Following on from episode one, in this abridged version of the classic Mystery Of Puddleby Cove, we completely bypass the original Chapter Two, which described how the twins, Tugboat and Martina, accompanied by cousin Spanky, faced down a pair of football hooligans, as the Spiffing Six, or three quarters of it, indulged in their passion for smoking weed and swilling imported Headbanger Beer.
In truth it was a rather tedious journey, best not recounted here - the most exciting event being a persistent beggar at Basingstoke. Eventually, our intrepid trio arrived at Puddleby station, in the mysterious county of Cornwall, if the author is to be believed.
Which in all honesty, he should never be, as he is a consummate liar. But that is beside the point. Back to the yarn without further ado...
It was good to be back in Cornwall. The chums felt positively invigorated by the bracing sea air. The rigours of their exhausting rail journey were fast becoming a faded memory.
As they jostled excitedly out into the street, their collective attention was attracted by a wild, sort of whooping yell.
It was, of course, their chum, Abigail, the gypsy orphan girl who they had taken to their hearts, accompanied by her pet mongrel dog, Stiffy. Abigail raced up the station approach road, with Stiffy running obediently to heel, and then she feverishly embraced the chums in turn. It was an emotionally charged reunion. The Spiffing Six were back together again. A few tears were shed as they hugged until they were on the verge of dropping.
So to speak.
And Stiffy - bless him - true to form, performed his own singular welcoming ritual. He grabbed each of the chums, in turn, by the leg, and - backside thrusting furiously, tail awag and lipstick all the way out - attempted to blow them up.
At least that's what it looked like.
Perhaps 'pumping them up' would have been a more appropriate description. You just can't get the writers these days.
Anyway - the chums laughed fit to burst...
And so it came to pass that the Spiffing Six were reunited. Idyllic days indeed. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer - and the show goes on! For me writing it, and you two who are reading it. Life's a bitch sometimes.
Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound...
They took a taxi to Aunt Peg's chocolate box cottage, which was precariously perched high up on the rugged Cornish clifftops.
The taxi driver drove like a maniac - at one point, the chums honestly feared that they were about to be obliterated in a head on collision with a muck spreader - and the only thing the driver appeared to be capable of saying in English, was: "Hi guys! I am Luis from Puerto Rico. I been here in New York for six years now! I speak good English, yes?"
"Of course you do, mate," said Martina, with a possible hint of irony.
To Luis's credit though, he did finally deliver the chums in one piece to their destination, where they were greeted by Aunt Peg, who was, of course, absolutely delighted to see them all again.
A slightly plump, matronly woman, Aunt Peg, a little above average height, her auburn hair fashioned into a tight, scrunchy bun, a lady of ample bosom, blessed with child bearing hips - she hugged the chums so tightly that she almost hugged the very life out of them!
"How are you all, my dears?" she clucked, like a great big mother hen, gathering her brood about her.
"We're all doing really smashingly well Aunt Peg!" Tugboat beamed. "And all the better for seeing you! Although the rail journey down here was absolute torture. As usual."
"I'll second that!" Spanky snorted. "We're all just about ready for a slap up feast, Aunt Peg!"
Aunt Peg smiled, as demurely and humbly as it is possible for a Cornish fishwife to smile.
"Sit yourselves down my little angels, and we'll see if your old Aunt Peg can't rustle a little something up!"
Aunt Peg ushered the chums into her cosy country kitchen and seated them all around her huge, solid oak breakfast table.
As the chums sat and chattered, somewhat inanely it must be said - like starlings perched on a power line, Aunt Peg piled the table high with strawberries and cream, profiteroles, chocolate eclairs, Black Forest gateaux, cream cakes, biscuits, French fancies, fruit flans, apple pies, blackberry pies, blueberry pies, ice cream, lemon sorbet, and a huge stack of cans of imported premium strength Headbanger beer.
The happy sound of greedy chomping, slurping, lip smacking, belching, and breaking wind filled Aunt Peg's quaint kitchen for the first time in quite a while.
Aunt Peg was blissfully happy to see the gang reunited.
Although not too keen on the smell of expelled farts.
But she didn't complain.
Some time later, the feast devoured, the foursome and Aunt Peg sat around the table, bloated of belly, swilling down pints of Headbanger beer, their hunger sated, for the time being at least.
"So, what have you all got on your agenda for the remainder of the evening?" Aunt Peg asked, wiping Headbanger beer froth off her top lip with the back of her hand.
"Well..." Tugboat said, with a huge stretch, and a yawn. "After such a splendidly succulent spread, I could do with a bloody huge dump, actually."
"You know where the lavatory is, my cherub," Aunt Peg sighed, but then, in a more cautionary tone, added: "Try not to use any more than two sheets of toilet paper dear - there's a bit of a bog roll shortage in the village at the moment."
"A botty wipe roll shortage?" Tugboat had never heard the like of any such ludicrous thing in all his born days!
"Just use it sparingly, if you don't mind." Aunt Peg smiled, stood up, and started to clear the table, leaving Tugboat to go off and execute a precision bowel movement.
"I jolly well rather fancy a walk, myself - along the clifftops by the cove," Spanky suggested. "Just the ticket for clearing the cobwebs, what! Then we can all get a jolly good night's sleep and be on stonkingly top form to face the morrow."
"Ripping wheeze, Spanky old chap!" Abigail glanced over at Stiffy. (Who was vigorously attempting to pump up one of Aunt Peg's fluffy carpet slippers by the doorway.) "Old Stiffy appears to be a trifle restless. He's got his lipstick out again. A good walk sounds like a positively rip snorting notion to me!"
Martina lazily stretched out her arms and legs, and yawned. "Good grief," she sighed. "I feel as full as the proverbial tick! Having said that, a brisk stroll along the clifftops sounds like just what the doctor should have ordered, but probably didn't. Count me in."
"Stiffy! Stop pumping up that slipper! You filthy hound!" Abigail admonished, aiming a swift kick at the dog's enthusiastically thrusting rear end, but Stiffy had been an integral part of that oft played out scenario and wasn't having any of it. He avoided the swinging boot with consummate ease, and scooted rapidly out of the room in search of an alternative to inflate.
"So, that's settled then, what!" Martina announced. "A brisk walk along the clifftops to clear the cobwebs and aid digestion - splendid idea!"
"What's that?" Tugboat said as he re-entered the kitchen. "Did I miss something?"
"We're off for a walk along the clifftops old chap," Spanky announced. He turned to Aunt Peg. "I say, Aunt Peg, do you think you could see your way towards putting a dozen or so of those terrifically splendid Headbanger beers into a cooler bag for us? You wouldn't want us to go thirsty on our walk, would you - dehydration can do some pretty nasty things to young, developing bodies you know."
"You just leave it to me Spanky me darling. I'll sort something out just as soon as I've sided these dishes away."
"Excellent!" Tugboat cheered. "What could possibly be finer than an evening promenade along the clifftops, sipping Headbanger beer at our leisure?"
"Splendid!" The chums considered it to be a marvellous idea, so they voiced their unanimous approval.
A short while later, the chums were strolling happily along the clifftops in the warm glow of the evening sun. The cove looked spectacularly beautiful in the blood red rays of the setting sun, the waves crashing against the rocks, the sea reflecting the light like a giant mirror, the briny air; all things combined making for a heady brew.
Especially when also combined with lashings of Headbanger beer.
"I say, it's absolutely smashing that we're all back together again," Abigail sighed.
"I should jolly well say so," Martina agreed. "And we're simply bound to have some positively rip-snorting adventures!"
"We always do," Tugboat grinned. He felt deliriously happy. To have the Spiffing Six reunited, and in such a glorious environment was nothing short of sheer unadulterated bliss.
"Anyone for another beer?" Spanky asked.
"Ooh yes please!" came the harmonious response.
Spanky opened the cooler bag and handed the beers around. They toasted one another as they sat on a rocky outcrop, relaxing and swilling the Headbanger with gusto. Gulls mewed and performed aerobatics, silhouetted against the sunset.
The Spiffing Six and the world were as one.
However, this was not to last. Spanky had rolled another joint, and the chums were about to get down to some serious toking, when Tugboat brought proceedings to a sudden and completely unexpected halt.
"I say, chums! Hold up!" Tugboat babbled excitedly. "Who the heck is that?"
"Flipping thump!" Martina exclaimed.
The chums froze.
Down among the rocks, in the cove, a shadowy figure lurked, occasionally flitting from boulder to boulder, as though moving under cover, trying to avoid being seen, or even noticed. Acting suspiciously.
"What's he doing?" Spanky wondered aloud.
"Up to no flaming good, I would have thought," Martina replied.
"Get down chums!" Tugboat warned. "Don't let him see us. We'll follow him, what - get a bit closer and try to find out what he's up to."
"Good thinking Tuggers," Martina said grimly. "There's something not quite right about all of this, and we're going to jolly well get to the bottom of it - wherever that bottom happens to be..."
Tugboat thought of a ribald riposte to that, but upon reflection, declined to air it.
Spanky chugged the last of a can of Headbanger down, crumpled the empty can in his hands, tossed it casually aside, fired up his spliff, took a hefty hit off it, and said:
"Let's go, gang."
Crouching, clambering, ducking and diving, the chums carefully picked their way down the cliff face, taking cover behind rocks, trying at every step to maintain visual contact with their shadowy quarry.
Who himself was proving somewhat elusive.
The chums struggled to keep up. The shadowy figure moved with the sure footed stealth of a snow leopard, often disappearing from view for long, agonising seconds at a time. In contrast, the chums tended to crash and stumble ungainly about, doubtless hindered by the copious quantities of beer, food, and illegal substances absorbed into their respective systems.
"Oh damn, bugger and bollocks!" Martina cursed. "This is bloody hopeless! We're all far too sloshed to be gallivanting about the rocks like this!"
"Don't give up Sis!" Tugboat hissed. "Perseverence is the name of the game here. Keep going old girl! One must keep one's pecker up!"
"Personally, I don't know the meaning of the word give up," Spanky said with an air of smug superiority. "It's a word that simply doesn't exist in my quite comprehensive vocabulary."
"It's two words actually," Martina corrected him. "'Give up' consists of two words, and not one, as you stated."
"You jolly well know what I meant," Spanky sulked.
"Perhaps you ought to have been more succinct."
"Martina's right," Abigail panted. "This is hopeless. We're getting no closer to that mysterious chappie, and we're all stumbling about like a bunch of absolute buffoons. It's a complete waste of time!"
The chums stopped, all puffing, panting, heaving and sweating.
"It must be the flipping beer," Spanky concluded. "Over indulgence can make one quite clumsy and uncoordinated, don't you know."
"You're right," Martina gasped. "One can't help but think that we fared much better in the old days on a diet of ginger beer, homemade lemonade, and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off."
There was unanimous agreement with that statement. The chums were forced to stand helplessly by, as the shadowy figure disappeared among the rocks.
"I suppose we may as well make our way back to Aunt Peg's," Tugboat suggested, hardly able to disguise the disappointment evident in his voice.
There was unanimous agreement with that too.
So that's what they did.
And although not a single one of the chums gave voice to their thoughts, they all realised with crystal clarity that this was just the beginning of yet another glorious adventure.
More as we get it.