'Perhaps we should go and see Mr Singh's sister,' ventured Sergeant
'No one will move her body until I tell them to, Janice.' Bryant shot
her a look.
Longbright knew better than to argue with Arthur's working methods. The
inability of the Peculiar Crimes Unit to conduct its affairs in a
conventional manner was embarrassingly well documented. Having abandoned
attempts to make it properly accountable, the Home Office had now
separated the unit from Metropolitan Police jurisdiction and placed it
under the nebulous security services of MI7. There would be certain
advantages: the detectives would no longer have to pay exorbitant
charges for equipment usage or fight the Met for their annual budget,
and the old demarcation lines would finally be resolved, but they would
now be accountable to passing governments, where personal resentments
ran deep. Bryant and his partner John May had been given six months to
make the revised unit successful or train up their own replacements, for
they wereas everyone seemed so keen to point outboth far beyond the
statutory retirement age. There had been talk of closing the place down
altogether, and yet it seemed a guardian angel existed in the labyrinth
of Whitehall, because eleventh-hour reprieves continued to appear with
the regularity of rainbows.
'I didn't have time to change.' Benjamin Singh indicated his clothes,
clearly feeling disrespectful for wearing a stripy tank-top, brown
trousers and a purple shirt. 'I visit my sister Ruth every Monday
morning to clean the house for her,' he explained. 'She's very old and
can't lift the vacuum cleaner. The moment I opened the front door, I
knew something was wrong. She was sitting on a chair in the basement,
dressed for the shops, which was strange because she knows I always go
for her. Ruth just makes out the list. She was cold to the touch.'
'Forgive me, but I don't understand why you didn't immediately call for
an ambulance.' Bryant remembered that the new office had a smoking ban,
and tamped out his pipe before Longbright had a chance to complain.
'She was dead, Arthur, not sick. Kentish Town police station is only
three streets away from her house, so I walked around there and saw the
duty sergeant, but I didn't like his attitude he told me to call an
ambulance as wellso I came here.'
'You know we don't take cases off the street any more, Ben,' Bryant
explained. 'They have to come to us through proper channels now.'
'But when I found her, my first thought was to'
'You're supposed to be recording this conversation, Arthur,' Longbright
interrupted. 'From now on we have to stick to the rulebook.'
Bryant poked about in the cardboard box at his feet and pulled out a
battered dictaphone. 'Here,' he offered, 'you have a go. It doesn't seem
to let me record, for some reason. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong.'
The patented helpless look suggested innocence but didn't wash with
Longbright, who was familiar with her boss's ability to cause
malfunctions in the simplest equipment. Bryant was no longer allowed to
touch the computers owing to the odd demagnetizing effect he had on
delicate technology. His application to attend an IT course had been
turned down six times by those who feared he would cause a national
meltdown if let loose near PITO, the Police Information Technology
Organization. His facility for picking up old broadcasts of Sunday Night
at the London Palladium on his Sky dish had been documented with
fascination but no hope of explanation by the Fortean Times.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...