Tuesday, 26 August 2008

A STRANGE ABSENCE IN MIDSOMER BERRYFIELD















Well my dears, it has been a few days since I last spoke to you and yet so very much has happened here in quiet Midsomer Berryfield. 

As you know, I heard an odd argument taking place at the vegetable patch a few days ago, and I had the strangest sensation that I recognised the two voices involved. However I don't like anyone to think of me as a nosy old woman, and so I tried very hard indeed to think no more about it. 

On Saturday morning, though, I happened to be passing the vicarage on my way to the church. I could see Rachella, the lovely young girl who married our vicar, standing amongst her beautiful cottage garden in one of those brightly-coloured raincoats she does seem to like. And yet she seemed to be very upset. 

"Hello, my dear," I called to her. 
"Oh, why, hello, Miss Maple," she said, sniffing. "How silly of me to be so upset." 
"But what's this? Are you crying, Rachella?" I asked. "Have your roses got mildew again?"
"No, Miss Maple, it's worse than that," she sobbed into her hankie. 
Worse than mildew? For Rachella, I knew it must be something very serious indeed. 

"Come, come, dear," I said, reassuringly, "Let's make a nice cup of tea and you can tell me all about it."

We went into the house and she began to tell me a very strange story indeed. She said that she had been over to the Manor that afternoon to bring some flowers as a house-warming welcome for the new occupier. 

"You'll remember, of course, Miss Maple," she said to me, "that everyone in these parts had assumed that Colonel Don's estate would go, after his sad demise, to Joseph Swift, the plucky young working-class chap from London who has so charmed his way into the Colonel's heart over the last few years. Well, all of our hearts, really." She smiled wistfully.

It was not to be, though. Rachella explained that when the final will and testament was read out (in Mr Brinkley's office in Midsomer Mackerell) there were audible gasps of shock. A huge surprise: the whole estate was to be left to Brother Toby Buckland, some very vague religious relative of the Colonel's.

I thought about what Rachella was saying. Here in Midsomer Berryfield, we all knew very little about Brother Buckland. In fact, we still know very little. But he is due in the village any moment, and we will soon make the acquaintance of our new neighbour, and in many cases, our new landlord. 

"But Rachella," I asked, "Why are you so particularly upset today? We've known all about Brother Buckland's coming for days."

"It's not Brother Buckland," she sobbed. "It's that I went into the library, to wait for Beaches, the housekeeper, you know. I happened to be looking at the family photographs. How lovely I always find them, everyone smiling, and Colonel Don in his corduroys, digging over the vegetable patch."  

"It was then that I noticed," she said, with a note of dread in her voice. "Somebody was missing. Some one has been through all the family photos and removed one face. I looked everywhere! But there was literally no sign of young Master Matthew!" 

Our eyes met. What could this mean? I didn't doubt Rachella for a moment: Master Matthew was always a striking young man and it's not difficult to pick him out in a photo. Somebody had, quite purposely, removed every photo of him from the family collection. How very, very strange. In fact, it reminds me of nothing so much as when Agnes Dentelle moved into the village, and there was that terrible business about her pet rabbit. 

I know this is just a sleepy little village, and yet I do so very much hope that something very bad isn't about to happen in Midsomer Berryfield...

 




12 comments:

Jacqueline said...

According to the present edition of the Radio Times,Joe Swift is the son of Clive'Mr Bucket'Swift.

Am I the last person in the whole world to know this?

Arabella Sock said...

Um.. I think you might be Jacqueline!

This is all very exciting but not enough people have been murdered yet and we are already up to episode 3!

emmat said...

I'm trying to create a sense of tension!

I am not jacqueline! It is probably mateus darcy wilson's auntie jacqueline who recently got in trouble for writing the word "twat" in a children's book. She was the author!

I am just about to murder a cat, hang on!

emmat said...

PS not only is his dad Mr BUcket -

HIS AUNTIE IS AS BYATT!

Now i come to think about it, if Joe S's auntie is AS Byatt, and Mateus's is Jacqueline Wilson creator of Tracy Beaker, I think perhaps some sort of new contest is ahead of us

VP said...

Isn't his mum (JS that is) Margaret Drabble?

Anonymous said...

No, his mum is Patricia Routledge.

Margeret Drabble used to present One Man and His Dog and is no relation.

By the way - next year - in the spirit of diversity the BBC are opening up One Man and His Dog to include cats.

Paul Henry

emmat said...

I think there is a strong family resemblance between Joe and Hyacinth, but in fact Paul is wrong and Joe's mum is Margaret, who is a famous inventor of board games in partnership with her childhood next-door neighbour Boz Scaggs. Probably their most celebrated board game is Scrabble, whose name derives from a combination of their surnames. Margaret and Boz won a court case this week forcing Facebook to take down the "tribute game" Scrabulous from users, leaving the entire working nation wondering how they are going to fill those empty hours between 9 and 5 from now on.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Murdering a cat? But Emmat that is sooooooooooooo wrong. Why not just bump off a couple of people? And please describe every gory detail about their demise as your readers will love that.

The golden rule about writing crime novels: you can bump off as many people as you like in many creative and hideaous ways and nobody bats an eyelid. Kill off a pet and the youknowwhat hits the fan. It's a thing! ;-)

And no, Jacqueline was not the last person to know that Joe Swift is Bucket jr, that would actually be me. I live a very sheltered life you know. ;-)

Arabella Sock said...

I don't think it is right to murder a cat either. I am still worrying about that cat that got forced out of its house by the evil bloke with the weird eye who is getting married to Carla in Corrie.

emmat said...

Never mind the cat, I am still worrying about Corrie's smoked-out bats!

VP said...

Don't worry Emmat - my friend Alison's been advising Corrie about the bats, so it all works out OK in the end (she works for the Bats Conservation Trust)

Anonymous said...

I don't like to gossip - you know me- but you'd NEVER believe what I heard in the post office today.
Right, I've said my piece.
Least said soonest mended
Poor master Matthew
It's crying shame, that's what it is