing, according to Teri, well Tammy is her daughter, and she's working at The Scotsman, but that's not all, she's done an expose of the two mystery men involved in the Stone of Scone heist, I know it's before our time, but anyway, I'm told there's going to be a big naming, if not shaming, of the two who didn't get caught,” but Traci stopped her in mid flow with a deep kiss, which was really the only way of stopping Annabelle, once she had the bit between her teeth, and when they broke for air, Traci said, “hushabye, lover-girl, let me tell you what I want – Lionel, oh, forget I mentioned his name,” - “what name? “ - “if someone wanted to plant a bug, or a camera in a person's house, to transmit to another, can that be done?” - “well, now you mention it, I do hear from Bernie that The Sisters have a contact called – wait for it – The Economic Migrant – who can eavesdrop anywhere, anyone, anytime; have you had this office swept?” - “of course, the cleaners come in every night, oh, I see what you mean, no, who would be bothered with us,” then she remembered what they had been doing less than an hour ago and Traci blushed crimson all over again, and Annabelle said that she would have a word with Bunty, they were meeting that very evening, in Rose Street, “why don'tcha come along too, it's been ages since you saw them,” and Traci agreed, because she had always enjoyed Bunty and Dixie's company and if Bernie was there too, so much the better – she clapped her hands in anticipation and Annabelle gave her a last, lingering, tongue kiss, and swept out of the room with the empty mugs and jelly bowl, a beaming smile on her face too.
Why don't you Go to Hell?
In your Titanic Vest.
You're just an Anapest,
And, when you Masticate
Loudly, you sound like Kate,
It's so hard to tolerate;
But that seems to be my Fate,
Now you're married to Jeremy,
My Brother's polysemy
Wife's my dear Relative,
I must find an adjective
I can use as a sedative
To deaden my senses,
Relax all my tenses,
Erect some high fences,
To keep you at bay
For just one whole day,
Think of – Sweet Annabelly
As Strawberry Jelly,'
and Traci MacGillivray added her name and sent the e-mail via the Revenue's Intranet to her sister-in-law and deputy, Annabelle MacGillivray (nee Arbuthnot) whose own office was just across the corridor and it was just a few seconds later that she heard a Whoop and gurgling laugh which told her it had been received and appreciated and just a few minutes passed before there was a knock at her door, a polite wait for to call “enter,” and Annabelle's head, topped by flame-red hair appeared, followed by the rest of her, indeed wearing a 'Titanic – Accident or Conspiracy?' tee-shirt, filled the doorway, carrying two mugs of coffee and a large bowl with quivering strawberry jelly and two spoons - “Annabelle, you know me so Well,” said Traci, rising to kiss her and relieve her of the bowl and one of the mugs.
Tired of regurgitating her excuses all over again, Teri typed a descanso and addressed it to the heirs of the twitterpated resident of the Hermitage, stating simply: "a stop is not a comma and a Capital is not lower case and I renounce my membership of the Honourable Company of Sub-Editors of The City of Edinburgh Pro-Tem!" and as there was no post-box on The Lady she handed it to Eunice with a request to send it by Oceanic Mail, and so it was popped over the side of the vessel into the Foamy Brine (yet again) below!
Theresa wasn't feeling too well; she thought she was dying – and if RIP were written on her descanso. It would stand not for Requiescat in Pace, but rather, Regurgitate in Pieces – like the diced carrots which are always there, no matter that you haven't eaten them for yonks; and her feverish imagination, so twitterpated felt she, wondered what it would be like to live in a hermitage on a desolate rock in the turbulent seas, with no world beyond the cliff edge to fret her; and she typed 'Theresa wasn't feeling too well' into Google Images and one of the pictures was of Theresa May in a bilious green jacket and a skirt far too short for her knobbly knees, and Theresa grabbed another sick-bag and spewed again – then haltingly typed: “ah've wrotten wottah've writ butta cannae wricht nae mair,” and hit submit.
Teri stared at the screen, as the ship above creaked and strained in the surging seas – she had been told it was aouth-southwesterly, but she had no idea of the direction The Lady was taking; down below decks, the boat seemed to lurch one way and then another and all the lurching made her stomach lurch too, but always a couple of beats behind, so she felt not one whit in harmony, but rather as though her body was rebelling against the unnatural motions it was being asked to suffer; earlier, at about the same time as the wearer of the Beat Boot with it's distinctive imprint was listening to Martin Elginbrod's hysterical commands, and the meeting between Lionel and Miss MacGillivray was reaching it's climax, Teri had been above deck and rather enjoying the trip, thinking of herself and the others as Argonauts, in search of The Golden Fleece, while The Lady seemed to fairly skip across the billows with the wind in her sails and a perfect sky above – Phemie had told them that they should make good time and be able to enjoy four or five hours on the rock, exploring the craggy outcrop, the ruined Castle Jail, the remains of the Hermit's Cell, enjoy teas or coffees and home baking in the little Tearoom run by her cousin Effie and take as many photos as they liked of the wild-life or each other (I think we are the Wild Life, said one of the Famous Five to another, who nodded sagely) but then the wind had seemingly changed direction quite without warning, and Phemie and her crew became frantically engaged in something called Tacking, which seemed to require heaving on ropes and a lot of swearing – it was soon obvious that the passengers were quite a hindrance and not long before Phemie suggested they go below decks, where they would be safely out of the way and could enjoy the benefits of Sooky, the Cook who ran the Galley with the aid of a tiny Portuguese girl called Maria; that had seemed a good idea at the time and most of them had gladly climbed down the stairs – although the diehard smokers, mainly Jubbly, Lulu and her girls, and two or three of the Famous Five, had elected to stay above, but out of the way of the crew by sitting in one of the lifeboats, with the tarpaulin cover rolled back; and now Teri rather wished she had joined them, and regretted accepting a bacon and black pudding bap with her coffee, would she ever learn the lessons of those years when, a child being taken doon the watter tae Arran or Rothesay, she had wolfed down scotch pies, fish and chips, ice cream and Irn Bru, only to empty it all over her Holiday Clothes and new shoes before reaching the other side – but she reflected on what she had written; not your finest hour, she said to herself as she read it again: she had to admit that heterosexual lovemaking was not quite her forte, never having engaged in osculation with a man, and rejecting even the teenage advances of acned youths requesting her to give them a hand; no it was an infrangible rule that she and men were incompatible and ne'er the twain shall meet, and so writing about Lionel and Traci made her feel a little like a voyeur and somehow lacking objectivity, if that isn't a contradiction, for is not a voyeur outside of the action? – she had always found Traci attractive, with her wild curly hair that bushed around her head, and the realisation that they seemed to have found some kind of completeness in their Joint Enterprise had baffled Teri at first, and as it began to sink in that Traci seemed much more alive and intense now that she had Lionel and that should have made Teri happy for them both, instead she was what? jealous, surely not – but writing about their sex life did not come easy: rationally, that was always going to be obvious because of her own strong feelings for Traci, but it wasn't the emotional stuff that made it difficult, it was writing about their physical intimacy, the precise nature of which she might be able to work out intellectually, but just how it felt for a woman to have a man inside her body was something she could never grasp, and she heard with her eyes as she saw the words appear on her screen and she saw with her ears when she read them out and it sounded like a form of pornography and she couldn't shake that off, these were things she would never want or miss for herself, but Teri had always believed that the best writing came from self-knowledge; she shook her head, the whole point about her writing was to try to let the people she wrote about be themselves and represent them and their actions with honesty and respect; and then the last remark of Traci's about Lionel shitting in Elginbrod's bed for the heinous Advocate to discover as he slid beneath the sheets had really taken her by surprise: she would never in a million years have thought Traci could be so wicked, or so vulgar, or indeed so uncouth; she checked the text she had received from Traci – yes, that had been exactly what she had said; oh Wicked, Wicked Woman, you never fail to surprise and amaze me and you have really shown me another side of you (well, goodness, several other sides in fact) – and she wondered if Lionel could ever be cajoled to do just that, oh it really would be something to see; and she suddenly wondered if Lionel would be able to place a bug in Elginbrod's bedroom so that the event could be heard, and recorded, or, better still, filmed – she must ask Traci if that would be possible, to place one of those tiny cameras so that it could send images of Elginbrod wondering, in puzzlement, and then realising what his feet had encountered: now that would be absolutely priceless!
For yes, it was true – only too true – that Martin Elginbrod had a Doppelganger, identical to him, even to the crooked little toe on his left foot, even to the ever-so-slight cast in his right eye, which both men had had corrected for them by – oh the giddiness of chance in this world we live in – the self-same optician no less, although Martin was a Private Patient, while the other was NHS, with identical spectacles, in the right of which a special lens brought the cast to heel, so to speak; and also true that in certain places and at certain times, when their paths, in a sense, did cross, when the Doppelganger – whose given name was Lionel – found himself addressed as Martin, or Mr Elginbrod, depending on the setting and those whom he encountered; which was not every day; the Doppelganger, Lionel, had suffered during the Recession – his only business, a little toyshop, on the wrong side of The Meadows, did not flourish in a recession as Elginbrod's indubitably did, and the Boomlet, when it came, was really too late for him to profit by it; but the last straw – when it broke his small venture as surely as that which broke the camel's back – was when Martin Elginbrod, the paramount authority on Copyrights and the Ownership of Intellectual Property, succeeded in his bid to acquire the exclusive rights to the use of the word ''Toyshop within the jurisdiction of the Law in Scotland under one of the more obscure terms of the Act of Union of 1707 and began systematically petitioning for all retail businesses with that word in their trading name to pay him a royalty of one percent of their turnover since they were instituted; Elginbrod had been full of joy when, after each disputed claim was granted in his favour and the moneys due, together with damages and costs awarded against them, the shop owners' money began pouring into his coffers; Lionel's small business collapsed and the Revenue Accountant established that the entire proceeds of the business at the date of sequestration, were due to be paid over to Martin Elginbrod QC; Lionel wept – which rather disconcerted the Revenue Accountant, Miss Traci MacGillivray, to the extent that – hitherto unheard of in her astute execution of her duties over the previous 12 years, she had given him a blow-job and he had shagged her on the floor of her office in the Old Revenue Building on York Place; fortuitously her office had a lock and the windows were not overlooked by any others; and now, five weeks later, as she again straddled him on the floor of that office, he confessed that he had been plotting against the man who had ruined him and cost him his business, his wife and children, but – always willing to look on the bright side, in this case the very, very bright side – it had brought him to Miss MacGillivray, “and you to me,” she said, followed by an involuntary “ooooh,” at what he had just that moment done; and he confessed that he had been attempting to stalk Elginbrod, both in person, in the light of day, and in his hours of loneliness when he sat at home with his computer, while Miss MacGillivray earned their daily bread; and she continued to rise and fall as he spoke, on what she called, in her rather smutty way, with her prim Mary Erskine's accent, his “Greasy Pole,” and he couldn't but admit that she was very adroit at it too; he had discovered where Elginbrod lived – a large detached house called 'Grub Court', no doubt an allusion to Grub Street and all the poor hacks who scribbled their lives away while Elginbrod filled his pockets with gold and silver – he said, with a jokey American Gangster voice that he'd 'cased the joint' and identified that there were four domestic staff: Housekeeper, Maid, Cook and Chauffeur, plus a kind of Nanny/Governess for his two boys, presumably supplementing their prep-school education; he'd worked out their daily routines and, while there were always people in the house from about 3pm till 10am, and always someone around at weekends, between 10am and say 2.30 pm there were about four hours on Monday. Wednesday and Friday when everyone was out; the Cook was out every day with the Chauffeur buying fresh food, the Housekeeper and the Maid were out on those three days doing other kinds of shopping; and the Nanny also went out on those same days to the Library and had her lunch out with a girlfriend who worked there; “do you think she's a Lesbian?” asked Traci, reaching behind herself and gently squeezing his balls, at which she'd swear he purred; “so what are you going to do, break in?” she asked, trying to picture him as a Cat Burglar, and he said what he really wanted to do was piss on Elginbrod's bed with a clear conscience, “you intend to micturate without compunction on his duvet?” she stared wide eyed at him and added: “why not shit on his sheets – and he won't know till he gets in?” and they both started to laugh, till she clapped her hand over his mouth and squeezed her thighs tightly around him as they both came together!
After the Worldwide Recession came the Boomlet, during which his doppelganger felt no compunction about micturating on Martin Elginbrod's bed!
And at just about the time that The Lady with her sails a-billowing, it's figurehead jutting proudly forward and aimed directly towards The Bass Rock which rose massively from the sparkling sea under a brazen sun which glinted bronze off Ginger Goldfish's Irn Bru locks and as spun gold from the blonde curls of Theresa Somerville, at just about this time, as I say, allowing for the slight difference in true time between the seas east of Gullane and the Capital City clustered around it's own two prominences – The Seat Of Arthur in Holyrood Park and the mighty Castle Rock, topped with it's very own impregnable fortress, at just about this time, when the diligent officers of The Grassmarket and Cowgate Community Policing Hub sat around the conference table in their back office and passed around their most recent reports on the interviews held with Angus Og of The Bog (who, after more x-rays, CAT Scans, MRI Scans, and other delicate, if thorough, examinations, including a very informative chat with the perfusionist who had monitored him during the most major of the operations he had been subjected to, had been declared fit and well and was discharged from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary – still referred to as The New Royal, by citizens who, for generations had been treated at The Old Royal and in fact many of whom had been born and died there – into the care of his three cousins, the sisters, Bunty and Dixie O'Hooligan and their cousin, Bernie Westwater, and was presently residing at the flat of Bernie and her partner Tammy Shanter which was where he had been interviewed by the iridescent WPC Isa Urquhart and Sergeant Goldy Brevity and, despite his provocative flirting with the WPC, had given a fairly detailed account of the day on which his friend and cousin Robbie Ratho had been found brutally murdered in an oubliette deep in the bowels of the High Street by person or persons so far unknown but who had evidently left one tiny clue, the imprint of a size twelve boot in the slime of the oubliette which had been identified from it's pattern as a Police Scotland Standard Issue Model A1 Beat Boot, but with a very specific identifying detail, the angled rim of a five-pence coin apparently embedded in the heel, which when (not if) the boot was discovered would instantly place it's wearer in the oubliette at the time of the heinous crime; and, to repeat, at just about the same time, the wearer of that particular boot and it's pair, was treading towards the Grassmarket, where he turned up a mean and narrow close almost opposite the Community Policing Hub and used one of the keys from his trouser pocket to unlock and enter a third floor back flat which he instantly perceived to be empty – quite the opposite of what should be, so he quickly climbed two further flights of stairs to a fifth floor back flat, which he accessed using the other key in his possession and brusquely perceived it also as being empty; sitting on the bed he telephoned his employer and informed him of his discoveries which had brought him a realisation of such queer entelechy – that what he dreaded would be, was - and his employer – as he expected – became apoplectic with an intense rage, screaming down the line to the handset which the man in the flat held some inches away from his head, “fucking find them, you hear, if you have to go to Gehenna and back, even to Bathgate and back, just fucking find them!”
And as The Lady rocked over the swell in the general direction of The Bass Rock – for those knowledgeable about the ways of the waves will be aware that the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line, but rather a looping course which makes use of the currents not visible to landlubbers like Theresa, which means, me, also; and while that voyage of discovery progressed, in another, darker, less wholesome place, a person of evil intent for whom Gehenna, or Hades, would be too good a banishment, opened his eyes after his noctambulous wanderings in the byways of his mind, plotting skulduggery, which always brought him a whiff of olympicene and gave him his morning erection; but he reached out his hand and found his mobile, pressed a speed-dial number and presently heard the sound of a telephone ringing out, ringing out, and eventually he cancelled the call, frowning a little, but not unduly, for the person he had called was probably having a shower, or using the toilet; so he rang another number and got the same result; tried the first again, then the second, then the first for a third time – gave a pause as he lay back, telephone in hand and pondered, but not unduly, for there would be an obvious answer – they were just taking a while this morning but it was, after all, rather earlier than he would normally call; so he left it fifteen or twenty minutes, during which he himself showered and dressed; and dialled; by the time he had called both numbers three times and still got no response he was angry – at himself for expecting absolute obedience, at them for not giving him what he expected, “nay, required, nay again, demanded – for are they not mine to use, to abuse, to dispose of, mine,” and Martin Elginbrod dialled another number!
'I glimpsed a tiny Saurian
Wriggle through the Coppice;
She seemed bereft,
And vilified, though to my eyes,
She had made her sacrifice,
As all must do on this dead Earth,
Who've loved and won, and loved and lost,
And loved and do not count the cost,'
wrote Theresa on her postcard which she then handed to Eunice, the Telegram Girl, who promised to pop it in the box on her return to Gullane, for she was a genuinely kind-hearted and helpful girl, notwithstanding her being in thrall to Lulu, who occasionally worked as a driver and handy-woman for Izzy Dalkeith in her antiques business and also held sway over the twins Dora and Nora, who, now dressed as rather risqué Pirate Girls, were acting as stewardesses and showing passengers where they might stow their hand-luggage and dispose of used tissues and reminding everyone that smoking was only permitted on deck and to please use the boxes dotted hither and thither for their stubs and generally making themselves useful, ever under Lulu's watchful and proprietorial gaze (even though she was not even a member of The Lady's crew, never mind an Officer-of-the-Watch) – Hussy that she is – but I rather like something about her, a virility in her bearing, her hauteur, her stance though she is far too Bold for me.
Now, as is usual on planes – when the stewardesses, always looking delicious in their fitted uniforms, explain with superb grandiloquence and many extravagant arm gestures, which lift the hemlines of their dresses so interestingly, to the olio – their passengers being an eclectic mix of many different peoples, cultures, religions, genders, comprehensions, and lusts – the emergency procedures designed, one would be forgiven for thinking, by a chiropterologist intent on imparting his knowledge of the nocturnal activities of bats to a small boy who is only intent on sucking his thumb, their words fall less like manna from heaven on their captive listeners, but more like the grain cast by the sower in Christ's parable – some on stony ground, some among weeds, and others where the birds of the air will gobble them up and only a few, a very few indeed, on fertile soil where they will send their roots down in search of sustenance and their shoots upwards towards the light and so it was on The Lady where Cristal Caddy – First Mate of the doughty tub – performed this task for the assembled passengers and Skipper Phemie despaired when, one after the other, hands were raised seeking clarification or more detailed explanation about the dangers of icebergs and killer whales, when the decks should be swabbed, where the sailor-girls rest-room is and the hazards of neglecting to belay the aft mainsail or batten down the hatches; and eventually she simply muttered to her strapping Mate: “sod this for a game of sodgers, Matey, just tellem which is the fucking front and which the buggering back and explain about Port and Starboard, if they need a piss just sit them on the rail and tell them to pee into the sea - and send a little prayer to Neptune, and we'll fuck off out of here – oh, and make sure they've all got their life-jackets on the right way round, I don't think some of them have the sense they were born with,” this last as she noticed one of the Famous Five attempt to put her feet into the armholes of her life-jacket and tumble to the deck as she overbalanced!
Now, we are fast approaching a nautical adventure which has been hinted at previously but from which we have strayed – as stray we always must – in order to make some attempt to keep the various strands of our, admittedly, at times, rather shipwrecky (to continue our oceanic theme) narrative progressing as a flotilla may, upon the seas of life; so, before we get carried away on our digression, let us turn away from the party of golfers we have been accompanying, for golfers miss the best sights to be found in this seaside town and port, and let us follow that young woman with the twinkling legs who skips down this cobbled lane, lined with quaint and picturesque cottages of the kind oft-called 'Sea Houses' as they were built many generations ago to shelter those who earn their livings on the foamy brine – yes, that again – and as we turn another corner, Lo! see the vista that opens up before our very eyes and describe the scene as best you may: it is a busy harbour, bustling with countless pennant streaming fishing smacks, trawlers, lobster-catchers, dirty British coasters with their salt-caked smoke stacks, motor car and foot passenger ferries, yachts and dinghies with sails of every colour; the quays and promenades are filled with fishermen and fishwives, trawlermen unloading their catches of the silver darlings, see them spill across the decks. and dealers from all the cities of Britain and beyond are buying and loading their fleets of vans which race off to the finest hotels and palaces with their trays of fish packed in ice; and alongside these scenes of industry and commerce, there are the crowds of sightseers, craning their necks to glimpse any celebrity who might be passing – titled heads of every state in Europe have passed this way, Hollywood Stars, Prime Ministers and Presidents, along with small boys and girls in sailor suits and hats, skipping and dodging between the legs of passengers and crewmen, heaving, rolling and lugging steamer trunks and all other manner of luggage on board one of the mighty leviathans of the sea – ocean liners flying the flags of every state in the world and every great steamer company and all eyes are on the Daily Steamer to Marseilles, due to move off within the quarter-hour with her full complement of passengers and crew, and Lo! she exclaimed to herself, spotting a familiar face among the hustle and jostle, for there is Captain Phemie, waving maniacally as she stands, feet wide apart, four-square and indomitable on the deck of her trusty boat – The Lady – her sleek lines trim and sparkling, her aspect freshly painted, as so too is The Lady; and so the feet nimbly hasten, up the gangway and skip aboard the sweetly spruced-up vessel, where ne'er a barnacle can be seen, for every saxicoline that had clung tenaciously to her keel has been hauled and become jetsam and Phemie, her boat and her crew – for Miss Cristal Caddy is now officially her Mate; and as she pipes her visitor aboard, she – the boarder, Theresa that is, turns and beckons the crowd waiting on the quayside to follow and Phemie bawls out: “this way for The Bass, me Hearties!”
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