The dearth of news emanating from Martin and Anne Shuttlecock's locally based address recently has led to a great deal of speculation.
Some observers assumed that the happily inept couple have gone into retirement, or at the very least, semi-retirement. Others have assumed that the Shuttlecock's marriage is under strain, whilst a small minority wrongly concluded that Anne had gone off for an extended afternoon nap, whilst bungling hubby Martin was drinking himself into oblivion in a sea of Stella suds.
"Ha!" Shuttlecock told reporters. "They're all wrong! What we've actually been doing is preparing to invade Germany at Christmas. We've told them that we're coming, and challenged them to do their damnedest to repulse our invasion. The Germans, that is. We're going to Cologne, or Koln, as they call it, and we're planning to really shake the buggers up."
Shuttlecock went on to reveal that he and his wife would be staying at a "dead posh" hotel, which he couldn't name, but which is situated beside the Kolner Dom. (Cologne Cathedral.)
"I've no idea why, to be honest," Shuttlecock said. "She said something about always wanting to see the tomb of the Magi. Which seemed a noble enough reason.
"It wasn't until we'd booked and paid for the three day luxury break that I discovered they have a chocolate museum in Cologne. That's when it all started to make sense. She's only interested in the bleeding chocolate."
"That's not strictly speaking, altogether true," long suffering wife Anne said. "The truth is that the tight fisted skinflint bastard rarely ever takes me out, much less to a five star hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant. But I'd bought a Colleen Nolan sequinned jacket off eBay and there's no way I was going to let Christmas go by without showing that off. So I gave him some spiel about tombs and cathedrals and the daft sod fell for it. So, Deutschland here we come!"
"I didn't mind being deceived really," Shuttlecock related. "I went to Cologne a few years ago, and there's pubs all over the shop. And state licensed brothels. So when Anne goes to the chocolate museum, I'm reasonably certain that there'll be an alternative. So that we can both self indulge beyond belief. Mine will probably be a slightly sweatier experience - nah, just kidding. I know everything there is to know about German: 'Ein Kolsch bitte!' - sorted. We should be all right. I mean, we aren't Geordies or anything. I've promised the wife that I won't say 'Auf wiedersehen pet' upon leaving. And I swore I wouldn't mention the war or the World Cup."
"Do you see what I have to put up with from the daft bastard?" Anne said in closing.
"And you think a Colleen Nolan out of Loose Women and This Morning off the telly sequinned jacket is cool?" Shuttlecock raged. "We're staying in a five star hotel in Cologne - not a fucking Bed and Breakfast in bastard Blackpool!"
Our sympathies are with you Anne. Martin seems to be a miserable shit. Enjoy the chocolate!
More as we get it.