Welcome back to the second in our weekly gallimaufry of Frank and Ella Raleigh’s wonderful world of East Devon. Retirement is anything but dull.
I got a new pair of gloves today, but they’re both ‘lefts’ which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it’s just not right.
After last week’s fatberg, this week we took to the skies and celebrated the charity parachute jump of 83-year-old Derek Hunt from Budleigh Salterton. Six years ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Now he’s just jumped out of a plane form 14,000 feet in Westen Australia.
“I’ve had some very strong comments from my friends about my sanity,” he admitted.
“Going down during the skydive bit, you’re going rather fast and the wind in your face makes you look like one of those horror films,” he said.
“I was so preoccupied with doing what I was supposed to do, I didn’t really take it in.
“The parachute opens at 5,000 to 4,000 feet and then you’re floating down quite gently and you’ve got plenty of time to look at the scenery and enjoy the view.
“When I got down there was a slight sense of relief, I think I said, ‘I’ve done it!'”.
Derek did the jump to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK and Kidney Care UK. So far he has raised £2,700 through the Virgin Giving site and direct donations. Visit Virgin Money Giving here to support Derek’s fundraising.
Read the whole story at https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/derek-does-charity-skydive-aged-83-1-6469140
Frank and Ella made their debut appearance in Cidered in Sidmouth, the first book in the East Devon Cosy Mystery series. Here’s some edited excerpt from the first two chapters:
Parking the car on the gravel drive, Frank heard the phone ringing inside the house. He rushed indoors and picked it up just in time to hear the caller. “Thank heavens you’re there, Elsie. Come quickly, I think Dudley’s out to get me! He sent me a horrible warning…”
“Hello, this is 3511543?” said Frank.
There was a pause.
”Ah, you’re not Elsie? That’s not 3511534, is it?”
The phone went dead.
“3511534…3511534…3511534.” Frank repeated the number out loud whilst gesturing to Ella to find him a pencil or pen.
“I’m writing it down. You can relax. The last two digits were accidentally reversed. What was all that about?”
Frank sat down and explained to Ella. “A man said Dudley’s out to get him. He thought he was phoning Elsie. He said that wasn’t 3511534 and then put the phone down.”
“The only Elsie I know is WPC Knowle.”
“I think you should try that number and see if it goes through to this Elsie. Explain to her what happened. Whilst you’re doing that, I’ll put the kettle on!”
Ella went into the kitchen. Before Frank called the number, he found out and wrote down the number of the person who had called him. As the caller needed to urgently speak to Elsie, he saw no point in calling back. Frank dialled 3511534.
It rang for about ten seconds and Frank was about to cut off the call when a female voice said: “Hello, how can I help?”
“Hello,” replied Frank. “Is that Elsie?”
“Yes, it is. I recognise that voice. It’s Frank, isn’t it? Frank Raleigh?”
“How did you know?”
“You’re speaking to a policewoman. We’re trained to remember things.”
“Elsie, WPC Knowle,” Frank interrupted.
“Yes, that’s me. It’s good to hear from you again. Is everything all right with Ella? She was such a brave lady.”
“Yes, everything’s great. I’ve just had a strange phone call. I think it was a wrong number. Someone said Dudley was out to get him and you had to come quickly.”
“Ah, that’s not the first time. I bet you’ve had a call from Anthony Buckerell. He’s a solicitor over in Budleigh Salterton. He thinks someone is trying to kill him. He seems to me as somewhat of a lonely old soul. A bit pompous and self-righteous. For a solicitor, he gets very muddle-headed. He needs a friend and he needs to get a life!”
Anthony worked in an office in the High Street above one of the flourishing gift shops that regularly blossom for a while in seaside towns.
WPC Knowle parked right outside the office and she pushed open a neat wooden door beside the shop-front. They both climbed the stairs before WPC Knowle knocked on another door that had faded gold lettering announcing that they were entering the offices of Anthony Buckerell LLB, LLP.
No-one answered her knock so she turned the door handle. The door was unlocked so they walked in.
A quiet, strained voice mumbled, “Come in.”
“Too late, Anthony. We’re already in!”
“Oh, it’s you. Thank heavens!”
Anthony Buckerell was sat, or rather slumped, in a wooden varnished but padded Bankers Chair behind a large mahogany Executive desk. The desk was clear except for a pristine blotter, an old fashioned telephone and a couple of leather bound A4 books. The wording appeared to read “Law Society” on the front cover.
“Dudley wants to kill me!”
“Good afternoon, Anthony, may we sit down?”
“Yes, pull up a chair. I see you’ve brought a detective with you. Good afternoon, Chief Inspector, are you from Exeter?”
Frank sat down and smiled.
“Anthony, this is the gentleman you accidentally called earlier today. He’s a sort of consultant. He’s shadowing me and providing valuable feedback. You can rest assured that anything you say to either of us will be treated in a professional manner and in the strictest confidence.
“Good. I need all the help I can get!” Anthony was sweating and repeatedly ran his hand through his receding hair as if brushing it back out of his eyes.
“Where’s Mrs Aylesbeare?”
“She doesn’t work today. She’s part-time now. I don’t want to speak about her. She’s always nagging me.”
WPC Knowle sat down and took out her notebook. “OK, Anthony, how may we help you?”
Anthony looked up at Frank before his eyes travelled around to WPC Knowle. Then he looked down at his desk. “Dudley’s out to get me. He sent me a letter. It said that I would…”
He buried his face in one hand. With the other hand, he pushed a piece of paper across the desk.
Frank picked it up and read aloud the printed words:
“You will die in the seventh hour of the night on the seventh day of the year.”
Frank turned the piece of paper over. Nothing else. Just those seventeen words.
The answer to last week’s Mystery Snap was Budleigh Salterton, where The Dudleys of Budleigh live!
This week? Where is this? Somewhere in East Devon?
Once more, find out if you were right next week.
Enjoy a new website each week as Ella brings you one of her surfing discoveries.
This week Ella’s visited https://avatarmaker.com/
When you need a face but don’t want to use a photo, then create an avatar. Simple to use. Just choose your faces, eyes, hair, clothes and background. Download it and use the avatar wherever you like!
Ella’s Mystery book of the month
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
According to Wikipedia, this is the world’s bestselling mystery book with over 100 million copies sold. First published in November 1939 under the title Ten Little N****** (my asterisks, not the original title!!) It was also renamed as Ten Little Indians and Ten Little Soldiers before settling on the title you know today. It is set off the South Devon coast on Burgh Island. Agatha Christie described it as her most difficult book to write.
Two reviews capture the varying moods of readers.
Maurice Percy Ashley in The Times Literary Supplement in November 1939, wrote, “If her latest story has scarcely any detection in it there is no scarcity of murders… There is a certain feeling of monotony inescapable in the regularity of the deaths which is better suited to a serialized newspaper story than a full-length novel. Yet there is an ingenious problem to solve in naming the murderer”, he continued. “It will be an extremely astute reader who guesses correctly.”
Isaac Anderson writing in February 1940 for The New York Times Book Review arrived at the point where “the voice” accuses the ten “guests” of their past crimes, which have all resulted in the deaths of humans, and then said, “When you read what happens after that you will not believe it, but you will keep on reading, and as one incredible event is followed by another even more incredible you will still keep on reading. The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating. It is the most baffling mystery that Agatha Christie has ever written, and if any other writer has ever surpassed it for sheer puzzlement the name escapes our memory. We are referring, of course, to mysteries that have logical explanations, as this one has. It is a tall story, to be sure, but it could have happened.”
There have been films, plays, computer games, a graphic novel, a board game and a ten-part live-action TV series called Ten Little Roosters where the viewers had to guess who would die next in order to win prizes!
That’s all for this week. See you next Monday,