Celtic Illumination, part 261, Happy Christmas
Sorry about this. I knew I would not have the time yesterday, to write my blog and it looks like I will not have any time today either, so; here’s a short story I wrote some time ago. I hope it gives you a smile. Oh, and if you have read it before then read it again, it will do you good, and yes, there will be questions. Normal service will resume tomorrow. Happy Christmas. Himself.
Par For The Course
“Rupert!” snapped Bunnie, who by now had opened every indow possible along the balcony and was returning to the table where she had left her coat, handbag and dearest friend, Nellie, or Fenella if you hadn’t been to prep school together.
Rupert, standing with his feet so close together that he could have been a Royal Naval Button boy, melted back into the real world. He walked himself over towards Bunnie, who spoke at him.
“Rupert I want you to shoot down to that little flower shop in the village and get something to freshen up the air in here.”
Rupert smiled, but it was one of those blank smiles. He needed a little more.
“I’ll go,” offered Fenella, knowing there was a good chance that Rupert might return with an aerosol.
“Yes,” agreed Bunnie, “Take some money from the till.”
“Fifty should see to it.”
Rupert adopted the position; the Royal Navy didn’t know what it was missing. But Rupert did. He turned as Harper O Neill strode through the door. One arm pushed and held the door open while the other, firmly wrapped around a girl, hoisted her into the clubhouse. They exchanged words, smiled, laughed, then parted; she behind the shuttered bar while Harper straightened himself, then strolled across the room.
“Hello Spud,” he beamed, while stretching himself and pushing his arms out either side, clawing at the air, like a bear in a tee shirt. He was claiming his patch, without rubbing himself against all the corners and pissing on the tree stumps. The alpha male of the East Middlesex golf club, or so he liked to think.
“Hello Harper,” answered Rupert.
“Why do you call him Spud?” asked Bunnie. “Why don’t you use his proper name?”
“Spud is his proper name, isn’t it? Spud!”
“Yes, but why?” Bunnie hated having to ask a question twice.
“Because I caught him doing something disgusting with a potato when we were at Marlborough.”
Bunnie blushed, so did Rupert. Fenella saved the day.
“Bunnie,” she gasped, as she crept across the floor as if trying to set a land speed record for running while crouched.
“Whatever’s the matter?”
“There’s no money in the till, well there is, but there’s only coins. All the notes have gone.”
“What do you mean gone?”
“I mean there’s none there. You know. Even that little pink purse is missing. Someone’s taken it all and…”
One of the steel roller shutters, that protected the bar, rammed upward, then another and finally the third.
“Hunter and Rupert will you please make sure that the tables and chairs are laid out correctly.”
“I’ll get the flowers,” offered Fenella. “I’ll use my own money.”
“No,” said Bunnie. “You stay with me. I’ll sort this money situation out.”
“Why don’t the both of you go for the flowers?” suggested Harper.
Had he not sighed while talking, his suggestion may have been seen as being more diplomatic. “Let’s wait for the club sec to arrive and he can sort out the old finances?”
“Strike while the iron’s hot Mister O Neill!”
“Yes, that’s all very well, but it’s the club sec who’s supposed to deal with matter’s like this.”
“Indeed Mister O Neill, but my husband, The Major, had the honour to be club captain here the first day these links opened and I’ve served this establishment ever since. I do know something about procedure and people and how to deal with them. Especially these sort.”
Bunnie held up her right hand. “I’ll have no more said on the matter. Mister O Neill will you go and ask the four members of staff to report to me please.”
Bunnie shuffled herself well back into the seat; it was like the old cinematic gunfighter finding his spot in a corner, but less sawdust.
“Nellie I want you to take notes, just in case we have to hand this over to the police.”
“Well yes. These people cannot be allowed to think they can steal their way through life.”
“Be a dear and start on the tables please,” said Bunnie. Rupert launched himself into action, and then stopped, but Bunnie was already five steps ahead of him. “In a circle dear, in a circle.” Bunnie emphasised her words by drawing an imaginary circle in the air with the forefinger of her right hand. Rupert got the message and smiled.
“I must tell you,” hissed Fenella. “I saw one of the girls putting money in her pocket.”
“Her back pocket.”
“No Nellie. Which girl?”
“Oh! I’m not really sure. I only saw her from behind, she was bending over, but she was wearing blue jeans and put the money in her back pocket.”
With that three of the girls came out from behind the bar and walked over towards Bunnie. Each of the girls had changed and was now wearing a white blouse and a black skirt, regulation staff uniform. Bunnie would have to wait and see if the fourth girl wore jeans. Bunnie sighed as the forth girl rolled through the bar door, because she wasn’t wearing jeans, she was wearing Harper. They were wrapped around each other, giggling and kissing and tickling.
“Mister O Neill! Is your wife attending the function this evening?” asked Bunnie, in the same way that an archer loosed off an arrow at their target.
“Who knows,” answered Harper, with a shrug of his shoulders. He released the girl, as if she were a bowling ball, before strutting his way over to Rupert.
“I’ll get straight to the point,” began Bunnie, but someone moving about outside took her attention. She kept her sight fixed on the tiny gap between the grounds man’s garage and the ladies changing rooms. She was sure she had seen someone, and if she had, that is where he or she would pop out.
”Right,” began Bunnie. “Some money is missing from the bar till.” Bunnie didn’t bother looking at the four members of staff, which she normally would have done to gauge their reactions, she was convinced that suspect number one was lurking somewhere outside. “Did any of you take the money?”
Bunnie kept her gaze fixed on the spot outside which worried Fenella. The four staff whispered and nattered among themselves.
“It’s quite simple really,” announced Bunnie. “One of you has stolen some money and I am going to unearth the culprit.” Bunnie glanced at Fenella to make sure she was taking notes.
“Stop thief!!!” roared Bunnie, as she stood and pointed at the man who had emerged by the ladies changing room. “Harper! “ she shrieked, while jabbing her finger towards the man, as if she was willing the hounds to a fox.
Harper raced out the door and made his way to the front of the club while the staff and Fenella got as close to the windows as possible to see him corner his quarry.
”Well done Bunnie,” shrieked Fenella, while clapping her hands together like a seal at the circus.
“You girls get back to work,” barked Bunnie, triumphantly.
“Oh Bunnie that was marvellous. How did you know he would be there, and Harper, oh, it’s all just too exciting!”
Bunnie sat herself down again and smoothed out her skirt.
“We do have certain rules Nellie, here at the East Middlesex. No sports shoes, no jeans and no tee shirts with slogans on.”
“Well spotted Bunnie,” hailed Fenella. “I wouldn’t have thought to look for those.”
“And of course there’s the other obvious difference my dear.”
“What’s that?” asked Fenella, who found that she couldn’t stop staring at the entrance door because she had seen figures pass by the frosted glass windows and knew that Harper would be entering any second now with his quarry.
“He’s black!” stated Bunnie.
“Is he?” asked Fenella, who was actually staring at the man, who seemed to be laughing and joking with Harper. “Oh yes. I see what you mean.”
“Call the police Nellie!” sighed Bunnie, as Harper and the man drew near. “Nine, nine, nine.”
“Eh…” began Harper, but Bunnie held up her hand as if she were on traffic duty at a busy crossroads.
“Tell them we have apprehended a dangerous thief and would appreciate some assistance. If you mention my name we should get a favourable response.”
“But…” insisted Harper, who again found himself cut short by Bunnie, but this time with a stare that superman would have been proud of.
“Thank you Mister O Neill. Please leave this to me. Now, my man. Some money has gone missing from the bar till and I want you to return it to me now.”
“Misses Warren, this is Felix Forrest,” explained Harper, horribly out of turn.
“I don’t care who he is Mister O Neill, if he returns the money he has stolen from our bar till I shall of course ask the police to treat him leniently.”
“On their way,” called Fenella, as she walked back from the public telephone booth.
“Felix Forrest is with the PGA tour. He’s ranked number four in the world and has come to present the awards this evening,” announced Harper, quite factually.
“But he’s not supposed to be here until tea-time and he’s not supposed to be …”
“Be what?” asked Felix, who already knew the answer.
“You’re early!” accused Bunnie.
“Mister Forrest is an American and when he was told tea-time, thought we meant afternoon tea.” Harper seemed to be enjoying the situation but noticed that Felix was making his way towards the door. He was also talking on his mobile telephone and seemed to be losing some of the coolness he had maintained while being addressed by Bunnie.
“What’s he doing now?” asked Bunnie.
“Probably calling the police on you,” said Harper, with a smirk that told Bunnie exactly what he thought of her.
“Oh look!” said Fenella, while pointing toward the flashing blue lights that could be seen through the tall manicured hedge that bordered the golf club.
“Mister Forrest!” called Bunnie, who could see that he was about to step through the door.
“You’re not supposed to be here until after six o clock this evening,” Bunnie had emphasised ‘this evening’. Americans knew nothing about etiquette. Neither it seems did the members of the local constabulary who at that moment burst through the door of the clubhouse. Three burley, male, police officers, one holding his truncheon thingy, plus one female officer with a large slavering Alsatian which, the moment it saw Forrest, reacted as if fifty thousand volts was passing along its lead.
Forrest froze to the spot.
“Is this him?” asked one of the male officers, who, grabbed Forrest by his right wrist and in one flowing movement, had secured both of Forrest’s wrists behind him in a pair of handcuffs made from the finest Sheffield steel. Forrest’s mobile phone spun to the floor and was then trampled by an enormous black boot.
“Would you mind taking that dog out of here!” snapped Bunnie, who could see that someone, in authority, would have to take over the situation.
The female officer seemed to ignore Bunnie but gradually reigned in the dog, calmed it down and coaxed it from the room. Rupert appeared to be the only person in the room who didn’t want the dog to leave.
“Who’s the senior man?” boomed Bunnie, trying to be heard above the dog, which although now outside was still howling and snapping.
Bunnie hoped it had seen a rabbit in the car park and had not taken a fancy to another club member.
“I am madam,” admitted the officer who had handcuffed Forrest, and who with a nod of his head had the two other male officers position themselves behind Forrest and await instructions.
“Can I have a word please officer?”
“It’s Sergeant mam,”
“Very good Sergeant, if you wouldn’t mind.” Bunnie indicated the seat beside her.
“Take these off,” insisted Forrest, at which Harper began to walk over adding, “Yes. It’s all a mistake. He…”
Harper stopped dead in his tracks as the policeman with the truncheon had now raised it and was growling. “Stand back! Stand back!”
Forrest pulled himself away from the officers and turned to face them.
“Take these cuffs off me!” he yelled, while experiencing his first ever, illegal, rugby tackle.
“Steady on,” called Harper, who went as close as he dared to the ruck.
Bunnie was standing, indicating to the Sergeant that he should remain seated, hoping that the noise levels would recede and praying that she could begin to organise things properly when Ginny Duffield, in a lovely pink woollen two-piece, came through the door, screaming.
Ginny’s husband was the club treasurer. Her normally perfectly styled hair was tousled. The strap on her left shoe was loose and flapping about and the nylon above was in shreds. Ginny clasped a large handbag to her chest. Two dark, uneven, lines of mascara ran down each side of her face indicating that she had been crying
Ginny stopped and turned to her left, screamed, stopped again, then turned to her right. Screamed, then stopped. Ginny, for no apparent reason and with a huge first step, almost clawing at the air with her left foot as if she was digging spuds, began to run again but ran straight into the three men wrestling on the floor and found herself skittering over bodies while her bag glided across the carpet ahead of her, like a curling stone on course for the house.
Bunnie sat herself back down while the Sergeant stood.
“This is all a terrible mistake,” announced Harper, making his way towards the Sergeant. “That man is no criminal, he’s actually Felix Forrest, the fourth best golfer in the world who has come here to present some awards this evening.”
“You know I think he’s right Searg,” said the officer with the truncheon, who was holding Forrest off the floor by his shoulders so that he could get a good look at him.
Bunnie thought that the situation had calmed sufficiently for her to intervene. She stood and was about to ask the police Sergeant to sit when Ginny, who by now had managed to stand, was stamping on the spot screaming and pointing at her handbag.
“Ginny!” shouted Bunnie, who knew that this woman needed snapping out of whatever was affecting her.
Harper moved over and held Ginny by her shoulders. He shook her gently, then brought her in to his chest and wrapped his arms around her.
Ginny sobbed and was coughing and spluttering with all the emotion she was experiencing.
“What’s the matter Ginny?” asked Harper, who from the way he held and spoke to her, suggested that this was not the first time they had been this close.
“The police…!” Sobbed Ginny, who tried to speak between the gulps of air she was taking. “After me…!” Ginny was pointing randomly
around the clubhouse with much of what she said being unintelligible. “And I’ve got Charlie,” sobbed Ginny, who completely disintegrated as the policeman with the truncheon was now twisting her left arm behind her back and snapping on one end of a pair of cuffs.
“I’m arresting you for the possession of a class A drug madam,” said the policeman, in such a matter of fact way that it’s meaning was completely lost on Ginny. “You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not ………..”
Ginny began to sob so loudly that the policeman couldn’t be heard. Harper didn’t know whether to offer to help Ginny or Felix. Fenella knew that she had to get to Bunnie; she would know what to do. Bunnie had always said Ginny had too much money for an accountant’s wife. And Rupert. Rupert was enjoying the way the seagulls hovered then seemed to bounce off the roof of the garages.
“Aggh!” screamed Fenella, “A rat!”
Most people followed to where she was pointing. Surprisingly it was Rupert who sprang into action. A long handled plastic broom had been left propped against a chair. Rupert collected it and made his way to the area Fenella pointed at. Ginny’s bag moved and as Rupert raised the broom as high as he could it was Ginny who uttered a scream so terrible that he halted his swing and brought his attention to Ginny.
“It’s Charlie. It’s Charlie!” she sobbed, before slumping against the policeman who had arrested her.
Staggering out from the large Gucci bag was a tiny Chihuahua. Its ears were down, its tail was between its legs, it’s tiny little body shook. It looked like a half starved naked sailor on a Friday night.
“Oh you poor little thing,” called Fenella, who immediately went towards it.
Harper had managed to get a chair under Ginny, who, even with her delicate white wrists secured by bracelets she would never dream of buying, held her hands out for her Charlie to be delivered to her. Fenella brought the dog over to her and stood and sighed as Ginny held and hugged Charlie.
Rupert felt a bit daft standing there, in the middle of the clubhouse with a blue plastic broom over his head, so he lowered it. He would have collected Ginny’s bag for her but the policeman who had arrested her had picked it up and was scrimmaging about inside. The Sergeant had been talking into the electric broach on his shoulder, while the third policeman seemed to be quite comfortable as he rested on Felix with his right knee firmly placed in the centre of Felix’s back.
“I take it Charlie is the dog’s name?” asked the Sergeant, to Ginny, who seemed to be settling down.
“Of course it is you stupid man!” snapped Ginny, who didn’t really seem to be that interested in anything other than the dog.
“I see the bitch is better,” whispered Bunnie, as Fenella drew up alongside her.
“I thought it was a boy dog?” replied Fenella.
“Who’s talking about the dog,” sighed Bunnie, who nudged Fenella and indicated that she should turn and watch, as the policeman emptied the contents of Ginny’s bag onto a table. The usual collection of keys, purse, compact, perfume and tat scattered over the table but the one item that stood out was a tiny pink purse.
“Golly!” said Rupert, stepping forward and trying to be helpful as always. “The money from the bar till.”
Rupert held the tiny pink purse up as if he were posing for the press.
“I demand that you release me,” said Felix, who had been waiting for his opportunity. The policeman came off Felix’s back and lifted him to his feet. Felix moved what was left of his mobile phone around with his right toe. It could have been a deceased hedgehog at the side of a busy road; all that was missing were the flies.
“Give him a seat Jones,” said the Sergeant, to which the policeman responded by guiding Felix into the nearest chair.
It was then that Bunnie noticed the four staff members, all behind the bar and all sniggering at the commotion that had unfolded before them.
“Why have you got this purse?” asked the Sergeant, who had opened the purse, removed the money and was counting it.
“My husband is the club treasurer. He was warned that fake notes were in circulation and he asked me to collect the money from the till this morning, take them to him at his place of work, where he could check them and then return the float to the till before the bar opened.”
“So there has been no robbery?”
Apart from the police most people were staring at the floor, except for Rupert who was watching the seagulls again.
“And Mister Forrest?”
“A misunderstanding Sergeant,” stated Bunnie, who was glad that the female police officer had come back into the clubhouse, minus friend.
“We’ve got a priority shout Searg,” she said, indicating her radio.
“De-arrest these two,” ordered the Sergeant, at which the two other policemen launched into some verbal tirade like magicians with their hocus-pocus. “And please madam,” said the Sergeant, leaning in to Bunnie, perhaps so that he didn’t have to raise his voice or perhaps to emphasise his words, or maybe both. “If you need our services in the future please make sure of your facts before you call us.”
They left. Their sirens diminished as the silence in the clubhouse grew, that is until the door slammed.
“I say,” hissed Bunnie, who was secretly pleased that Mister Forrest had left the building.
“I need a drink,” called Ginny, towards the staff, one of whom responded by jabbing a glass under the optic that held the gin bottle.
“I think you should go home and have a rest,” suggested Bunnie.
“You’ve been through a lot my dear and it’s a bit early to be getting squiffy.”
“I’ll just have this and go,” explained Ginny, who had made her way to the bar.
“Yes but we don’t allow dogs in the clubhouse my dear”
Ginny, while collecting her things wondered if Bunnie was insulting her or simply quoting the club rulebook. She smiled at the members of staff who she gave the little pink purse to before regaining her composure and making her exit.
“Nellie, I need you to get on the phone,”
“Why, what’s up?”
“We need to get a replacement chappie for this evening to present the prizes.”
“You don’t think anyone’s going to come here after the way you treated Felix?” asked Harper, who found Rupert agreeing with him.
“Felix Forrest’s phone is broken Mister O Neill. If we can get hold of these PGA people before he gets back to their headquarters we might be able to have a replacement sent before Felix tells his side of the story.”
“I see,” said Harper, impressed with Bunnie’s conniving.
“But what happens if we get another. You know?” asked Fenella.
“Good point,” said Bunnie, to the proverbial spanner that was still, in her opinion in mid-air, but most definitely heading for the works.
“I know,” said Rupert, who raced over to a side table where there was collection of magazines where he rummaged.
“Here!” he announced, coming back towards the group. “An article about this year’s PGA tour. It’s got a list of all the players; it’s even got their pictures and a bit about them.”
Bunnie inspected the magazine.
“Well done Rupert. We must see about getting you on the committee.”
Nellie took the magazine and went off to the telephone. Things were looking up.
“Now gentlemen,” said Bunnie, happy that her ship was once again on course; all she needed now was a bit of wind. “Let’s get these tables organised.”
Harper and Rupert finished off arranging the tables. The four staff furnished them, arranged the chairs and even managed to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Fenella returned, beaming a huge smile.
“And?” asked Bunnie.
”No problem,” squealed Fenella. “ I explained that there was some mix up and we needed a replacement. So they’re sending us Martin
“Martin Maguire. I believe he’s number seven in the ratings. Everybody else above him is busy.”
Fenella pointed at his photograph and Bunnie smiled. There would be no mistakes this time. No spanner hurtling towards her perfect works.
Fenella handed over the magazine to Bunnie.
“I’ll shoot off now and get those flowers Bunnie.”
“Fine. You do that, Nellie old girl,” answered Bunnie, who had found her reading glasses and was focusing on the blurb beside the photograph of Mister Maguire.
Fenella put on her jacket, collected her handbag and was about to ask if there was anything else she could do, when she noticed that Bunnie seemed to be in a state of shock.
“Oh dear. Bunnie, what’s wrong? He’s not black.”
“No Nellie, he isn’t.” Bunnie placed down the magazine on the table and pointed to a line of print. “It’s much worse than that. He’s Irish.”
The poster that used to be displayed in many English boarding houses that stated, No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish, prompted this story.