Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hidden Underground (cryptic version)

The following story contains the names of all 270 London Underground stations exactly once each, with their letters in consecutive order.  No station name is contained within another one (so if there were two stations called 'Dogsbury' and 'South Dogsbury', they would occur separately).  Where two different stations share a name, the name has been included twice (this occurs on three occasions).  The puzzle is to find all 270 names.

Once upon a time, a new camera was manufactured. This particular Canon sparked a lot of interest in the world of photographers, and was discussed by Paul Miller on BBC Radio Kent on 96.7 FM.  One particular guest on his show was a Parson S. Green, who claimed to be most impressed with the new technology. Discussing the flash, Mr Miller was quoted as saying that "technology runs faster than Usain Bolt over a mile", ending that particular show before it had even started. 

Next up on the radio station was the sports bulletin.  They focused on the relative merits of North London football teams, and how the Gunners bury their opponents with such style. Moving on to the children's athletics, they discovered how in one boy steroids had been detected.  Desperate, they tried to blame the result of the drugs test on contaminated water. "Look in the supply in the school canteen," they urged.   The school vehemently protested, "Look, anyone would drink this water! This has been the case in Bombay's water supply for years."  They'd even found the school's pet bird choking in its cage. However it turned out that it was a red herring; the teacher had simply been giving the canary warfarin.

The choking bird had a bizarre effect on other birds; very soon the local morning chorus was replaced with a morning chorus of choking birds.  This birdsong only took place during the daytimes - the long dark nights bridged the gap between them.  This strange daytime avian choir attracted people from all over the world; they stood and watched in several bunches - ham sandwiches were provided by Patrick White, chapel caretaker, to ensure the masses were well fed. 

And this event proved so popular that it was repeated right across London at various local open spaces.  An enterprising local, Wes Tacton, decided to capture the strange choking birds with a view to charging worldwide royalty to see them perform - a move that made many kings cross. St Pancras was his destination, for Wes was now a man on the run! 

A few weeks passed before one evening a drinking buddy forced him to the ground - "the Queen's parked up outside," he said. "You need to hide until the danger has passed".  He hid in a warehouse.  It wasn't very nice; insects were abundant and he had nothing with which he could swat. For dozens of days he remained, until his aforementioned drinking buddy - Colin Dale - came and rescued him.  Colin took him to the edge of the premises, but a high gate prevented further progress. 

Wes and Colin continued to search for a way out.   Darkness had descended, so their task was not particularly easy.  Wes then heard a familiar voice calling "this way lads" - the voice was that of his old buddy Stan More.  At last they were able to rest for a few moments and take stock. "Well, my bird pilfering plan hasn't gone brilliantly," stated Wes.

Unfortunately the trio of chums weren't in the clear just yet. They had been pursued by Detective Inspector Warren Street of New Scotland Yard. He had followed them there in his infamous 1963 green Ford Anglia.  Once again they were on the run - they slipped into a random pub where several tube enthusiasts were meeting. After introductions, one such geek remarked how strange it was that they all seemed to have tube-station-like names - a fact they had never considered. They then explained their plight and one man - Roy Aloak - offered to help; but it would come at a price.

Roy was trying to get his neighbour's peacock drunk, so the intrepid group would have to give the peacock Foster's.  Due to being completely intoxicated, he attempted to play javelin, with the peacock replacing the javelin.  Roy, who had narrowly beaten his dog Brent, crossed over the bar to where the trio were sitting. "If you want my advice it will cost," he told them, "I need £1000 by the beginning of next week.  Then I will be rich Monday," he laughed. Could the gang of three raise the funds that Roy demanded?  They hatched a plan that involved exporting tube maps to Saudi Arabia, where they could be sold for 1000 Saudi riyal per ton.

The only problem now was inventory. They had made their train but were now stuck in rural Oxfordshire. They stole a car and began scanning towns for tube maps.  They drove to the outskirts of Chipping Norton, whereupon they discovered a vast Tube Map emporium run by a husband and wife team "Beth 'n' Al Green".  Unfamiliar with the area, they asked for directions - they were told to head for where "The Doll" is.  Hilly terrain was no impediment and soon they were ready to buy.

Having purchased the tube maps they set about returning to London. As they were passing through the Vale of the White Horse, their car came to a sudden halt. They found themselves stuck in a village which appeared to be inhabited entirely by a voodoo tribe. They found the local garage which also doubled as the witch doctor's surgery where a sign read "Doctor is out healing the sick". The techniques employed by the witch doctor appeared strange to the untrained eye - patients were made to snort healing oak - wood being his ingredient of choice.   The witch doctor made it clear it was not for healing common people.

Whilst waiting for the doctor, Wes had been chatting to a guy from Massachusetts. "Are you a Boston man or are you from elsewhere in New England?" he asked.  Eventually the doctor set about fixing the car for Wes and his pals. They were on their way once again and on the outskirts of Oxford passed by a Big Top.  Very soon they found themselves stuck in a jam in the centre of Oxford - circus people all around them had been parading through the city centre.

At that moment, things took an unexpected turn for the worse. Their car was newly fixed but from out of nowhere a swan steadily attacked the car's bonnet, breaking through and once again disabling the engine.   They fled, tube maps flying everywhere, on foot. Their car had finally been caught by Inspector Street's Ford, in what was becoming an ever more complex situation. After roaming for what must have been hours, they decided to go and watch a football match - it would give them 90 minutes to come up with a new plan.

The match was an international friendly between the Cypriots and the Dutch. It was a very entertaining game with Cyprus on the attack for most of the game; however Holland parked a bus on their goal line, so the game ended scoreless.  This was a surprise result, as the match had been seen as a home banker. The match did no favours for the fleeing trio however - they had failed to use the game to think of a plan B. They wanted to stay out of the way - they saw a red bridge in the distance. They sought shelter beneath it until they could come up with a plan.  Just beyond the bridge Colin spotted a convent, and began to hatch a plan loosely based on the film 'Nuns on the Run'. As the chums approached the convent the clock struck seven.  Sisters gathered outside the building and this was a chance for the lads to sneak inside.

The Mother Superior, Sister Mary Le Bone, was very suspicious of the newcomers.  They thought they could get away with it if they disguised themselves as the gardeners. However, they couldn't decide whether to use a Flymo or park a proper mower nearby.  One evening, after a hot day of gardening, the three fake gardeners decided to invite Sister Mary out for a drink down the local. It was a cunning plan to get on her good side.

As it happens, Sister Mary had a few too many. Wes couldn't believe how inebriated she was when she stood up. He'd not seen a lady that drunk since he'd seen the Queen swaying from side to side, several years previously.  She wobbled home, up Minster Bridge, taking a short cut through the fair, lopping five minutes off the journey time.  This was a bad move, as a mugger, Charles Denton, jumped out from behind the dodgems and stole her handbag.  But Mr Denton was not interested in the contents of the handbag.  He was in a choir, the singers of which all liked selling fashion accessories when they weren't singing. As he once said, "The women of the chorus sell handbags with nice curves; the men of the chorus sell square ones."   It was a monumental moment; Denton was promptly arrested for theft of the bag. 

With the mugger safely put away, Wes, Colin and Stan really felt they needed to get away from it all. But where to go? Several places were suggested - Harrogate, Lulworth Cove in Dorset, even a distant country like Uruguay. In the end, they settled on a place. "Where to?" said the taxi driver. "Take us to Norwich!" the group responded.  So off they went.  The taxi driver, a large chap called Wayne, thought it would be wise if they stopped for lunch en route (well, it was a long way). He was on a diet, but chose a greasy spoon café anyway. The trouble was, with the plentiful ham, broad Wayne got even broader.  He'd already gorged himself in Burger King on Chicken Flamers - ham just added to the problem.

When they reached Norwich, they continued north to the wonderful National Trust gardens nearby at Felbrigg Hall. But then they thought that Lulworth Cove may have been a better option.  Unlike Lulworth Cove, N.T. gardens charged for entry.  (Although even at Lulworth Cove charges for deckchairs were on the up.   Minsters, abbeys, museums, and wildlife centres across Dorset were charging too.)  But it was too late now for Colin, he was out of money. You see, the money he'd spent at the Greasy Spoon had left the poor lad broke.  Grovelling to the others, he asked if they could lend him a few bob.

"Not after we've come this far.  Ring Don," they said, "he might be able to help".  It's true, Don was a champ.  Steadily, Colin recounted the story from the start.  Don had just finished playing a game with his children, and had put the equipment away.  He told Colin: "After we finished playing hoopla, I stowed the equipment in the shed immediately. So I can come right away!"

When Don had come up with the money they sat down to a traditional meal invented by the Swiss: cottage cheese with a glass of orange juice.  Handily, an orange tree was growing right beside them.  It was a beautiful orange tree. On the highest stem, plenty of oranges were available.  Upon this tree stood, a little to the west, Hamlet, a small finch.  He was a true lover of standing in trees.  His favourite tree was the larch. The joy of standing in a larch way surpassed the thrill that came from any other piece of vegetation.

Soon a group of people had gathered and a game of Tube Challenger Cluedo commenced, but the regular stars of Cluedo were annoyed for being ousted by Tube Challengers.  Especially jealous was the Reverend Green.  Parking his car outside, he went inside with some lead piping to break up the game.  It's a good job they didn't have to see the wrath of Mrs White.  City life had distracted her from her Cluedo role in recent years.  She'd recently moved from Slough to Norbiton, but on the day she moved there was a storm and all the clothes she was wearing got soaked. It was her own fault for choosing to take a route through the wood, for dripping trees only added to the damp problem.  She took shelter under a huge oak tree and was soon joined by a group of boy scouts on a hike. They were very smelly.

Luckily Mrs White had just visited her inventor friend Orville McScrumple-Smythe, and she insisted that they don "BO isolating coats" that Orville had invented just the other day and passed onto her for testing. Unfortunately, they didn't work too well and she still found the BO rough.  The smell was such a problem that all sorts of vermin were attracted to where they ended up. They struggled to remove the intruders. In the end, they had to call in Rentokil, burning a hole in their budget.  They thought the vermin had disappeared for good, but they were disappointed when suddenly they spotted their first rat for days.

So they left a phone message with the exterminators. Eventually it was listened to, and the head of the organisation, Mr. Armstrong, rang.  "Eh?  I'll be there as soon as possible", he said.  "Would you like to buy a cage?  We can deliver one as Dennis, the delivery man, will be coming that way soon."

When the cage was delivered to the scout leader's house he was out. So his maid, Ava, let them in.  She also offered the boy scouts some sweets. "We have several Jelly Tots, but just one piece of licorice," she said. "Who'd like it?"  "Me!" said Philip; "I'm licorice's greatest fan!"  She watched him in amazement as he rushed to get it. "He's gone absolutely frantic, haring 'cross the room like that!"  It was a race to see who could get through their sweets fastest. It was neck-and-neck between Philip the licorice eater, and Ian, one of the Jelly-Tot fiends. In the end, who was the victor?  Ian!  "That was quite an incredible contest," said the maid. "I hope rival eaters can work together though - you need to help me install the cage."  So they did, and a fine cage it was too.

As the maid was letting them back out afterwards, she picked up a note which had been left by the scout master. "Ava - for dinner this evening, please use the newest ham.  P.S. Tea delivery will arrive tomorrow."  She went to get the ham, but she was in for a shock. It had been attacked by a mystery infection whose effect was to turn ham green.  She quickly drove to to get some more from the local butcher, Gerry McCann.  On-street parking was available, so it was a quick and efficient visit.

She passed the local archery school. Some careless archers had shot some arrows outside of the range, and these were littered nearby. There was a very posh arrow on the hillock opposite.  She thought to herself, "That very posh arrow must have come from a very posh bow". Road travel tended to make her mind wander. 

When she arrived back at the house, she wondered if she was hallucinating.  It couldn't have been alcohol - born into a Methodist family, she'd been teetotal all her life.  For as she got out of the car and looked to the north, Woody Allen came running towards the house.  She couldn't believe her luck, as she had a secret she'd always been scared of revealing: "Broadway Danny Rose" was her all-time favourite film.   The scoutmaster, Richard Bromley, was waiting inside.
"Where have you been?" he asked.
"To get some more ham," she said excitedly. "But I was distracted, Mr Bromley, by bows and arrows. And you won't believe this, but Woody Allen is on his way!"
"Really?" said Richard. "Woody's my favourite actor! Once when I was camping with the scouts, in the south wood for days on end, we kept ourselves amused by quoting lines from his films. So much fun we had!"

There was a knock at the door, and he opened it. A familiar figure in glasses stood outside.
"Hi! My name's John, and I'm a Woody Allen impersonator," he said.
"Well you certainly fooled us," said Richard.  "You must be one of the best."
"John's Woody Allen impersonation is incredibly convincing," agreed Ava.
"So, where do you come from?" asked Richard.
John replied in Lancastrian tones, "I come from Chorley.  Woody Allen impersonators are very rare in my town."
"I can imagine that. But what brings you here?"
"My pot plant's wilting. Can Ada water it please?"
"Her name's Ava, not Ada."
"That's a shame. I came here on the specific understanding that one of the occupants was called Ada. I think you'll understand why."

"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you," said Richard. "But I was so convinced by your impression, I think it deserves wider publicity. What's your surname?"
"It's Collier," said John. "Why do you ask?"
"Well," said Richard, "once news of John Collier's Woody Allen impression gets out, you could be famous!"
"I'd rather be on Britain's Got Talent."
"Do you think you're in with a chance?"
"Rylane might be a better bet," interrupted Ava.  "It's a village in Ireland, about 15 miles west-northwest of Cork, where they hold a big talent competition every year. Last year, a guy called Ned Ebden sang elegantly, but still didn't win."
John suddenly turned to her and said, "If you don't mind my asking, I notice you've got a package from McCann's the butcher's. Who bought that ham?"
"R. Smith in the High Street is much better. You should try them one day."

"Stop changing the subject, Mr. Collier.  If you don't fancy Ireland, I've heard there's a similar 'battle of the talents' show in Scotland next year."
"Ah, that'll be easier for me to get to than Ireland. It sounds like the competition will be fierce. Where are they going to?"
"Competition is not just fierce, John, it's war!  Wick!  A venue has been found in the northerly Scottish town of Wick."
"That's a long way north, Wick.  Parkhead in Glasgow is the furthest north I've ever been.  How much is Wick parking these days?"
"The price is very high.  Bar Nethercliffe Hotel, accommodation costs a lot too. Try the high street. Ken Sington may be able to find you somewhere.  Gents park wherever he tells them to."
"So there's no value in trying to park down by the harbour?"
"No, the overflow goes on to the north fields or the south fields. You can't be left-field, though, sir, and use the left fields."
"Would I have to enter by the south gate?"
"Yes, it's the best gate of the lot. Best to park on the right, by the knotting hill.  Gates are open 24/7, though I would stay away from the Casterbald gate.  East of it live the old Scottish clan Caster.  Gate is guarded very fiercely."

"I'm not sure there's a 'Casterbald Gate' in Wick, actually," said Richard.  "But anyway let's not worry too much about parking arrangements at the moment. I think we should invite John to stay for supper. In fact, I think his clever Woody Allen impersonation deserves a clap!  Ham - common or garden stuff from McCann's I'm afraid - is on the menu tonight I think."
"Yes," said Ava, "and there's some rhubarb I can stew for later on."
"We shall have a feast!  Ham goes well with fruit, so pop down to the greengrocer's to pick something up," said Richard. 
Ava was only employed as a serving-woman or housemaid, and yet at the moment she felt as though she owned a mansion.  Housework was something she really enjoyed.

But then, beneath the cold streetlamps, she saw another, very suspicious-looking chap. Little did she know, but he was actually a cannibal; ham wasn't on the menu for him.  He was waiting to make his move, and was listening to "And You Tell Me", a lesser known song by Scandinavian group A-ha, in 'A'. Ultimately, he was ready to go for it.  Fortunately a policeman arrived just as he was about to pounce.  "Well, I'm very pleased you decided to wait for the police to arrive," he said. "Makes my job a lot easier. I've dealt with thousands of criminals in my time but rarely one as dim or dense as you."

He was eventually sentenced to prison after a lengthy courts procedure. Prison was full of even dimmer criminals - especially during Monopoly:
"£200 for passing go. Right, your turn, Pike."
"No, Pike, read out the first word first."
"Park! Got it! Park Lane!"

Many of his criminal associates were still at large, and he saw them bank mental amounts of money during his sentence.  He spent the majority of his time writing letters to his associates. He gave a plan, to attack Will Esden, green light to go. The plan consisted of:
1) Assemble 7 in the morning, Ton Crescent.
2) Meet Will Esden, junction of Dagenham Heath Way and Ton Crescent.
3) Attack.
But the police had plenty of information to act on.  Town hall staff had intercepted the letters and passed them on.

But then Don, central to the plot, made a surprising appearance, as he announced to the cannibal, "Are you really so dim? There isn't a road called 'Ton Crescent' in Dagenham.  East London has several strange road names, but none as strange as that!"  It was really quite chilling.  Don had a habit of turning up exactly when he was needed.  He really was a criminal guru.  "I slipped up once, just once, and got arrested", he said.

It was organized crime on quite an extraordinary scale.  Don, Ian (road crew) and many of the other prisoners were involved.  But despite his precautions, Don had still let one of them (of course on a drugs high) bury Andi Slington beside the Stam Ford, Brooklyn.  They were going for several crimes - probably ten in a row; a crime 'decathlon'.  Don bridged any gaps in communication in an interesting way, because, equipped with a wimble, Don had a secret plan to escape.  This wasn't just any ordinary wimble.  Don parked himself by the prison wall, and put his secret plan to work.  Boring out from the south, "Wimble Don" (as he was known by a few trusted associates) managed to penetrate the walls of the prison.

There he got into the getaway car, driven by an accomplice of Don's.
"So," said the accomplice, "where are we going, guru?"
"Islip.  Gardens are nice in Oxfordshire at this time of year."
Then things got romantic on the long car journey between Don and his accomplice, Ken.
"Will you marry me?"
"Yeah, but there are problems..."
"Be specific, Ken."
"Hamilton. I'm in love with Hamilton."
"Well, that's a surprise, Ken.  Sal Green says she's in love with you."
"No, Hamilton calls himself Sal Green."

But stranger things were to come.  This Ken was none other than Ken Sington, the car parking organizer for the talent contest that was soon to take place in Wick.  "We can't stay in Islip," he said, "will you come with me to Wick?"  Don agreed, but reluctantly.  After they'd been there a few days, he complained "Why did we come all the way up to the north of Scotland? I was happier in the south, Ken.  Tons happier."
"But I've got a job here," said Ken Sington. "Olympian levels of competition are starting pretty soon."
"All right, " said Don, "I won't go south, Ken.  Sing tonight at the competition and I'll give you my undying support."
"But I'm not competing - I'm just in charge of the car park.  Royalty will be attending this event you know."
"My spirits have sunk to their lowest, Ken.  Sing tonight for me please. Just find a way."

So impressive was Ken's performance at the competition that he was asked to represent Britain at the Eurovision Song Contest in Manchester.  By a remarkable twist of fate, John Collier was asked to represent Ireland - and, even more amazingly, the fugitives Wes, Colin and Stan, along with their acolyte Roy, were representing Azerbaijan as Glorious Hags.  But fresh off the train at Manchester Piccadilly, circus performers representing Armenia looked to win the contest. The results of the first semi-final were that, after a good performance from John, Ireland were through - as were Armenia, Georgia, Sweden, Albania, Belarus, Turkey, Estonia, Cyprus, and Greece. The Russian delegation were furious: "We had to schlepp ingloriously over here and didn't make it through. We are furious. We need HS2 now."  On Thursday, Azerbaijan would perform. Could they join John in the final on Saturday?

Ken tried to sing along with the orchestra in rehearsals, but there were problems.
"What key do you want to sing in, Ken? Is this one any good? G?"
Streetwise musicians tried to keep up with him, but it proved a very hard task.  This got Ken a little frustrated. He needed to relax, so he closed his eyes, and thought of recent events. Then a startling revelation came to him: "Don - the guru - Islip - man or woman?"  Suddenly he realised why Don might have these feelings for him.

But back to the rehearsal: they were trying to rehearse "Na-la-na-la-na", the UK's ambitious entry for that year's contest. (Having unexpectedly won the previous year, the BBC had belatedly realized that their best hope lay in a song consisting of meaningless gibberish.) The trumpet player, enthusiastically tooting, beckoned to Ken, but he didn't know the real identity of the one who was tooting: "Broad Wayne", the taxi driver from earlier on.

Meanwhile, over in the auditorium, the event organizer was showing the representatives of the various juries to their seats. It was all very high-tech - the seats had electronic voting terminals built into them, an innovation that had been introduced for the qualifying heat.
" 'H' row terminals 1, 2, 3 are for the Latvian, Portuguese and Croatian representatives," said the organizer.
"I'm a bit concerned about vote-rigging," said the Dutch representative. "Is the voting system secure?"
"Absolutely - there's no way that anyone can cheat.  'H' row terminal 4 is for the Maltese representative."
"And the British representative? What position is he at?"
" 'H' row terminal 5."

Before the competition started in earnest, the audience was treated to a performance by the reformed Denver-based alternative rock band, Vaux.  Hallowe'en costumes weren't their normal outfit, but at the Eurovision Song Contest, let's face it, anything goes. Meanwhile, back in London, Richard Bromley was avidly watching the contest on television as Ava cooked the dinner. She walked in and he absent-mindedly addressed her as the audience started to clap.
"Southern fried chicken, actually. You finished all the ham yesterday, remember?"
He was so absorbed in the contest he couldn't remember a thing. She could have served up pieces of burnt oak and he wouldn't have noticed.

Back in Manchester, the Germans had more on their mind than nerves. Disease was rampant!
"I'm ill..."
"Hil, least of our problems now. Alan Rickman's worthless fanbase is trying to get rid of us!"
The Germans, of course, had never quite lived down the slightly disturbing 1998 performance of Guildo Horn.  Churchill would have declared World War II all over again if he'd heard it.

It was now time for the Azerbaijani entry, performed by none other than our old friends Wes, Colin, Stan and Roy.  But as they prepared to go on stage, they were unexpectedly ushered off. "Sorry, the stage is out of bounds.  Green room is where you're staying."
"Who do you think you are?"
"Don't you remember? I am Inspector Street of New Scotland Yard, and you're all under arrest." The arrest of the 'Azerbaijani' band left an unfortunate gap in the performance which needed filling. So at short notice, Heinrich Vall, the German band leader, suggested they could sing another song: “Erhöhen Die Mächtige Stange“ (which roughly translated is “Raise the mighty rod”), in G. Vall eyed up the criminals as they were led away.

But at last it was time for the British entry. Taking his cue from David Walliams, Ken had decided to change a single letter of his surname for his stage name, and was introduced as "Ken Nington".  Watching at home, Richard was aghast.  "Hey, that looks just like that parking attendant Ken Sington who we know. Why are they letting him sing? He's got a voice like an elephant.  And Castle Donington is supposed to be hiring him to sort out the car parking this week."

After a spectacular interval act, the juries and voters had voted. The first votes came from Albania. One to Ireland. Two to Sweden. Three to United Kingdom. Four to France. Five to Spain. Six to Georgia. Seven to Germany. Eight to Bulgaria. Ten to F.Y.R. Macedonia. Twelve to.... Greece!  Bad start for Ken. But still 38 votes to come.

"John's not doing too well," said Richard. "What did you think of that song of his - 'Roundwood Lane' or whatever it was called?"
"Well, " said Ava, "it might have gone down better if it hadn't been spoken nervously in a New York Jewish accent."
"Do you know why Ireland selected a Woody Allen impressionist to represent them at Eurovision?"
"I haven't a clue. The selection panel must have been barking."
Side by side, they sat watching in increasing amazement. 

At last all the votes were in, and the winners, with an unprecedented 398 points, were Turkey! The leader of the Turkish group, ney player Demir Osman, was delighted. Ken had managed to struggle up to 19th out of 26 with 23 points, and John was last with his single point from Albania.

Just when the credits were rolling, the doorbell rang at Richard and Ava's once more. It was a Mr Miller, grandson of the famous Walt Disney, and he'd stayed there many years ago with Ralph Lauren, the fashion designer. "I'm just passing through and I thought I'd say hi." Richard was surprised, but proceeded to invite him to tea. Walt began to take out his money.
"Put the money away - you don't pay here. What would you like, Walt?  Ham?  Stow cent!  Ralph Lauren was never so eager to pay. I hope it wasn't too much trouble to get here?"
"I had some trouble with a police officer on the train, Mr Ying Wei Sou, thru Islip.  He yelled with so much anger, Lanes round the station sent in complaints."

But up in Manchester, it was a different story. The four suspects had been taken to the local police station and were currently under interrogation.
"Good evening, gentlemen. As you may know by now, I am Inspector Street, currently under secondment to Greater Manchester Police, and these are my colleagues Constables Chalfont and Latimer. Wesley Tacton, you have been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences, including theft of a number of birds from London parks, theft of a car, illegal entry to a convent, and attempting to evade arrest by disguising yourself as part of an Azerbaijani singing group. Is Tacton your real name?"
"People know me as Tacton, but my name's actually Wes Tharrow."
"Tharrow sounds even less likely than Tacton."
"Well at least it's not Wes Truislip."
"Don't try to be funny."
"This is pretty serious," added Latimer.  "Road traffic offences are usually the worst we get to deal with here."

As for Ken, his brief singing career was over and he was back in his old job sorting out parking spaces. He was currently hired by a company whose three directors insisted on being treated in strict order of seniority; first James's parking space had to be allocated, then Peter's, and last Paul's.  There were also complicated arrangements for the staff; those with surnames up to 'N' parked on the town side, the rest on the country side.
"What's the first letter of your name, please?" asked Ken.
" 'Tis 'H'."
"Town side, please. And your name, sir?"
"Phil Tufnell."
"Park on that side, please. You wouldn't happen to be the famous former cricketer of that name, would you?  I remember you - you were a left-arm spinner, weren't you?"
"That's right. Do you get many cricketers parking in here?"
"No, but quite a few footballers. We've had people who've played at Wembley parking here.  And jockeys - we've had people who've ridden at Newbury parking here."

But what about John? Despite his abysmal performance at the contest, he had had an amazing run of luck. He had been talent-spotted by an American impresario, Ed G. Ware, who was attending and happened to be a huge Woody Allen fan. Immediately after the contest he was whisked down to Ed's London office. Surrounding the door was a huge marble arch with the inscription "Ed G. Ware: Road to Fortune. Ed G. Ware: Road to Fame".
"Can I pour you a drink?" asked Ed.
"Thanks!" said John. "This is great port."
"Land streets ahead of the other acts when you sign with me," said Ed. "You'll be performing in front of kings.  Bury your misgivings - your act is like gold."
"Er... S. Green has also offered to take me on."
It was a bluff.  Stepney Green was Ed's great rival.
"So what's the deal with Green, then?"
"He'll take twenty per cent."
"I'll take ten."
"Do we have a deal?"
"My word is my bond.  Streets ahead you'll be, like I said. You'll appear in front of queens - bury your misgivings! Tell you what - I'll take you out to dinner at my favourite restaurant."
He ordered a bottle of Bordeaux, bridge rolls and some butter, and seemed quite familiar with Ethel, the waitress. "I'm not too keen on the lamb, Eth, nor the pork, so I'll go for the beef," said Ed. "What do you want, John?"
John was so happy he wanted to clap.  "Ham."  Northerners like him were used to plain food.

Meanwhile, Richard and Ava had decided to take their new guest Walt for a drive in the country. On the radio, they listened to the London traffic news from aristocratic reporter Charles Colquhoun.
"Slow westbound traffic on the A13 heading into London, " said Colquhoun.  "Slow eastbound traffic on the A4 heading into London."
"Aren't you pleased to be out of all of that?" said Richard. "Just listen to Charlie Colquhoun: 'slow'.  Central London is grinding to a halt."
They drove into a hollow, a 'Y' road junction ahead of them. They found a spot by the woodside, parking the car underneath a tall elm.  Parked safely, they walked into the wood.  Green fields were everywhere and they saw a figure in the hillside carved out of chalk.  Farmers were busy laying snares.  Brooks babbled around them and in the distance they saw shepherds.  Bushes surrounded them on all sides, and a black horse, roadworthy as any car, cantered down the path alongside them.
"That's a big ants' hill," said Walt.
"Indeed," said Richard. "Ants tend to gather around this area - this is where those having picnics tend to hang around, and the ants are attracted to the crumbs. Look at that discarded roll - perhaps it wasn't tasty enough. I blame it on the bakers."  Tree trunks of fallen elms were all over the place.

But let's not forget about Don, who was now a broken man. He had escaped from prison to be with his beloved Ken, who had abandoned him in Scotland to pursue his singing ambition in Manchester. He had found his experiences in the north harrowing, to say the least.  Coterie who'd previously surrounded him in the criminal world had abandoned him as well.  He headed for Leicester, squarely determined to put the past behind him. On his way through Yorkshire he crossed a lonely moor, gated from the rest of the world, occupied by a monastic order. Things looked black.  Friar Stephen, head of the order, suddenly accosted him.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" asked the friar.
"Ray Nerslane," said Don, uttering the first name that came into his head. "I'm heading south - war knows no friends."
"You're in the military then?"
"Yes," lied Don. "I'm embarking on a secret mission. You see that tower?"
"Hillside one, you mean?"
"I'm stationed there. Can't tell you why."

The scene moves back to Manchester and the interrogation room. Suddenly a message came over the two-way radio. "M61 towards Preston - road traffic accident. Constable Chalfont please report for duty."
PC Chalfont was replaced by PC Finchley, road accidents not normally being amongst his responsibilities. Although the newest, Finchley was clearly the sharpest of the interrogators. At least Finchley looked a little less intimidating.
"Police here in the north act on evidence, not hearsay," said Finchley.  "Central to our case is the fact that you were seen impersonating a London park-keeper, trying to capture birds. Is this right?"
"Ravens court park-keepers," said Wes. "Sometimes puffins bury park-keepers though."
"You even captured a rare gold hawk - "
"Road traffic accident more serious than believed," came the disembodied voice. "Multiple vehicles involved. All officers report for duty."

Over at the car park, Ken had another interesting customer, who arrived in an Austin Metro. "Your name, please?"
"I'm Doctor Foster." (Leyland cars don't turn up often, thought Ken.)
"Not the Doctor Foster who went to Gloucester?"
"Roadworks on the M5 stopped that." (He'd heard the quip so many times he had a ready answer for it.) "Do you know where I can buy a dress for my wife Annabel?"
"Size?  Park over there, sir, and I'll think about it."
"OK. By the way, what team do you support?"
"Ha! Let's see if we manage to overtake you this season." He thrust a piece of paper into Ken's hand and drove off. It said "I support West Brom.  P.T.O." Nervously, Ken turned the paper over, but before he could read the other side, he was distracted by a driver smashing his car with a hammer.  Smithereens were flying all over the place.
"What are you doing?" asked Ken.
"It's an insurance scam.  Dent own vehicle, then claim the other driver did it."

Back to the country walk.  "Whereabouts are we now?" asked Walt.
"This is the north wood.  Hills obscure the view, but the south wood is over there," said Ava. "Do you go out walking much in the States?"
"No, but I play golf on the north green, Wichita."
Suddenly they were distracted by two men with a large package to deliver.  Pools, tree trunks and other obstacles were getting in the way.
"How much does this package weigh, Dudley?"
"Tons, Tone."
"But it's all padding - tons of it."
"I know it's all padding, Tony.  Where are we taking it?"
"Up to those shepherds.  Bush!"
"Market day today, is it?" asked Dudley, narrowly avoiding the bush that Tony had helpfully pointed out. His footing went slightly askew.
"Garden supplies, I think."

Meanwhile, Ed had got John his first booking - a spot on the cable TV chat show "Bob Rix Tonight". He'd never actually heard of the host, Bob Rix, but he was pleased to see that one of the other guests was the former boxer Ricky Hatton.  Crossing his fingers for good luck, he listened for his cue. "And now let's welcome John Collier!" (Applause.) "John, my first question - what is the English letter corresponding to the Greek letter chi?"
"Well, no.   If you can correctly tell me the capital of Norway, you can have another guess."
"It's Oslo. An E?"
Square dealing was what John was used to, and this certainly wasn't it.  He inwardly cursed Ed - what sort of humiliation was this meant to be?  Con!  Tree-like, he stood there baffled. Clearly he had a lot to learn.  O? S?
"Grovelling apologies," said the producer, who suddenly appeared.  We thought you were John Hollier, a contestant on our new quiz show.  Bob Rix is in the next studio."

The scene returns to a Yorkshire moor. "So what's the name of this monastery, and how did you come to run it?" asked Don, his spirits still at their lowest.
"Minster Abbey," said the friar. "I used to live in Neyland in west Wales, a lot further south.  Harrowing experiences meant I had to leave, but I could at least put Neyland behind me and start a new life here."
"I'll come clean," said Don. "I'm not a soldier - I'm an escaped criminal. Can you give me sanctuary here?"

Meanwhile in Manchester, with all the police out on road accident duty, the four suspects had been locked together in a cell.
"Well that's a fine mess you've got us into, Wes," said Colin. "None of this would have happened if that teacher hadn't given warfarin to the school's pet canary."
"Wharf water was what he was supposed to give," said Wes. "What an idiot - he couldn't even spell 'warfarin'."
"I've never been in a police station before," said Stan. "I've only seen those American cop shows where they say things like 'Earl - scour the building'."
"Well, let's have a bar on 'scour the building', please," said Roy. "This isn't America, and we're not on TV."

At the car park, Ken had more difficult customers to deal with. "Name, please?"
This customer was one of the slowest.  "Bourne."
"Park over there please."
"I don't understand this alphabetical system. Where would someone called Hyde park?"
"Corner of the yard."
Finally Ken had a chance to look at the other side of the note left by Dr Foster after he'd put in his two penn'orth.
"Wembley tickets available," it said. "Phone 020-7946 0128."
Ken had always dreamed of playing at Wembley - central defence was his position. To get a seat there would be a dream come true. He didn't care that someone was trying to make a fast buck - Hurst, Hill and other great football personalities of the past were his heroes. And what if it was an appearance by his beloved Tottenham?  Court Road in Eltham, where he grew up, would be proud of him.
But back to the job. "Name, please?" "Kilburn." "Park there, please..."

Back on the country walk, Walt had a few questions for Ava. "I don't think I know your surname, Ava. Do you prefer the town or the country?"
"It's Sudbury.  Town life has become rather dull recently."
"So, Ava Sudbury, hill-walking appeals to you more? What's the date?"
"The first of September.  Mond..."
"Seychelles are nice at this time of year," interrupted Walt, before Ava could finish saying "Monday".

John had a booking at a top comedy club in Euston, "Square World", named after the classic Michael Bentine show. He was between two up-and-coming new double acts, "Harrow and Wealdstone" and "Totteridge and Whetstone". (The names sounded oddly familiar to him, but he couldn't work out why.) Also on the bill was someone calling himself "Professor C.R. Oxley", who gave spoof historical lectures, and another comic from the north, Ol Thompson, who said he was going to put Neybridge on the map. (Neybridge didn't exist - it was a fictional version of the town where he grew up.)  John put on his trademark glasses, walked out on stage and hoped for the best...

And so our story ends. Don decided to put his criminal past behind him and become a monk. Wes was sentenced to five years for theft of birds from Her Majesty's parks, with Colin and Stan getting lesser sentences. (Roy was acquitted as there was no case against him.) Ken got tickets for the FA Cup Final at Wembley where Tottenham beat West Brom 3-0. After a whirlwind romance, Walt took Ava back to America and married her. Richard went back to his Boy Scouts, and John was booked to play the part of Woody Allen in a forthcoming biopic, "I Don't Want to Be There When it Happens".

And they all (except Wes, Colin and Stan) lived happily ever after!

Original authors: RobbieM, tractakid, snudge27, palkanetoijala31, tubeguru, Soup Dragon, kateyay, greatkingrat, Steeevooo, scrxisi, The Raven, Starkey7, krollo, Going Underground, Urzzz1871, hopeful traveller, Rhys1995, DrainBrain, GuyBarry, The Orange One 

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