Secrets and Lies
This week I’ve been doing a lot of thinking rather than a lot of writing. Being stuck in traffic is like that. And I’ve been thinking about my victim. Well one of them. A chap by the name of Sir Martin Hamblebee. In my head he’s a nasty piece of work. A bully. A pompous boar of a man who deserves to die.
But he’s not coming across like that on the written page . Yes he’s short tempered. His family don’t like him. But so far there’s no evidence of brutality. No evidence of ruthlessness. No reason to fist pump the air on discovering him face down in his Times.
My gut tells me he needs to threaten some of the house guests but not about their private lives. He doesn’t have enough interest in them as human beings to do that. So, if I may, let me work through my thoughts, dear reader…
Both Sir Martin Hamblebee and his brother are bankers. They are new money and the baronetcy was earned by their father for services rendered. Probably murky. Definitely underhand. So I can see Hambleebee senior threatening to call in a loan, or the like. It’s also true that threatening someone with financial ruin is a good motive for murder. But doing it in a way that doesn’t seem contrived is the difficult bit. Miss Marple always overhead such threats because people thought she was asleep in a chair, or didn’t see her in a chair. Byrd can’t do that. His legs are too long. They’d be seen. And everyone knows he hears in his sleep. Poirot would just walk down a corridor, or step out from behind a curtain after a threat had been issued. He’s small enough to get away with such things. The rest of Byrd is like his legs. Tall and lanky. Besides if Byrd’s the only one to witness such outrages, his reactions are going to be private. And that’s not going to help the plot at all. No. Any threats of financial ruin must be seen and heard – by a lot of people including Byrd. Which means one of the business meetings must be the venue for such a thing. That could then lead to long simmering hatred. Though plotting long term revenge is surely more a woman’s weapon than a man. And Hamblebee doesn’t believe women have a business brain. So there won’t be any of them involved in his financial dealings. Good God no!
Which leads to the second area I need to elaborate on. Hamblebee isn’t just a banker. He’s a bully. So how to bring that out? Physical and emotional abuse are his weapons of choice. His youngest sister in law – Leticia – is the victim of his emotional outrages. Something Hamblebee can get away with because Fortinbras Hamblebee doesn’t have the cajones to stand up to his older brother. There’s a tale there, and one – you’ll forgive me if I keep close to my chest.
But while Fortinbras will say nothing to the verbal abuse. Surely, if Hamblebee , his brother will do something? Especially if it’s a public thing. Purse strings or no purse strings. There’s male pride at stake… No. I think I need to rule out Hamblebee hitting Leticia. But he needs to hit someone. Byrd would just laugh. CC might deck him back. And if he hit a servant, Sampson would have something to say about it. So I need to look closer to Hambleebee’s home.
The wife – Georgette – is an obvious route for long term physical abuse. But given Hamblebee is a social climber, he can’t risk public condemnation for such things. This is Symington Byrd’s world not Eastenders. He needs the approbation of the King and his set. But a bruise, a broken wrist – that’s a possibility. A hint of violence. It could be easily explained away as an accident. But would it really be a a motive for murder?
I suppose Georgette herself might kill him, driven beyond reason like Ruth Ellis. But it’s 1901. A wife has some rights in a marriage. And through her sister in law, she has access to a king who would help her achieve a divorce in return for a kiss or two and a bit of how’s your father… And there are no children to tie her to the brute…so she does have an alternative to murder. Though I’m not sure sleeping with the King of England to achieve it would be every woman’s idea of a way forward. So unless she had a lover waiting in the wings… or a knight in shining armour determined to avenge her… or there’s someone who overhears such things and adds it to the list of crimes Hamblebee’s committed, we’re no futher forward. How do I contrive a beating behind closed doors that can be witnessed/overheard by all the suspects? And how do I make it believeable?
I think I need another traffic jam…
Langley Bradley was a clockmaker born in 1663. At the age of 23 he was apprenticed to Joseph Wise, and after being freed in 1694, he worked in Fenchurch Street at the Minute Dial. In 1720 he was appointed Assistant of the Clockmakers company and was master in1726. From 1748 he was working as a clockmaker in Mile End. Best know for the commission from Sir Christopher Wren in 1707 for the clock for St Pauls which was criticised by a government commission led by Sir Isaac Newton, whose own clockmaker won the right to replace the Bradley piece.
However, despite this set back Bradley’s career did not suffer too badly. Wren tried to get him appointed as official clockmaker to Queen Anne, but the Lord Chamberlain’s office blocked the appointment. So when this failed Wren helped the clockmaker win the commission for the new clock at Hampton court.
My interest in Bradley Langley results from a visit to London. We do the Open London weekend and last year visited the Old Admiralty building. And there we found “Langers”. It’s a grandfather clock, which was made in 1697 and came from the offices of the Navy Board. Stately as all clocks should be, this time piece has witnessed a lot of history – wars declared, ships lost and careers made and destroyed. Obviously, as the Old Admiralty building is a secure area, we were unable to take a photograph of the piece. However trawling the net to help with my description of the cabinet’s HQ (for book 3) I found this picture of the table. And there – lurking in the background is the Langley Bradley. Gorgeous, isn’t he?
Dear Future Godchild,
I was pleased to make your acquaintance today when your Mum sent a picture of your 12 week scan. I look forward to meeting you properly later this year and getting to know you over the years.
Today, I would like to promise you several things. Firstly I would like to promise you my love. You have that unconditionally and for as long as I am on this planet with you.
I promise you that I will do my utmost to be as good a godparent to you as my Mum and Dad have been to my god-brother Anthony, his wife Kate and their son Vaughn. You see the responsibility your Mum is giving me (whether she has you christened or not) doesn’t end with you. I will remember birthdays, Christmas, Easter (and a couple of un-birthdays in between); laugh with you; wish you good luck; fight in your corner …and be a shoulder for you to cry on.
I promise you that I will do my best to help you identify and deal with injustice, intolerance and inequality. I hope I will enable you to deal with each of these thing appropriately and where possible with humour. I also hope that while I teach you the ways in which the pen is mightier than the sword, that I will also help you know that there are times when you need to stand up and be counted. That sometimes you will need to throw stones at dictators and man the barricades and say: “Not in my Name.”
Whilst I will rely on your Uncle Ollie to teach you the finer points of baking and the right way to complain to big business: know now, that I will see to it that you understand the importance of watching Doctor Who from behind the Sofa. You will affirm that Tom Baker is the greatest of all the Doctors and the Brigadier the greatest of all companions.
I hope I will give you a love of reading and history. I aim to give you a love of learning that will last you throughout your life. And I promise you that you will be able to wield a sword with the best of them and know truly why the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Above all, I will be in your corner, from the moment you breathe your first to the moment I breath my last.