Once he’d devoured his breakfast and swilled it down with a vast mug of coffee, Tompkins checked his new Jaguar to make sure Vasek had removed all the signs of the showroom.

With great care, he inspected the tyres, the boot, and the glove compartment, placing a few ‘personal’ items in their proper places, to show any interested parties that the car was his. The only problem was the number of miles on the clock, which stood at a paltry 171, though Tompkins knew this would soon change with his imminent trip to the south coast via Bristol, to see his pals.

Before he zoomed off, Tompkins attached suitable replies to the three pigeons and released them from his modest rooftop garden, modelled on Kew Gardens, where he did his gym sessions and weights routines. He made one more visit to the bedroom.

“Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” said Tompkins, putting on his white driving gloves and yellow scarf, before bounding down the stairs and closing the front door behind him with one mighty swipe of his arm.

He started up the Jaguar and smiled at the familiar tone – it was sounding like his own car already. He slammed down the accelerator, avoiding a school bus and a fire engine, and made for the motorway.

 

First, out of a sense of guilt, he drove past the car showroom and saw a dramatic scene. The police were inspecting a damaged Jaguar in the centre of the showroom. All the sales people were lined against a wall and being shouted at by a large man in an expensive off-the-peg suit.

 

Amongst them was the friend of the family, who was looking somewhat perplexed at the turn of events. Tompkins made a mental note to make sure the man in the off-the-peg suit would soon have an unplanned holiday in the outer recesses of Romania, along with nine Romanians, who wouldn’t be happy at his presence amongst them.

 

Tompkins filled up the car at the next garage and headed down the motorway towards the south-west, zipping along the outside lane, middle lane, and inside lane, when it suited him to do so. In just over an hour, he parked outside a large house in the Clifton area of Bristol.

Tompkins opened the car door, leapt out, and did 50 press-ups on the pavement, just to get the stiffness out of his back and neck. Having completed these, he jumped over the garden gate and slammed his large hand against the black-painted front door of the house a few times. The birds stopped singing and next door’s cat, sleeping in their lounge window, opened an eye just to see who was shaking the house.

The door was opened by a man of about 40. He was about six feet tall and smoking a cigarette. His green jumper and yellow corduroy trousers didn’t match, but he didn’t care a damn what other people thought.