More on the Watford playground row A reader has written to me with some more of the background to the row about Watford Borough Council and its adventure playgrounds: Perhaps Watford Lib Dems were guilty of summoning up folk demons, but they felt very much already present.
Good enough reason for murder, I should think. Hopkins had decided that, the Clay death being apparently no accident, and Scotland Yard not being able so far to make any arrest, the person to cultivate was undoubtedly the man in the flannel bags.
Tisdall, his name was. Bart said that every newspaper man in England had tried to interview him the previous day Hopkins being then en route from the poker murder but that he had been exceptionally tough. Called them ghouls, and vultures, and rats, and other things less easy of specification, and had altogether seemed unaware of the standing of the Press.
No one was rude to the Press anymore—not with impunity, that was. But Hopkins had great faith in his power to seduce the human mind. The man's face hardened into instant enmity.
Did you know Uncle Tom? Come and have lunch with me? In half an hour he'd have a front-page story. And this was the baby they said was difficult!
No, there was no doubt of it: Hopkins," said Grant's pleasant voice at his shoulder. Tisdall has an appointment with me.
And Hopkins, seeing that Tisdall was unaware of Grant's identity, rushed in with glad maliciousness. Never had an unsolved crime to his name. And then they noticed Tisdall. His face was like parchment, dry and old and expressionless.
Only the pulse beating hard at his temple suggested a living being. Journalist and detective stood looking in mutual astonishment at so unexpected a result of Hopkins's announcement. And then, seeing the man's knees beginning to sag, Grant took him hastily by the arm. Come and sit down.
My car is just here. As they went at snail's pace towards the high road, Grant saw Hopkins still standing where they had left him. That Jammy Hopkins should stay without moving for more than three consecutive minutes argued that he was being given furiously to think.
From now on—the Inspector sighed—the camelfly would be a bloodhound. And the Inspector, too, had food for his wits. He had been called in the previous night by a worried County Constabulary who had no desire to make themselves ridiculous by making mountains out of molehills, but who found themselves unable to explain away satisfactorily one very small, very puzzling obstacle to their path.
They had all viewed the obstacle, from the Chief Constable down to the sergeant who had taken charge on the beach, had been rude about each other's theories, and had in the end agreed on only one thing: It was all very well to hang on to your own crime, and the kudos of a solution, when there was a crime.
But to decide in cold blood to announce a crime, on the doubtful evidence of that common little object on the table; to risk, not the disgrace of failure, but the much worse slings of ridicule, was something they could not find it in their hearts to do.Aimee Vincent. Sales Hub Team Leader at Stonegate Pub Company Limited.
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