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?”