Unlike the "real" Guestbook, Chronicles threads are shown in chronological order, so you should read from the top down.
The latest saga from the pens of Cheap Thrills and Dear Boredom was posted on the Guestbook between March 25th and May 6th 2002.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 1
Emily Bishop sat in her Weatherfield parlour writing out cheques. It was bill paying time. £118 for the power and heating, £160 for the house and car insurance, £75 for the telephone? she really must stop making so many long distance calls. Everything was so expensive. She sighed and sealed the envelopes and wrote out the addresses in a steady hand. She may be knocking on a bit but she still enjoyed good health, thank goodness. One final cheque should complete the task, then she would not have to get her cheque book out again for another month. "Friends of Weatherfield Hospital", Emily wrote on the blank cheque with her trusty fountain pen. No undependable biros for Emily. She filled in the date, added her signature, then thought for a moment before filling in the amount: £150,000. Yes, that should be enough.
It was the third such amount this year. She really ought to have a word with her nephew Geoffrey, always sending her these lottery tickets for birthdays and Christmas. "Make your fortune Aunty Em," he used to say with a wink, "Get yourself a few luxuries." And she always won - not first prize of course, not enough to get her name in the papers, but far more than she ever needed.
At first she was alarmed by it, amazed at her good fortune, then with her simple faith she grew to see it as the Lord's way of distributing ill-gotten gambling funds to put them to honest purpose. She was his instrument. She never told a soul. Geoffrey - Spider - had no idea his aunt had such a nest egg.
She wondered if she should ask her accountant for the names of other charities that might benefit from her new, troublesome wealth. Then she remembered, he was off on a motoring holiday in his new Ferrari. She might have asked the President of Friends of Weatherfield Hospital whether she was actually giving them enough, because she noticed that the dayroom on the Children's Ward still had only one 14inch television - but she remembered, he too was off on holiday in the Cayman Islands, third time this year too. His legal practice must be doing well.
Emily pondered a moment before sealing the envelope, when her reverie was shattered by the brisk ringing of the old black telephone beside her. She picked it up automatically and said "Weatherfield 7260". And was totally unprepared for the shock of hearing a voice that she had long ago consigned to the past. And what he had to say shocked her even more!
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 2
..."How about a date, gorgeous?" The shocked Emily went rigid as the words soaked in. Well, she hadn't been called gorgeous since Enoch Powell was appointed Professor of Greek at Sydney University. The stunned Emily sat in silence as visions of Enoch Powell collided in her mind, and she vowed to lay off the herbal teas in the future.
"Hello?...hello?..." The words jolted Emily out of her reverie, and she acknowledged the caller. It was Chief Superintendent Maurice Bledsop of the Weatherfield Constabulary. A voice from the past, indeed. It was then Inspector Bledsop who investigated Ernie's senseless murder at the factory that fateful day 24 years ago...
"I just called to see how you were," said Bledsop, "and to ask you out to dinner, if you would care to accompany me? Perhaps for a bit of Indian?" Emily blushed, she had never ventured into an Indian Restaurant, and didn't know if she would like it or not. The only food she had eaten that did not come from her own kitchen was Betty's Hotpot, Fish and Chips from the See [sic] Food and Eat It takeaway, and the odd sticky bun and tea from the caff. Adventuresome is not a word to describe Emily.
But what the heck! Emily was pleased with herself for being so altruistic, and the feeling led her to accept the invitation. Then she had a thought and asked, "What about Mrs. Bledsop?" "Oh, Alphonsine left me nearly 4 years ago and ran off with an Assistant Chief Constable from Skegness," he replied, not without a touch of bitterness. They made plans for tomorrow evening, meeting at the Rovers for a stiff belt of sweet sherry, then heading off to the Taj Mahal in Salford for a nice meal. They said their good-byes and rang off.
Emily's thoughts returned to her accountant and his Ferrari. "Why couldn't he have bought a good, reliable English car," she thought, "a nice Reliant or Humber motor car, the type that her father always gave the moniker 'Prince of Darkness', with good old British Lucas electrics?" Emily sealed the envelope and went to the Kabin for a stamp. As she neared the shop, she could hear an argument coming from within. An argument that rose in intensity as she got closer. Was that wave of red Rita? Yes, Emily could see that it was. And who was the short man standing with his back to the window? Was it...no, it couldn't be, could it? Yes, yes, it was...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 3
The man with his back to her, arguing loudly in Rita's Kabin was none other than Alec Gilroy! Emily could not help but overhear as he ranted at Rita. "Jailbird son of a jailbird father! Why did we let him into my flat! Mark my words, there'll be shady characters hanging round! There'll be drugs! Thugs! Possibly even bugs!" Alec looked suddenly sober and shut his mouth abruptly. Perhaps the walls really did have ears. Rita answered him calmly but Emily could hear the effort she was making to keep the unease out of her voice. "Calm down, Alec. You're not in any danger - yet. Steve MacDonald has done his time, and so what if Old MacDonald has some form. It's as much in their interests as yours not to draw themselves to the attention of the boys in blue."
Emily could eavesdrop no longer - her conscience would not allow it. She opened the shop door and greeted them both pleasantly as she came in for her postage stamp. "What brings you back to Weatherfield, Mr Gilroy?" she enquired. "Ah, just some tedious business errands, Mrs Bishop," he replied smoothly, and pretended to be immersed in a magazine. It was Skateboarders' World, Emily noted wryly. She posted the letter and left.
Some time later Emily checked herself in the mirror and prepared to sally forth for her rendezvous with Maurice Bledsop. A neat navy blue suit, little floral blouse, and her best handbag. It was a long time since she had been on a date, and she was a little out of practice. As an afterthought, she added a small pair of cornflower blue clip earrings that had been Ernie's favourites. She may never see 60 again, but she did keep herself trim.
Maurice was seated in a booth at the Rover's, and rose to meet her. Tall - he had been a copper after all - and greying, he told her he had recently retired from the force but was still doing a little contract work for them to keep his hand in. He had a speech prepared. "Dear lady, may I apologise for my informality when I approached you yesterday? I must admit I lacked the courage to approach you, and had had a little stiffener. More than one, in fact. I fear. I may have overstepped the mark."
"Think no more of it," said Emily, blushing like a schoolgirl. "To be honest, Maurice, it was rather nice to be called gorgeous again. I may have had two husbands and several fiances (she neglected to mention any foreign building site employees who might also have been added to this list - what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him), but I have lived alone for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to be paid a compliment by a... a... gentleman caller. It was rather nice." Now it was Maurice's turn to redden.
The pair were getting along famously when two sherries later they both entered the doors of the Taj Mahal Curry Emporium and Hurry Curry Takeaways. A turbaned employee showed them to their table and Emily breathed deeply to take in the heady aroma of curry and coriander, and to peer through the dimly lit, red flock wallpapered room. So exotic! With a sense of anticipation she let Maurice guide her through the unfamiliar menu and chose a mild chicken korma and roti. Then to her surprise, through the crimson-tinted gloom, she caught sight of a face she thought was far away from Weatherfield. She drew in her breath in surprise.
Her accountant, Henry Hodgetts, was not after all touring the continent in his new Ferrari. He was seated at a table for two in the Taj Mahal, Weatherfield, deep in conversation with Alec Gilroy. Both of them staring at a map on the table in front of them, and both of them looking like two people who were trying very, very hard not to be seen.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 4
Maurice was busily tucking into his beef vindaloo, mushy peas and chips, and was rattling on and on about being sorry that they couldn't have gone to the Salford Taj Mahal, "...but with the weather being so foul, I thought it may be better to come to this one, and as all Taj Mahals are owned by the same firm...", he was a bit talkative for a copper. He looked up, sensing that Emily had not heard a word.
He saw a visibly shaken Emily and asked, "Are you alright, Emily? Is the chicken korma too hot for you?" the worried Maurice hurriedly asked. "Oh, no - it's nothing, nothing, really," she replied, and reached for the Branston pickle. A bemused Maurice looked on as Emily absently spread a huge dollop of said pickle on some garlic nan, and popped it into her mouth. Emily flushed instantly as she came back to life and quickly looked for a convenient spot to dispose of the offensive pickle.
A rather quick sweet sherry later, Emily was somewhat composed, but was also aware that she was becoming more decomposed with every additional sherry. Even so, she kept a wary eye on Henry Hodgetts and Alec Gilroy. Why is Mr. Hodgetts back so soon? What could Alec be up to? How did Alec know Henry? Was Monsoon Millie going to win the fourth at Wetherby...? Oh dear! There were those racing thoughts again! Emily pushed the thoughts away and made small talk with Maurice, all the while wondering what those two were up to. During dessert of Feral RamJam Jubbly, a sumptuous Indian treat consisting of Flaming Lamingtons smothered with kumquats and custard, Alec's voice rose and Emily clearly heard him say "...Robson fforbes-Green...?". Once again Emily froze as she heard the name. It was her lawyer friend, the one that was the President of Friends of Weatherfield Hospital.
The pair finished their meal, paid the bill and stepped out the door to stroll past the small Weatherfield shops and boutiques on their way to the car park. The weather had cleared and Emily stopped briefly to look in the window of a lingerie boutique. She had heard of a new product from the Dorset Corset Company and wondered if they were in the shops yet. As she looked, a large car glided past the window and she caught the reflection of Henry Hodgetts in the shop window. Spinning rapidly, she watched the car as it passed under a street lamp. In that brief moment, she saw the face of the driver. It was Robson fforbes-Green!
Frozen again, Emily watched the car flow onto the dual carriageway and disappear into the night. Maurice was quite concerned now. He knew that Emily was prone to be eccentric, but this was something else again. "Good Heavens, Emily. What on earth is bothering you?", he asked. Reticent at first, but succumbing to Maurice's interrogation... er... gentle prodding, she finally gave in and told him of the lottery tickets and her consistent winning. "First, I wanted to discuss further charitable donations with my accountant, then I wanted to know if I was giving enough to the hospital - the Children's Ward only has one 14-inch television, you know - and I realized that both of them were on holiday. Then we go to this Taj Mahal instead of the one in Salford, and there they both are, along with Alec Gilroy."
"Hmmm... Alec Gilroy" he thought out loud. "I know that name! Wasn't he the one that...."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 5
"..Alec Gilroy.. wasn't he the one who was caught fiddling the funds for the Friends of the Finchingfield Foundation for the Feeblewitted? One of the first cases I ever investigated when I joined the force. Shocking business."
Emily was perturbed. "I had no idea!" she stammered. "I knew he was tight with his own money, but - surely he's not -" she faltered over the word - "dishonest?" There were few greater crimes in Emily's book than a lack of moral rectitude.
"Oh yes," Maurice recalled, "a shady customer our Mr Gilroy, even if his daughter did marry well and have room for a pony. He got off on a technicality, but the coppers knew he was not quite the clean potato, and we have a bit a score to settle with Alec Gilroy. I'd dearly like to know what he is doing in such company. And I would like to help you find out if all is well with your generous donations to help sick children. We've had our doubts about Robson fforbes-Green for a while too. Word gets round in the legal fraternity."
Emily had grown to like Maurice enormously since they had got back in touch, and she instinctively felt she could trust him. She decided to confide what she had overheard Rita say about not wanting to draw the attention of the boys in blue. Maurice's eyes narrowed and he muttered something about needing to keep Alec under surveillance. He proposed that he should pack a suitcase and follow Alec back to Southampton to see what he could find out. "Meanwhile Emily," he said "You stay here and keep an eye on Hodgetts and fforbes-Green."
Emily at once objected. "I always miss out on the fun," she said. "It's what I realised when my nephew Geoffrey got me involved with those radical tree sitting protests. I really enjoyed that! My life has been very dull since Ernest died, you know Maurice. I'm overdue for a little fun. There is really no good reason why I shouldn't come with you and keep you company." She gave him a look that was just this side of coy.
Now it was Maurice Bledsop's turn to look coy. He paused for a moment before replying. "Then fun you shall have, dear lady. Let's use our grey matter," he said. "Supposing Alec Gilroy knew this accountant and this lawyer from his days in Weatherfield, what sort of scheme would bring them back together? And why were he and Hodgetts looking at a map of the Lesser Antilles?"
"The Lesser Antilles?" Emily exclaimed. "How do you know that?" "They don't know me," said Maurice, "and when I went past them on the way to the gents they were so engrossed in their conversation they did not even notice me. I saw the title on the map and I heard one phrase in their muttered conversation."
"What was that?" said Emily. "And, er, where are the Lesser Antilles?"
"The Lesser Antilles is a chain of islands in the Caribbean stretching from Puerto Rico down to Trinidad and Tobago, taking in Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia and Barbados. And the expression I heard from Gilroy's lips was "local divers gossip too much. Now what do you make of that?"
"I don't know," Emily replied, "but I certainly intend to find out." Her features settled into that determined expression that Coronation Street knew so well. Once Emily got the bit between her teeth, it was well and truly bitten.
"Before we go," said Maurice, "I need to pick up a little professional bag of tricks one of my friends in the force sometimes loans me when I'm in need." "Tricks?" Emily queried. "Just some small electronics," said Bledsop, "and perhaps a false beard for Auld Lang Syne. Tradecraft, don't you know. Now you go home and pack your toothbrush, dear lady." He was secretly picturing Emily in the false beard, and his knees turned to jelly. "And one more thing.."
"Better pack your passport."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 6
Passport? The thought of international travel had never crossed her mind, and the only passport she had was a seasonal pass to the Blackpool piers, the only joy she allowed herself to indulge in. At first it was the barking toad exhibit. Long thought extinct, the Morecambe barking toad had made a comeback and Emily went to see them at the pier. While there, she also saw, and fell in love with, none other than Slim Whitman. Now here is a strange phenomenon - for some reason, yodeling is a major hit in Blackpool, so much so that Slim Whitman was invited back so often, Emily thought it best, and cheaper, to buy season passports. Another joy for Emily, also featured at the pier, was Boxcar Willie (but this isn't widely known, and she wouldn't want this info made public - would you?).
"I'll tell you what, Maurice," she said, "you follow Alec back to Southampton, and I'll stay here and keep an eye on Hodgetts and fforbes-Green." Bledsop stared at Emily in confusion, and thought that he wouldn't bother picking up the professional bag of tricks after all. The anticipation of seeing Emily in the false beard disappeared instantly, and Maurice looked crestfallen. "Not to worry, Maurice, I'll join you in a few days to be ready when Alec makes a move." Bledsop's visage cleared in a flash and he positively glowed when he dropped Emily off.
The next morning, Emily quickly did her best with her hair and put on her best crepe de Chine blouse. She added some tasteful jewelry as an afterthought, donned her overcoat and headed out to the precinct to get a passport photo taken. That done, she hurried over to the train station and boarded a commuter train to Liverpool. In Liverpool, she asked directions to the passport office and was told that it was just a short taxi ride to the India Buildings on Water Street. She explained to the passport clerk that she needed a passport as soon as humanly possible as her nephew had taken gravely ill in the Lesser Antilles, and she needed to get there straight away. Emily thought the unthinkable, and slipped the clerk an extra £100 along with the passport fee. She simply must tell Maurice of this shameful act, she thought. The clerk's eyes widened and as he pocketed the cash he promised that the passport would be mailed to her within days.
An exhausted Emily fell into the Rovers at 5 that afternoon and quickly ordered a double tomato juice. "No sherry, " she thought as recent events unfolded in her mind. On her way back from the train station, she had stopped at the precinct travel agent, and was quickly enraptured by the lovely cruise photos and special offers to Torremolinos and Malaga. Photos of beautiful young people cavorting on sun-drenched beaches. Photos of tanned young people splashing in the surf. Photos of lithe young men in Speedo hunks... trunks, Speedo trunks!
Emily flushed at the thoughts and averted her eyes. She looked in the travel agent's office and was stunned to see Robson fforbes-Green making travel arrangements. She boldly entered the office and was busily looking at brochures with her back turned to fforbes-Green. She was just in time to hear the agent go over his itinerary. "...bus from Victoria Station to Heathrow, or you can take the tube, if you like. Your flight to Bridgetown is BA 0273 departing at 09:45 from Terminal 4...". The agent continued with the itinerary, but fforbes-Green quickly gathered the tickets and information and exited the travel agent.
"Bridgetown?", Emily asked the agent, "Where's that?" "Bridgetown is in Barbados," replied the miffed agent, "And I hope he knows what he's doing because he left before I could tell him that the flight from Bridgetown to Mustique is only once per week and he'll have to wait 6 days in Bridgetown before he can go." "Hmmm...," thought Emily, "That gives us at least a week to get to Barbados before anything happens. I must tell Maurice."
Emily blushed as she grabbed a fistful of Torremolinos brochures and quickly left the travel agent. She called Maurice on his mobile to tell him the news. Bledsop listened intently, and then told Emily his news. "Hodgetts and Gilroy left this afternoon in Hodgetts' Ferrari. I'm just leaving for Southampton now to catch up with them. Call you when I have made hotel arrangements for you."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 7
Two days passed without a word from Maurice, then the phone shrilled into life. "Can you come down this afternoon?" he said. "Come by train, I have my own car here. I'm really looking forward to seeing you again." "My bag is packed," said Emily, "and the passport arrived this morning." Emily had not had a passport for years. She had obtained her first one when the girls from the Street won that trip to Majorca in the Spot the Ball contest. What fun they had had, around the swimming pool, with the dark-eyed locals. Bet had even stayed behind with one of them when the rest of them went back to Coronation Street, she recalled, but it all went wrong, as usual with Bet and men. And what a terrific swimmer Mavis Riley had been. Like a fish in the water. Rita was more the poolside poser, though, sunbathing all day in a succession of glamorous bathing suits while drinking pina coladas and flirting with the handsome Spanish waiters.
She had been disappointed by the new, flimsy European Community-inspired passport when it had arrived. It lacked the dignity of the big, stiff, navy blue United Kingdom one that was still tucked at the back of her sideboard drawer. But that's progress, of a sort, she sighed. She supposed they would all have to get used to spending Euros soon. She chuckled to herself as the thought occurred to her that that would be a challenge for the dozy staff in the Rover's. Not that Rover's staff had ever been noted for having IQs larger than their bust size, but the recent lot had been thicker than the gravy in Betty's hotpot.
But there was another thing that she had not owned since the days of her Majorcan frolic, and she had soon remedied that with a quick trip to the precinct. With a happy smile of anticipation, she folded her new sleek lavender bathing suit and added it to the six jars of Branston Pickle in the suitcase.
Explaining to her curious lodger Norris Cole that she was off on a short holiday and was not sure what day she would be returning, Emily handed over a long list of housekeeping instructions that would be enough to keep Norris busy for a week or two. It began with "Polish the aspidistra" and ended "And give the yard a good bottoming". Norris's face had been a study.
Emily summonsed a taxi to the station. After a nightmare journey on Virgin rail, involving two changes and a long unexplained wait on a siding, with the buffet car closed, she felt exhausted when she finally arrived in the seaside city of Southampton. Maurice met her at the station with a brisk hug and the air of a man in his element. He said he had booked them into an inconspicuous B&B near the newly refurbished dock buildings.
"Gilroy and Hodgetts are here all right. They are lunching each day in a pub near the docks called Roaring Meg's. I propose we drop by later and see what we can glean. The flight to Barbados leaves in two days, so we have plenty of time."
"I found yesterday that I could occupy the booth next to them without being seen. I could not hear much, but what I did hear sent me to the public library."
"Whatever can you mean?" asked a mystified Emily.
Maurice looked like the cat that got the cream as he replied: "Have you ever heard of Cyclops Jones and the fate of the Rhydywrach?" Emily asked faintly: "Is it a punk rock group?" But Maurice's answer made her feel fainter still.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 8
"The Crown Jewels, Emily," whispered Maurice as he drove to the B&B. "The original Crown Jewels were stolen in 1649! The official story was that parliament had ordered the gold and precious metals to be melted down for coins, but they were stolen! The Crown Jewels that are on display now in The Tower of London were made in 1661!"
The colour drained from Emily's face as Bledsop continued. "With my credentials, I managed to talk my way into the private rare book depository at the library. I found a manuscript that dated back to 1655. The manuscript detailed the theft of the Crown Jewels by Clive 'Clitheroe' Swain and his gang of Highwaymen, who... Emily! Are you alright?" "Y..yes...yes, I'm alright." Arnold had told her that he had traced his roots back to the 1600's to a Clive Swain in Clitheroe. Could they be the same? "Please go on, Maurice."
"The Swain gang raced to Wales with the booty and met up with the nefarious Cyclops Jones who set sail for the Caribbean on the Rhydywrach, a brigantine of unknown age that had seen numerous better days. The trail goes a bit cold there, but the author believed that the ship sank very near to Mustique, and that the lone survivor, a cabin boy, drew a map of the location of the Rhydywrach. Emily, I believe that Alec Gilroy has that map, and he is looking for backers to finance the recovery of the original Crown Jewels."
Emily sat in stunned silence, digesting the story. "Cyclops Jones," she echoed, "What an odd name." "Yes," replied Maurice, "I researched his name as well. Apparently his given name was Imogene, and he got in so many fights over the name he eventually lost an eye, hence Cyclops." They reached the B&B and went inside to freshen up.
Emily was famished. The closed buffet car had upset her so much that her appetite had disappeared. She vowed then and there to pen a very stern letter to Richard Branson. But now, in Maurice's company, she was absolutely ravenous. It was too late for a restaurant meal, so the pair elected to buy some fish and chips, and sat in the car to eat them. They then drove back to the B&B for some much needed rest. Tomorrow was going to be a big day, starting with the planned eavesdropping on Gilroy and Hodgetts at Roaring Meg's.
A dull dawn broke over Southampton. Emily and Maurice sat in the B&B dining room planning the afternoon's events. Maurice briefly thought of asking Emily to wear the false beard as a disguise while in Roaring Meg's, but soon shelved the idea as he really did want to concentrate on what Gilroy and Hodgetts were planning. "Jellied knees would likely interfere with that," he wisely thought.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 9
Emily stared with dismay at the Full English Breakfast swimming in its pool of lard on the plate in front of her. "I have no idea why British B&Bs want to kill off all their customers with heart attacks," she thought. She tried asking the proprietor whether he had any unsweetened muesli but he looked as though she had made an indecent suggestion. But the bacon and sausages were not the only thing that was swimming.
Her head was still reeling after a restless night filled with lurid dreams. Maurice’s news had instilled in her a strange mixture of foreboding and keen anticipation. At first tossing and turning, unable to sleep, she eventually fell into a fitful doze peopled with strange dreams of sunken chests full of ancient gold and jewels, and a fearful burly man with a black eye patch swimming round a sinking brigantine shouting "Avast ye!" A small mermaid swam up to him and he draped her with a pearl necklace, and she returned the compliment by attaching an octopus to his face. His shrieks woke Emily and she lay for a while with her heart pounding before recollecting where she was.
Maurice suggested they confirm their travel bookings then spend the morning at the library seeing what else they could discover about Cyclops Jones, and they set forth. There amongst dusty old documents untouched for centuries they discovered that apparently young Imogene Jones had been a promising student in his home hamlet of Rhydywrach, just west of Camarthen, where his family had for generations been the local farriers, known as Jones the Horse.
However, Jones was the apple that fell far from the tree - and a bad apple at that. At age 16 he was caught one day behind the barn with the neighbour’s daughter, and he might have escaped with merely a beating for his impudence, but for the fact that as he tried to escape the neighbour’s best silver fell out of his ditty bag. Jones scampered off, and the last he heard of Rhydywrach were the shouts of his outraged neighbour. He did not stop till he had reached the coast some 20 miles away.
There he took ship on the Mary Evan, a barque that was bound for the Caribbean and the sugar trade. Life aboard ship suited his rough and ready ways, and he soon learned from his fellow sailors that the real money lay not in making an honest crust at the seafaring trade, but in helping oneself to the gains of someone who had already done all the earning. He proved a ready pupil. So it was little surprise when, as they neared Barbados and a Spanish ship, the Infanta de Castile, hove into view, that he saw his shipmates run down the ensign and run up a new flag, a black one with a skull and crossed bones. The innocent-seeming barque he had joined was in fact a fleet-running pirate ship!
They took the Spanish ship with a great deal of noise but a minimum of bloodshed and set its crew ashore on a rocky island. Half the crew of the Mary Evan stayed aboard the Infanta de Castile and set sail for the nearest British colony. The crew received rich rewards for their haul of booty handed over to the Crown, but Imogene could already see that he could have had even more had he been able to sail the ship away by himself.
The years passed and he grew taller and stronger. One night in a tavern in wild, lawless Cristobal, he had endured one taunt too many about his name, and he lashed out at the swarthy seadog who had called him a maiden. The fight that ensued was brutal, and Imogene caught a peg leg in the eye. He was ever after blind in that eye, and wore a black patch to cover the site. The name Cyclops attached to him then and gradually his real name was all but forgotten.
On his next voyage, with a band of his shipmates, he seized a Spanish brigantine whose crew had taken sick with yellow fever, and he renamed her the Rhydywrach to remind him of his home town. The Rhydywrach became the scourge of the Caribbean, plundering and looting every foreign ship unlucky enough to stray into its path. And as his pirate's hoard grew ever larger, Cyclops Jones began to secrete chests of booty around various haunts in the Antilles. His name became a byword in the underworld for stolen goods. So it was no surprise when, on one of his rare trips home to a Welsh port with, this time, a legitimate cargo of sugar, that he was contacted by the ne'er-do-well Clive Swain who had some hot jewellery to sell. And no ordinary gimcrackery either - these were the Crown jewels of England!
Emily thought Maurice’s suppositions preposterous. How on earth would Alec Gilroy have got hold of the ancient treasure map? And after three hundred years, what would be left of such treasure in the sea? The whole idea was ridiculous ... and yet, and yet... Alec had been working with old sea dogs for some years now, and mixing in some very odd company. There was no saying what he might not have been up to. Maurice’s cry of :"To Roaring Meg’s!" rallied her. They set out to eavesdrop on the plotters and glean what they could.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 10
Whilst enroute to Roaring Meg's, Emily had a notion. "Maurice," she said in a contemplative voice, "If this story is true, and the Crown Jewels were indeed stolen in 1649, what would happen to the Crown Jewels as they are now? I mean, if the original Crown Jewels were ever found?" Maurice tugged thoughtfully at his ear and carefully pondered the question. "I mean, the Crown Jewels are priceless," continued Emily, "But what would happen when there are suddenly two sets of Crown Jewels?" Maurice looked worried as he formed an answer. Well," he said, "I'm only guessing, but it is entirely likely that the 'new' Crown Jewels would no longer be priceless, and their value would plummet to, oh, I'd say about £573 million!" Emily gasped and grabbed on to the passenger hand rail above her head. "Then we simply MUST find out what Gilroy is up to! The future of Britain is at stake!", she cried. The rest of the trip to Meg's was in silence save for Emily's determined humming of 'Rule Britannia'...
As luck would have it, there was no parking spot in front of Meg's, and the surrounding car parks were filled with construction equipment due to the continuing refurbishment of the docks. They eventually found a spot outside an antique shop specializing in seafaring goods. The pair decided to browse the shop after the surreptitious encounter and headed for Meg's. Gilroy and Hodgetts had not arrived, and Emily and Maurice slipped into a darkened booth beside the only other vacant one. Maurice went to the bar and came back with a sherry for Emily and a Singapore Sling for himself. Emily thought this a strange drink for a policeman, but said nothing. No sooner had Maurice sat down when Alec and Henry entered the pub.
Hodgetts was clearly upset and Alec was trying to calm him down as they sat in the empty booth. "He had no right," fumed Hodgetts, "He had no right to do that!" Calm down, calm down," soothed Alec, "Let's have a quiet drink and relax." Emily and Maurice were on tenterhooks waiting for the proverbial beans to spill...
Meanwhile, their B&B was surrounded by the police, including a tactical unit complete with automatic weapons. The proprietor had quickly rung 9-9-9 after hearing what sounded like gunshots coming from Emily's room. The police wisely waited for the next move from within and quickly cordoned off the area. A phone line was set up, between the police and the B&B, which turned out to be useless because of either British Telecom, or the fact that Emily's room had no phone. The police, in unison, blamed BT, despite the pleading of the proprietor that the room did not have a phone.
Hodgetts was quietly sipping a scotch and Alec was nursing a gin and tonic when the waitress came to take their order. Henry thought briefly, then asked for something simple, like egg and chips. "That sounds good," said Alec, "Only make mine chips and egg!" The waitress gave Alec a disgusted look and disappeared into the kitchen. Emily and Maurice had given up hope of finding out what had upset Hodgetts, in fact they were wondering if anything at all would come of their eavesdropping. The pub was noisy and Alec and Henry ate in relative silence save for one forcefully whispered comment from Alec, "I know of someone in Caracas who can put a small team of...(muffled)...together. They can be in Bridgetown inside a fortnight." The pair quickly finished their lunch, paid the bill and left Meg's.
Maurice started as he felt a presence inside his jacket. His immediate thought was vermin as the pub was so close to the docks, and ripped off his jacket. The presence stopped, started and stopped again before Maurice remembered that he had put his mobile phone on vibrate mode. He answered officially, "Chief Superintendent Bledsop here." The caller identified himself as Chief Inspector Curlywatts of the Southampton police. "We'd be obliged if you could come back to your B&B, Chief Superintendent, we seem to have a problem with a disturbance in the room next to yours..."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 11
Maurice had been with the force long enough to know that "disturbance" was official phonecode for "armed nutter going berserk", so he said to Emily: "Something is up at the B&B. I’ve been called back. But there is no need for you to come - why not sit here and enjoy another sherry while I sort it out." But Emily had been around for a while herself, and knew a fob-off when she heard one. "Nonsense!" she cried. "I am coming with you. I need to see that my belongings are safe." Her features took on that determined look, and Maurice knew when he was beaten.
They drove back to the B&B and found the street taped off with incident tape and armed police standing guard. "Let us through!" said Bledsop smartly, flashing his ID, and the rows of the boys in blue parted. He found CI Curlywatts and asked for a situation update. "There were six shots reported. We returned fire on arrival. I think we have got him in the last exchange," said Curlywatts. "There has been a complete silence from the room for the last 20 minutes. We’re about to go in." "I’m coming with you."
A squad pounded up the front stone steps with Bledsop and Curlywatts taking the rear. An indignant Emily was held back, over her protests. Two lead police officers stormed the door of Emily’s room, then drew back in horror. All was still within, apart from the wet sound of dripping. "It’s.. it’s horrible, sir!" said these case-hardened men, reeling away nauseous. Bledsop and Curlywatts stepped in and could hardly believe the scene of carnage that met their eyes. "Mrs Bishop must never see this!" was Maurice‘s first reaction.
The room looked like a tornado had hit it. The curtains hung in shreds and the TV was a smoking black hole. Shattered glass was everywhere. And everywhere, too, dripping wetly and stickily from walls and ceiling, was a thick viscous liquid that was not quite red. A repulsive smell hung in the air, a reek of cordite and something else, a bit vinegary, a bit fruity and spicy.
"She treasured those jars of Branston Pickle!" said Maurice, choking back a sob. "She must have placed them too close to the radiator and they exploded! There’s your crazed gunman, Curlywatts... nothing but six jars of Britain’s finest export."
Curlywatts sighed with relief and ordered his men back to the station and a day‘s worth of incident paperwork, leaving Bledsop to sort out the matter of compensation with the B&B’s distraught proprietor. He broke the news to Emily and, despite her sorrow at the loss of the food that was like Mother’s Milk to her, she could not help but see the funny side. Thank heavens she had taken the jars out of the sturdy Samsonite(TM) suitcase, which was still intact. Her belongings were not damaged in any way. The proprietor found her another room, after first checking that she was carrying no more explosives, and she and Maurice decided to retire for the night. After all they had a big day tomorrow - Emily’s first flight to the Caribbean!
The morning dawned fair and still and Maurice drove them to the long-stay car park at Heathrow in time for the Air Carib flight. Emily took the sensible precaution of wearing the beard as a disguise, causing Maurice’s voice to thicken. But she need not have worn it after all, as from a distance they watched Gilroy and Hodgetts join a beaming fforbes-Greene at the First Class check-in at the far end of the hall. Emily suffered a pang of jealousy as she thought that they may be doing it in such style on her money, while she and Maurice were travelling cattle class. She tore off the beard and stuffed it into her cabin bag. So they boarded the plane unseen by the Weatherfield Three. Nor did they notice, at the last minute, a final, late arrival being shown up the first class boarding ramp and join the shady trio they were following. A passenger with a flaming big red hairdo, all completely natural and definitely not a wig of any description. If they had, it might have put an entirely new complexion on things.
"Flipping ‘eck," said Rita Sullivan as she sank into the cushioned luxury of her first class seat next to Alex, "I thought I’d never make it through that traffic. Now which one of you boys brought the Travel Scrabble?"
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 12
When fforbes-Greene learned that Gilroy and Hodgetts were taking the Air Carib flight, and were travelling first class to boot, he thought, "stuff this for a lark!" and quickly cancelled his British Airways ticket for a first class berth on Air Carib. "There's no way I'm going to let THAT pair out of my sight, not even for a minute," he thought. If coach was gauche, first class was exceptional. Champagne and fresh orange juice handed to you when you boarded. Hot hors d'oeuvres waiting for you at your seat - although fforbes-Greene blanched when Alec called it a 'finger buffet' - the twit. No, flying couldn't get any better than this! He wasn't thinking that flying could get a whole lot worse than that in a relatively short period of time, but then, Champers will do that to you.
The minute fforbes-Greene sat down in seat 3C he regretted exchanging his British Airways ticket for the Air Carib flight. Seat 3D was occupied by a large, burly, bearded man in a kilt. "Good morrrning to ye," he said in a thick Scottish Highland accent, "Me name is McTavish McSporran, but me frrriends call me Weetabix!" The name 'Weetabix' caused fforbes-Greene to splutter and, consequently, he sprayed Champagne and orange juice all over the seat in front, which just happened to be occupied by Alec. Fortunately for fforbes-Greene, Alec was in awe as Rita entered the First-Class section of the Boeing 767ER and sat down beside him. Weetabix was rattling on and on about the weather in Barbados and the price of herring and heaven knows what else, but fforbes-Greene wasn't listening - he was mesmerized by the red-headed vision sitting next to Alec.
A small jolt snapped fforbes-Greene from his reverie. The large aircraft was being pushed back from the gate and the Flight Attendants had started doing the seatbelt/personal flotation device/emergency exit thing. Funny thing, he hadn't even heard the engines being started. Even funnier, well, perhaps 'funny' was not the proper word, he wondered why a life jacket was now called a personal flotation device. Was the name 'life jacket' false advertising? A contradiction in terms? The pilot advanced the throttles and the B767ER started moving along the taxiway toward the runway. There was a Qantas 747 in front of the Air Carib 767 and Air Carib had to wait 3 minutes for the turbulence from the larger aircraft to dissipate before lining up on the runway. The throttles were advanced to full power and the large aircraft instantly began rolling. In what seemed like seconds, the 767 was airborne and was climbing rapidly away from Heathrow.
fforbes-Greene could see that Alec and the red-headed vision were talking quickly and quietly, but he could not hear them while the aircraft was in climb. Once the aircraft broke through the high clouds, the pilot throttled back the engines to flight idle and turned off the seatbelt sign. No sooner had the pilot done that, when Alec and the vision stopped talking. "Damn them!" he thought. But fforbes-Greene simply had to introduce himself to this lovely, lovely lady and he rose from his seat to do so. "Good morning madam," he said in his best courtroom English, "Please allow me to introduce myself - Robson fforbes-Greene at your service." "Very pleased to meet you Mr. fforbes-Greene, my name is Rita Sullivan." Alec looked a tad uncomfortable and a tinge of green was just beginning to appear at his collar.
By this time, Hodgetts, who had also seen the red-headed vision enter the aircraft and sit next to Alec, appeared. He, too, introduced himself, and the pair fawned shamelessly over Rita, causing the colour to rise up on Alec's face. "The Kabin, with a K, you say?" cooed a smarmy Henry Hodgetts. "In Weatherfield, you say?" cooed an equally smarmy fforbes-Greene. Rita was simply loving the attention, but was loving the green colour of Alec's visage even more. This went on until Alec thought he would burst when the seatbelt sign came on and the pilot informed the self-loading cargo.. er.. passengers that some weather turbulence was expected very shortly, and would everyone return to their seats.
Soon after, the pilot, having received Air Traffic Control permission to fly around the disturbance, turned off the seatbelt sign and the meal service began. The quartet settled in to the routine of the flight, dining on such first class delicacies as Aubergines Florentine, Squirrel Tureen, Garlic Pate de Escargots al fresco and Baked Alabama. When the full seven courses were cleared away, the Weatherfield four felt tired and snoozed for the rest of the flight, which was uneventful, landing in Bridgetown right on time...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 13
The Weatherfield Four were long deplaned and across to the other side of the airport and their onward connection by the time Emily and Maurice were finally allowed off the plane with the rest of cattle class. "I have arranged for us to go on a later flight," said Maurice importantly. "The runway on Mustique is the shortest in the Caribbean, and can’t even take the private jets of its many famous residents. Consequently everyone has to travel by Air Mustique and its planes are rather small. There’s only two hotels on the island and I am afraid they are both rather expensive, and not private enough. But by great good luck I have been able to reserve a small private 2 bedroom villa for us. I found it on the Internet at http://www.mustique-island.com/villas/villas.php?vid=1. And I also managed to find out where our pals are staying. I must say they have a bloody nerve. They are booked into Les Jolies Eaux which I found on http://www.mustique-island.com/villas/villas.php?vid=43. It‘s one of the most expensive villas on the island. It was designed by Oliver Messel for Princess Margaret, you know, but her son sold it recently and now anyone can stay there - if they can afford it. It’s US$18,000 a week!"
Emily was scandalised. To think the children of Weatherfield Hospital had only a 14 inch television while the President of Friends of Weatherfield Hospital, and her own accountant were about to disport themselves in a luxury villa with swimming pool, jeep and media room on the most exclusive Caribbean island. The very place where the late Princess Margaret injured her feet in the bath! And she was becoming more and more certain that the funds she had donated to the children of Weatherfield were paying for it.
The Bridgetown airport did not run to air conditioning and Emily found herself coming up in a prickly heat rash where the adhesive from the false beard had already irritated her fine English Rose skin. She did not know what was more irritating, in fact, the rash or the thought that the weasel Alec Gilroy was using her fortune to look for even more fortune, all of it ill-gotten. One way or another, Emily was a very itchy lady longing to slap someone.
The long hours in the airport passed slowly, till the little Air Mustique plane reappeared and their bags were loaded on it. Up they went again, soaring out over the improbably aquamarine sea, over tiny volcanic islets with white sand beaches, until they touched down on Mustique. The tropical air hit Emily in the face with the force of a hairdryer as she stepped out onto the fabled island of wealth and celebrity. They boarded one of the island’s 11 taxis and soon found themselves at their charming villa. Maurice kindly allowed Emily to have the splendid upstairs bedroom with its own bathroom and balcony and sea view. They were so tired that all they could do was fall into bed and sleep.
With their shocking jetlag, Emily awoke in the middle of the night. She was sure she had heard a humming noise. She took her bedside torch and moved slowly downstairs to find out what was making the noise. The light was on in Maurice’s room and she knocked. "Come in" cried Maurice and she entered. To her astonishment he was fully dressed, in black trousers and shirt and with black running shoes on his feet. He had opened the small black holdall she had seen him keep beside at all times during the flight. It revealed a plethora of small very mysterious objects, and a great deal of wiring. A laptop was open and running on the bed beside him. Maurice had one gadget out and was testing it, and that was where the humming was coming from. "There is no reason why you should not know about this," he said to a startled Emily. "It is my media centre. Now the Weatherfield Four may think they have bought some privacy at Les Jolies Eaux, but they are not technical people and I am. I have already been up to their villa and placed a directional bug on the gateposts, and a miniwebcam. That will pick up conversations and movements within a 400metre radius. And now I am about to hack into their communications system so that we can monitor every phone call, every fax, every email coming form the villa. They will not be able to blow their nose but we overhear it."
Emily was impressed despite herself. She did not believe in intruding into other people’s private conversations...but on the other hand, the children of Weatherfield were counting on her. She watched fascinated as Maurice’s flying fingers programmed the laptop and a picture slowly emerged on the screen. She could see the villa quite clearly, and could see the indistinct figures of a woman and three men seated on the verandah. Maurice’s finger manipulated the keys once more and the web cam zoomed in on their faces. He turned up the volume and Emily could hear every word clearly. "This is the life," said fforbes-Greene. "I’ve rung my bank in the Cayman Islands and the fund transfer is complete. We can go out to the cay on the Sugar Plum tomorrow and meet the crew.". Emily peered closely at the screen and now the woman turned her head in the direction of the hidden camera. Emily froze as she recognised a very familiar face indeed.
Rita Sullivan burped suddenly, and said: "Scuse me, folks. Squirrel always repeats on me."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 14
Just then, Fernando Flagellant, the former footballer now fanatically faithful footman, flowed through the French doors with a tray of fruity tropical frappes. He set down the tray and produced a cordless telephone which he passed to Alec. "Damn," hissed Maurice, "I haven't managed to hack into their communications system yet! Although we can hear Alec, we cannot hear who he is talking to." Maurice busied himself with his equipment, and broke in to the system just in time to hear: "Si, Senor, we are leaving Caracas now. The equipment has already arrived. We will pick up the equipment in Grenada and will charter the boat there. We will meet you tomorrow at the arranged time."
"Emily...Emily!." Maurice's call made her start. "Rita...Rita Fairclough!", she cried, "What is Rita Fairclough, no, no, Sullivan, what is Rita Sullivan doing here?" "Is that who that stunning woman is?" said Maurice, instantly regretting doing so. He could almost feel Emily's icy stare piercing his back. The Weatherfield Four finally retired to their tastefully decorated rooms for the rest of the night. Maurice could understand their reluctance to sleep while in Les Jolies Eaux. After all, it was costing them $107.14 US per hour to stay there. Maurice and Emily also retired, Maurice noting that their villa was only costing them $20.83 US per hour. Maurice didn't sleep terribly well after figuring that out.
The next day dawned bright and sunny with a temperature of 80 degrees F. Emily rose to find Maurice already in the kitchen with a fresh pot of coffee and a delicious looking plate of fresh fruit on the table, along with a box of unsweetened muesli. "Oh, Maurice!" cried Emily, "You remembered!" "How could I forget after that display at the B&B in Southampton," he thought. "It's my pleasure," he said, "But to business - we must get to the cay before that motley crew does. If I can get the registration of the boat that is meeting them, then perhaps I can use my sources to track the people who have chartered it. From there we can deduce what Alec and the others are up to." Emily looked distant, a Mona Lisa like smile pasted across her face. She was thrilled that Maurice was so thoughtful as to bring along her favourite muesli. "Please pass the bananas," she said.
"What cay," thought Maurice. He pulled out a well-worn map from the sideboard and studied it carefully. He noted the location of Les Jolies Eaux and scanned the shoreline in each direction for a likely rendezvous point. He settled on the cay at the southern-most tip of the island. It made sense. The southern-most tip of the island was the closest to Grenada, and the cay had several docks, one of them capable of accepting a trawler. Maurice thought that a fair-sized boat must be used if the quartet were venturing into open water. The weather in the Lesser Antilles was idyllic, yet a tropical storm capable of swamping smaller boats could happen at any time.
"Emily," he said, "it is time for us to leave." Emily came down the stairs wearing her lavender bathing suit and matching sun hat. Maurice's jaw dropped, but being the policeman he was, he quickly picked it up. Emily grabbed a terry cloth robe and almost skipped outside. Maurice did a quick scan of Les Jolies Eaux and found that the suspects had just risen and Fernando was serving breakfast. Emily and Maurice strolled towards the cay when a vehicle drew up beside them. A large, burly, bearded man in a kilt was sitting in the driver's seat. "Canna give ye a lift?" he said, "Why, yes, thank-you Mr...Mr..." "Ye can call me Weetabix," he said with a broad smile..."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 15
"It’s all right, Weetabix," said Maurice, "You can talk freely in front of Mrs Bishop. She knows almost everything about our mission. And indirectly, she is funding the whole treasure hunting expedition of the Weatherfield Four - she has quite a stake in our success." Weetabix looked surprised, then rapidly introduced himself to an equally startled Emily. "McTavish McSporran," he said, extending a large hand covered with furry red hair. Maurice interjected: "That’s Commander McSporran, of Special Branch. As soon as I realised how big this case was, Emily, I contacted Special Branch and they have brought in some undercover operatives in the area. It‘s a matter of National Heritage, after all. " "Is Fernando Flagellant one of your men?" enquired a breathless Emily, thinking that Special Branch had been able to place a bogus staff member right in Les Jolies Eaux itself. "Ahem, no," harrumphed Weetabix. "We’re not that special."
"So what’s the plan?" asked Maurice. "I’ve hired a fast fishing launch, the Tradewind, for us." replied Weetabix. "We will be taking her out today disguised as a normal fishing party. We’ll be able to keep an eye on the party on the Sugar Plum and monitor their doings from a distance. Short of wiring up a seagull, that is our only option."
He drove them the short distance to the wharf and their rental boat was waiting. On this playground of the rich and famous, all the boats were fast and elegant and the Tradewind was no exception. As soon as Emily was aboard, Maurice had a request: "Dear lady, for your own protection and disguise I must ask you to dress as a fisherman. I have brought some clothes for the purpose." He pulled a pair of beige cotton trousers and a loose-fitting green Guernsey from his duffel bag and Emily put them on, not without a pang of regret that her sleek new lavender bathing suit was not to see some Caribbean action that day.
"And one more thing, dear lady," added Maurice. "I think this would be a wise precaution." His outstretched hand held aloft a familiar object. This time there was no mistaking the gleam in his eye. Against her better judgement, Emily added the red false beard to her ensemble. "My god," said Weetabix, "you remind me of someone... my older brother, perhaps?" Emily was disgruntled. Maurice, however, looked all too gruntled.
With Weetabix at the wheel, the Tradewind rocketed into life and chugged serenely out onto the calm blue waters of L’Ansecoy Bay. "The cay they are heading for is at the other end of the island, near Gelliceaux Bay," said Weetabix over the throb of the engine. "Less than four land miles, and not very far out to sea at all. Relax and enjoy the view. We’ll pass Led Jolies Eaux on the way, at Britannia Bay. We’ll pick up the Sugar Plum soon enough - can’t miss it. They’ve rented the only pink boat on the island!" He shook with laughter.
Maurice meanwhile was sitting at the cabin table fiddling with his black box of tricks. "I can almost intercept their mobiles. Reception is surprisingly good on the island. I caught part of Gilroy’s conversation with the Caracas crew -" He broke off as Emily’s own mobile stirred to life shrilly. She was startled, but answered it immediately. Maurice heard her say: "Under the sink. And if you need more, I have some pound coins in a small trinket box on my dressing table. You can go into my room just this once. It has a bunch of violets on top." She was silent for a while, as the caller seemed to squawk on and on. Exasperated, she interrupted the caller: "No, I won’t be back this week! No, I don’t know where Rita is! You’ll just have to cope! Goodbye!!"
She turned to a quizzical Maurice and said : "Norris Cole. He couldn’t find the scouring powder, and he has run out of furniture polish. And with Rita missing from the shop, he is going spare trying to polish two buildings at once. But he did say something interesting."
"What was that?" asked Maurice with one eye on the blue horizon as Weetabix steered the craft round Lagoon Bay and they saw the tall headland of South Point appear in the distance ahead. "He said the suppliers have been onto him at the Kabin. His stationery supply has been suspended. It seems all Rita’s cheques have bounced."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 16
Emily sat down in a heap and exhaled loudly, her breath making the false moustache flap. "It was all too much," she thought. "Weetabix, Special Branch, Les Jolies Eaux, Crown Jewels, Norris perishing Cole, and now this infernal false beard! Why did she have to wear this false beard? It didn't help that the beard was a vibrant red and clashed violently with her lavender bathing suit, "not that anyone could see it now," she thought bitterly. Emily had had enough! In a flash she whisked off the false beard and chucked it out the port hole. The beige cotton trousers and the loose-fitting green Guernsey were next. Then, up onto the deck where she thought she heard a wolf whistle from Weetabix, only she almost swore it was done with trilled R's. "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." The sound echoed in her ears as she dove over the side of the Tradewind into the warm aquamarine sea.
Emily broke the surface only to see a shocking pink boat headed straight for her. Thinking quickly, she took several deep breaths and dove under the boat as it passed her. She bobbed up in the wake of the Sugar Plum, only to see Rita sunning herself in a...a... sleek lavender bathing suit! Emily laughed heartily, her laughter drowned out by the engine noise of the Sugar Plum. "If only you knew how much your flaming red hair clashed with that lavender bathing suit!" she thought to herself. She was still laughing when the Tradewind pulled along side and Weetabix pulled her out of the water.
But something was up! Maurice was using a scanner of some sort and had picked up a transmission from the East Ender, a trawler based in Grenada. The East Ender had set sail for the Aves Basin, approximately 200 km due west of Kingstown, St Vincent and would arrive at 1500 hours. When the message finished, the trio watched as the Sugar Plum suddenly lurched forward, heading west at great speed. "She might be the only pink boat on the island," Weetabix grimaced, "But she's sure packing a huge power plant!" Emily blushed furiously, for some unapparent reason.
They realized that the East Ender had to be the boat that the crew from Caracas had chartered. Weetabix pulled out his charts and found the approximate location of the rendezvous. He set the throttles to make 20 knots and engaged the autopilot. They had hours to cover the 200 km, and they didn't want the crew of the Sugar Plum to notice them. The charts showed the depth in the area to be 200 feet or so. Too deep for the scuba gear that was on the Tradewind, but with any luck, they wouldn't have to use it anyway.
It was 1400 hours when Weetabix saw the rusty trawler off to port, about 16 km distant. He took out his trusty telescope and found the registration, MBC 111. Maurice grabbed his satellite phone and quickly called Scotland Yard. "Superintendent Mochrie, please," he asked. "Colin? Can you do a search on a boat registration? You can? The registration is MBC 111. Thanks, I'll wait." Weetabix slowed the Tradewind and disappeared to make tea. He didn't want anyone to get nervous now that they were so close. "Yes, I'm still here," said Bledsop, "It is registered to whom? Mike Baldwin Casuals? Good Lord! And the boat is wanted in Amsterdam as well? Right, thanks Colin!" Maurice rang off and was pensive, despite Emily's lounging in that rather scrumptious bathing suit. Weetabix appeared with the tea and Maurice filled him in on what he had learned. "Mike Baldwin," mused Weetabix, "I know that name - didn't he run a risqué undergarment factory in East London? Got caught for fiddling funds, I seem to remember."
Amsterdam, Mike Baldwin, undergarments, the Crown Jewels, Mustique...was there a tie?...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 17
On board the Sugar Plum, Rita Sullivan lounged on the deck, Fluffy Duck in an elegant glass held by one bejewelled hand. To look at her, she was a rich and still very attractive widow with not a care in the world. She had changed into a purple one piece with an all-over tropical print. The effect, with her flaming red tresses, all natural, not even helped in the slightest by her hairdresser, was stunning. Hodgetts and fforbes-Greene could hardly keep their eyes off her, though Alec Gilroy brought them back down to earth with a series of barked instructions. Hodgetts was at the controls and his sophisticated radar soon picked up the dot on the horizon that was the MBC111.
Rita had time to wonder, on the way out to the Aves Basin, where it had all gone wrong for her. One minute she was the richest widow in Coronation Street, the proceeds of dead husbands littering her path, and a nice little earner in the Kabin and its post office. The next, her bank account was plummeting, the result of a combination of some unwise investments, bad advice from her accountant, and the excessive purchase of Hummel figurines and loud costume jewellery. And there was the contribution made by her assistant Norris Cole, too - did he think she was MADE of furniture polish? He got through more Pledge than a temperance convention. There was no doubt about it, her financial train had gone right off the rails.
Was it luck or Divine Providence that had led her, that previous week, to open the suitcase that her former neighbour Alec Gilroy had left with her for safekeeping? In truth, it was the smell coming from it, and her fear that he had accidentally left a mango inside from his last voyage to tropical parts. The aroma turned out to be a red herring, which she disposed of, but the ancient hand-sketched map that fell out had intrigued her. As she studied it, and read the tale that the cabin boy had appended to the bottom of the map, the magnitude of what she was looking at weighed in on her. She grew more certain that Alec was intending to depart on a treasure hunt. This could be her one and only chance to recoup her fortune.
Alec had looked green when she confronted him with the map and her suppositions. At first he had been defiant and denied everything, but when she threatened to tell his granddaughter, Vicky, how Alec had deceived her and how he had really disposed of her beloved pony, he crumbled and told her of the expedition that was about to leave for the Lesser Antilles. Rita made a deal: her place on the Sugar Plum syndicate was the price of her silence.
As they drew nearer to the MBC111, the name painted on its side became clearer. It still had its Dutch registration painted clearly on the stern: the white letters proclaiming it to be the Onderwereld. They drew closer and switched off their engines. fforbes-Greene caught a line thrown to them by the crew of the Onderwereld and made it fast, fixing a boarding ramp between the two craft.
Back on the Tradewind, just out of sight, the "fishing party" listened as the crew of the Onderwereld greeted their employers on the Sugar Plum.
"Ahoy, Gilroy! Is this yours?" And there, held out on the end of a gaff, and still dripping the warm waters of the Caribbean sea from which had it just been rescued, was Emily’s fiery red beard.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 18
It was too late to send a dive team down, so the crew of the Onderwereld readied their equipment for an early morning dive, weather permitting, and set anchor. Alec was poring over his map when Rita came in with a steaming plate of prime rib au jus and chips and a pint of best bitter. There ARE things that a British male can do without. Chips is NOT one of them. Rita stumbled as she put down the plate, causing some of the au jus to slosh over the side of the plate and onto Alec's map. Alec cursed, and glared at Rita reproachfully, until he saw the look on Rita's face.
Rita was staring at the table. The au jus had made part of the map opaque, and the original map disappeared leaving a second map visible. Alec quickly sloshed the remaining au jus over the map, revealing the new map, or to be more precise, the new half map. Rita thought back to the tale that the cabin boy had appended to the bottom of the map. Was it a tale, or was it a clue? The tale read:
Here I sit quite broken hearted,
The Rhydywrach sunk before I started.
All the rest are dead and gone,
The shining booty no longer shone.
Cabin boy, shipmate, eckythump,
Take the map and on it dump.
Meanwhile, on the Tradewind, Maurice's mobile rang. It was Superintendent Mochrie of the Yard. "We followed up on MBC111, Mike Baldwin knows nothing about it," he said. "Baldwin is on his way to London now to find out what is going on - he will let me know what he finds, but he assures me that the manager of his lavender knicker collection is, or will be, history. Too bad, that. I quite fancied those laven...". "Colin,...COLIN!" cried Maurice, "Are you alright?" But the phone was silent. Maurice went on deck to a stony silence, save for a muffled trilled R sound . Emily was lounging on the deck, catching the last rays of the day. Weetabix sat engrossed in a newspaper. The cop in Bledsop figured that something was wrong, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Then he noticed that the newspaper was upside down, and there was hole in it at about eye level. Weetabix was spying on Emily!
Rita raced to her cabin and grabbed the map she had found in Alec's suitcase. When she returned, Alec spread the au jus over the map. As with Alec's map, the original map disappeared leaving a second map visible. Alec put the two maps together and gasped! It was a treasure map alright! But they were in the wrong spot. The new map detailed the exact location of the treasure to be 4 degrees, 15 minutes and 43 seconds north and 2 degrees, 35 minutes and 12 seconds east of their present location. Alec checked his charts. That would put the treasure just off the coast of Montserrat, and he had the EXACT location. Alec reached for Rita and they started dancing around the table. Hodgetts and fforbes-Green appeared immediately to see what the commotion was. "We have the exact location of the Crown Jewels, advise the Onderwereld that we are sailing for Montserrat immediately!"
Weetabix was totally engrossed with Emily. Besotted would probably be a good description. He was so besotted that he didn't hear the Onderwereld weigh anchor and chug to the north. Maurice came from below just in time to see the Onderwereld disappear over the horizon. He chucked a grey tracksuit at Emily and advised her to put it on. "Not again," Emily thought, but did as requested. Maurice weighed anchor and started the engines to chase the Onderwereld. He knew something was up, but he had to deal with Alec before he confronted Weetabix...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 19
The hills of Montserrat rose hazily above an azure sea as the sun rose the following morning. The Onderwereld and the Sugar Plum made good time and were preparing to anchor over the spot where the dual maps said Cyclops Jones’s treasure lay amidst the remains of the Rhydywrach.
Despite herself, Rita was excited. "I’ll be in the money again!" she thought to herself, shuddering at the memory of the day Vera Duckworth had accosted her and told her how to economise in her addiction to buying earrings the size of dustbinlids. "There’s this bloke at the market," shrilled Vera," he’s got a box of rejects and broken ones under the counter. He lets me have ‘em cheap for parts. I get out the elephant glue and stick the bits back in random order - you ought to try it! It’s dis-tinct-ive! Noone else will have earrings like you!" And noone would want to, Rita had thought; the day I take fashion tips off Vera Duckworth is the day I hand in my wi-- ...er, my 100 percent organic, totally ungenetically modified, not augmented in any way, hair.
The trio on the Tradewind kept a steady pace behind the Sugar Plum, tracking them on the radar. When they saw them lay anchor a few hundred metres off Deadman’s Rocks, Weetabix steered the Tradewind into the next bay, Curious Cove, and stayed hidden behind the sheltering tor. The Weatherfield Four were too preoccupied with their diving preparations to notice that the launch they had seen the day before off Mustique had mysteriously reappeared, but it would not have surprised them had they seen it. The Grenadines, playground of the rich and famous, were full of pleasure and leisure craft idling the days away. Weetabix, Emily and Maurice stepped into the boat’s dinghy and rowed ashore. They scaled the scrub-covered cliff behind the bay, bearing west, and emerged at the top overlooking Deadman’s Rocks. Weetabix gave them each a water bottle and some binoculars. They trained them on the Sugar Plum and Onderwereld and settled down to wait.
The morning passed slowly, but Emily had brought some fresh fruit with her off the Tradewind and they shared it around. The divers went over the side while Alec and Rita paced the deck eying each other edgily. There are some men that even chips won’t satisfy. There are some women for whom a cupboard full of earrings is never enough. The hunger that they both knew as deprived children had surfaced in their mature years in different ways, but it was born of the same pain and the same yearning chasm that could never be filled. And each knew that the other would betray them for gold, as quick as a lightning strike can ignite the dry grass of summer. Hodgetts and fforbes-Greene had no such excuses for their behaviour. They were a lawyer and an accountant. Nuff said.
One of the divers emerged, hauling himself up the dive rope. He surfaced, reached into his dive pouch and held something aloft. He seemed triumphant! They could hear the cheers on the Sugar Plum even from where they lay hidden in the long grass atop the cliff. Weetabix was the first to spot it: "It’s a cannon ball!" he whispered urgently. "They’ve found a wreck!"
Emily hugged herself with anticipation. Maurice shivered with excitement also, then realised it was not excitement but his cellphone set to Vibrate. "Is that you Mochrie! What news?" Mochrie’s voice was elated: "Baldwin has been onto me. Apparently the Onderwereld was a small private venture by the lavender knickers manager from his London branch. He claimed it was a leisure craft used for entertaining, a tax writeoff. But the ship’s manifest makes it clear that most of the "entertaining" was done between Caracas and Miami. We have a hunch he was a freelance smuggler, maybe drugs, maybe illegal immigrants - we can’t say yet. Very possibly unlicensed software piracy." So that little shark Baldwin might be in big trouble! Let him talk his way out of this one, thought Maurice, there’s no way he didn’t know this was going on."
But before he could get too pleased, Mochrie added: "However Baldwin says because he has paid for the ship, he is entitled to any treasure trove it uncovers." That was Baldwin all over, thought Maurice, the cheek of the Old Nick. But his musings were broken into by a second shout from the ships anchored off Deadman’s Rocks. There was a sudden flurry of activity. The four were letting down ropes and buckets over the side as fast as they could, and slowly, ever so slowly, the divers were surfacing with things that gleamed, things that shone, things that might, very possibly, have been jewels and ducats and doubloons and pieces of eight. More buckets went over, more buckets came up. The treasure chest of Cyclops Jones might have disintegrated under the sea, but the treasure of the Rhydywrach was seeing the light of day for the first time in nearly 400 years!
As the glittering pile of loot lay mounting up on the deck, Rita at once started sorting through it and putting all the jewels to one side, trying on a huge pair of ruby and gold earrings, the former property of a noblewoman in the English court. Emily muttered something about an ugly colour clash, but Maurice was too caught up in the moment to notice. Weetabix’s eyes were fixed on the golden circlet which Alec had placed jauntily on his head. "It’s the crown! The ancient crown of England!" he whispered softly to himself, in tones of awe. But none of them was prepared for what happened next...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 20
Emily stared in horror as a huge, gelatinous mass rose out of the water and slopped onto the deck of the Onderwereld! It was as disgusting as it was enormous, a putrescible, opalescent jelly lolling all over the deck. Rita and Alec disappeared under the colossal mass as thick tentacles reached for the treasure. A repulsive stench surrounded Emily causing her to choke as she searched for her hankie to cover her mouth. She had read of theses creatures, these giant squid - for that must surely be what it was - and was astounded to learn that they were carnivorous. She feared the worst for Rita and Alec, and let a muffled shriek escape. Maurice turned to see what the matter was, and noted that Emily was slowly rocking back and forth, a glazed look in her eyes.
"Emily...Emily...?" Emily looked up to see Maurice looking into her eyes and gently shaking her. "Emily, what's the matter," he inquired with concern. "Th..the squid, th..the giant squid on the boat!" she stammered, "Rita and Alec have been eaten by the giant squid!" That's when the copper in him looked for clues to understand what happened to Emily. He noticed the brown, hairy peeling on the ground beside her, and understood instantly. "Emily, you were hallucinating," he said, "there is no giant squid on the boat. You must have inadvertently left the kiwi fruit in the sun and they had started fermenting!" Emily felt a wave of relief come over her, but secretly thought that it would be a just ending for Alec.
Weetabix had never taken his eyes off the Onderwereld and the divers bringing up the booty. One item of extreme interest to him was a triangular brass object that was thrown to one side, opposite the growing pile of loot. "A brass monkey!" he thought, "Cyclops Jones had a brass monkey!" He chuckled to himself as the phrase 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'' went through his mind. He told Emily and Maurice what he had seen, "Now where did Cyclops Jones get the money for a brass monkey to rest his balls on?" Emily blushed instantly as Weetabix broke out in laughter at his gaffe. "I'm so sorry, dear lady - a monkey is where cannon balls were stacked. In cold weather, an iron monkey would contract, and all the balls would fall off. A brass monkey resisted this contraction, thus were sought after by sea Captains, but they were extremely expensive in those days."
Suddenly, as is normal in the Caribbean, a storm appeared. Curtains of rain cascaded down, rendering the Onderwereld and the Sugar Plum invisible to the trio. There was nothing they could do except try to find shelter under the palms. The storm lasted a mere 20 minutes and stopped as abruptly as it had started. When the skies cleared, the Onderwereld and the Sugar Plum were nowhere to be seen. The trio feared the worst and called the Coast Guard, who informed them that it would be several hours before help could be sent due to the number of accidents caused by the storm.
Unbeknownst to Rita, Hodgetts and fforbes-Greene, Alec had, indeed, noticed the Tradewind in Mustique, and had seen her sail into Curious Cove. He had gone below deck and had found a telescope, which he used to scan the land around Curious Cove. He was startled to see the strange bloke that fforbes-Greene had the unfortunate luck to sit beside on the flight to Barbados. What did he call himself? Bran Flakes, was it? Shreddies? No, no... Weetabix! Weetabix, that was it! Alec's mind reeled as the second man came into view. He had copper written all over him. Emily's appearance confirmed his thoughts. Those damn fools Hodgetts and fforbes-Greene had been discovered pilfering Emily's money!
When the storm started, the divers came out of the water. They knew that these tropical storms played havoc with ocean currents, and they certainly didn't want to get sucked into an undertow, never to be seen again. Alec made a quick decision. He gathered the Weatherfield four together, told them of his suspicions and outlined his plans. The decision was made to weigh anchor and ride with the storm, which was blowing south-west, and thus away from the island. There was no chance of hitting anything in the near term, but all agreed that it was best to get away from prying eyes. They couldn't possibly have known about the 'storm' that awaited them at the end of the storm...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 21
As the Weatherfield Four sailed away to the horizon, Weetabix sprung into action. "We have to get back to the Tradewind," he said. "We must do our best to locate them, and if they are not at the bottom of the sea, we must rescue the treasure."
Emily, Maurice and Weetabix had no need for caution now as they dashed out into the open and began running down the steep hill to where the Tradewind lay at anchor in Curious Cove. Quickly seizing the dinghy from its hiding place in the scrub near the beach, Weetabix rowed them back out to the Tradewind and they were just in time to pick up the Onderwereld and the Sugar Plum on the radar. Emily sighed with relief. Rita may be associating with criminals, she thought, but she did not steal my money and I don’t want her to drown.
Weetabix made a rapid call back to his Special Branch commander and gave the boats’ positions from his GPS navigation system. A fierce look of determination had settled across his jaw and Emily could not help but feel a flutter of admiration as she looked up at his stern, rugged manliness. Maurice saw the glance she was giving Weetabix, and felt a pang. If only, he thought, they had been allowed a little longer on Mustique in that lovely villa. He was sure she could have seen the sterling man he truly was, and reciprocated his feelings. He was even willing to forego seeing her in the false red beard, though not without some regrets. But the way the sunlight was playing off Weetabix‘s own fiery red beard made him, from certain angles, dashed attractive, he had to admit.
The boats motored on through the late afternoon sun and had the quest not been such a vital one, and had Emily not suffered from a couple of fermented kiwifruit flashbacks during one of which she hallucinated that she was a banana, and the other that she was the Pharoah’s favourite Nubian acrobat, it might have been a quiet trip.
Eventually the familiar cliffs and coves of Mustique began to appear on the horizon, and it was evident that the Alec had instructed the crews to return to Les Jolies Eaux. Emily was secretly delighted. A month’s worth of newly purchased cruise wear just sitting in her suitcase there on Mustique, and for the last couple of days she had been restricted to wearing mouldy old men’s fishing clothes stowed on the Tradewind. And only her sleek lavender bathing suit for underwear! Emily felt like she needed a shower and a change of frillies. And some embrocation for her sore back, which she had put out during the Nubian acrobat flashback.
Weetabix’s mind was focused only on the task at hand. He had called for backup and police boats were even now heading out from Bridgetown and the local private force, such as it was, on Mustique were all on the alert. The net was closing in on Gilroy‘s band of brigands.
On the Sugar Plum, Alec had coolly broken the news to Rita that they had been observed, and by whom. Rita was stricken.
Emily Bishop! Of all people! She had always got on well with Emily, though indeed they had never been bosom buddies. But if Emily was here , that meant those hints that fforbes-Greene and Hodgetts had been dropping about their share of the expedition costs having been met by a rich widow were... were... Rita’s head whirled with the implications of it all.
She felt the first pricklings of embarrassment that her underworld associations had been witnessed by someone who knew her as well as Emily. And if her suspicions were right, that she had been associating with people who had stolen money from her old friend and neighbour. She had never been a bad woman, only badly drawn. She timidly broached the subject to Alec: "Alec, I’ve been thinking. Why don’t we give some of the treasure back to the Crown. Declare it, like? We could always keep a little for ourselves to cover costs."
Alec Gilroy turned on her like a rabid dog. She flinched and backed away as he snarled: "Are you poddled? Give the crown back to the Windsors? What do they need with another crown!? They’ve got suitcases full of them, under the bed! This one is mine. Mine do you hear me??!!!"
He thumped the table for emphasis and half a dozen rough cut emeralds the size of bantam’s eggs fell off onto the floor. His glittering eyes frightened Rita and she knew she would have to think quickly, as the Sugar Plum edged ever nearer towards the private jetty at the foot of the steep track up to Les Jolies Eaux.
Rita sidled up to Henry Hodgetts, whom she judged to be the more susceptible of Alec’s companions. He was still following her round the boat like a little dog and looking up at her longingly with those big brown eyes. She decided it was now or never.
"Henry," she said, fluttering her eyelashes and giving her head a coquettish toss that made for a blinding sunstrike off her totally unmodified, 100percent pure, untouched-by-human-hand glorious naturally red hair. "I have an idea..."
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 22
Rita quickly outlined her idea to Henry, who, she noticed, could
not stop staring at her with those big brown eyes. "We'll cop the lolly and
head for the hills," she said, "when we're back in Weatherfield, we'll
contact the Bill and split the..." Rita had noticed that Henry's attention
had faded, and also noticed that there was a heady aroma in the air. Bacon! The
unmistakable smell of bacon was on the wind. Rita looked all around the Sugar
Plum. There was nothing to see for as far as the eye could see. After
transferring the loot, the Onderwereld had departed for Grenada, the home port,
so where was the smell of bacon coming from? Just then, fforbes-Greene came from
below with a plate full of cheese and bacon butties. He had heard Alec's raised
voice about never giving the loot back, and thought it best to get some
cholesterol into Alec in order to calm him down.
fforbes-Greene didn't get the chance, though, as he was the
first to see the whirling radar mast on the horizon. The mast was closing in,
and as it did so, a ship came into view. Alec grabbed the telescope and focussed
on the ship. Flying the White Ensign, it was a British frigate, and it was
heading their way with all speed! Alec made a quick decision, and gunned the
engines of the Sugar Plum. The boat leapt at the command and headed west, away
from Mustique and Les Jolies Eaux. The frigate was no match for the Sugar Plum.
As Alec accelerated away, the mast of the frigate disappeared over the horizon.
Alec wondered aloud, "That frigate was also flying a Rear Admiral - I
wonder who is on that ship?"
Prince Charles stood on the bridge of HMS Keble Bollege, a new
Python Class frigate fresh out of dry-dock. He was transfixed by the blur of
pink flashing away into the distance, and was reflecting on his situation. As a
Rear Admiral and a member of Royalty, Prince Charles was always given first
refusal as Captain when a new ship was commissioned. He chose to accept the
position to take HMS Keble Bollege on a shakedown cruise for two reasons: One,
Camilla had gotten right up his nose of late, and; Two, Mummy had also gotten
right up his nose. Now, even though there was room for a couple more, he had had
enough, and here he was in the Caribbean, just off the coast of Mustique. The
warm salt air, the impossibly aquamarine sea, the lack of females ('cept for
that lovely rating in the galley!), the new ship smell...ahhh. All was
well...for the moment.
"Sir...SIR!" Prince Charles broke out of his reverie
to see his communications officer by his side. "Sir, we have received a
communiqué from the Fleet." The officer passed the sheet to Prince
Charles. "Message from Special Branch. Stop. Alec Gilroy gang on Sugar
Plum. Stop. Suspect illegal holding of Crown Jewels. Stop. Apprehend at all
costs. Stop. End. Stop. Stop."
"Crown Jewels?" he thought. "Have I been out to
lunch, er, sea that long?" he mused aloud. "Sir?" said the
communications officer. "Ahem, never mind - Number One, we have a job to
do. We have to find and stop that pink boat. Fire up the cruise engines and
let's see what this baby can do!" "Yessir!" acknowledged the
First Officer. The cruise engines came on line and the Keble Bollege leapt
ahead, the revolutionary, new hull design slicing through the calm Caribbean
The Tradewind was just rounding the south coast of Mustique when
the frigate raced past, just as Weetabix rang off from his satellite phone.
"Special Branch has informed the Fleet, and the Fleet has communicated with
the Keble Bollege, the ship that just passed!" "Let's get after her,
then!" cried Maurice. "We can't," said Weetabix, "We don't
have enough fuel - we'll have to stop in Mustique to refuel." The Tradewind
docked at the cay at the southernmost tip of Mustique and took on fuel. A boy of
about 12 was selling fruit and the trio bought bananas, breadfruit and mangoes.
"The kiwi fruit is off limits," said Emily. The Tradewind refueled,
the trio set off after the Keble Bollege, which was now out of sight. "No
matter," said Weetabix, "We'll soon catch up with this baby."
The Keble Bollege was making 46 knots and was slicing
effortlessly through the sea. Prince Charles was scanning the horizon with his
binoculars looking for the pink boat. Radar picked it up first, and the Keble
Bollege altered course to intercept. "Sir! Radar is showing two distinct
blips in the area." a Chief Petty Officer informed him. Minutes later, the
pink boat came into view. Although still a fair distance, the Keble Bollege
slowed the engines to half speed and the ship started to slow. The slowing was
almost imperceptible, testament to the new hull design.
The Tradewind was making in excess of 60 knots. Weetabix saw the
Keble Bollege off to port and steered towards her. They pulled alongside the
Keble Bollege just in time to see a twin-engined amphibious aircraft lift off,
water streaming from its hull and pontoons. The aircraft banked steeply and flew
over the Keble Bollege and Tradewind, the wings dipping in mock salute...
Rita quickly outlined her idea to Henry, who, she noticed, could not stop staring at her with those big brown eyes. "We'll cop the lolly and head for the hills," she said, "when we're back in Weatherfield, we'll contact the Bill and split the..." Rita had noticed that Henry's attention had faded, and also noticed that there was a heady aroma in the air. Bacon! The unmistakable smell of bacon was on the wind. Rita looked all around the Sugar Plum. There was nothing to see for as far as the eye could see. After transferring the loot, the Onderwereld had departed for Grenada, the home port, so where was the smell of bacon coming from? Just then, fforbes-Greene came from below with a plate full of cheese and bacon butties. He had heard Alec's raised voice about never giving the loot back, and thought it best to get some cholesterol into Alec in order to calm him down.
fforbes-Greene didn't get the chance, though, as he was the first to see the whirling radar mast on the horizon. The mast was closing in, and as it did so, a ship came into view. Alec grabbed the telescope and focussed on the ship. Flying the White Ensign, it was a British frigate, and it was heading their way with all speed! Alec made a quick decision, and gunned the engines of the Sugar Plum. The boat leapt at the command and headed west, away from Mustique and Les Jolies Eaux. The frigate was no match for the Sugar Plum. As Alec accelerated away, the mast of the frigate disappeared over the horizon. Alec wondered aloud, "That frigate was also flying a Rear Admiral - I wonder who is on that ship?"
Prince Charles stood on the bridge of HMS Keble Bollege, a new Python Class frigate fresh out of dry-dock. He was transfixed by the blur of pink flashing away into the distance, and was reflecting on his situation. As a Rear Admiral and a member of Royalty, Prince Charles was always given first refusal as Captain when a new ship was commissioned. He chose to accept the position to take HMS Keble Bollege on a shakedown cruise for two reasons: One, Camilla had gotten right up his nose of late, and; Two, Mummy had also gotten right up his nose. Now, even though there was room for a couple more, he had had enough, and here he was in the Caribbean, just off the coast of Mustique. The warm salt air, the impossibly aquamarine sea, the lack of females ('cept for that lovely rating in the galley!), the new ship smell...ahhh. All was well...for the moment.
"Sir...SIR!" Prince Charles broke out of his reverie to see his communications officer by his side. "Sir, we have received a communiqué from the Fleet." The officer passed the sheet to Prince Charles. "Message from Special Branch. Stop. Alec Gilroy gang on Sugar Plum. Stop. Suspect illegal holding of Crown Jewels. Stop. Apprehend at all costs. Stop. End. Stop. Stop."
"Crown Jewels?" he thought. "Have I been out to lunch, er, sea that long?" he mused aloud. "Sir?" said the communications officer. "Ahem, never mind - Number One, we have a job to do. We have to find and stop that pink boat. Fire up the cruise engines and let's see what this baby can do!" "Yessir!" acknowledged the First Officer. The cruise engines came on line and the Keble Bollege leapt ahead, the revolutionary, new hull design slicing through the calm Caribbean sea.
The Tradewind was just rounding the south coast of Mustique when the frigate raced past, just as Weetabix rang off from his satellite phone. "Special Branch has informed the Fleet, and the Fleet has communicated with the Keble Bollege, the ship that just passed!" "Let's get after her, then!" cried Maurice. "We can't," said Weetabix, "We don't have enough fuel - we'll have to stop in Mustique to refuel." The Tradewind docked at the cay at the southernmost tip of Mustique and took on fuel. A boy of about 12 was selling fruit and the trio bought bananas, breadfruit and mangoes. "The kiwi fruit is off limits," said Emily. The Tradewind refueled, the trio set off after the Keble Bollege, which was now out of sight. "No matter," said Weetabix, "We'll soon catch up with this baby."
The Keble Bollege was making 46 knots and was slicing effortlessly through the sea. Prince Charles was scanning the horizon with his binoculars looking for the pink boat. Radar picked it up first, and the Keble Bollege altered course to intercept. "Sir! Radar is showing two distinct blips in the area." a Chief Petty Officer informed him. Minutes later, the pink boat came into view. Although still a fair distance, the Keble Bollege slowed the engines to half speed and the ship started to slow. The slowing was almost imperceptible, testament to the new hull design.
The Tradewind was making in excess of 60 knots. Weetabix saw the Keble Bollege off to port and steered towards her. They pulled alongside the Keble Bollege just in time to see a twin-engined amphibious aircraft lift off, water streaming from its hull and pontoons. The aircraft banked steeply and flew over the Keble Bollege and Tradewind, the wings dipping in mock salute...
Aboard the speeding pink Sugar Plum, Alec Gilroy was laughing like a maniac. “Catch me! Let’s see if they can! Amateurs!”, he cackled, setting the course for Cuba. He was standing at the wheel wearing the ancient crown of England over his bald patch at a rakehelly angle. There was a mad glint in his eye, and for some reason, he had placed Emily‘s false red beard on his chin. “A new Good King Alec! That’s what Britain needs,” he cried, gunning the Sugar Plum’s engine ever faster forward. fforbes-Greene stood near him, elated by the thrill of the chase, stuffing cheese and bacon sandwiches into both their throats as fast as they could manage.
Rita was near to tears. She did what she always did when in a state - went and made a nice cup of tea, and changed her frock, this time into a crimson Pucci-print set of lounging pyjamas that went well with the antique ruby earrings. The effect, with her fiery golden-red tresses, absolutely as God made them, untouched by human hand, was stunning. Hodgett’s eyes glowed when he set sight on her - damme, she was a fine looking woman. A man could settle down happily with a woman like that and do good works, she could bring him his Weatherfield Gazette of an evening and pour him his scotch and threat. The duo sat in the cabin to await their fate. Hodgetts tried to calm Rita’s nerves, but he seemed curiously complacent. He began a long story about how he had lost a lot of money betting on a horse called Betty‘s Hotpot, which nearly put Rita to sleep.
“I think I’ll go and see whether Alex needs any more tea,” she said at last, suppressing a yawn. Carrying two steaming mugs of tea and a plate of chocolate digestives, Rita made her way forward to the wheel, listening to the loud thrumming of the engine. It sounded a little strange, was missing its usual regular beat a little. She reached the wheelhouse and a totally unexpected sight met her eyes. Alex was slumped forward onto the wheel, and fforbes-Greene lay curled up on the floor at his feet. The thrumming of the engine was an illusion. It was no more than the rhythmic snoring of Alec and fforbes-Greene, who were sound asleep and beaming seraphically. The plate of sandwiches, reduced to a few crusts, lay on the floor beside fforbes-Greene. The boat’s engines had stopped altogether. It was going nowhere.
Rita froze on the spot and stared in amazement. “Excellent!” said the quiet voice behind her. Henry Hodgetts appeared at her side. “My scheme has worked.” Rita looked puzzled. He continued: “When I noticed the Sugar Plum was running low on fuel, I decided to turn Queen’s Evidence. It’s our only hope. I seized the opportunity to lace the cheese and bacon sarnies with a strong sedative. I knew you would not partake of them, Rita my dear, as you told me your superb figure was due to your having eschewed eating fats since 1972. And I myself am, of course, a vegetarian. We have a couple of hours before the drugs wear off. And that I think, will be enough.”
As he spoke, the distant humming of an amphibian plane grew louder until it came into view. He glanced up at it quickly and said: “That didn’t take long… they are here already. It’s nearly all over. Always remember, I did it for you, Rita… for us. Rita, you’re a dear, a female dear. Your hair is like a ray, a drop of golden sun. Me (a name I call myself), cannot go far from you, for that is a long, long way to run. So, I know I will have to pay my debt to society for this.” His voice was choking at the futility of his hopes. It all came back to dough.
He continued: “… but tell me that debt will not be in vain. Tell me there is hope for me… that we can build a life together…that you will wait for me.” Rita’s reply was cut short by a loud splash and a shower of spray as the amphibian hit the water beside the motionless Sugar Plum and taxied around it to a halt.
Meanwhile, back on the Tradewind, Weetabix had received some splendid news from the Boys in Magenta - the Mustique police always felt that blue uniforms did not enter sufficiently into the Caribbean spirit. “We’re on the point of nabbing the Sugar Plum, and Interpol’s waiting at Caracas for the Onderwereld. Mike Baldwin is being held in custody in Weatherfield on charges of suspected smuggling and being a cocky little shorthouse. We’ll have to work fast to get something on him. But we’d like you to hang around for a few days to help us put the case together.”
“Happy to,” said Weetabix, “but the lease is up on our villa.” “No problem. The Weatherfield gang had paid for three weeks in Les Jolies Eaux and we have finished dusting it for fingerprints. You can move in there.” Emily was pleased.
The Tradewind headed back into port and the trio set off in a police jeep for the regal luxury of Les Jolies Eaux. But when they stepped out into its tropical gardens and walked in the door, Fernando Flagellant’s words of greeting could not have been more surprising.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 24
... Fernando Flagellant's words of greeting could not have been more surprising for he was speaking in Esperanto, the invented language of Europe. Fernando was wide-eyed and looked very, very puzzled indeed as he spoke, and clamped his hand over his mouth to muffle the sound. It reminded Maurice of that ventriloquist that time at Butlin's, the one that had the crowd in stitches when he tried to stop the dummy from speaking. "That WAS a good holiday," he mused, a broad smile crossing his face. He had placed second in the 'knobbly knees' competition, and he and his wife had won the "toad 'n t'hole' race and, well, he wasn't all THAT surprised that his wife was SO angry when she found out that he had entered her in the 'uglyface competition'... Fernando was now holding both hands over his mouth and was whimpering pitifully.
Weetabix was the first to notice the flash of magenta in the drawing room. The trio entered the room to find Prince Charles flanked by several high-ranking police officers, judging by all the gold insignia. Prince Charles' uniform looked positively dull next to the colourful police uniforms. "Ah, Mr. McSporran," he said, "on the request of the Mustique police, I took the liberty of boarding the Sugar Plum, apprehended these two ruffians, and flew them here on the Keble Bollege helicopter." He pointed to a corner where Alex and fforbes-Greene sat slumped on a couch. A doctor was administering to the pair, and Emily sidled over to ask him to look at Fernando. She sidled because she still hurt from the Nubian acrobat flashback, and suffered a cramped muscle in her leg when she had curtsied upon seeing Prince Charles. "Already have, dear lady, apparently he suffers from the most terrible insomnia when Les Jolies Eaux is empty - the poor lad hasn't slept in days, so I gave him a rather powerful sedative. It should have worked by now." The pair looked into the hall to see Fernando fast asleep on an antique chaise-lounge.
Weetabix nudged Maurice out of his Butlin's reverie as Prince Charles was shooting strange looks at him. "Sir, did you find anything else on the Sugar Plum?" asked Weetabix. "Not a sausage, old boy, save for some half-eaten cheese and bacon sandwiches and this." Prince Charles held up a rather misshapen red object that Maurice deduced was his false red beard. Embarrassed, Maurice asked to see the object, which he quickly stuffed into his pocket. "Well, glad to have been of assistance!" said the Prince, "must dash - tallyho, yoicks, yoicks, tantivy!" Prince Charles galloped out the door, jumped in his, er, Her Majesty's helicopter, and quickly flew back to the Keble Bollege.
Meanwhile, Henry Hodgetts had changed his plans. He had asked the pilot of the amphibian plane how far he could fly on his fuel reserve. Henry's original plan was to get to Cuba, and then make additional plans. He shelved this idea when he remembered that the US are still extremely miffed with Cuba ever since the Bay of Pigs fiasco those many years ago. And he may have to get to the US before continuing to Britain. The pilot informed Henry that he could fly to either Caracas or Miami. "Caracas is out!" he said, "Miami it is." Henry and Rita settled in for the flight, after Rita had changed clothes yet again. This time she chose an emerald green strapless evening gown which set off the huge antique emerald earrings and matching necklace rather nicely. She found that the emerald colour went extremely well with her totally unmodified, not augmented in any way, 100% natural, strawberry blonde hair.
Alex and fforbes-Greene both came around at the same time, fforbes-Greene stifling a scream as the huge, bearded face of Weetabix peered at him. "Where are Hodgetts and Rita?" asked Alex. "We don't know," said Weetabix, "an amphibian plane took off before we got to the Sugar Plum," he continued. "Then they have the treasure!" hissed Alex, vehemently. Weetabix, Maurice and Emily where not prepared for what they heard next...
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 25
The shrill ringing of her mobile chiming out the chorus of “Valderee” took Emily and the others completely by surprise. She answered it. “It’s Norris Cole!” she exclaimed in tones of exasperation. “My lodger,” she added for the benefit of the Boys in Magenta. “What is it you want now Norris? If you have run out of polish again, you will just have to use goosegrease.”
Even from where they sat, Weetabix and Maurice could hear the panic in Norris’s voice. “No, it’s not that. Mrs Bishop, I’ve no wish to disturb your holiday - where did you say you were again? But I have still not heard from Rita and we can’t top up our stock because none of the suppliers are extending our credit. We ran out of cigarettes a couple of days ago and Janice and Karen are snapping at me like piranhas because of their nicotine cravings. I’m going to have to close the Kabin. Where is she? Who can tell me?" Norris continued his tale of woe. "Noone has seen Mike Baldwin and they say he has been banged up for piracy. Weatherfield General have been leaving endless messages for you about fourteen inch tvs. And the Platts’ killer rabbit went feral and savaged Maxine’s pussy. You have to come back, Mrs Bishop! Catch the next train!” Norris sounded desperate.
“Calm down, do, please!” she replied. “I have no intention of interrupting my holiday in, er, Bognor Regis, to deal with such trivia. I’m sure Rita is perfectly safe and will be back soon to sort out this muddle.” She fervently hoped this was true.
Emily really needed a soothing bath and a bit of a lie down after all this. She entered the finest suite in the house and went into the dressing room looking for a terry robe. She was struck by two things. First, the rows of fine clothing Rita had abandoned. Lounging pyjamas, patio dresses, evening dresses, day dresses, sun dresses, from a variety of famous makers - Moschino, Armani, Nom D‘, Versace pret-a-porter, Gladys of Weatherfield. No wonder the Kabin could not pay its bills, Emily thought grimly, this lot never came from the charity shop. She ran her hands over a shimmering turquoise blue silk two piece and could not resist holding it up against her. It brought out the blue of her eyes, she noted.
Would it do anyone any harm if she were to try it on? She hesitated for only a second. It slid easily over her womanly curves and made her look almost girlish. As she turned to admire her reflection in the mirror the sudden shock of what she saw behind her made her knees sag. Hidden behind the concealing dresses, a row of wig stands stood on a shelf, and on each was perched an identical reddish gold wig. A very familiar wig indeed.
When the first shock had worn off, Emily’s kind nature asserted itself. “How Rita must suffer!” she thought. “So afraid of losing that beautiful, entirely natural, as untouched as the day she was born, heavenly gift of red-gold hair that is her crowning glory, that she carries round its replacement in case of a tragic accident.” She resisted temptation for a second before lifting one of the wigs off its stand and trying it on. The transformation was complete. Emily looked for all the world, barring a slash of scarlet lipstick, like Rita Sullivan.
A gulp and a clearing of the throat behind her told Emily that she was not alone. “I came to see if you wanted any tea, dear lady,” said Maurice, with a strange glow in his eyes....
But Rita had no intention of returning to Weatherfield and the debacle at the Kabin any time soon. With a king’s ransom in antique jewellery and buckets of ducats in her swag bag, a handsome (well, as handsome as she was likely to get) admirer in tow and a complete wardrobe left behind her, necessitating a mega-shopping expedition in the boutiques of Palm Beach, Rita was feeling fine and in no hurry to return to Weatherfield. The small amphibian plane circled over the waterside houses of the superrich along the Palm Beach shoreline, and glided to a halt alongside a jetty outside one of the most impressive. A familiar face atop a tall frame was standing on the jetty to welcome them.
“Hiya Henry! Long time no see!” He extended a hand, pausing to remove the palmtop computer from it and shove it into the pocket of his chinos. “Didja get my crown? Can I see it? Can I wear it? Damn no, I can’t take a video call right now! Call me later!” he suddenly exploded at the watch on his left arm. On his other arm, a second watch suddenly beeped urgently. “Set to Tokyo time” he explained. “Gotta take a meeting. Mushi mushi!” he shouted at the arm, then turning to Rita and Hodgetts again, said: “Come up to the house and put the goodies on the billiard table. I’m just closing a deal.”
An astonished Rita followed Hodgetts up the garden path to Gateshead, the secret mansion in Florida owned by one of the world's best known tycoons. The ground, she felt, was slipping from beneath her feet. The last person she expected the lost Crown Jewels of England to appeal to was that modest, self-effacing, famously unconcerned-with-material-possessions magnate. But there was no doubt about it. She had the ancient Crown of England in her swag bag, and Bill Gates wanted it.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 26
Bill Gates stared out of his WindowsTM as Rita and Henry approached Gateshead. He was mesmerized by the shimmering red-gold hair on Rita. "That simply must be real," he thought, "no one could fake that colour..." The meeting with Tokyo lasted just a few minutes more and Gates slammed his wrist phone down and immediately regretted doing so. He rubbed his wrist as he approached the pair. "Didn't I tell you to put the goodies on the billiard table," he hissed.
Back at Les Jolies Eaux, Alec was explaining his plan to Weetabix. "I knew all along that Hodgetts was going to do a scarper with the treasure. I played along, waiting for the right moment to turn the tables on him, but the tables have been turned on us instead. I knew that the Sugar Plum would run out of fuel, but I never expected Hodgetts to arrange for an amphibian plane to pick him up! We've been done..."
Emily had an idea. "I have Henry Hodgetts mobile number," she said. "Let me call Norris back, and we can concoct a story to foil the wretched scoundrels." Emily dialed her home number and an agitated Norris answered. "Norris," Emily spoke with urgency, "did you polish the aspidistra?" "No," he replied, "the Kabin is all sold out of polish." "Then call this number and request a delivery of the finest polish." Emily gave the number to Norris.
Gates had an ugly glint in his eye as his neck phone rang. Well, he had his neck phone on vibrate, causing the ugly glint as he reacted to it. "Excuse me for a moment," he said and slinked off to his office. Just then, Hodgetts mobile rang and a near apoplectic Norris exclaimed, "...the aspidistra is going to die if I don't get the polish for it!"
Weetabix was connected to Scotland Yard and finally gave the thumbs up. The call had been traced. Hodgetts and Rita were in Palm Beach, just a stones throw from Mick Jagger's sprawling ranch. The Yard called the Florida police, and a sting operation was set up.
Rita was having second thoughts about Henry, despite the swag. The ruby earrings clashed with her fair tresses. The emerald earrings didn't fair much better, and Henry was about as exciting as a bowl of All Bran, sans bananas. She had had enough and surreptitiously slid out of the Gateshead WindowsTM, back to the amphibian plane.
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 27
As Rita ran for the amphibian, her high-heeled sandals caught on a tree root and she sprawled her length on the white gravel path. The swag bag flew from her grasp and its contents emptied onto the emerald lawn. Quickly adjusting her fabulous red/gold entirely natural tresses (famed in song and story, or at least story) which had slipped slightly askew, she tried to struggle back to her feet. A wrinkled paw appeared before her and an almost-familiar rasping South London voice said: “Need a hand?” Rita accepted gratefully the offer of help and, pulling herself erect, found she was looking into the grizzled countenance of Mick Jagger. “I’ve followed your career since I was a girl!” she gasped , rather tactlessly. He scowled momentarily then “I’m one of Bill’s neighbours,” he said. “And he asked me to keep the crown in safe keeping for him.” He extended his hand again, this time standing before her, blocking off her egress, one of his favourite pursuits.
Rita was bemused. Bill Gates had mentioned nothing of this. And there was an air of veiled menace about the wrinkled little man that was frankly unsavoury. Or was it just that without Jerry around to wash his socks, he had reverted to type? She hedged. “But Bill has just asked me to put them on his bi - er, his biplane,” she improvised. The ducats and doubloons lay strewn across the lawn, winking up at them, and the earrings and gold plate and other royal regalia were decorating the herbaceous border. The great crown itself was impaled on a gardenia bush. Mick’s patience gave out. Seizing the crown, he swiped Rita across the face with it in a mighty backhander. He made to run away, with the crown perched on his head.
Now Rita had been hit by a Mancy bloke or two in her time, but after the Alan Bradley episode, when she had been forced to lure him under a Blackpool tram, she had vowed that that was behaviour up with which she would no longer put. Revenge was on her mind. This manky little man needed teaching a lesson. With a roar, she scooped up the ancient sceptre from where it had come to rest among the pelargoniums and shouted “En garde!”
Mick was taken by surprise, even more so when the sceptre descended on his head with a mighty thwack. “That one was for hitting me,” cried Rita. Then as he lay moaning on the sward and clutching his grizzled head, whacked him again and added “and that one was for Jerry.” Really, this revenge lark was very satisfying.
The row had brought a crowd streaming from the house. Harry Hodgetts of course, the pilot of the amphibian, Bill Gates, 27 bodyguards, and, to Rita’s surprise, six men wearing magenta police outfits. Each one except Harry was talking into a mobile and each one was fouling up each other’s reception. Bill Gates headed straight for the crown and put it on. He filmed himself immediately with his right arm palmtop webcam and fed the streaming video through to his website on his left wristwatch, and stood there admiring himself. The Boys in Magenta held Mick Jagger in an armlock. Henry, though, made straight for Rita. “Dearest, are you all right? I saw that ruffian attack you and came as quickly as I could.” Rita gazed at him. He might not be all that handsome, she thought, and he stole from ladies of a certain age, and he was an accountant, and a vegetarian, and stony broke, and likely to be struck off, and facing a jail term - but hey, she lived in Coronation Street, and round those parts that was considered to be something of a catch.
Meanwhile, back at Les Jolies Eaux, Fernando Flagellant was bringing Emily her afternoon herbal tea and digestive biscuits as she sat sunning herself on the terrace. Her mobile secretary listed 14 increasingly frantic messages from Norris which she simply couldn’t be bothered to deal with right now. Not when she had to resolve matters with Maurice. He had just made a very intriguing suggestion…..
Dear Boredom from Storyland Northwest wrote on May 6, 2002, 03:20:
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM Part 28
"....and that, dear lady," said Maurice, "is what I have in mind. What do you think?" Emily's mind reeled at the thought, first wanting to say "Yes, yes," then waffling, wondering what would happen if the people in Coronation Street found out. "As if they would!" she said out loud, "The likes of Janice and Les and the rest of them, save for Ken, perhaps, didn't know there was any world west of Bootle!" Her mouth formed an elongated O as she realized that she had said that out loud, but she needn't have worried as Maurice was busy on her mobile. "But...but...yes...no...Norris...get a hold of yourself, Norris!" he boomed. Emily took the phone from Maurice and listened to Norris. "The cake has gone moldy, there are no digestives left, the wine gums are hard, the tomatoes are soft, the milk is off, the trash is full, the pantry is empty, the fry pan is full of bacon grease, the..." Norris, Norris," she said quietly, "if you don't get your act together, I shall be very, very cross with you." Norris stopped complaining immediately and listened while Emily gave him instructions.
Telephones started ringing around the world as people logged on to Bill Gates' website and saw the magnificent crown, and the spectacular magenta uniforms on the police that were closing in on Bill Gates. Scotland Yard alone logged over 500 calls in a three-hour period after the streaming video was put on line with people almost demanding that London Bobbies be decked out with magenta uniforms. People reasoned that if the traditional Bobbies' helmet was soon to be history, then why not make a complete change? The news of the find finally arrived at Buckingham Palace where Prince Phillip uttered another one of his socially unacceptable comments, "Who is that spotty-faced git with our crown on?" To which Her Majesty replied, "It's MY crown, not ours! Just stuff another banger in your cake hole, dear, and leave the comments to me."
Emily began to realize that she didn't give a toss about what commoners like Janice and Les thought. She was her own woman, rich and single, and she had fallen for Maurice, a suave and debonair man who was looking after her interests. The more she thought of Maurice's suggestion, the more she liked the idea. What appeal did Coronation Street have anyway? A dull, backwater street with noisy neighbours.
Weetabix McSporran was seen around the world as he jumped out of the helicopter near Bill Gates' villa. Well, the pilot had tried to warn him, but Weetabix was in too much of a rush to wait for the rotor to slow. The downdraft from the blades hit the ground and bounced right back up, lifting McSporran's kilt around his ears. Everyone watching now knew whether or not Scotsmen wore knickers under their kilt. The crimson that filled his face matched not only his own beard, but also matched the almost completely natural, flaming big red hairdo of Rita's
The Queen's secretary had been on to Scotland Yard, and McSporran was tasked to gather up the treasure and bring it to Buckingham Palace. An RAF A320 was already enroute to Miami to pick him and the treasure up. Weetabix had the lads in magenta gather up the treasure that littered the lawn, while he went to check the amphibian to look for more. He found another swag bag full of loot. Next he went up to Hodgetts who said that it was all there. "I had slipped the mickeys into those cheese and bacon butties, realizing that we were doing the wrong thing." explained Hodgetts, "I had every intention of returning the treasure to Her Majesty." "well," said Weetabix, "it seems that you and Alex Gilroy were working at cross purposes, because he says the same thing," replied Weetabix. "Gilroy and fforbes-Greene are on their way back to England now," he continued, "you and Ms. Sullivan will accompany me back to London where we will take your statements. But one thing puzzles me." "What's that?" asked Hodgetts. "Why are you here at Bill Gates villa?" Hodgetts fell silent as he searched for an answer.
Emily slipped off her terry cloth robe and dove gracefully into the pool. She felt like a girl again. She swam the length of the pool and climbed out beside Maurice, who was sipping a lemon fizz. The water dripped off of Emily's sleek lavender bathing suit onto Maurice's arm. Maurice looked into her eyes and knew he had his answer...
CHEAP THRILLS from Storyland wrote on May 6, 2002, 04:13:
THE LUCK OF AUNTY EM POSTSCRIPT
Emily decided not to press charges over the purloined money, but, arrested on charges of concealing treasure trove, the rightful property of the legal descendants of the House of Tudor, the conspirators Gilroy, fforbes-Greene and Hodgetts served a two year sentence in an open prison with time off for good behaviour. They were out by Christmas.
Alex Gilroy has slunk off back to Southampton and is currently arranging children’s parties, where he occasionally appears as Drongo the Clown. Fforbes -Greene, struck off as a lawyer, is selling real estate in Chorley. After a period of rehabilitation, Hodgetts, who had lied to protect Rita Sullivan’s name, is pursuing his suit of her around the nightspots of Weatherfield. He has been defrocked as an accountant and is currently seeking work. Rita, whose spongebag had concealed a sapphire ring she removed from Cyclops Jones’s treasure, sold it to a dodgy London jeweller and is once again the richest merry widow in Weatherfield. She is thinking of turning platinum blonde, but Hodgetts won’t hear a word of it. She never lets him near her bathroom cabinet.
Mick Jagger swaggered cockily up to the witness box for his assault hearing, but when he tried his charm on the female judge, she sentenced him to a year's hard labour, muttering, “That one was for Jerry, too.”
Norris Cole won a competition run by a furniture polish company and is currently enjoying a romantic honeymoon break in Venice, on his own.
Bill Gates is still head of Microsoft. His team of lawyers and the Windsors’ team of lawyers are slugging it out over the possession of the ancient golden crown of England. The lawyers are winning.
Emily Bishop had Norris forward her mail to Mustique and found she had won two major lotteries. After buying flat-screen TVs for every children’s ward in a British hospital, she and Maurice purchased Les Jolies Eaux and spend several months a year there, returning to Coronation Street only for professional purposes. The false red beard still plays a pivotal role in their private life. I know what they do with it, but wild horses wouldn’t drag it out of me.
THE COMPLETE AND UTTER END
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