Monday, 29 September 2014

A Brilliant Day at Bispham Endowed

Today I visited Bispham Endowed, my old primary school, where I read an extract from the Quest for Verdisc part 1 and an extract from the Monster Hunters: Malice of the Media. The children were absolutely brilliant, asking some fantastic questions in the Q and A that followed. A couple of times I felt really stretched, I never in a million years would have thought of some of them. Afterwards, I handed out some sticky notes and the children designed some brilliant magical characters, who will be appearing in the sequel to the Monster Hunters, which comes out next year. I'm writing this post to say thank you to the children, who were all fantastic, and also congratulate them on their challenging questions. I wish them all the best luck with their writing in the future, and I can't wait to start including their characters in my novel. Thanks again, Year 6. You were extremely welcoming, and very fun.

Luke Bateman, Monday 29th September 2014

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Bit of Poetry

Today, I was lucky enough to visit Dove Cottage in the Lake District, home of William Wordsworth. After a horrible journey there, where I may have fallen asleep about halfway through, me and the other students were greeted by two members of staff who answered all our questions and really helped us learn more about Wordsworth, a man that I don't think any of us knew much about. We then went into the Cottage itself. Despite being either freezing or boiling, and me almost cracking my skull on the low ceiling in the kitchen, the tour was informative and fun, giving us inspiration for some poems that we wrote immediately afterwards. We then had a talk with a poet and wrote another poem. The rest of the day was fun, with a workshop on reading and understand poetry, followed by a visit to the museum, where I wrote using a quill. It was a great day over all, and it led to the production of two pieces of poetry, which you can find below.

No More

Silent at first, as eerie as the grave, when the cry of children pierces the air
Feet upon granite floor, the hurried pattering of chilled footsteps
met by the smell of smoke, it’s inferno source hidden by the smoke itself.
The room is cast in gloom, lit merely by the ember glow of burning coals.
Onwards, to the confinement of a boiling claustrophobia, lit merely by small
windows, a view to the freedom of the world outside.
Ticking guides our sight- Cuckoo! Cuckoo! It’s shrill cry showing us
the inky black hell pit offering food for the blaze and hosting writhing life
of despicable needs, and above an object of synecdoche
as solemn and as simple as the brass house key.
Steep steps, cut at rough angles, lead us up to the landing.
Where, upon the black circle burnt into the floor,

patiently waits a grandfather clock that ticks and tocks no more.

The Day the Mice Came Home

To bleak sky, the grey similar to the tiles of the house that obscures my view, I recite my whispered excitement.
There is something sad about the solemn scene before me, but a pleasing melancholy,
after all, as a wise woman once said, Sad is merely Happy for deep people.
It’s abandonment, it’s decrepitness, the way in which it seems to sight, entices me into wondering of it’s aim.
The gloom of it’s ruin, silent for the roar of motor cars, eerie as the grave,
until it becomes surrounded by the joy of young children, and the blur of red jumpers,
a shadow in the light.
It will never be restored, it’s fortunes never realised, but it carries it’s hope nonetheless.
And the day that hope is rewarded, I imagine, will be the Day the Mice Come Home.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Doctor Who Marathon 2014

Because I could be described as having a none existent social life and having a near complete obsession with Doctor Who- check out the mini series happening on this blog if you need a proper confirmation- every year I do a marathon of my Doctor Who collection, in chronological order from beginning to end. If you follow me on twitter- seriously, if not why not- you'll probably know that I finished the DVD section on the 23rd of August, just in time for Peter Capaldi to make his debut, and what a debut it was! Due to the fact I was asked what the point in my marathon was, I have decided to give an x/10 score for every story on the marathon. The scores are not given on the quality of production, or the greatness of the script, but instead on the enjoyability of the episode, from a fan's view, not a critics. Because of this, I apologise for how much I like Adric and most of the Steven Moffat episodes. Here we go:

The First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 1
Mode of scores: 5/10
Thoughts: Due to only having seen one story, I feel that I can't comment much on him, except for the fact that I'd like to find out much more. He was a very interesting portrayal of the Doctor, or should I say extremely normal portrayal seeing he was the first, but I definitely would love to discover more. If you have any good suggestions of what to watch, please leave them in the comments box.
Episodes watched:
An Unearthly Child: 5/10

The Second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 2
Mode of Scores: 8/10
Thoughts: I've only watched two of his stories, but I can already tell that Troughton is a brilliant Doctor. He's amusing and curious, a young boy to Hartnell's old man, but what really makes him brilliant are his companions. Jamie is a fantastic companion, one of my favourites of the classic era, and Victoria, whilst not being brilliant, is still quite good. Also, in the two episodes I watched, we further discovered the famous villain that first appeared in Hartnell's final episode. The Cybermen, and if it wasn't for Troughton, they almost certainly wouldn't be as infamous as they are.
Episodes watched:
The Tomb of the Cybermen: 7/10
The Invasion: 9/10

The Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 5
Mode of scores: 6/10
Thoughts: Jon Pertwee is flamboyant. Seriously, flamboyant. It was as if the clothing department thought, well we've got colour television now, so we may as well show it off. He's dynamic, clever and a master of Venusian Akido. But what I like the most about him is how he brought the alien invasions to Earth, and managed to save a general, or other boss character, most of the time as well. Pertwee's era also introduced three of the most loved characters of all time. The dastardly Master, the brilliant Brigadier and of course the lovely Sarah Jane Smith. All three are corner stones of Doctor Who, and helped to shape the show as it is today.
Episodes watched:
Spearheads in Space: 6/10
The Mind of Evil: 7/10
Frontier in Space: 6/10
Planet of the Daleks: 8/10
The Time Warrior: 10/10

The Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 12
Mode of scores: 10/10
Thoughts: Tom Baker is Doctor Who. If you went up the majority of people on the streets before 2005 and ask them to describe the Doctor, Tom Baker would almost certainly be the man they'd describe. Tom Baker's era changed Doctor Who like nobody had done before. Not only did he travel with two of the most popular companions of Classic Who, Sarah Jane and K9- not Harry and Adric- but he also helped to redefine Doctor Who as we knew it. Suddenly, the Doctor became a chaotic lunatic of a madman, alien to the human's that his last regeneration had surrounded himself with. He also fought some of the famous villains of Doctor Who, having more encounters with the Sontaran's as a villain than any Doctor, and introducing the likes of Davros. He may not be my favourite classic Doctor, but he's certainly up there.
Episodes watched:
Robot: 5/10
The Sontaran Experiment: 5/10
Genesis of the Daleks: 8/10
The Deadly Assasian: 8/10
The Talons of Weng Chiang: 10/10
The Invasion of Time: 10/10
City of Death: 10/10
Full Circle: 6/10
State of Decay: 4/10
Warriors Gate: 5/10
Keeper of Traken: 7/10
Logopolis: 7/10

The Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davidson.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 5
Mode of Scores: 7/10
Thoughts: Peter Davidson was the first classic Doctor that I watched, so I imagine he'll always be my favourite classic Doctor. There was something about the way in which he chases around Castrovalva, clueless and disorientated whilst a group of teenagers had to look after him that I found quite entertaining. He, much like Matt Smith, managed to capture that boffin in a young man's body feel to the Doctor, which I thought was played perfectly. A lot of people dislike him, and his companions, but I can find no grudge, as they are amusing and fast and play in the story fantastically. And even if you hate Adric, which I certainly don't, you have to admit that Earthshock was brilliant.
Episodes watched:
Castrovalva: 7/10
Earthshock: 10/10
The Five Doctors: 6/10
Revelation of the Daleks: 7/10
Caves of Androzani: 9/10

The Sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 2
Mode of scores: N/A
Thoughts: Colin Baker is better than you'd expect. He portrayed a fanatically complex Doctor, who's suffered from post-regenerative madness like no-one before. I find him exciting and new. The only thing that let him down were the episodes he was in, and his hideous outfit. With a modern writer, and a team that cared about the show, such as those who brought the show back, or maybe even Philip Hinchcliff, Colin Baker would have been one of the best Doctors there was. Sadly, however, this wasn't the case.
Episodes watched:
Attack of the Cybermen: 6/10
The Two Doctors: 2/10

The Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 4
Mode of scores: 8/10
Thoughts: Again, Sylvester McCoy was another Doctor who could have been great, if only the entire team had cared. I used the phrase 'entire team' as I believe that Andrew Cartmel and his team of writers really wanted to return the show to it's former glory, unlike John Nathan Turner, who I believe was there to make sure the show ended. This Doctor's era paved the way for the 2005 revival, not only by getting the show cancelled, but by making the companion- the brilliant Sophie Aldred- an essential character and by introducing the story arc. Over all, I think Sylvester McCoy's era is very promising indeed.
Episodes watched:
Remembrance of the Daleks: 9/10
Battlefield: 7/10
Ghostlight: 10/10
The Curse of Feneric: 8/10

The Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann.
Number of stories from his era that I watched, read and listened to: 4
Mode of scores: 9/10
Thoughts: Paul McGann was awesome. He was the steampunk Doctor, with a wooden console and candles, trailing around like a lost romantic poet. Despite his time begin cut shockingly short by the complete failure that was the movie, he returned in force in Comics and Audiotape, then finally in a minisode for the fiftieth anniversary. One thing is for sure, I'd love to discover more of his Doctor.
Episodes enjoyed:
The Movie: 7/10
Oblivion: 9/10
Dark Eyes S1 E1: 8/10
Night of the Doctor: 9/10

The Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 13
Mode of scores: 10/10
Thoughts: Christopher Eccleston is one of those Doctors that gets better with every story I watch. He brings an entire new element to the Doctor. Suddenly the time lord was Phil Mitchell. And northern. Not only was he brilliantly gritty, yet genius, he had a great chemistry with some of the best companions of the twenty first century. Rose Tyler- I'm currently preparing to be killed by fangirls as I type this- was awful with David Tennant, far too whiny and she suddenly became a character there merely to be in love with the Doctor, but with Christopher Eccleston, she was her own character, amusing and strong willed, if not with a dubious amount of boyfriends. He was also the first Doctor that you could imagine going for a pint, and he was given plenty of male friends to do so with. Mickey and Jack are obvious example of them, both brilliant characters in their own right but better with Chris, and he even managed to get the best out of Adam, who I shall refrain from talking about further. If anything is wrong with modern Who, it is that we never got to see him and Lynda with a Y have adventures in the Tardis, as I'd most certainly enjoy that more than I did David Tennant's first series.
Episodes watched:
Rose: 7/10
The End of the World: 6/10
The Unquiet Dead: 7/10
Aliens in London: 8/10
World War Three: 6/10
Dalek: 5/10
The Long Game: 8/10
Fathers Day: 5/10
The Empty Child: 10/10
The Doctor Dances: 10/10
Boom Town: 10/10
Bad Wolf: 10/10
The Parting of the Ways: 10/10

The Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 45
Mode of scores: 8/10
Thoughts: David Tennant is the fan favourite. Nowadays, if you said Doctor Who, your average would describe David Tennant, but for me, he'll never be my favourite. He's got everything you may want. He's funny and quick, clever and charming, but the fact that he became the Doctor everyone fancied took away from him. His first series was quite dire, completely to do with the bond between the Doctor and Rose, of which I'm not that fond. For me, the Doctor shouldn't fall in love, or at least not have it as his main drive in life. His third series was brilliant, however, with a good storyline in the form of the Master and the introduction of Martha, who is, quite unpopularly, better than Rose in every respect. Series four is alright, better than series two at any rate, and Donna Noble is a brilliant companion, making her fate even more unfortunate. The specials, however, are terrible, and the final two parter do this majorly popular Doctor a major discredit.
Episodes watched:
The Christmas Invasion: 7/10
New Earth: 6/10
Tooth and Claw: 8/10
School Reunion: 10/10
Girl in the Fireplace: 9/10
Rise of the Cybermen: 8/10
Age of Steel: 8/10
The Idiot's Lantern: 8/10
The Impossible Planet: 9/10
The Satan Pit: 8/10
Love and Monsters: 7/10 (please don't judge me. It may not by the best episode of Who, but it's entertaining.)
Fear Her: 1/10
Army of Ghosts: 7/10
Doomsday: 9/10
The Runaway Bride: 9/10
Smith and Jones: 7/10
The Shakespeare Code: 10/10
Gridlock: 6/10
Daleks in Manhattan: 6/10
Evolution of the Daleks: 6/10
The Lazarus Experiment: 8/10
42: 1/10
Human Nature: 4/10
Family of Blood: 5/10
Blink: 10/10
Utopia: 8/10
Sound of the Drums: 10/10
Last of the Timelords: 10/10
Voyage of the Damned: 6/10
Partners in Crime: 7/10
Fires of Pompeii: 1/10
Planet of the Ood: 3/10
The Sontaran Stratagem: 7/10
The Poison Sky: 7/10
The Doctors Daughter: 7/10
The Unicorn and the Wasp: 9/10
Silence in the Library: 10/10
Forest of the Dead: 10/10
Midnight: 7/10
Turn Left: 6/10
The Stolen Earth: 8/10
Journey's End: 9/10
The Next Doctor: 9/10
End of Time p1: 6/10
End of Time p2: 7/10

The Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.
Number of stories from his era that I watched: 39
Mode of scores: 10/10
Thoughts: Matt Smith is my Doctor. My first was Christopher Eccleston, and I grew up with David Tennant, but Matt Smith became the Doctor as I became a major fan. He was also the first Doctor of the Moffat Era, the most controversial era since the Cartmel master plan back in the 80's. Whilst many people hate the interweaving story arcs of Matt Smith's three series, I love them, believing them to be clever and original. Smith also has some of the best companions since the show came back, in the form of Amy, Rory and Clara, as well as River Song who, despite not being liked that much, remains one of the most intriguing companions to appear. Of course, Matt Smith's era also contains the simply brilliant Day of the Doctor, the best of all the anniversary specials in my opinion. It may be the most controversial of eras, but for me, it is the best.
Episodes watched:
The Eleventh Hour: 10/10
Time of the Angels: 8/10
Flesh and Stone: 8/10
Amy's Choice: 7/10
The Hungry Earth: 8/10
Cold Blood: 8/10
The Lodger: 9/10
Vincent and the Doctor: 8/10
The Pandorica Opens: 7/10
The Big Bang: 7/10
A Christmas Carol: 10/10
The Impossible Astronaut: 9/10
Day of the Moon: 9/10
The Curse of the Black Spot: 5/10
The Doctor's Wife: 10/10
The Rebel Flesh: 3/10
The Almost People: 2/10
A Goodman Goes to War: 10/10
Let's Kill Hitler: 10/10
Night Terrors: 8/10
The Girl Who Waited: 5/10
The God Complex: 10/10
Closing Time: 8/10
The Wedding of River Song: 6/10
Asylum of the Daleks: 9/10
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: 9/10
A Town Called Mercy: 6/10
The Power of Three: 9/10
The Angels Take Manhattan: 8/10
The Snowmen: 9/10
The Bells of Saint John: 10/10
The Rings of Akhaten: 3/10
Cold War: 5/10
Hide: 3/10
Journey to the Centre of the Tardis: 6/10
The Crimson Horror: 10/10
Nightmare in Silver: 8/10
Name of the Doctor: 6/10
Day of the Doctor: 10/10

The Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.
Number of stories from his era that I've watched: 5
Mode of scores: 9/10
Thoughts: I was heart broken when I discovered that Capaldi was going to be the Doctor. For two reasons, A. it meant that Matt Smith really was leaving and B. I knew he was going to be nothing like my favourite Doctor. Between the date of his announcement and Christmas Day 2013, I clung to every rumour I read that really it was part of Moffat's master plan, and that Capaldi was a decoy. And then on the 23rd of August, I sat down and watched Deep Breath and I decided that I was an idiot, because Capaldi was awesome. He is brilliant, yet another testimony to the Moffat era of Doctor Who. I find him witty and clever, with that right amount of alien that made Tom Baker brilliant. So far, I've watched five of his adventures, and I can't wait to see more!
Episodes watched:
Deep Breath: 10/10
Into the Dalek: 9/10
Robot of Sherwood: 9/10
Listen: 10/10
Time Heist: 7/10

Other things:

Theme Tune Ratings:
1st/2nd Doctor: 10/10
3rd Doctor: 7/10
4th Doctor: 5/10
5th Doctor: 6/10
6th Doctor: 6/10
7th Doctor: 0/10
8th Doctor: 2/10
9th/ 10th Doctor 1: 9/10
10th Doctor 2: 8/10
11th Doctor 1: 7/10
11th Doctor 2: 8/10
12th Doctor: 1/10

Top 5 Companions:
1. Clara
2. Adric
3. K9
4. Jack
5. Martha

Top 5 Villains/ Monsters:

1. The Cybermen
2. The Master
3. The Sontarans
4. The Daleks
5. The Weeping Angels

Top 5 Tardis:
1. 12th/11th Doctor
2. 9th/10th Doctor
3. 8th Doctor
4. 1st Doctor
5. 4th Doctor's Secondary Console Room

So that is the conclusion of my Doctor Who Marathon this year. Please feel free to comment on what you disagree with, and if you have any suggestions of episodes I haven't watched that I should have.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Conclusion to the Curious Case of the Corpses in the Cafe Across the Road from the Chris Hoy Velodrome (aka Cupid's Knife)

"So is it called a tweet or a twit?" I asked, as Robin attempted to teach me the mystic art of 'Twitter.'
"The posts are tweets. You are a twit." Robin replied. "Now click confirm and then reopen the Twitter app."
I exited my email's on the fancy smartphone and then reopened the Twitter app. My twitter page appeared, and revealed I had an egg on a red background. "Does your egg hatch and become a twitter bird if you get lots of stalkers?"
"They're called followers, Gabriel. And no, it doesn't. Now, you see the magnifying glass?"
"Finally, something I recognise!" I exclaimed and clicked on it. A keyboard rose from the bottom of the page. "What do I do now?"
"Type in Robin Greenhouse." Robin said.
I did so and her face came up. "Eurgh. Why would I want to have access to more than one of your faces?"
"For that, I'm not following you. But you still have to follow me."
I was too distracted by the first twit, sorry- tweet- on the menu. "Hashtag Indy Ref? Since when was Indiana Jones a referee? Or is it that the Black Keys style of music is being given the red card? I hope not, because- after Franz Ferdinand- they're one of my favourite bands."
"Indy Ref is the Independence Referendum. You know, the big thing where we get to thwart the English after 300 years of tyranny."
"I assume you'll be voting no, then."
She glared at me. "Did you see the Big Debate?"
"What, Salmond Versus Darling? Aye, I watched it. I almost considered voting Yes, due to the amount of self restraint Salmond showed. The temptation to end every sentence 'Darling' must have been overwhelming. Oh, hello darling."
"'Oh, hello darling'? Why would Salmond say that?"
"I think he might have been talking to me." Rachel said, coming in with her bag hanging at her side.
"Good conference?" I asked her.
"Yeah. The English scientists were a bit gloomy, saying it was the last chance they'd have to enter Scotland without a passport, but over all it was quite good."
"It'll be a no vote." I assured her. "I bet you ten pounds."
"If it's a Yes," she replied, "we may not be using pounds! I read the article, by the way."
"What, the Chris Hoy Corpses?" I asked back.
"Yeah, but they changed the name to not annoy Chris Hoy. It's now called, 'Cupid's Knife.'"
"That is awful!" I exclaimed.
"Hang on a second." Robin said. "I didn't think you'd worked that one out yet?"
"Oh yeah, I worked it out ages ago. I thought it was rather obvious to be truthful."
She scowled at me, and snatched the paper from Rachel's hand, flicking to page eight. If you were to do this, you would find the words Rathbone Investigates in arched writing, with my face by the R and Robin's face by the final S. Underneath were the words Cupid's Knife in big letters, then below was a block of text describing our adventure. Robin read it allowed. "It wasn't for the first time that I and Robin had found ourselves out in the early hours of the morning, accompanied by Inspector Lodsbury of Strathclyde Police, investigating a multiple murder. The crime had taken place opposite the Chris Hoy Velodrome, scene of the Commonwealth Games,  in a small family owned cafe. Ambulance services had shown up within five minutes, pretty good for the tourist stricken streets, but they'd been of no help to the daughter, the only person who'd survived the barbaric attack. I would advise you to stop reading now, should you want to be spared the image that haunted my dreams for the next few nights." Robin stopped reading and stared at me. "You are far too overly dramatic."
"You're telling me!" Cried Rachel.
Robin ignored her and continued reading. "The corpses numbered two, the father and stepmother. The father had a powerful stab through his neck, and the stepmother had a powerful stab to the liver. It was easy to fall into the mind set that the culprit was a big man, and the shatter of glass from the window was certainly suggestive of this theory. But this almost certainly wasn't the case.
"As usual, the Human Element of the case was the closing point. Inspector Lodsbury, of which my old readers will know I've nicknamed Lodders, read his notes from the distressed daughter, who'd rung the ambulance, after she'd unfortunately found the body. Inspector Lodsbury read, 'She came down when she heard her stepmother screaming. She found her father choking up blood- through the wound in his neck, and her stepmother with the knife still in her liver. The stepmother ripped the knife out of her liver, and that just encouraged the bleeding.' And that, 'She kept babbling about how her stepmother was so small she had to stand on the fathers feet to kiss him.' Now, I know we don't show Holby City till after the News nowadays, but it doesn't take much knowledge to know that taking the knife from the wound isn't a good idea, and why did she babble about the standing on the fathers feet? Well that was because, inside her catatonic shell, the daughter had worked out how it was done, and was intending to tell us.
"One of the things I noticed about the fathers corpse was that there were strange imprints on on the front of the ankles. These imprints were much like when you press your fingernails into your hand, and that's why it fitted beautifully with something Robin said. The toenails of the stepmother. They were long, but painted lovingly, like she was trying to distract from the length. And that was what gave it away to me. At some point during the night, the tourists outside had got so drunk they'd ended up smashing the front window of the cafe. Father and stepmother had come down to sort it out, and boarded up the window. Then. stepmother for whatever reason, stepped onto his feet as if to kiss him, then stabbed his neck and stepped away as the blood splurged out. He fell back, but her long toe nails had left an imprint in the front of his ankles. Not thumbnails on the palm, but toenails on the ankles. But then how did she end up being stabbed? She took the knife and stabbed herself. As a theme that seems to be developing a lot in murders recently, the murderer felt guilty and stabbed herself. Presumably she thought, having stabbed herself, she wouldn't have caused enough damage, so she drew the knife out, screaming as she went and causing the suspicion of the daughter. I didn't have a motive, but we soon found one- the cafe had spent far too much money on the Games, and then didn't have enough to replace the window. Also, it was an awful cafe, so they hadn't made much money from sales. In the end, I guess she blamed him and, begin the furious stereotype that Scottish women seem to conform to, she decided to kill him. I was invited back to the cafe, which has reopened due to the daughters efforts, and am pleased to report it is a reformed venue, but I doubt many who read this will be encouraged to go there, as a history of betrayal, lost love and the occurrence of Cupid's Knife hangs a terrible emptiness over a cafe's customers. The End." Robin finished, and then added, "I hope you didn't write that last bit. It was awful."
"I can successfully announce I didn't write it." I replied.
"Good." Robin said. "Because if an English man read it, he'd really hope it was a Yes Vote."

Rathbone and Robin will return at some point in the near distant further, although whether or not they're going to be Independent when they do is another matter altogether.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The Evolving Robber (part 4)

"I'd kind of guessed that." Lodders moaned from the floor, and I realised he was what had been kicked about on the floor. McFarlan gave him a kick in the face for his troubles.
"I hadn't." Rachel said, as the EastEnders theme finished. "I can't believe Patrick had a stroke."
"I meant the fact he's my brother in law." Lodders replied, to another kick in the face from the brother in question.
I prepared myself to fight, but realised that I hadn't even been able to hit a low paid desk sergeant when we'd dealt with the Corpse Quartet so six tall, muscular men who'd already committed assault twice and broken into five flats probably weren't my ideal opponent. Instead, I backed off, as all six turned to me, and smiled at them. They were an ugly bunch, presumably all bailiffs like their leader, and all dressed in the appropriate clothes. They also all wore a days worth of stubble, beneath their black hoods. "This is normally the bit where I and Robin talk through how we worked out it was you, using a selection of keen banter and clever deductions." I explained. "And it would probably really help if you would stop approaching us threateningly."
They didn't, and so Robin continued from where I'd stopped. "We knew we were looking for six men, from the footprints on the doors of Mrs Fraisers flat, and we knew you were all tall and strong from the size of your feet and the ferocity with which you kicked the door."
"And we knew you were probably bailiffs from the expert way in which you opened the doors." I added. "Please will you stop walking towards us because it's kind of freaking me out."
"Gabriel!" Robin complained. "You should never tell the threatening people you're scared, cause now they'll just threaten you more."
"Please can you give me advice if we survive this, Robin, because it won't be very useful if we don't."
"Consider it done. Shall I continue?"
"If you wouldn't mind."
"We knew you had to be bailiffs, and we knew you had to be tall, but we didn't have a clue who exactly you were. But we had a theory. Lachlan McFarlan, brother in law of Inspector Lodsbury, but we needed confirmation."
"And, in an extremely not chronological order of events, we got some. From the CCTV in the lobby. You're use to being on the side of the law, so it didn't occur to you until later that the CCTV would have been incriminating." I continued.
"But after we'd worked that out, we needed a motive, and Gabriel worked that out almost straight away. It's quite obvious when you think about it." Robin said, leading us behind the bar, and stepping in front of the oven. "Would you like to talk us through your little timeline, Gabe?"
"Don't call me Gabe."
"Better." I replied. "My reasoning starts at about six o clock this evening. Lodders dresses in the suit he's currently wearing and tell's Madeline, his wife, that he's going to an event at my flat this evening.   He and Sarrison wish her goodnight and then go to the taxi waiting outside for them. Robin get's out of the back of the taxi, and they hug or something like that. They drive off and come here, but more importantly, Madeline had seen them hug, or whatever. Now, being stereotypically feisty and Scottish, Madeline calls her big, tall, strong brother and his gang of bailiffs- who are approaching far to threateningly close, please back off a bit- and tell's them she thinks she's being cheated on."
"Can you get to the bit where you outsmart them, please." Lodders called from the floor, bordering on unconsciousness.
"I'm getting to that." I replied. "Where was I? Ah yes. Now, Madeline tells Lachlan that her husband is cheating on her with a a skinny redhead, half her age. Lachlan is outraged, decides to go beat both their brains out. Then he asks where they were going. She says my flat, but neither know where that is, so they have to have a think. Then it occurs to them. He took Sarrison with him."
"Sarrison, the good dog that he was, had had a chip out in his foot by" Robin continued. "And using the website, they managed to track him down, to where he was chewing the table leg in this flat."
"And that was the beginning of it. McFarlan and his merry men know that Sarrison, and presumably Lodders and Robin, are somewhere in this building, but they don't know what floor, so they turn up and ask the receptionist they'd been invited to a party, hoping he'd direct them to my flat. But he didn't, just buzzed themselves through, so they had to work their way up. Floor one, Mrs Fraiser's flat. Floor two, the Hussein's flat. Then they rushed to the fire escape, and went up, to floor three. They entered three and found it abandoned. This was the turning point. They'd committed two crimes, crimes which would probably get them behind bars for one year, so they could back out or really break the law. They decide to go to a cafe a few blocks away and think things over, and disappear back down the fire exit, going to the cafe. Maybe two hours later, they come across a picture of Robin. They again feel the anger of earlier and return to this building, but for all they know, the lobby could be crawling with police, so they go up the fire exit and enter through the windows on the fourth floor. They walk through and enter the flat. Where they find a skinny redhead, half Madeline's age. Before they consult the picture, they knock her out and search for Lodders. But they don't find him, and when they go back to the girl, they discover she isn't Robin. Infuriated at their mistake, they go outside and beat the door up a bit, as you do, when they hear voices coming up the stairwell. They head up, into the room on floor five and they don't discover Robin or Lodders. So they hide in their, until they come in here, and beat the living daylights out of Lodders."
"That doesn't answer about the mess in the room though, does it?" The Hussein son shouted from the back of the room.
"My head is too busy falling apart for me to care about that." Lodders cried.
Robin answered this particular query. "They were searching for Lodders and Robin. The bits that had been looked through and ransacked were big enough to hold a human being, but with each floor, they worked out which were more likely to hold the person they were looking for, eliminating places from their list, and the places they did search, they did more carefully. They literally evolved, as they robbed." Robin answered.
Lachlan clapped several times, slowly and sarcastically, and said, "All well and good, pal, but what're are you going to do when I knock you unconscious?"
Robin had an answer. "You really shouldn't have tagged Sarrison with"
"Why?" Asked Lachlan.
"Because, Sarrison! Attack!" She pointed at Lachlan, but the dog which had been slowly edging towards her every time she said 'Sarrison...Come Here Boy' refused to rush forwards at the big bad man, probably because it was scared of him all the same. Robin sighed and threw the piece of meat, that she'd taken from the oven after we'd got there, at Lachlan, but not even a nice bit of meat could convince the greyhound. "Ha!" Lachlan cried. "Your last resort was a stupid mutt that couldn't even win a one dog race."
"That's no way to talk about Rachel." I said.
You could see the question 'What?' forming on his lips as the large iron poker smashed into his head and he collapsed to the floor unconscious. Rachel, wielding the large weapon, smashed it into the face of two of his friends, and then let the other three surrender. Exactly as Jack Reacher does in the movie. Somehow I knew that was where she'd got it from.
I ran forwards and hugged her, and then turned to Lodders and said, "They fell on the poker, right."
"If you can stop this bleeding and call an ambulance, I'll do anything." He replied.

A few weeks later:

I and Rachel were lying in bed, reading and listening to Franz Ferdinand's Evil Eye, playing from my iPod. "Some people wanna see what I see, some people put an evil eye on me." I sung along, flicking through the pages of the Drawing of the Three, the Stephen King book I'd recently borrowed from Rachel's library. "Seriously, how can he be the Gunslinger if he's lost his fingers?" I asked.
"Spoilers!" Rachel cried, then put the Pavilion Paper down. She'd been reading my most recent article, the Evolving Robber, about the night I'd introduced her. I told her it wasn't that exciting, but she insisted anyway, because she liked the idea of me including her in my work. "That's great."
"You think so?"
"Yeah! It's really well written, and the conclusion is even better than in real life."
"Thank you."
"One thing, though."
"Do you really not know why Robin was behaving how she was?"
"No, I don't."
"Do you really not know why she got Lodders to pretend to be her boyfriend, and refuses to come around when I'm here?"
"Not really." I replied, unsure where this was going.
She laughed. "And I thought you understood the human element."
A thought suddenly occurred to me, and it snowballed until I had a hypothesis. "I've got it!"
"How does that make you feel?"
"Great!" I replied.
"What!?" Rachel replied.
I looked at her. "I always feel great when I've solved a case. I've got a Conclusion to the Curious Case of the Corpses in the Cafe across the road from the Chris Hoy Velodrome!"
"And I thought it was because you'd realised Robin had a crush on you."
"What!?" I demanded.
"The great detective is stumped." She laughed, and swatted me with the newspaper.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Evolving Robber (part 3)

I and Robin raced immediately out of the flat and to floor four, where we found the door ever so slightly open and the occupant on the floor inside. I took a couple of pictures of the door on my phone and then raced inside, across the room to the occupant. She was new to the building, but an artist from what I'd heard, and her hair was the same fiery red as Robin's. I checked her pulse and was pleased to discover she was still alive, just unconscious. "She's going to have a large bruise." I said.
"I'll get some witch-hazel." Robin replied, going back to the door. "They closed the door on their way out. But why not fully close it? It would have given them extra time from being discovered. And why isn't the lock broken?"
I looked up at her. "They're evolving robbers, Robin. Look at this room. It's been searched not ransacked like all the others. They've been learning to be more discreet all the way along."
"Then why don't the doors look like they've been picked? They kicked the door open, obviously, but the locks are stronger than that."
"Because they haven't been. The doors were left open, cause she's an artist and her spirit is free and so is her flat." She went to ask a question but I silenced her. "And I'm ashamed you didn't notice there wasn't a notch in the wall behind, because they didn't kick it in. They pulled it open and then made it look like they'd kicked it in."
"Firstly: why? And secondly: how did they actually get in, then?"
I looked up at her. "There are in surplus of five psychopathic evolving robbers searching through a building for something too big to steal, who have terrified a daily and beaten up a young woman. Do you really think they have a logic?"
"Good point. My second question?"
I smiled and led her to the window. "Elementary, my dear Greenhouse. As you should more than easily be able to see, those flowers down there look healthy, yes?"
"Yes." Robin replied, looking at the flowers on the outside windowsill. "They look lovely. Weirdly spaced, but you know, I'll go along with it."
"They aren't weirdly spaced." I said. "All though, I can see why you think they are." The flowers were planted at either end of the windowsill box. "They're positioned so you can see the city through the gap in between. I guess you could call it, 'Nature Reclaims the City.'"
"Where did you get all that from?"
I jerked my thumb towards the large canvas on a easel to my side. It showed the city through the gap in between the two flowers, with the flowers over hanging it. At the bottom were the words 'Nature Reclaims the City.'
"There was me thinking you were being arty."
"Conform to that delusion, Robin. It makes me more impressive."
"That's too impressive for me to handle."
I wasn't entirely sure what she was saying, so I continued being a detective. "Look at the painting though. The soil is light, flowing even! But look at it in real life, it's tightly pack, holding a tiny imprint of something. I'm no florist, that was my dad's job, but even I know that isn't good for a plant. And look at this lady, she loves plants. She must do, she paints loads of them. So, the question is: why is that they're like that?"
Robin didn't have an answer. But I did.
"Because they've been stepped on when the burglars entered. Which means they entered via the fire exit, which means they couldn't come in from the outside. Which means?"
"The doors are locked?"
"No, Rachel's friends got in."
"They would have been recognised."
She grinned and helped the artist up to the chair, and told her what had happened. Then we raced out of the room and down the steps all the way to the reception. It was large wooden room, with a circular desk behind which waited the night shift staff. Doors waited on either side of it. One led to the flat kitchens and the other to the garages. I ran to the desk. "There's been a series of break in's upstairs."
"I heard." The night shift guy said.
"That there'd been a break in or the break in taking place?" Robin asked.
"That's not important." I replied. "Did six men come in today?"
"Yeah, about three or four hours ago."
I nodded. "Have you got CCTV footage?"
"No, sir. Of course not!" He seemed generally insulted. "It's against our privacy policy."
"Then what's that glinting metal thing on the ridge up there?" I asked, pointing to a small metal thing, obscured by a plant upon the ridges beneath the house badge.
"Sir, please don't tell anyone! The terms and conditions state that the people of this building have complete and utter privacy. But we'd be massacred by the insurance if something like this happened, so we had to install it anyway."
"I won't tell anyone," I stared at his name badge, "Mr McLain, but I need to see the footage."
He manoeuvred the monitor so we could see it over the great desk, and he played back footage from three or four hours ago. Six men, all wearing black and all very tall, approached the desk and consulted McLain. They told him they had been invited to a party and that he had to let them in. He nodded. And then, as he fiddled for the buzzer for the door to the stairs, they looked directly into the camera. "Gotcha." I muttered.
McLain froze it and I stared at the picture. "I know him." I said.
Robin turned to me. "What?"
"I know him. He's- oh my god! Quickly, I know where they're going."
We raced back towards the door that led to the stairs and I opened it with my electronic fob. Then we thundered up the uneven staircase, round and round in odd step circles. We raced up, all the way to the fifth floor where there were two doors. One had been opened ever so slightly, and when we peered in, we saw the occupant catatonic but conscious. The other one led to my flat. And it, too, had been ripped open. We thundered up the spiral staircase and we came out to see everyone cowering behind my desk from the six armed and dangerous- and very tall- men who stood before them. The men seemed to be kicking and beating something, so I jumped up and cried, "Stop!"
They didn't stop, so I tried my other best idea. "Stop right now! I know who you are, Lochlan McFarlan."
Nobody gasped or looked shocked, and it was another minute till the EastEnders omnibus ended, so I gave it a couple of seconds and then added, "Lochlan McFarlan. Otherwise known as Madeline Lodsbury's brother."
Looks of shock.
Dun dun dun- dun dun dun. (That was the drumroll of the EastEnders theme tune, in case you were wondering.)