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The Island 15: A burglar in Bluett Avenue?

Tuesday 13th March 2012

Jacqui Draper whisked her duster along the kitchen skirting boards. Her boss, Camilla Pinkerton-Smythe’s new habit of bringing her bridge club down to Seaview mid-week meant Jacqui’s job was becoming a bit more demanding. Gone were the days when she didn’t see the family from September til Easter. With Mrs P-S coming down any old week Jacqui had to keep the place spotless 52 weeks a year.

Jacqui checked the time and, seeing it was already 11.30, started to flick her duster faster. Mrs P-S was at Made on the Isle of Wight buying that blue cheese she was so keen on and some Oil of Wight. She’d been gone so long she must have stopped for a coffee there, but she was bound to be back soon: she was meeting seven friends off the
Catamaran at 12.30.

At that moment she heard foot-steps in the hall. Camilla Pinkerton-Smythe swept in, all butter-blonde highlights and long limbs kept lean by a rather gorgeous personal trainer called Troy who visited her three times a week. She was dressed in expensive denim and a soft suede jacket. Depositing one of Made on the Isle of Wight’s distinctive carrier bags on the granite work surface she turned to face Jacqui.

‘The drainpipe outside our bedroom is broken. Had you noticed?’

Without turning round to face her boss, Jacqui shook her head. ‘Can’t say I have, sorry.’
She focused on her dusting. As far as she was concerned, the outside of the house was not her problem. Indoors was her domain.

Having finished dusting the kitchen, she moved towards the den and caught sight of Camilla Pinkerton-Smythe’s face which was set in a puzzled frown.

‘Are you okay? Is it the drainpipe? Is it badly broken?’ said Jacqui whose kind heart never allowed her to ignore anyone else’s discomfort.

‘Not so badly, no’. Camilla was pensive. ‘There’s a join just below our bedroom window and a chunk has broken off below that……’ She sighed heavily. ‘I just can’t see how it would have happened unless someone had been hanging off it. And……’ A pause.

‘And….?’ said Jacqui, eyebrows raised, head cocked to one side.

‘And there are a couple of huge footprints in the grass just below the drain pipe….I don’t know Jacqui. I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it except that when I was at Made on the Isle of Wight I stopped for a cappuccino and I was by myself so I couldn’t help listening to this conversation that was going on by the till…..

‘They were talking about a couple of strange break-ins that have happened on the Island, one in Sandown, one in Bembridge……What I’m wondering, Jacqui, is – do you think someone could have been trying to break in here?’

‘I doubt it,’ said Jacqui. And as the words came out of her mouth she remembered Craig’s text, the one she read as he drove down Bluett Avenue having escaped out of the
Pinkerton-Smythe’s bedroom window. ‘Sorry, couldn’t close window. Drain pipe damaged?? U R hot!’

She had been so pleased by the last past of the text, she hadn’t paid much attention to the rest of it. Now she wondered: could the damage Mrs P-S was stressing about have been caused by Craig?

‘I doubt it,’ she said again, this time more emphatically.

‘Really? Do you? It just seems rather odd – why would the drain-pipe suddenly break if someone didn’t break it? ‘I was just thinking Jacqui, do you think I should mention it to the police?’

Jacqui didn’t hesitate. ‘Oh no, I wouldn’t do that Mrs P-S. I really wouldn’t. You wouldn’t want the police tramping about, making a mess all over your house.’

Made on the Isle of Wight, Bullen Mead, Bullen Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 1QE
01983 564949