When the white Rolls Royce Phantom drew up kerb-side, Manny stopped his cab at the corner of the street, from where he and Bernie had a clear view of the six passengers climb out, last being a rather rumpled Dolores Bambona who seemed confused and jumpy after the ride, trying to smooth her hair with one hand and her dress with the other, while still holding onto her attache-case; there was a knock at the door of the cab and then it opened and a small slightly dishevelled man slid in beside Bernie; Campbeltown Loch, a small-time Private Investigator with a seedy office in Maryhill and a festering plook on the back of his neck nodded to Bernie and Manny: "got the gen for you, gentlemen, or should I say, my attractive assistant Ribena gottit: the Chairman of The Good Shepherds is there, together with the Five Aunties for the Milngavie Cluster - Names, Ranks and Serial Numbers," and he handed Bernie a sheet of crumpled paper on which the details seemed to have been written by a well-educated Chimpanzee but, as Bernie narrowed his eyes he was able to read:
Sir Cinnamon Toast Chief Executive Toast Towers, Ben Lomond
Mrs Maybelline Rutherglen 4 Ranfurly Drive
Miss Sybill Macintosh 17 ArchibalD Terrace
Miss Lynette Carruthers 12 Plantation Road
Mrs Olivette Wotherspoon 18 Kirk Brae Gardens
Lady Utopia MacLeod of MacLeod, Inverbracken Castle
"do we know anything about them?" he asked; "oh aye," replied the detective, "and there's plenty tae ken, whaur div ye want me tae stert?" and feeling slightly irritated by the offhand manner, Bernie said: "how about the beginning? that's usually a good place to start," but his sarcasm seemed to float over the small man's head, and he simply cleared his throat and began: "well, Toast ye'll ken o, Chairman o Toast an Butter, his Managing Partner is Sir Thompson Butter an 'whoosis?' ye micht ask but if ah mention The Mysterious Affair o The Queen's Lady-in-Waiting an The King's Valet, ye'll ken wha am talkin aboot, well they've made a fortune oot o the War, no that they actually mak onythin, but they've near monopolised the supply o onythin tae the War Oaffice, which means a the Services, no that they physically touch onythin either, they basically act as a Clearin Hoose: the Navy wants a boat, they send an order tae Toast an Butter, wha pass it on tae a Shipyerd, it's bribery an corruption oan sic a scale it cannae be touched, aw alang the line abdy taks a bite, it's a self-propagatin system, 'but why?' ye maun ask yersel, 'duz the Navy no jist send their ain order tae a Shipyerd?' cos the Meenester o The Navy gets a back-haunner fi Toast an Butter wha get yin fae the Shipyerd that wants the order, abdy gets rich, cept the puir fuckers wha sail oan the ship wi probly only hauf the rivets it shood hae, but hell, it'll likely get sunk bi a U-Boat, so why waste dosh oan it, every penny rivet coonts, but, dunnit?" and Bernie was shocked at the chicanery Loch described and he felt as if he had been bowled a googly - this was no Black-Market Ned selling eggs or meat out of the back of a van in a side-street in the Gorbals, it was Fat Cats getting fatter while men died and families starved or were bombed out of their homes, not to mention the things his mother had seen in the Nazi Concentration Camps; this was about people who no doubt rubbed their hands with glee whenever a War was Declared, who, in fact, had probably pulled strings to engineer wars in the first place - and to be sure - Peacetime no doubt saw them change the goods they passed around so that they still profitted; these were the Traitors he hated as much as any Foreign Enemy but Campbeltown Loch was still talking!