We’re Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…
No, not central London, where it’s currently hotter than Istanbul, but on our bi-annual week-long sailing trip around the Turkish coast. If previous trips are anything to go by, wi-fi will be spotty but I’ll post whenever I can. To set the mood, here’s there opening of ‘Bryant & May Ahoy!’ from ‘London’s Glory’, the collection of their unseen cases…
Arthur Bryant and John May only ever took one holiday together. They never did it again because it didn’t turn out at all the way they’d expected. It began when they had an argument about sailing.
‘There are only two things I know about boats, and they’re that you can’t wear shoes on board and you can’t put toilet paper down the loo, instructions that seem positively uncivilised,’ said Bryant testily.
‘I take it you’re not one for going to sea?’ May ventured as they sat in their office looking out at a septic September morning comprising equal parts of grey clouds, rain and dirt.
‘My father loved water, of course, but only because it gave him a chance to shoot at Germans.’
‘Sorry, not with you.’
‘Royal Navy. I had an unusual experience on the Woolwich Ferry and have stayed off water ever since. It’s not natural, all that bobbing about. Even Horatio Hornblower used to get seasick. Of course he was a fictional character, but you get my point.’
‘You haven’t had a holiday for donkey’s years,’ said May. ‘Why do people say that? Why a donkey?’
‘Rhyming slang, 1923, ‘donkey’s ears’ – ‘years’,’ said Bryant, not bothering to look up.
‘Well, it’s a chance to get away and we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth – hey, that’s another odd one.’
‘You can tell the age of a horse by checking to see how far its gums have receded,’ muttered Bryant. ‘From St. Jerome’s Equi donati dentes non inspiciuntur, ‘Letter to the Ephesians’, around AD 400. Who gives a holiday as a gift? I smell a rat. And before you ask, I have absolutely no idea where that expression comes from.’
The senior detectives of the Peculiar Crimes Unit had been offered a week’s holiday on a grateful client’s yacht moored somewhere off the Turkish coast, but Bryant was unconvinced. ‘Why don’t we offer it to Raymondo?’ he suggested. ‘He’s always moaning about having his holidays cancelled.’
‘That’s because he goes to the Isle of Wight. Cancellation is a blessing. No,’ said May, ‘Just think, there’s no internet so there’ll be no emails.’
‘I don’t do emails now,’ Bryant pointed out.
‘No, the change will do us both good. I’m putting my foot down. We’ll go.’
‘But I have nothing to wear.’
‘It’s a holiday in Southern Turkey, not a dinner party in Finchley.’
‘Fair point. I suppose dressing up in hot countries simply involves putting on shoes. A bit like Wales.’
‘You can’t say that.’
‘I can say whatever I like. I’m a police officer, institutional racism is our stock in trade.’ That was the thing about Bryant; you could never entirely tell if he was joking, although May had worked out that if you had to wonder, he probably was.
‘The yacht has its own gourmet chef,’ said May by way of temptation. ‘Fresh fish every day, and Turkish salads are amazing.’
Bryant considered the thought for so long that his stomach rumbled. He saw a steamed sea bass served against a crystalline seascape. ‘I suppose it would be quite nice to go somewhere without a scarf,’ he conceded. ‘Seven days feels like a bit long, though. Maybe four?’
‘Trust me,’ said May, sensing a win, ‘you won’t want to come home.’
Bryant glanced out of the window, where the thick grey drizzle pattered on litter-strewn pavements. Below the trees, a tramp finished eating something out of a litter bin and sucked his fingers clean. ‘Perhaps I could manage a week,’ he said.