Tricia, my extremely handsome Son George’s mother, is always losing something in the house - usually it is something she has sold on E-bay - and I am the go-to guy she always calls to help her find things.
“John,” she says recently – that’s my name, John, “John, can you help me find a nightie?”
“A nightie?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, “yesterday evening I put two nighties on the piano and when I went to get them just now to wrap them up for posting, one of them is missing.”
“Are you certain you put two nighties on the piano?” I ask.
“Well, I was certain,” she says, “now I’m not.”
At this stage I go into my finding things mode. “Let’s go over the course of events as they happened last evening,” I say, “so, before you put the nighties on the piano, where did you take them from?”
“The computer room,” she says, “and I went straight downstairs and put them on the piano.”
“And you didn’t do anything else except go from the computer room down the stairs to the piano?”
“Have you asked George if he moved one of them?”
“Yes, and he didn’t.”
“Have you looked everywhere else in the house?”
“Yes, George and I have searched high and low. One nightie is definitely missing and I am getting very annoyed.”
“Well, all I can suggest,” I say being a bit mischievous, “is that a thief must have sneaked in during the night and stolen the missing nightie. Try and think back again,” I add, “did you get distracted in any way when you were about to put the nighties on the piano? Did you phone ring? Did anyone knock at the front door?”
“Oh,” she says, suddenly remembering, “Tony Frost called in to collect some money I owed him.”
“There is the culprit then,” I exclaim triumphantly, “Tony Frost must have stolen the nightie.”
“What on earth would Tony Frost want with a woman’s nightie?” says Tricia.
“He’s a bit weird,” I say.
“No, he isn’t,” she says.
“Well,” I say, “I don’t trust him. What sort of nightie was it anyway?”
“It is a vintage white cotton nightdress, with nice lace trim around the edges.”
“He definitely stole it,” I tell her, “The bloke is a dealer, saw it was worth a few quid and pinched it. Maybe he stole it to wear. I bet he’s one of them transvestites. I’ve always suspected him. Phone him up and ask him.”
“What, ask him if he a transvestite?” says Tricia.
“No,” I say, “phone him and ask if he took a nightie off the piano.”
“I can’t do that,” says Tricia, “it would be so embarrassing.”
“Well,” I say, “just ask him if he accidentally took it. He might not even realise he has it. It might be in his hand-bag?”
“He doesn’t have a hand-bag,” she says.
“Only joking,” I say, adding, “but you should call him if only to help solve the mystery.”
Just as she reluctantly reaches for the phone, it rings. “That’ll be Tony Frost ringing to say he has found your nightie in his hand-bag,” I say laughing.
Tricia answers the phone. It is her friend calling about something or other. Knowing she could be on the phone for a long time I decide to have a look for the missing nightie. I go upstairs to the computer room. On top of a chest of drawers I notice a cotton garment. It is white and has a lace trim. It looks to my admittedly unpracticed eye, like a nightie. I take it downstairs. Tricia is still on the phone. I catch her eye and hold the nightie up for her to see. Her eyes light up. “Can I call you back in a minute?” she says to her friend.
“That’s it,” she says, “where was it? I have been looking all day. Thank goodness I thought I must be going mad.”
After I explain where I found it and after Tricia has told me for the umpteenth time how very grateful she is it suddenly dawns on her. “I am so glad I didn’t make that phone call to Tony Frost,” she says, sounding very relieved indeed.
“I still think he’s a transvestite,” I say.
Not that there is anything wrong with that he hastens to say.