by Webmaster, 9th November 2021
Calling all daydream believers. It’s murder on the Covid express…
Book clubs attract all sorts, but their members are nothing if not enigmatic. Their take on life can be different, they part exist in their own, dream-like worlds and can often be found drifting off to the land of make believe. And frankly, these days, who can blame them?
Verity Harris-Brown offers an amusing glimpse into this world with her short story, Dearest Dolly.
“I was in the mood to write and, as is often the case, I had no idea what to write,” Verity reveals of how her story came to be. “So, I allowed myself to daydream away and found myself remembering my first experience reading Agatha Christie.
“I must have been around 12 years old. Prior to our annual family holiday my parents would let me purchase a new book and I happened to pick up a complete collection of Miss Marple short stories. I was hooked the entire holiday, spending my days on the sun-soaked beaches of Menorca with the enigmatic Miss Marple as a constant companion. Tie that in with a little observational comedy kindly bestowed upon me throughout the pandemic and the rest is history!”
An avid reader from an early age (“my parents believe I came into the world reading a book”), Verity started writing while studying for a theatre degree at York St John University. Comedy sketches and plays to compliment her studies were the staple of those early days. But that would eventually change.
“Although I still pen the odd stage piece here and there - for my own amusement - I now predominately write short stories,” she explains.
Verity’s colleagues and students at the independent school in Shropshire where she works are usually among the first to hear them, often hounded into listening in fact. And long is it likely to continue.
Having grown up in Shropshire, it’s where Verity returned after five years studying and working in York, citing “my incredible family” as the big draw back home.
by Verity Harris-Brown
I cannot begin to express how much I miss our book club. Do you ever feel like you were born in the wrong era? The more I read, the more I do.
As I sit here, I think to myself, Yes! This must be exactly what Agatha Christie felt. The glisten of gold gild, the romantic thrum of the steam engine, the burnished scent of antique polished wood and… what is that? Oh yes, urine.
Alas Dolly, I am not surrounded by the scent of aged whiskey but by the aroma of someone’s actual wee. And quite possibly a five-year-old Wotsit crammed somewhere between the seats. And yes, I can smell it despite wearing a mask, heaven forbid the stench if I was not!
Oh Mrs Christie! I see your exotic maharajas dripping in jewel-toned silks, your countesses, viscounts and ladies shrouded in fur and I raise you – a teenager playing a song on a speaker that I believe is called WAP. Dolly, do not even think about youtubing it, trust me on this, your nerves couldn’t take it.
Imagine sitting in the decadence of a carriage with a crystal chandelier with four-star waiter service. The only crystal in my carriage is a woman who has the name Crystal tattooed on her lower back. As for the fine-dining experience, there is no waiter service to speak off, but the passenger prior to me has kindly left a half-eaten sandwich, squashed and quite frankly dismembered on the fold-down tray in front of me. So that’s something.
Now as for mysterious occurrences and crimes to be solved... is there a spy aboard this carriage? Is there a body to be found in the first-class sleeper train? Well Dolly, this is where it gets quite interesting – the lady in front of me is having a heated discussion with her travel companion. Are you ready? I believe she has uncovered a scandal of most epic proportions.
‘I think Gazza is havin’ it away with my best mate at the tanning parlour.’
And what, pray tell, does this scorned lover intend to do about such an indiscretion? A hand carved ivory pistol inlaid with a nightingale? A drop of deadly nightshade in a Wedgewood cup?
‘I swear to god Kate, I'll stab him with a spork.’
Well there you go Mrs Christie, if that isn’t a next bestseller, I don’t know what is.
Alas Dolly, despite my protestations about this modern world and its lack of decorum, don’t all of us deserve a chance to survive our current circumstance? All the teenagers, all the Crystals, the Kates and the Gazzas of the world? I would gladly save all of them from this pandemic if I could. But until we can meet again my dear friend, please do all you can to keep yourself and the family safe.
Oh… And may I suggest Murder on the Orient Express for our next read?
P.S. definitely do not listen to WAP.
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