I was flirting with fiction earlier this week, only as it turned out it wasn’t fiction at all. It was an article written by a young man. He believes that people of a ‘certain age’ writing a novel for the first time and thinking they can get it published, are deluded. Why? Because they are, apparently, out of touch with what the reading public wants. 

Well, guess what? This Baby Boomer disagrees. The right time to write a book is when you have the idea, it has nothing whatsoever to with age. So, pipsqueaks should bear this in mind when publishing ageist propaganda. Never underestimate a late Blooming Baby Boomer. We may be late coming out, but we still have stories to tell.

Excerpt from The Doyenne of Didsbrook © 2020 Tessa Barrie.

‘What can you tell me about Arthur Boniface, Sergeant?’ 

‘Well, he’s lived in Didsbrook for over 20 years now. He’s a retired actor who was at Cambridge with Mrs Robertshaw, back in the day. He was with the Royal Shakespeare Company for many years, and he’s been in a few films. He was in that soap up until he moved here; what’s it called? Martingale. Um, he’s very involved with DADS, otherwise he only really socialises with Mrs Robertshaw.’

‘DADS? Another acronym?  Now, let me guess.’ 

‘Righty-o, Sir.’

‘The Didsbrook… Amateur Dramatic Society.’

‘Spot on, Sir! Mrs Robertshaw started it with Mr Boniface when he came here.’

‘Not too difficult to deduce, Sergeant, given their interwoven history.’

‘So you know that Mrs Robertshaw was an actress before she got married, then?  I only found when my missus is a member of DADS.’

‘Yes, I knew Mrs Robertshaw used to be an actress before she became a novelist. In fact, I saw her perform in the West End, once.  I was quite young at the time, but she was outstanding.’

‘Drop dead gorgeous, so I’ve been told.’

‘Indeed, she was.’ Humphrey hesitated, his mind drifting back to the night his parents took him to a performance of The Mousetrap. Jocelyn’s performance as Miss Casewell had taken his teenage self by surprise. He had no idea a woman could look quite so seductive wearing a pair of jodhpurs. Shaking off the image of her, his thoughts returned to solving the mystery surrounding why and how she died.

‘So, what sort of relationship did Mrs Robertshaw have with Mr Boniface, exactly? They were immediate neighbours and, as you say, they socialised a lot together. Do you think there was something more going on between them?’

‘Absolutely not!’ Sergeant McCorkingdale was horrified at the suggestion. ‘Their relationship was purely thespian, Sir.  Apart from anything else, they are both in their sixties.’

‘Tut, tut, Sergeant, I believe I detect a little ageism here. As police officers, we should never assume anything. Just because a man and a woman are collecting their pensions, doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying active sex life.’

 ‘No, Sir, but…’

‘Anyway, we digress. Now the pathologist has confirmed that Mrs Robertshaw sustained a blow to the back of her head, we cannot rule out foul play. We’ll have to wait for the results of the PM to see whether the blow killed her or not. There were two glasses on her bedside table, and I don’t believe she was drinking pink gin chasers on her own. So, I want to speak to everybody who saw her during the twenty-four hours before she died, and give us a DNA sample, including Arthur Boniface.’

‘Yes, Sir, but I can’t imagine anyone would want to kill Mrs Robertshaw. She was a much-loved figure within the community.’

‘So everybody keeps telling me, but it doesn’t mean to say she hasn’t got any skeletons in the cupboard. Even the squeakiest of the clean can have something in their past that they want to hide.’