“Good point, Ginger,” said Tompkins and unwrapped the scarf – it had been a birthday present from his mother, two years before a drunken Polish mechanic had run her over. The mechanic was driving one of his customer’s cars as a dare with his fellow English employees.   

        Tompkins had stood in front of Dimitri on purpose, so everyone would see his whole face at once when Tompkins stepped aside.

        As the room full of people gazed upon Dimitri, Tompkins looked at his pals, but didn’t see much recognition other than a vague curiosity by some.

        “Does anyone recognise this person. And before you answer, consider this my patriotic pals, two of our dearest friends, Dapper Dan and Spinky Mills, have disappeared, Spinky just over an hour ago. Don’t let that cloud your eyes too much. Will anyone give me an opening bid? What am I bid?”

        “He looks like a beater on our Scottish estate,” said Terry, “but he had a broad Scottish accent and I take it this cove doesn’t, Tomcat?”

        “Say something,” said Tompkins, tapping Dimitri in the ribs.

        “Ahhhhh, that hurts,” said Dimitri.

        “Was that enough, Terry?” asked Tompkins.

        “It was,” replied Terry, “it’s not him.”

        “You can tell from those few words?” asked Tuppy.

        “Yes,” said Terry, “I can, because you see a few years ago, this beater was shot, accidentally just in case you were wondering, by my good self and he repeated those exact words ad nauseam, before he was put out of his misery.”

        “He was humanely put down was he?” asked Dry Bob.

        “Oh no, the ambulance team took him to the hospital. They arrived with a stretcher and sedated him.”

        “Right, thank you, Terry – does anyone have any idea who this is?” asked Tompkins

        “He looks vaguely like one of the Identikit pictures of the people who were coming over with Stalin 2.0,” said Daisy, rubbing her chin in concentration, “I’ll ask my friend at GCHQ to see what he says. I’ll just take a snap of him with my phone, can you hold him still, Tomcat, while I take his picture.”

        “Yes, Daisy,” said Tompkins, grasping Dimitri’s chin and scalp in his enormous hands, “take as many as you need.”

        “Gerroff me, you hooligan, gruff” said Dimitri through teeth clamped shut by the force of Tompkins’s grip. Daisy took two pictures and sent them to her email on her laptop. The snaps were soon on their way for analysis. Tompkins released his grip and Dimitri took several deep breaths before regaining his composure.

        “Now that whining voice reminds me of something I heard in the marshes down in Sussex a few nights ago,” said Toppy, “just before you clobbered the birdwatcher, Tomcat. I heard voices, but they were far away, but one of them sounded a little like his voice.”

        “What excellent hearing you have, I just heard the seagulls and the waves,” replied Tompkins, who then turned to Dimitri – “Was that you by the seaside, late at night, with your friends, having just come ashore from a fishing smack?”

        “What is fishing smack – when your child doesn’t catch big enough fish?” asked Dimitri.

        “Blimey, a Russian joke from the humour textbook,” said Tompkins, “well pardon me if I don’t laugh or even smile. How did you arrive on these shores?”

        “I came on an aeroplane from Moscow and I land at your Heathrow Airport, where I catch the underground train to the centre of London.”

        “Right, does anyone else recognise this Russian person?” said Tompkins looking around the room.