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"The Affair of the Pink Lady" by Ralph

14 June 2010

(At St Pancras station in London, Hercule Poirot and his friend, Captain
Hastings, are trying to get to France to investigate "The Affair of the Pink Lady")

"Aystings, you are sure that the train is going from here and not Victoria"
Poirot wiped his moustache carefully and put the napkin down on the table.

"Indeed, old chap, the train goes through the tunnel to France and not on the
ferry as in our day". Captain Hastings sipped his tea.

"It is all very irregular, we are to be in 2010, yes, but yesterday it was 1930. I
am not sure your friend is, how you say, all that?" Poirot fussed.

"All there, old man, all there. Seems a decent enough cove, though I have
only spoken to him on the phone. He is from Russia apparently" Hasting nibbled
his last slice of toast carefully.

"Come, Aystings, or we shall miss the train.....

(More of this curious adventure anon ….)

Later on 14 June 2010

(Poirot and Hastings are en route to the South of France ..)

"Ze little grey cells, Aystings, they are now well and tryly rested" Poirot pushed
his plate forward, and wiped his moustache delicately with his napkin.

"I thought the Tunnel was spiffing, and the train was so fast" Hastings was about
to continue.

"At least we are in Paris for the lunch. The food is not as excellent as Bruxelles, but
the French they try" Poirot settled into the armchair. "What time does the train leave
for the South?"

"At 4 oclock. It is called the train of great speed, so we shall be there before bedtime."

"This rushing about is not good for the digestation. I was looking forward to the night
on the Train Bleu." Poirot stopped Hastings before he could give a comprehensive
account of the wonders of the TVG.

(More anon )


(As you know I am following the adventures of Hercule Poirot and his
faithful English friend, Captain Hastings, on a mission of the utmost
secrecy which has brought them from 1930 to 2010. )

"Aystings, this train of great speed it is standing still, ne'est pas" Poirot surveyed
the countryside just outside Paris with a critical gaze.

"Indeed, old chap, I know, I will look at the Blackberry Mr R's representative gave to
me." Hastings produced a slim pink handheld computer from his jacket pocket.

Poirot was still looking at the countryside "Aystings must you think of you stomach,
we have only just had the diner manifique at Maximes"

"No, Poirot, a Blackberry is the most marvelous new invention. It is like a book,
but powered by electricity". Hastings was opening various pages on the screen
with remarkable skill.

"If it is a Blackberry, why is it pink?" Poirot was not keen on gadgets.

"Ah, it is a present from Mr R's intended. The lady adores pink".
Poirot was not impressed and started drumming the table with his fingers.
"Oh dear, there has been the most frightful storm in the South of France.

Many people have been washed away. Even the trains are hit."
"This must be the global warming you tell me about. I am sure this is the
fault of the English. Just because your team cannot play the Bal due Foot."
Hastings had seen the results from South Africa.

" I know, and the Americans as well. Next the Germans will beat us at cricket.."
"It is the altitude, the English talk about the weather very much, but they do
not like the altitude."

(As you can see the floods in France have hit our intrepid heroes. You will also
gather that they have yet to learn the identity of their actual employer, the mysterious
Mr R, or that of his good lady. Till then toodle pip !)

(Somewhere in France, Poirot and Hastings are still sitting in a TGV, waiting for news )

"Poirot old man, have you noticed that rather pretty girl sitting opposite," Hastings
smiled briefly.

"Aystings, we have the problem and you are still looking at the jolies femmes" Poirot
was reading a Paris newspaper with deep concentration.
Neither noticed that the young lady had got up from her chair, smoothed down an
exquisitely cut trouser suit, and was standing next to Hastings.

"You are Captain Hasting?" she asked in a British accent, but with a slight soft
Eastern European touch.

Hastings stood up and blushed visibly.

"Indeed, yes, and this is my friend, Hercule Poirot"

"The famous Belgian detective" the young woman completed the sentence.
Poirot smiled with more than usual contentment at the recognition of his Belgian
nationality.

"Please, gentlemen, you must now come with me, time is important and I think
you should get some rest tonight." She beckoned towards the end of the carriage.

"My name is Natasha Ivanovna, and Mr R has asked me to ensure your safety".
Hasting was already following her. Poirot remained seated.

"Enchante, Mamselle, but the train will soon be moving and we must be in Nice
tonight."

"Monsieur, it is of the greatest importance that you come with me now."

(More anon )

(On 21 June we received the news that Jerka in Wuppertal had passed away and that Lars was very ill. I was able to reveal that after leaving the TGV train Hastings and

Poirot were taken by limousine to a splendid villa looking over the Casino town of Juan Les Pins. I also introduced some new characters from the German TV series "Pfarrer Braun" (based on the Father Brown detective stories by GK Chesterton )

20 June 2010

(On the patio of the Papal Palace at Avignon in Southern France, Bishop Hemmelrath and his Personal Assistant, Monseigneur Muelich, are reading the papers.)

"Muelich, this may not be quite Rome, but I feel that I am moving at last amongst the
circles where my skills will be recognised. Time to get another fitting for the Cardinal's
robes" a sly smile crossed the Bishop's face.

"Indeed, excellenz, the letter from the Federal Chancellor's Office was most timely. Braun
should not be able to get into any trouble in Wuppertal! It is a quiet place and the local Police are very efficient, so he will have no scope to follow his amateur detective skills"
Muelich sipped his black coffee.

"Muelich, you must get working on this "Pink Lady". Mrs Merkel is a Protestant but she is a clever person and if she thinks this worthy of Rome's attention, our holy father will not turn her down."
(Oh dear More skulduggery afoot……)

25 June 2010

(For those of you who have been following my account of Hercule Poirot and the affair of the Pink Lady I had better give you a recap of what has happened while we have been following events in Wuppertal. After the floods in southern France blocked their train, Poirot and Captain Hastings have been taken to a superb mansion overlooking Juan Les Pins and Antibes. In the meantime, the famous German amateur detective, Pfarrer Braun (Father Braun) has been in Wuppertal, while his boss, Bishop Hemmelrath (who is always trying to get promoted to Cardinal in Rome) has been asked by the Federal German Chancellor to help with the affair of the Pink Lady.. )

Meanwhile in a large villa overlooking Juan Les Pins. Hastings was enjoying an
afternoon cup of tea, while Poirot dozed behind a newspaper. He looked up to
see a tall grey haired man, a younger rather smooth man and a stunning dark haired
girl come out on to the patio.

"Ziva, this is more like it. Our Russian friends know how to organise a meeting",
the smoothie removed his sunglasses

"Dinozzo, mind on the job" the grey haired man slapped him on the head.

Hastings was admiring Ziva, but blushed when she looked in his direction.

"English, yes. You have the stiff upper mouth?"

"Stiff upper lip, Ziva, stiff upper lip" Dinozzo corrected her
"Whatever. May I have a cup of tea."Ziva smiled at Hastings

"No time Ziva, we have to get into town." The grey haired man beckoned them into
a large silver Hummer 4X4 vehicle.

"Poirot, old man, we seem to have company. Isnt she a peach?" Hastings looked
somewhat forelornly in the direction of the Hummer. Poirot sighed.

28 June 2010

(I shall let Captain Hastings comment on the Football as we re-join our intrepid pair in their mansion overlooking Juan Les Pins. )

"Dash it, Poirot, these chaps seem to have lost the game"

"Aystings, the football is the game of chance, you must not take it so
bad. And at least the Germans they do not play the Cricket" Poirot smiled
and continued his stately way through the lush gardens.

(Meanwhile on the road nearby, a silver Aston Martin pulled over to the side.
Its driver, a black haired man in a blue cotton sports shirt and grey slacks,
pressed a button on the dashboard )

"M, good afternoon, I am nearly at the place you said" He concentrated on the
grey haired lady on the screen.

"Bond, I want you to meet someone very special. This is Mercedes.."

"Mershedes. Sounds like a lady"

"She is, Bond, she is. Moreover she has some very important friends. You know
David and Samantha Cameron of course, but the gentleman with Mercedes you
will also know"

The screen filled with the familiar face of Gordon Brown.
"Bond, you are a Scot so I do not need to explain the importance of honour"
Bond was quite surprised when the lady herself appeared….

(In the Hummer as it headed into town)
Special Agent Jethro Gibbs was speaking to Tim McGee and Abby Shuto on
his Blackberry.

"Director Vance wants us to what???"

Abby was grinning more than usual
"That's right Gibbs. Secretary of the Navy has it from the Prez himself. And it
must be a Navy op"

Dinozzo and Ziva were looking equally puzzled.

"Don't worry, Tony, I hear the Lady likes pizzas, so you will have something to
talk about" McGee smiled and terminated the link.

Ziva was startled by a large figure standing behind her
"Good afternoon, my name is Braun, Guido Braun. Can you tell me the way to
the Villa Romanov?"

(Well, as you can see, the plot thickens. Of course with the President, PM, Russian Prez and German Chancellor all meeting in Canada (and of course Sarko!), you can guess what one of the topics of discussion was.)

3 July 2010

Poirot watched Hastings depart in Bond’s Aston Martin and closed his eyes for an overdue nap. He opened them again, and looked for the source of the noise. A large man dressed in clerical black was watching a smaller, scruffily dressed man, holding on to a pork pie hat, while searching for money to pay a bemused looking taxi driver.

"Geiger, come on, we are already late" the man said in German.

Poirot stood up and prepared to greet the new houseguests.

"Bonjour, Hochwuerden" Poirot remembered the word for a Catholic priest from less happy times in Belgium. However, according to Hastings the new German Federal Republic was an important friend and ally to both Belgium and his adopted home, Britain.

Pfarrer Braun smiled his usual broad smile and moved towards Poirot

"Bonjour Monsieur, Je suis Guido Braun, et ce Person la et Monsieur Geiger"

"Hauptkommissar Geiger, mit Sonderbenehmigung des Bundeskanzleramtes in Berlin"Geiger mumbled to himself.

Poirot led them to the veranda table and coffee and cakes.

"Ah, Father Brown, you have met Monsieur Poirot" Natasha appeared, and greeted

Braun. "You have brought a servant. I did not know the Church of Rome was so generous. But of course your Bishop is an important man…"

"Hauptkommissar Geiger….."Geiger was about to put Natasha right when Braun interrupted

"Herr Geiger is here to help me in the matters criminal".

Poirot looked puzzled. Why should this strange man be needed in the "matters criminal"

4 July 2010

With all the guests assembled, Natasha Ivanovna had invited them into the comfortable fully equipped theatre of the mansion near Juan les Pins, Antibes, to watch a film. As the closing credits of the documentary "Knut der Eisbaerjunge" finished, Dinozzo took off his headphones

"I like this kid, he reminds me of me"

Next to him Ziva was trying to hide a tear

"It is very sad about the keeper, Mr Doerflein, he was a Mensch"

Poirot was less captivated and turned to Hastings

"Un ourson blanc. He is of course very sweet, but is this why we have been brought from the comfort of Mayfair halfway across Europe."

"Apparently, old chap, he is the most famous animal in the world, even more than Rin-Tin-Tin or Shirley Temple" Hastings's mind was in fact on his defeat at the hands of Commander Bond on the golf course.

The room settled down, as a new face appeared on the television screen, one known to many people in the world, but not to all those present.

"The Secretary General of the United Nations has asked me to speak to you this evening"

Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, spoke gravely and without his usual toothy smile. "The Governments of Russia, the United States and the European Union have agreed to work together to deal with an exciting new development in the history of the world".

Gibbs was baffled and could not see a connection with the cute little film they had watched. Mr Blair continued his presentation.

"In December 2006 the polar bear you have just seen was born in Berlin Zoo in Germany. In the following year a female polar bear was born in Nuremberg in the same country. Soon after the listening stations of the major powers picked up a series of signals passing between Berlin and Nuremberg." At this point a sound like a broken Volkswagen exhaust filled the room.

"After analysis by the best computers in the United States it became clear that the two bear cubs were communicating with each other almost simultaneously"" Blair continued.

"We should have brough McGeek and Abby", Dinzzo announced before Gibbs silenced him with a slap to the back of the head.

Poirot was deep in thought. He had been brought seventy years into the future and now he was being told that polar bears could do something no human could. Perhaps it was all a Cauchemar, a nightmare, and he would wake in his flat in London.

More anon

9 July

As promised here is a further episode of the "Affair of the Pink Lady".

(In this fanfiction fantasy, a number of famous film and tv detectives, notably Hercule Poirot, have been invited to a luxury villa in the South of France. (see Soap Operas for the story so far). They have just been told that Knut and Flocke are able to communicate over large distances)

Mr Blair paused to let the audience understand his account

"The following short film will explain what we think is happening. But perhaps I should let the Nuremberg Polar Bear, whose name is Flocke or Snowflake take up the story"

Pfarrer Braun heard a young female voice with a Franconian German accent.

Commander Bond heard the soft tones of Honeychile Rider. Ziva heard a gentle girl's voice speaking in Hebrew. Poirot heard the voice of a young woman he knew long ago in Brussels. Gibbs was shocked to hear his daughter, Kelly.

Flocke was speaking, but to anyone other than the people in the room, her sounds would have been the clear yelps and barks of a little bear cub.

Ziva got over her shock and looked at the little pink tongue, which was Flocke's trademark

"What a sweet little one " she whispered so that Dinozzo would not hear.

Hastings was hearing the kindly tones of the country girl who had been his nanny so many years previously but then the penny dropped

"Of course, this is the Pink Lady. Poirot, old chap, Flocke is the Pink Lady"

On the screen, Flocke was replaced a pair of adolescent bears. The voice in the commentary continued

"And this is my darling Raspi. Or as you know him, Mr R.."

When the film stopped, the lights came up and a figure familiar to Gibbs, Tony and Ziva had joined them. Dr Mallard of Edinburgh University was now speaking

"We always knew that the Polar Bear has the same physical capacity to speak as human beings, but that like all animals chooses not to. However, since December 2006 some amazing encounters have taken place. Commander Bond, will you tell everyone about your conversation with Mercedes"

Poirot was more mystified than ever, why suddenly was the famous German maker of the automobiles speaking to the British naval officer.

Why indeed, more anon

 July 12

Some of you are I think looking forward to the next instalment of Poirot and the
Affair of the Pink Lady, so here we go (just to re-cap, Dr Mallard of NCIS has
broken a further bombshell to the assembled guests in the mansion overlooking
Juan Les Pins)

"Thank you Dr Mallard" James Bond could hardly believe what he was about
to show and describe next, or that he had actually experienced it for himself.
"The lady in the film you are seeing now lives in the Highlands of Scotland and
is called Mercedes. Just before Christmas she was moved from Edinburgh Zoo
to a new open air enclosure with plenty of space." Mercedes was shown rolling in the
snow and enjoying the coldest weather of the recent winter.
"What you are hearing now is a direct satellite transmission from Scotland courtesy of the Royal Navy" Bond paused for effect.

Again each member of the audience heard a female voice talking. However, noone heard
the same voice. Pfarrer Braun thought it sounded just like his Aunt Resi in Bad Toelz, even to the strong Bavarian dialect. Hastings recalled another of his seemingly numerous childhood Nannies, a small Scottish woman from Tannochbrae.
Bond's voice resumed

"What you are hearing appears to be the same thought transfer that took place between
Knut and Flocke, but of course you are hearing Mercedes live"

Tony Dinozzo had not been a Baltimore cop and the son of a ruthless wealthy family for nothing
"Mister Bond. I saw Doctor Doolittle when I was a kid. He was Brit like you and Duckie
(Dr Mallard). Hollywood does this stuff all the time, and if I may say so, with better special effects" Dinozzo looked at his boss, Special Agent Jethro Gibbs, for support.

"The Hollywood films, they are indeed very clever. But Monsieur Dinozzo can you explain why Aystings is eering the voice of his Goveurness and I, I hear the voice of my Grandmaman?"
Poirot was becoming interested in this strange story.

"Answer the man, Dinozzo" Gibbs added. Ziva smiled. Mercedes's gentle voice recalled
a long Summer in Haifa with her favourite Auntie Ruth.

So, the plot thickens. Our bears have more surprises for the detectives next time.
More on Friday
Ralph 

 17 July 2010

 

 

 

 

(In Juan les Pins it is still the evening of the briefing. The gathered detectives and agents have been stunned by the fact that the Polar Bears can communicate with them by voices in the listeners' heads which are in their own languages and recall people they know)

 Dinozzo admitted defeat, and shrugged his shoulders at Gibbs.

"Hey Boss, I don't know. This is more Abby's scene than mine."

Dr Mallard smiled and turned to Hercule Poirot

"Monsieur, you have understood the point. The bears are able to communicate straight into our minds without the need for oral skills, other than the two main sounds you heard demonstrated earlier:  The suckling noise (Det Saugeraeusch) and the attention getter noise (Klageruf).  Polar bears are essentially solitary animals so have little need for oral communication. But they have both a capacity to speak and, as we have seen, an effective communications tool."

CaptainHastings was nearly as puzzled as Kommissar Geiger, who was scratching his head.

"Dr Mallard, you are trying to tell us that these bears not only communicate with one another over large distances, but that they can transfer their thoughts to us in our languages."  Hastings had in fact got the point.

"Precisement, Aystings, you ave the point, I think." Poirot was pleased that his friend had followed the complicated story.

"Captain Hastings, Monsieur Poirot, you begin to see now why I asked you to join this party"

A beautiful looking Polar Bear's head filled the screen

"Rasputin was a very naughty man, but I think I understand the joke about my human country.  My Icebear name would be beyond your abilities to pronounce. I like Mr R better"

 

10.8.2010 The affair of the Pink Lady continued

It is a long time since I gave an episode of the story of how Hercule Poirot and his

companion, Captain Hastings, have been trabsported to the South of France in the present day on the instructions of a certain Mr R.  Some of you will remember that once at the lavish villa overlooking Juan les Pins they were joined by the team from America's NCIS and a certain Commander James Bond from the Royal Navy, as well as a rather large Catholic priest from Bavaria.  The group has been given a briefing on how Knut and Flocke began communicating as cubs, and then are introduced to Mr R, a large polar bear, we all know very well.  The assembled criminologists learn that polar bears have learnt how to communicate by mind projection in any language or image comfortable to the listeners..

The beautiful Polar bear on the screen was now joined by a beautiful woman in the full uniform of a Russian naval officer.

"I am Admiral Anya Amasova, presently with the Russian Federation Northern Fleet.  I have been asked to explain to you why it has been necessary to bring you together."

James Bond remembered the same officer as a major he had met some years previously.

He was impressed that her career had progressed under the new rulers of Russia.

"As you have seen the polar bears Knut and Flocke, our Pink Lady, have triggered a new and as yet unexplained phenomenon. Polar bears able to communicate over long distances.  When Rasputin, as you call Ivan in the West, joined Flocke he seems to have picked up this means of communcation.  We think that just as Knut was able to talk to his keeper, Herr Doerflein, Raspi discovered from Flocke that he could still speak to his friends in Russia."

Gibbs was growing impatient.  "Admiral, this has all been fascinating, but NCIS exists to protect the personnel of the US Navy and the US Marine Corps from crime..."

"Special Agent Gibbs, I hope I do not need to remind you that Director Leon Vance and your Secretary of the Navy requested your team for this mission. However, you are right to put the question."  Amasova spoke perfect English but with a soft and calming accent.

"Unfortunately there are organisations who will stop at nothing to threaten these bears and their lives, as well as try to use the knowledge of their skills for evil purposes.  My President and the leaders of the USA, Great Britain, Germany and France were asked by the Secretary General of the United Nations to come up a with a plan to secure the safety and well being of these bears."  Amasova paused to let her message sink in.

13.8.

Admiral Anya Amasova of the Russian Federation had explained to the assembled criminiologists at Juan Les Pins that the bears face a threat from a large number of evil people and organisations, she continued.

"At first, Knut and Flocke were safe and protected in Germany by the appropriate authorities.

It of course helped that crazy people started threatening them and so the security could be provided without having to reveal the true story.  Frau Merkel and Mr Putin agreed that Ivan, sorry Raspi, should join Flocke.  We did not know at that stage that he would share her gift for communication.   A new stage was reached when Giovanna joined Knut in Berlin.  We still do not know if she has learnt the communication skills from him.  However, Munich is one of the best protected places in Germany thanks to the local defence industry. 

When Flocke was moved to France, Frau Merkel spoke at once to Monsieur Sarkozy.

I should like you to meet two members of the Presidential Security Detail of the French Republic, Messieurs Reno et Depardieu..."

Dinozzo stirred and looked at the two Frenchmen who were shown on the screen, standing with a bikini-clad Madame Carla Sarkozy.  "Wow, she's hot"

"Monsieur, you have the big lip, yes." A familiar and unshaven face had appeared behind Dinozzo, without his even noticing.

Another Frenchman added "This is the American humour, no."

Admiral Amasova was unphased.

"May I introduce our hosts in France, Colonel Jean Reno and Colonel Gerard Depardieu"

Dinozzo was about to make a smart film reference to Ziva, but Reno stopped him with a  Gallic shrug and a finger to his lips.

More anon

Ralph

 14.8.

The Affair of the Pink Lady

As you can see the fate of the Polar Bears has been taken seriously at least in the fictional world of mystery and intrigue. One person who will be very much effected by this is Pfarrer Braun, the well known German TV detective. His bishop, Bishop Hemmelrath,and his cunning assistant, Monseigneur Muehlich, have been doing their best for years to stop Braun from getting involved in crime, but also they have sent him everywhere in Germany but his beloved Bavaria. Braun dreams of churches with onion steeples and of real home cooking.

He is about get a pleasant surprise as the move of Yoghi and Giovanna has prompted the German Chancellor to ask that Braun be given a parish in Pullach, near Munich, known as the home of Germany's Secret Intelligence Service. The Bishop and Muehlich are of course furious, especially as only the Chancellor, His Holiness in Rome, and now Guido Braun know the true secret of the Pink Lady (that Flocke and Knut have introduced a new form of communication amongst Eisbaers). Oh dear, fortunately Poirot is on hand to share a decent meal with Pfarrer Braun.

Alles Eisbaerli

Ralph

15.8

As some of you will know, there is an important meeting going on in the world of Hercule Poirot in Juan Les Pins in France. I am sure you are also wondering how Poirot came to be in the 21st Century and who is really behind the summoning of so many important crimefighters.

Admiral Amasova was about to resume her briefing when the screen changed to show two beautifully turned out Polar Bears. The earphones of the audience were filled with the dark rich tones of a Russian voive which made Ivan Rubrov sound like Boy George in comparison.

"Allow me to introduce myself properly, and of course my wonderful partner. Your languages do not allow the Polar Bear names we give ourselves to be spoken with the necessary respect, but we have a sense of humour, and I have come to like the name "Raspi". "

"Especially when spoken by your females" a softer female voice interrupted. "I also like your name for me "Snowflake, Flocke, Flocon". Strangely it is not far from the name in our own language." A series of growls, gulps and snuffles followed. "Yes, Flocke is close enough".

Raspi allowed her to finish

"I have become very expert in the ways of the human world. My host country, Russia, was a place of great passion and talent, but also sadness and cruelty. In many ways the Russian soul is that of the great white bears. And of course, Wodka...." Raspi was interrupted by a nip from Flocke.

"When we decided to move to the South of France, for reasons I will perhaps tell you later.. we realised that our secrets would have to be protected. The human world is a strange one, but we found that like the white bears your leaders respect power and intelligence.

I had heard from one of the humans who visited me in Germany that there was a particularly clever human, who was famous for dealing with the ones you call criminals. Unfortunately he lived some time ago by your standards."

Poirot was stroking his moustache with evident satisfaction.

"It was a simple matter to slip into his world and arrange gor him to receive a letter inviting him to work for me. Monsieur Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings found themselves and their apartment in the London of 2010, with all the necessary knowledge to cope with this world contained in a Blackberry." Raspi continued.

21 August

R had been briefing the assembled crimefighters in Juan Les Pins and had explained how he had arranged for Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings to be brought to the 21st Century.  

"Ever since Knut was born in Berlin in 2006 there have been threats against the bears.  When Flocke and I moved to France I was determined to ensure that I had the best assistance I could find to prevent these evil people from carrying out their numerous threats."   Raspi spoke in grave tones and his listeners realised the seriousness of his work.

 "Fortunately, I was not alone, Knut had already received visits from the German Chancellor, the then-Presidential candidate for the USA, as well as from the new British Prime Minister and his Deputy, Mr Clegg, who happens to speak German.   His companion, Giovanna, was learning the arts of Polar Bear communication from Knut.  Now she and Yoghi are back in Munich.   Knut's requests for help were listened to.  Mr Cameron made a private trip to Scotland where he found out that Mercedes had started communicating with her kin on the Continent.  Commander Bond has also met the lady..."  Raspi paused, noticing that the team from NCIS and their 2 French colleagues were looking impatient.

"Ah yes,  the United States Navy.  Special Agent Gibbs is wondering why his brief to protect sailors and marines from his country and investigate crimes against them has been extended to involve my friends and me." Raspi paused.

"The Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean is the most sophisticated naval force in Europe. I am sorry, Admiral Amasova, but even you will agree with this.  Its electronic facilities are second to none and the aircraft carriers are always on alert.  Mr Obama has agreed that Flocke and I should be given 24 hour protection..  "Raspi noticed a shuffling.

"Mr Dinozzo, do not worry, I do not think that you will have to go back to being on an aircraft carrier. I sympathise with you, all that noise. No, I think you and Ms Daveed will find a stay in the Mediterranean area quite rewarding."

The two French agents nodded in agreement, while Ziva smiled at Dinozzo

"Now is the chance to visit all those Dinozzos in the old country".

Poirot was nodding off when he was woken by Pfarrer Braun taking a call on his mobile phone.  The exchange took place in heavily accented Bavarian German, which the speaker on the other end of the call also spoke.  When the short conversation finished, Braun looked heavenwards and thanked his God.  Poirot was also curious to know what was going on around him.

"It is the good news, Mon Pere"

Braun smiled a huge smile

"Monsieur, that was my Boss.  I am being given a parish in Munich"

"But I thought your Bishop was determined to keep you away from your beloved homeland".

"Fortunately the Holy Father has other ideas."

 Hastings interrupted

 "You mean the Pope"

 "Indeed, Captain, Pere Braun is a man of the great importance"

23 August

The story of the affair of the Pink Lady now takes us back to England...

A warm afternoon sun made the stone of the old cottages and church of St Mary Mead glow yellow in the gentle light. Inside one of the cottages a large afternoon tea of cucumber sandwiches, victoria jam sponge cake and slices of local ham and pickle with fresh farmhouse loaves was being enjoyed.  Jane Marple had invited two old friends to meet a relative returned from abroad.  Mr Stringer, her partner in many adventures, and Chief Superintendent Craddock, formerly Head of the Westchester County Constabulary, until he had handed over reluctantly to his successor, Tom Barnaby, were sipping their tea.

The third guest was Miss Marple's niece, Hermione. Hermione was "something in Whitehall", or so she told her favourite aunt.  Her mother, Marigold, was close to the Astor family, so Hermione was one friendly terms with the new Prime Minister's wife, Samantha.

Hermione had been showing them all pictures of a visit she had made with Samantha to the Zoo and the big Department Store, Kadewe while the PM discussed business with the Chancellor in Berlin.

"You would not believe how big he has grown and how much he eats." Hermione pointed at one of the photos.

"I am not sure, dear. I prefer horses, you know where you are with them."Jane Marple had been an accomplished horsewoman in her youth and was generally cautious about both people and animals.

"But his story was so sad. The little cub who lost his keeper and is now growing up completely alone." Hermione added.

"Knut, like the King. Canute.." Mr Stringer pondered.

"Did you know that there are only two Polar Bears in Britain?" Hermione had always been a bright girl, perhaps sometimes a little too bright, Jane Marple thought.

"Two too many if you ask me," Craddock was no great fan of animals or people and judged all by their capacity to ruin his well ordered routine.

"Mercedes lives in Scotland. But there is another bear in the Cotswolds."Hermione was not to be deflected.

"Told you, they were trouble"Craddock sensed trouble coming...

Indeed, our little international story of bears and their human protectors is about to get even more complicated.  Now, if only I can find a way to involve Adrian Monk!

11 September 2010

 (Inspired by the kind words here and Knut's exploring of his new quarters I have decided to continue the story today.)

 After the sensational briefing sessions at the villa overlooking Juan Les Pins, Poirot and Hastings sat outside and took their morning coffee.

 Hastings is concentrated on a Laptop in front of him, something which he had become addicted to since arriving in the 21st Century.

"Poirot, do you remember when I had to find a flat in London?" Hastings asked without looking up.

"Ah, indeed Mon Ami, it was the great Evenement." Poirot was deep in a French newspaper.

"Well it appears this Polar Bear chap, Knut, is having the same problem in Berlin. He has just moved into a new enclosure" Hastings spoke without looking up.

"But Aystings, this is surely the good thing for Monsieur Knut" Poirot smiled indulgently, sensing that one of Captain Hastings' longer stories was coming.

"But he has to share it will three girl Polar Bears. They are pretty hot stuff apparently." Hastings turned round to see Ziva and Dinozzo standing behind Poirot.

"Monsieur Poirot, may we join you." Ziva smiled at Hastings, who blushed.

"Thought you Brits didnt go for hot chicks?" Dinozzo moved to look at Hastings' laptop, hoping to find something to comment on further.

"Ah, Signor Dinozzo, I think you will have the unpleasant surprises. Aystings is looking at the Osos blancos." Poirot smiled at Ziva as he said this.

"After a week on an Aircraft Carrier in the Mediterranean, Tony will be begging to join Knut.

I like these girls. They know how to fight and wrestle." Ziva joined Hastings in admiring the Berlin bears.

"I think Gibbs may be right, Director Vance has really shafted us this time" Dinozzo looked glum.

(Oh dear, I think our detectives are going to have a tricky time!)

 7 September 2010

(Here is a trailer for Adrian Monk's possible involvement with our bears.)

Natalie leafed carefully through the album.

"Mr Monk I did not know that Trudy was a fan of polar bears"

"Trudy cared very much about the planet. But these bears, I don't know.
They are so big." Adrian Monk looked at the pictures.

"But Mr Monk aren't Klondyke and Snow cute" Natalie was not to be deflected.
"They will grow bigger. Very big" Monk shook his head a little.

The doorbell rang and Natali let in two familiar visitors.

"Adrian, I think I have a job for you" Captain Stottelmeyer was in his usual
jovial mood.

"They are so big" Monk was staring at the album.

"We have been looking at one of Trudy's albums. It has some loverly pictures
of polar bears" Natalie explained.

"The cubs are great, arent they" Randy Discher grabbed the album from Natalie
and grinned.

"No, they are going to be very big" Monk was not to be moved.

"In that case, you might not like the message I have just got from Washington" Stottlemeyer
looked at the pictures over Discher's shoulder. "Cute little fellas arent they"

"Big, very big" Monk looked as if the cares of the world had once more landed on his shoulders.

(So, as you can see, we might have trouble with this one. More anon )

16 September 2010

(I had promised to introduce some of the bad guys in my "Affair of the Pink Lady". Now is a good time to meet two of them.)

In a part of the financial district of Britain's capital, the City of London, are some buildings that look as if they date back to the days of Shakespeare and the first Queen Elizabeth. Nowadays they are overshadowed by the skyscrapers of the great international banks and financial corporations.  One such building houses the firm of Cushing, Leigh and Price. The business of this company has remained unchanged for centuries, it is to make its partners exceedingly rich, at any price!

The current chairman of CLP (though he would be furious to hear these initials used) has only a tenuous relationship to the founding families.  Basil Deville took over the chair in 1997 from his father, who had joined CLP in the 1960s when his fur business in Mayfair collapsed. Basil's mother's fondness for Dalmatian furs was in all the papers that year, together with the pictures of those puppies that went round the world.  CLP put Mr Deville's talents to good use, and after an education at Harrow and Cambridge Basil joined the business.

Sitting in the oak panelled dining room Basil watched his guest carefully.  Rosa Blofeld had  survived the best schools in Italy, France and the United States. Her father was a renowned international businessman and member of a Paris-based organisation called SPECTRE.

Her mother had died in Venice in mysterious circumstances, but her daughter had saved some of her mother's love of killing and a hatred of the British.

"Basil, you promised me that the bear cub in Berlin would be killed and that I could have the fur worked into a hat by your mother. That imbecile you employed in Berlin to get the Zoo to sell him to us managed to turn the bear into a superstar." Rosa's English was mid-atlantic and harsh.

"Rosa, darling, that was over three years ago.  We tried again in Nuremberg and Stuttgart, but the gentleman you mentioned does not seem to have the influence he claimed" Basil was smooth and relaxed.

"The man is an idiot. Imagine telling the Zoo in public to kill the bear. Your mother always did employ hopeless cases." Rosa was not to be pacified.

"Mummay dear does not like detail. He seemed so plausible. If all the Zoos listened to him and sold their bears we would make a fortune.."  Basil continued.

(Well, as you can see the causes of the 2007 financial crash and the fate of our bears is closer than you may have thought.)

October 8

The Oktoberfest theme has inspired me to continue a little bit with my Pink Lady story and we find Poirot and Hastings have been invited by Pfarrer (Father) Braun to join him for a trip to Munich. Mr R has provided transport.

The Ilyushin airliner looked impressive with its grey paintwork and the words "Rossiya" on the fuselage, with red, white and blue trimmings denoting its status as a machine of the Presidential flight.

Pfarrer Braun had made himself comfortable and was explaining to Poirot and Hastings that they would be met at the airport by his housekeeper and be taken to the best hotel in Munich.

As the Ilyushin descended towards Munich's Franz Josef Strauss airport, a pair of Typhoon fighters of the Federal German Air Force formed up next to the plane. The pilot's excellent German came over the intercom.

"Gentlemen, I see that the Federal Chancellor is taking no chances with our safety."

Poirot was at once puzzled and impressed that the Russian pilot of this wonderful machine should speak German, and that the military of this perod operated planes that looked like something out of the Hollywood "Flash Gordon" films.

Pfarrer Braun let out a sharp outtake of breath as the cockpit door opened and a familiar athletic figure appeared. The pilot was a good friend of Mr R and known throughout the world.

"Herr Premier Minister, Ich bin beindrueckt mit diesem Flug" Braun started.

Mr Putin smiled

"My good friend in France would not have forgiven me if I had not shown you proper Russian hospitality. We shall be landing shortly, and I wish you a safe journey."

October 9

 

 

The involvement of the crimefighters in the affairs of our bears is about to take another turn.

"Joyce, why does Cully want us to go to Berlin again" Tom Barnaby adjusted his glasses and tried to read the e-mail.

"She is appearing in a play about Global Warming and has some friend offering hotel accommodation near the Zoo" Joyce answered from the kitchen.

"Cully used to have all those pictures of some polar bear in Germany? Nut or Noot or something." Barnaby had wandered off the point.

"Knoot, dear. But he is grown up now"

Barnaby looked through his e-mails, without bothering to delve further.

"Joyce, you are in luck, the Home Secretary wants me to attend some meeting of Eurocoppers in Berlin. It is being hosted by a chap called Schimanski..." Barnaby read further.

"Joyce, you did German at school, what does "Sicherheitsknozepte fuer Eisbaeren Sondereinsatz" mean, Barnaby pronounced it somewhat differently.

"Tom, you will love that one, its something like "Security for special duties in connection with Polar bears".

Barnaby sighed.

Well, the importance of the polar bears is drawing ever more people in. Next time we shall learn more about what the bad guys are up to....

 12 October

I promised to tell you more about the bad guys in the Affair of the Pink Lady, but in order to do so I must introduce you to a character from my childhood. Harry Palmer, played in a series of films by the brilliant London born actor Michael Caine, was an employee of the British Government like James Bond.

Unlike Bond he was an ordinary person and not at all glamorous.  In one of his films, Funeral in Berlin, he forms an unlikely friendship with a Soviet Colonel Stock. Not surprisngly perhaps after the Cold War, Palmer goes to Russia after he is made redundant by the British Government.  After a series of escapades in St Petersburg and Russia he decides to form his own Detective Bureau there in the 1990s.

Having introduced you to Harry, who is now in his 70s, we find him on board the Moscow Berlin express reading about a new villain interested in our bears.

 Harry Palmer had got used to reading a Laptop and in fact preferred it to the mass of crumpled tea stained paper he used to fumble for in his pockets.

The screen in front of him described the business affairs of a German based company headed by a certain Tony Rambold.  Rambold had always managed to escape conviction for his somewhat dubious business practices. Having friends in the ruling party in Bavaria might have helped. However, in Russia he had been less fortunate.

Harry still had friends in the Russian Security and Police services. One of them was sitting opposite him.  A dark haired young woman who was the granddaughter of his one time opponent and friend, Colonel Stock.  Her dark red hair and keen eyes were watching him closely.

"Harry, this man Rambold is in business with some very nasty people in my country and his."  Sasha was as patriotic as her father had been and recognised in Palmer someone who could not be corrupted by money, a rare thing in the modern world.

"So it seems. What is all this about a project for bears. Are those circus bears who ride bicycles?" Harry was genuinely puzzled.

"No, this involves the largest and most dangerous bear, the white bear." Sasha passed a smaller I-Pad.

"He doesnt look very dangerous. Since when did bears get on the cover of Vanity Fair".

"That is not just any bear. He is Knut"

 What does Tony Rambold want with our bears?