For some reason, this week's batch of letters (rather an improvement over those of recent weeks) remind me of that great and industrious family of South London villains, the Timsons.
L1: Oh, I can hardly wait to see what the Submariner has done with this mighty pair. If the refreshers were good, this case could entertain the Old Bailey for a week or more as we go into all the pertinent and necessary details of exactly how religious the family were, how clear the prohibition of indoor relationship, how necessary to warn the couple of the dangers of self-incrimination through any admission of certain conduct, and how much exactly which party can be held accountable for The Big Bang. There must be some way to thread a needle between LW1 putting on his Big Boy Underoos and accepting his portion of the act despite his wanting to make a good impression and the girlfriend being both the primarily moved and the primary mover.
I am so disgusted with both halves of this couple that I almost want to tell them to marry at once. They clearly deserve each other. Both are willing to live with Granny's incarceration (whether or not deserved, one of the sadder points for cross-examination involved in the case) - and for what? Simply in order to avoid being adults? Are they afraid her parents will send her to her room without supper? Sadly, in the end, I must insist that they break up. Without a spine between them, they will not be able to stop her parents from sneaking their babies out of the house and getting them baptized, or reading their gay teenagers condemnatory Biblical passages assisted by sermons condoning any bullying the teens have received as righteous and thus driving them to suicide. It sounds melodramatic, but the risk is real.
The Timson angle for this letter is the case of the Tap End. Tony Timson is arrested for trying to drown his wife April when they share a bath. The whole incident was really just a case of heated feelings following a slight altercation. April had told Tony what she would be wearing to a party at Chrissie Malloy's and that Peanuts Malloy would be attending the same party. Tony didn't care for April to be wearing that particular outfit in such company, and then, however much embarrassment it cost Tony later to admit to it in the presence of Mizz Liz Probert as junior brief, April made a comparison between Tony and Peanuts on the subject of... virility. Tony expressed the assumption that most married couples shared baths, didn't they? Mr Bernard, it was revealed, couldn't do such a thing, as his wife had a hip. When the Timsons' arrangements of communal bathing became known in open court, Mr Justice Featherstone was so outraged by Tony being expected to sit with his back squashed up against the taps all the time that he unwisely appeared to opine that such circumstances almost justified an attempted murder. This even led to the intrusion of tabloid reporters phoning the Featherstone home and asking Marigold impertinent questions. Guthrie's incompetent attempt to remedy the situation required the far more skilful intervention of a legal practitioner of considerable greater talents in order to restore him to both judicial and domestic tranquility.
Moral: It is a truth universally acknowledged that no couple should marry if the parents of either possess double the amount of spine of the combined halves of the couple.
L2: And we go from bad to worse. The sterling question for cross is bound to be - Exactly How did LW2 discover the affair? And we all know the answer. Mumsy has been Talking. She told LW2, not only oblivious to the question of whether or not it spoiled the wedding for her, but both glad and doing all she could to insure that it did so. She didn't stop at telling LW2, either, and we can bet Ms Mermaid's red high heels on it. All the family knows. All her friends know. Anyone whom Mumsy has ever considered even an amiale acquaintance is under no illusion that even to acknowledge the existence of the slore (thanks, once again, to Johnny Weir for the new word) is to volunteer for excommunication. This is almost a beneficence on Mumsy's part - at least it avoids the possibility of the slore being invited to any event attended by Mumsy, LW2, family or perhaps even friends.
But that is the low-hanging fruit. I wonder where the husband is in all this. There is WE in the first sentence, followed by I'M so excited in the second. The WE in the third sentence is natural enough, as their children are being included in the ceremony (BLECH!), but there is a WE in the fourth sentence that annoys me. From the rest of the letter, that WE feels as if it applies more to LW2 and her mother than to LW2 and her husband. There follows a detailed account of the numerous roles filled by the slore as wedding planner preceding and during the ceremony. Then there is the sentence that anything connected to the wedding is painful "for us and my mom". WE can't watch the wedding video, but almost all the actions and reactions belong to Mumsy - asking LW2 to toss the veil, reconciling with Popsy, etc. Which WE exactly has been wanting to watch the wedding video - LW2 and hubby or LW2 and Mumsy? How distraught is hubby anyway? There are a lot of WEs which seem to refer to him but also seem to attribute to him more than his reasonable share of outrage involved. This is not encouraging.
I advise an immediate divorce. LW2 seems to be rather blurry on what she feels, what her husband feels, what her mother feels, and whether there is or ought to be any difference. And, on the bright side, they can still go ahead and plan another wedding, only this one will actually have teeth!
If only the slore were an official wedding planner, one could speculate merrily about whether or how she could legally turn away the business offered. It would be so much neater a picture if Mumsy pushed her friend every step of the way. Especially given the occasional case popping up in which wedding-related service providers have wanted to decline business from same-sex couples, we could have quite a nice time building up quite a fun picture.
The Timson case that springs to mind is that of the Children of the Devil. Dennis Timson robs a novelty shop of depressingly little cash and takes a box or two of novelties for good measure. As Carey Timson and his family are on holiday, Dennis stores the goods in Carey's garage and then forgets about them. Eight-year-old master criminal of the family, Carey's daughter Tracy, takes nine devil's masks to school, where she and eight friends don the mask and run about screaming for a few minutes before Tracy is apprehended. But this moderately benign caper has legs. Gareth Malloy thinks Carey told the police that the Malloys robbed the novelty shop. In retaliation, Tracy's cherubic classmate Dominic Malloy is primed by the rest of the Malloys to convince the well-meaning but credulous social worker Mirabelle Jones that Carey has introduced Tracy and Dominic to Satanic practices. Tracy is taken from her home into care in the middle of the night without even so much as a Barbara doll for consolation. Restoring her to her parents requires convincing Dennis to appear before the Crockthorpe local authority and put his hands up for the Wedges job.
Moral: It is a truth universally acknowledged that those who watch their wedding videos as frequently as LW2 does or would like to do are in want of marriages that compare favourably. [NB: See: van Arkle, Muriel - nee Heslop]
L3: This is a technical question that should never have made it past the editor as presented for the column. How much is the extra degree worth in the industry in question? That should come out easily enough, without requiring much in the way of cross. As for what LW3 ought to have done, skulking and sulking for the weeks since the tragic discovery is Not It. (Why, oh why, am I suddenly thinking of those commercials about the Heartbreak of Psoriasis?)
As breakups seem to be the order of the day, and it apears that LW3 has very probably been seen to have checked out mentally on the job, however justifiably, it might as well be made official. It would be interesting to see what would happen if LW3 were to inform the coworker of the salary difference, but that seems too improbable to suggest.
The Timsons always seem to be in the shadow of the more violent, more efficient and more successful-at-crime Malloys, a circumstance never better illustrated than in Rumpole's Last Case. Dennis and Cyril Timson are robbing a bank and have about two thousand pounds bagged from the safe when they hear the approach of a guard. They start to leave the way they entered, hear noises, go back the other way, encounter the guard. In the midst of much confusion, the guard is shot in the foot and they are apprehended. As the case heads to trial with their separate barristers each considering the merits of a cutthroat defense, the Malloys, who are rumoured to have pulled off something spectacular, are croing that the Timsons just get nicked and grass on each other. Peanuts Malloy is heard saying that the Timsons are only any good to use as ferrets. It transpires that the Malloys simply followed Dennis and Cyril into the vault, waiting for the pair to finish emptying the safe and leave, when they would have prduced the gun neither Dennis nor Cyril actually had and relieved the Timsons of the loot. When Dennis and Cyril were caught, the Malloys simply stayed where they were, then made off with about forty thousand once the coast was clear.
Moral: It is a truth universally acknowledged that confidential documents left on a scanner are to an unsupecting office worker as her box was to Pandora.
L4: Another technical question. Sigh. LW4 has already missed the boat. Maybe one occasion of illness might be passed off, but not contacting the hostess after the second occurrence with an inquiry into the health of everyone else and then (assuming no other casualties) into particular ingredients in search of a possible cause of what LW4 could at least have presented as putatively an allergic reaction? Surely any comment made now will make it plain to the friend what actually happens to be true, that LW4 believes there to be personal blame in the case, or at least believed so for some time. The friends apparently deserve better. Just drop them slowly and don't talk about it.
Perhaps LW4 has been dining with Hugh "Snake Legs" Timson, who inherited the position of family fence from the retired Uncle Percy. Police thought they could trace possession of a number of stolen silver sugar bowls to Hugh, but they found nothing from a long list of stolen articles until the bright Inspector Broom/Brush (Mr Mortimer herabout or at a nearby point making a name change for the Hammer of the Timsons) noticed a large number of bags of frozen peas in the Timson freezer and took it upon himself to order them put to the boil. One wonders what else might have taken up temporarym lodging among the eatables over the years.
Moral: It is a truth universally acknowledged that, as Julius King posits, however insincerely, in *A Fairly Honourable Defeat*, anybody can be made to drop anybody with the right tweaking.