On the other hand, there was now an impressive array of foods and teas available in the shops that weren’t there before the East Europeans arrived. Perhaps they had something to offer, in their own way? Tompkins was snapped out of his reverie by the hooting of a taxi driver, who swore at him in broadest Cockney because Tompkins had dared to press the button on the Zebra crossing, so stopping the taxi on its urgent journey to who knows where.

        “Yes, carry on,” said Tompkins to the driver, waving at him, “where did you learn manners like that my old sparrow?” He could have thrown the driver over the road, if the need had arisen, but the driver just gesticulated at him before careering off towards central London.

        “Standards are falling all over the place,” said Tompkins to himself as he bounded along in his forceful style, “I wonder where it all started to go wrong?”

        Tompkins soon arrived at the home of Spinky Mills. He thought he saw a familiar figure standing on the corner, but the person soon merged into the background of a busy London afternoon, becoming indistinguishable from a hundred others, even to Tompkins’s keen eye.

He jumped to the top of the steps and pounded on the door. Tompkins hoped Dexter would be in residence. Dexter had been with Spinky for about 4 years and was adept at coping with his unusual hours.        

A short man with thinning brown hair opened the door. He tilted his head slightly and forced a smile. His blue eyes stared at Tompkins almost imploring him not to speak.

        “Well, Dexter, how are…. oh, I see.” But before Tompkins could disappear behind a column he heard a familiar voice intone “Well, well, look who’s here, Sergeant Evans, we keep bumping into this chap, don’t we?”

        “We do, Inspector Ingram, won’t you come in, Mr. Tompkins, we think what we’ve found will interest you.”

        Tompkins smiled to himself and raised his eyebrows, what did the police think they’d found at Spinky’s pad? He moved past Dexter, patting him on the shoulder as he did so, as if thanking him for trying to warn him about the police. Dexter still felt as though a large weight had fallen off the roof and landed on him, such was the force of Tompkins’s hand.

        “Come this way,” said Ingram, walking along the hallway, “we have something you should see,” and he indicated Tompkins should enter the drawing room where two pieces of paper were lying on a table.

        “So, what do you think you have found, Constable Ingram?” asked Tompkins trying not to look too closely at the papers on the table.

        “Well,” replied Sergeant Evans, warming to his task as witty sidekick to a superior officer, “we seem to have found plans and routes and your initials are on them.”

        “Really? Well, cripes, that’s me sentenced then isn’t it?” replied Tompkins stoutly, “because obviously I am the only person in the whole country who has the initials CAT, Clifford Antrobus Tompkins.”

        Evans looked at Ingram who smiled and thought about things for a few seconds.

        “Clifford Antrobus?” said Ingram, “that’s a mouthful.”

        “Well, Ingram old chap, I had precious little say in the matter, if you think about it, just a few screams and yowls. Can you show me where the word CAT appears on those papers? Is it possible the person had a feline pet who needed litter and food, perhaps?”

        “CAT doesn’t appear, but TT does and FT, what is your wife’s name again?”

        “Phyllida Susannah, so PST, not FT, Ingram. Perhaps someone was going to buy the Financial Times?”