The End of Mrs Dangerfield….

  • Posted on: 20/11/2020

This week’s blog from the world of 60 years ago takes us to the Rural Bolthole of Muriel and Jasper Wylie and the denouement of Mrs Dangerfield, at least we think so…. 

Mrs Dangerfield’s Funeral Tea in the Pentland Firth Arms Hotel

“How exceedingly kind of you, Patience to provide the function room for the funeral tea. Most Gracious.”

“Oh Jasper, it’s nothing. It’s the sort of thing for which the Pentland Firth Arms has become known. And at 15 shillings and 6 pence a head, with drinks extra, who could refuse?”

“Well many Patience, under the circumstances. Who would want their AA and Ashley Courtney recommended pub with rooms, or hotel, associated with the bathtub murderess?”

“Jasper it is well seen why Muriel is the businesswoman in your partnership. Since I advertised that we were doing the purvey for Mrs Dangerfield’s wake, the telephone has not stopped ringing. We are fully booked until Spring. Pubs and hotels have always been associated with crime. You, of all people, should know they were often the scene of inquests. Now I come to think of it, the Hysterical Society would do very well if it came up with a guidebook to the grisly goings on at the Rural Bolthole. We could sell it at reception.”

“That might be a bit insensitive Patience. You know what the rustics are like; there is a way of doing or not doing things.”

“Sensitivity Jasper doesn’t pay the bills. I could be very sensitive about renting out my late husband’s bedroom, with adjoining studio for painting weekends plus and lessons in the en plein air technique of the dear late Rear Admiral.”

“But your late husband, who died mysteriously at the Flower and Fete Show (F.A.F.S.) lunch, never lifted a brush as far as I remember.”

“I know that; and you know that; but American tourists don’t know that. And now his work is fetching serious money.”

“What work?”

“The stuff I pay Young Auld Jock to come up with.”

Cease The Day

“Sausage rolls, your Ladyship? Any of yous?

“Thank you Mrs Travers, (the daily woman what does, but not a lot) don’t mind if I do. Might I say how kind of you to help today. We are a bit short staffed since that incident with Big Agnes and the Roman Candles on Bonfire Night. Granted, to begin with, they looked effective on the buffet table. Thank goodness several members of the Fire Brigade were in the Bar.”

“Always glad tae oblige a faux aristocrat, your Serene Highness. An’ by the way, the Chef is steam’n’ so I’m no’ sure the soup’s goin’ tae be ready on time.”

“Lock him in the pantry Mrs T and take over. I shall make it worth your while. Bunty Haystack has already downed enough Amontillado to make the day worthwhile, so I can afford to pay a little extra. And Mrs T put labels by the soup, so that people know their leek and potato from their ham and pea, but both should read, As regularly eaten by Mrs Dangerfield at the Pentland Firth Arms Hotel.”

“Honestly, ladies – you surprise me; you are supposed to be the softer sex.”

“Jasper, never underestimate the wiles of women.”

“I shall take that on-board Patience.”

“Pity you hadn’t taken a bit more of Mrs Dangerfield on board Mr W.”

“Thank you for that vote of confidence Mrs T.”

“Just sayin’, now sausage roll, or ham sandwich, or one o’ they Oysters in a prune. They’re the foul lookin’ things on sticks. Mrs Wylie’s idea of course. They gie me the boke.”

The New Minister and Muriel 

“Ah Mrs Wylie, might I say you look magnificent in black, simply marvellous if I might say so.”

“It goes without saying Reverend, but thank you anyway. It takes a special kind of woman to look chic at a funeral.”

“You certainly pulled it off, Mrs Wylie. I think people appreciated it under the particularly trying circumstances.”

“So very kind, as the dear Queen Mother would say. Might I say how good of you to conduct the service. Not many clergymen would want their new charge to be associated with the bath tub murderess especially since she fell from your bell tower.”

“It’s an ill wind Mrs Wylie, or may I call you Muriel?”

“No. To slightly misquote one of my favourite literary characters  Austen’s Lady Catherine de Burg in the famous Austen novel Pride and Prejudice, by the leading writer in that genre, Jane Austen, ‘I shall give you leave at the appropriate moment in our relationship’. You were saying?”

“I was saying that it is an ill wind, as since the unfortunate incident, the church has never been busier, and the offering plates are overflowing. I have even had requests for trips up the tower.”

“Beyond the pale, I imagine?”

“Well, one has to be realistic Mrs Wylie. The original 18th century pews have woodworm and the stonework needs attention. There is even talk of nail rot.”

“Do I take it, as a progressive man, that you might be liberal on the question of soup and sandwich lunches, particularly regarding the introduction of new soup flavours.”

“Now Mrs Wylie, one step at a time. Oh, here’s your Mrs T with a tray of goodies.”

“Now Reverend what can I tempt yous wi’? One o’ these delicious devils on horseback, if you’ll forgive the illusion to the Prince o’ Darkness? Or a sausage roll or the ham sandwich?”

“Well, let’s have ago at the fallen angels? They look delicious oysters wrapped in prunes, I think?”

“Aye, Mrs Wylie’s idea, one o’ her specialities; delicious.”

Bunty Is Under The Influence

“Jasper, dear Jasper  – come to Bunty. Sit next to little me. What about a little drinky-poohs? It’s nice and cosy here in the Royal Bar. Don’t you just love a bar that is royal?”

“I have had sufficient, Bunty. And so, I think, have you.”

“Naughty Jasper telling Bunty-Wunty what to do, which is very good coming from someone who has an unfortunate history of choosing secretaries for the Hysterical Society. That two who have met a sticky end. I have a mind to put you in one of my stories as little whittle suspect.”

“Bunty, would you like me to take you home?”

“Would I ever Jasper? There’s something about a man in a white shirt and a black tie. Did you ever read my crime novel, A Bow Tie for Basil?”

“I think it’s on my list.”

“Basil met a sticky end, the woman from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had away with bow ties. Not to spoil anything, Jasper-Wasper, but let us say she didn’t need a double knot. Barman freshen my Amontillado.”

“Are you sure that’s wise?”

“Where did wisdom ever get a woman…. Oh here comes that daily woman of yours with her tray of goodies.”

“Sausage rolls, egg and cress sandwiches and Mrs Wylie’s special things on sticks.”

“Not the awful oysters in prunes! I’ve had those at her cocktail parties. Any pork pies?”

“Sorry no, but soup is coming and it looks as if you are in need of food Mrs Haystack.”

“Are you saying I am half jaked?”

“Fully I should say.”



“Yes Muriel.”

“Do you fancy a walk? The Minister is about to say something and Lottie and Auld Auld Jock have started singing.”

“Yes, let’s get out of here. Mr Savage (of Savages’ Pickles and Condiments) has gone to get his Daimler to take Bunty home before she falls off that bar stool, so I don’t need to keep an eye on her.”

“Fine, let’s go round the river.” 

An Unexpected Encounter

“It’s lovely to be outside Muriel.”

“Yes, Jasper its quite atmospheric all this mist and mellow fruitfulness the cobwebs and the sound of the river.”

“Indeed, I was going to say a funeral and autumn are a bit of a gloomy combination, but the colours are lovely, and I suppose there is much to look forward too if one is positive.”

“Yes, and you mustn’t blame yourself about Mrs Dangerfield. She was a very clever woman in her own twisted way.”

“That is very true.”

“Well it’s the Handsome Stranger! What are you doing here?”

“I am here in a very official capacity, keeping an eye on the mourners.”


Even More to Mrs Dangerfield

“I am afraid there was even more to Mrs Dangerfield than meets the eye. She was an agent for the comrades. Her lack of stability and murderous abilities suited them. All her husbands were, you might have noticed, Cambridge men, always the best spies. She targeted them all in a unique way by gradually replacing their wives in their affections.”

“By becoming those women.”

“Exactly Muriel, and then of course by disposing of them which was an unfortunate unintentional consequence which the comrades tried to cover up.”

“Jasper isn’t a Cambridge man.”

“No, although I often park the Humber Super Snipe in Cambridge Street.”

“This is true, but Jasper does himself a disservice. In the right circumstances he could have been, but I am afraid in these unenlightened times having parents who died in a custard powder factory explosion, do not make for a Trinity Man. However, the comrades believe that Jasper is a key figure in the current Cold War situation and sent Mrs Dangerfield to turn him.”

“By falling from the tower being an unfortunate by-product of the Dangerfield approach.”

“Correct Muriel I am sad to say, but don’t worry we were on hand.”

“That’s a comfort.”

“Just what exactly do they think I am doing in my shed.”

“They believe Jasper, your work on the five-bar farm gate is really an undercover operation disguising the real meaning which is as a key to code breaking with regard to our intentions vis-à-vis ballistic missiles. Each unique gate represents an activity which they do not consider in their interests.”

Necessary Rubbish

“But that is rubbish, if you don’t mind me saying so. “

“You know that, and I know that, but the comrades don’t and we want to keep it that way.”

“Do we?”

“Yes, if you don’t mind. This would have been a lot easier if Mrs Travers, your daily woman, had not been on to her from the beginning. That is one smart lady.”

“We blame the sociology twilight course at the college.”

“Indeed, but somehow we need to maintain this fiction that Jasper’s shed of interesting things is even more interesting than that and might I say this request comes from the highest level.”

“Who Handsome Stranger, who?”

“The new President elect; and, by the way Muriel the First Lady elect says thank you so much for the suit and pill box hat idea.”

“Well one had to do something. I just didn’t like the look of that chap with the five o’clock shadow.”

“Well I must go. That Chef is one of ours and your Mrs T has locked him in the pantry and he’s due in Berlin on Monday. Any questions before I disappear into the fog?”

“Yes, do you think the President elect might pay to have electricity installed in my shed? Then it really would be convincing. The paraffin stove just doesn’t quite give the right impression.”

“What do you mean Jasper”

“Well paraffin hardly says 20th century superpower does it?”

Toodle pip