Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Champagne Murders

Previously in Murder Mystery Manors there were

Groovy, baby
Now it’s swinging London in 1967. The great and the good (and at least one not-so-good) gather for the weekend in hip and happening London. Chelsea, to be precise. At the sumptuous home of Lord Michael Jagged, full-lipped rock god.
Who were the fashionable guests?
Tamara Fara-Bucktooth, famous for being famous, always partying with the stars. No gossip column is complete without her. So why isn’t she weeping? She was the girlfriend of the poor dead rock star, after all. Is it true she has been written into Lord Jagged’s will – but only very recently….?
Mary-Jane Faithless, ex-girlfriend of Lord Jagged, energetic and charismatic, now a top songbird in her own right, smashing the hearts of fans throughout the world. Is it true that her mother was a Russian countess and her father was a French fisherman? Or is she really from Yorkshire?
Kitty Killer, celebrated and glamorous journalist, often outshining the celebrities she writes about. Are the rumours true that she is a secret agent? Or that she has contacts with the London Underworld? Is she good or bad? And what about the no-holds-barred biography of Lord Jagged – fake news or true?
Dangerous pair
“Champagne” Charlie Bunsun, thug or business-man, pussycat or ravenous tiger? Feared throughout London’s East End, his police record is squeaky clean, so maybe he is a good guy after all. It’s not his fault that many of his past employers are currently doing time. Why was Lord Jagged trying to break connections with old “Champagne” Charlie?
Babs Crayfish, “Champagne” Charlie’s girlfriend but also famous for her acting skills – acting up and acting down, she’ll act anyone at anytime, anyhow and anywhere. Did she believe that Lord Jagged meant it when he promised her he could make her a film star through his film company? Did she confide her feelings to her newly-acquired therapist, Dr Doktor?
The photographer, the critic and the actor
Terence Shrimp, dedicated follower of every trend known to fashionistas throughout the capital city. Terence is society’s favourite photographer, pointing his lens where other snappers fear to go. A bit of a hell-raiser in his past, going on the lash with top actors like Oliver Steed and the pals of “Champagne” Charlie. Rumour has it that he’s started an affair with one of the women at tonight’s party….?
Bryony Sewer, wine-critic and snob, not necessarily in that order. Bryony is sneering and sometimes downright rude but it’s fair to say that she knows her pinot from her plonk. She writes for The Evening Times, the fancy newspaper owned by Lord Jagged but the rumour is that she has just been sacked. Other journalists have delved into her past but return none-the-wiser, smelling only an elusive bouquet, as Bryony would say.
Oliver Steed, large and loud, a drunken, womanising actor, known for alcohol-crazed crawls through the pubs and clubs of the East End, often with Terence Shrimp, and often ending in bar-room brawls that nobody remembers. He used to work for “Champagne” Charlie as a “bouncer” (they say) and his attempts to break into Hollywood faltered when the American mafia recognised his past misdemeanours.

So where is Lord Michael Jagged?
Surely that’s not him, lying dead in his room? Is the champagne bottle by his side a clue to method, motive or opportunity? Or was he just getting pissed before falling over on his stacked heels and flared trousers? Surely none of the guests at tonight’s dinner party would have committed murder? And surely they wouldn’t waste the food and drink on offer, even if their host is now deceased? Tuck in, one and all, and enjoy the sounds of the 60’s.

The day after the night before
The day after the night before, in disguise, the dinner party decamped to Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire to walk along to the swollen Strid to come to terms with the traumas of what had happened. If anyone was guilty, no-one was talking about it. If the police did make an arrest, then the guilty party was clearly acting nonchalant whilst out on bail. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, after all. Luckily no-one was pushed into the Strid or thrown into the marshmallow pit. Time will tell if a conviction takes place. Lord Michael Jagged will never be forgotten.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

New Year, New Routine

And so the Twelfth Day of Christmas comes around again and all the trimmings come down. Baubles go back in the cupboard for another year and pine needles are vacuumed up…. I enjoyed the annual treat of walking round the atmospheric streets of Saltaire to see the creative Advent Windows (see previous years here and here.) I’m enjoying getting hungry again and not feeling so permanently kaylied (drunk….) I’ve vowed to write only a maximum of 3 blogs a months in 2018 so, despite having the material, I’m saving up my blogs on the New Year’s Eve Murder Mystery, a winter walk at Bolton Abbey, thoughts about EM Forster, Anglesey, Norway, Bletchley Park, Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece…. and no doubt many other things that bounce into my brain.

What have I resolved? In common with every other year in living memory I hope to get fitter, declutter and avoid procrastination. But this year, 2018, fresh off the boat, I resolve to get my novel, Raydan Wakes, ready for submission to an agent (or six.) The edit of Book One is coming along in fits and starts with radical cuts and restructuring; the first draft of Book Two seems plain sailing in comparison; events are unfolding as I expected them to. No surprises so far in Book Two, but Book One is proving to be discombobulating, like a wild animal nipping, clawing, scratching and biting chunks out of what I thought it was. Ah, the life of a writer….