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The island 17: Good Advice?

Friday 23rd March 2012

The members of Camilla Pinkerton-Smythe’s bridge group had been as one and they had been adamant: she simply must report the broken drain-pipe to the police.

‘Do be sensible, darling.’ Jocasta Caldicott - an elegant red-head with three sons at Eton and a shopping habit - considered herself spokeswoman of their bridge group. ‘Cast iron drainpipes – they are cast iron aren’t they?’ She had paused for reassurance on this matter and Camilla had nodded. ‘I knew it. Cast iron drainpipes don’t just break into bits by themselves. Besides, you said yourself: there were great big burglar’s footprints on the lawn.’

‘But I don’t know they belonged to a burglar. I’ve got no proof of that,’ Camilla had tried not to sound like a wet-blanket but she was feeling rather steam-rollered by her friends.

‘Well who else could have made them, silly?’ Miranda Branksome, draining the last of a bottle of white wine into her glass, was increasingly voluble. ‘I mean, you said yourself that Seaview is a ghost town at this time of year.’

‘Well, yes, but….’ Camilla’s voice petered out.

‘But what Cami?’ Petra Peterson rested a kindly hand on her friend’s knee.

‘Yes, what? It’s the only sensible thing to do, really it is.’ Joanna Knutsford, a part-time accountant who time-managed her own life to the second, was beginning to resent the waste of time. They should now be concentrating on the next rubber of bridge and if they didn’t get on with it, Miranda would be beyond everything.

Eventually Camilla had capitulated and dialled the police station. She had been put through to someone who said he was called Detective Constable Driver. He had sounded very young and rather nervous but he paid close attention as she told him about the drainpipe and the footprints. There were long pauses during which he asked for patience as he made notes – some so long that Camilla could have sworn she heard him sucking his pencil. Eventually he had given her a crime number and promised to get back in touch in due course.

‘That’s done, good. You won’t regret it Camilla, no point turning a blind eye to these things,’ said Joanna standing up abruptly and picking three empty bottles off the table. ‘Right girls, let’s get going. I suggest one more rubber before we go for a walk. Will it be low tide Camilla? I’d love to walk along to Priory Bay.’

‘What a lovely idea. Perhaps we could have a cup of tea in the Priory Bay Hotel,’ said Jocasta, keen to re-establish her authority.

‘Ooh, yes. I rather like that Andrew who runs it. Do you think he’ll be there?’ said Miranda.

‘Er, probably.’ said Camilla vaguely. ‘Who’s deal?’

‘Mine I think,’ said Petra, reaching for the cards.

Camilla frowned as she cut the pack. She wasn’t at all sure she had done the right thing. Jacqui had been so insistent that it was silly to worry and nothing in the house seemed to have been. disturbed. But Jocasta and co had been more insistent still. Would Jolyon be cross with her? She wished she had asked him before doing anything. She rather wished her friends would go home.



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robin@madeonisleofwight.com