Excerpt for A Tom Tilly Mystery by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



A Tom Tilly Mystery

Ruel Diaram







Copyright 2017 Ruel Diaram

All Rights Reserved

Smashwords Edition




Publishers

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.


This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


Important Notices:

One prize per winner.

Be respectful of the environment.

The author accepts no liability for loss or damage, enjoy this game responsibly and most importantly, have fun.

Acknowledgements

To Georges Prosper Remi better known as Herge, the author of Tintin, Franklin W Dixon or Leslie McFarlane whose series ‘The Hardy Boys’ informed my youth. Thank you Phoebe and Solomon, your constant enthusiasm was a joy to behold and for your artwork in the initial stages, yes I still have them. Finally, Reah Prosser and Cassie Finch who brought the text to life.



Dedication

To those both young and old who enjoy the thrill of the chase, this book is dedicated to you… Let’s go treasure hunting!!

Foreword

Tom Tilly is an old fashioned book, which some might say is a welcome return to the days where friends gathered on Sunday afternoons to read mystery stories, assuaging parent’s feelings of boredom or time being wasted slumped in front of laptops, mobile phones or a multitude of other electronic devices.

In truth, I find it difficult to think of anything more satisfying than pitting wits against the creator of this book, endeavouring to solve a series of clues deftly woven in both images and text.

Just imagine buried somewhere on this planet there’s an item or items so unique the person who succeeds will probably be the only one that owns it. Moreover, unlike other so-called treasure hunts, this one encourages children and parents to work together, so there’s no call for expensive hiking boots or the latest GPS systems, multi functional Swiss army knives or satellite navigation systems, however, what you will need is a little patience, a trowel and a bit of good luck, so, what are you waiting for, find me.

Anna Michalak



Let the Adventure Begin

Edna Cordelia Tilly

When Richard Wagner’s ‘Dance of the Valkyries’ pierced the silence, Mrs Edna Cordelia Tilly launched her-self from the tranquillity of the sitting room, stood at the bottom of the stairs and demanded that her sleeping beauty ‘wake up this instance’.

Tomas’, she screeched, ‘Tomas, Tomas, wake up’, and then glanced at her Timex watch before repeating, ‘don’t you know its exactly two minutes past eight, oh and forty-seven seconds?’

However, apart from the shrill noise made by an alarm clock, it had to be said his un-nerving lack of movement concerned her so much so that Edna took one step closer towards his den, cleared the fright wedged inside her throat, increased the levels from annoyed to angry and screamed in what was undoubtedly the most officious sounding voices you’re ever likely to hear.

‘Tomas, Tomas dearie me you’ll miss the bus at the rate you’re going, you know your father won’t be happy standing in front of Mr…’ She pinched her lip and sighed, ‘oh what’s his name again?’ Then thought briefly before experiencing what you’d call a ‘eureka’ moment, ‘its Mr Smith! That’s it, Mr Smith!’ she said when climbing up the second step, ‘Tomas you don’t want to be standing in front of him again and try explaining the reasons behind your lateness, do you remember the last time, we don’t want a repeat now do we? I insist that you get up this instance and no more talk of him being a secret agent with a missing hand or anything else like that I’ve had enough of your silly adventures’. Moments later and finally his bedroom door creaked open with a small boy standing between the gaps.

‘They’re not silly mother, no, they’re as real as you and it’s not a missing hand, but a shoe, I have to find it’, then Tomas flew down the stairs and yelled, ‘It’s true, I saw Mr Smith the other day, actually it was break time yesterday he was acting…’ Edna interjected, ‘tell me how was he acting?’ Tom responded, ‘I can only describe it as…’ She raised her voice and repeated, ‘as?’ -‘As in acting very strange’, came the answer. She grinned after he passed her on the step, ‘so you’re alive?’ After returning her smile, he replied in an exasperated voice, ‘but course I’m alive, no time for breakfast as I’m going to be late that’s if you insist on chatting’. Edna stepped closer and ruffled his hair as Tomas sprinted past whom only paused to grab his duffle coat and bag off the bannister. ‘What time can I expect you home love?’ He appeared sheepish, ‘do you have to call me that?’

‘Oh, call you what?’ Tomas sighed, ‘The ‘L’ word, I’m, well I’ll be ten next week’, he coughed, ‘if you have to call me anything, can you please say Tom, Tomas or Mr Tilly?’ -‘Don’t be daft’, came the reply, ‘its either the boy who hasn’t got any pocket money, or love, and I think you prefer the latter am I correct?’ Tomas nodded, ‘you’re correct in your assumption, easy choice really, considering the alternative’. -‘So love what time will you be home?’ The nine year old adjusted the round spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose and responded, ‘If I’m not abducted by Mr. Smith I’ll say’, he pondered for a moment and then continued, ‘I’ll say at the usual time’. -‘Which is?’

Now it was his turn to respond in his most officious sounding voice akin to a town crier. ‘Well it depends on how long it takes for me to leave school, confer with Freddie and Georgia to sort out their love life, walk towards the bus which I no doubt will have missed, fumble in my pockets to find the correct change, pay the driver, see how long it takes for him to negotiate all the traffic that will have built up because of road works on Green-grocer road, and not to mention those lollipop ladies and gents who insist on walking in the middle of that particular stretch knowing full well a big red number thirty-three double-decker- bus is approaching, I really could go on…’ Edna smiled, ‘I see, anyway one thing won’t change and that is your tea will be waiting when you get back’. Tomas appeared puzzled, ‘What is it mother?’ -‘What’s what?’ -‘What are we having for tea?’ He repeated, she patted his back and replied, ‘its something I think you’ll like’. Unsatisfied with her answer Tomas probed further. ‘Do I have to guess’, but was given short shrift when Edna interrupted and said, ‘no you don’t, anyway, its as you’ve just said’. -‘Which was?’ -‘Which was you haven’t got the time, now if you don’t mind I have to get on, and you have a red number thirty-three to catch’. Grumpily, he pecked her on the cheek then huffed, ‘I’ll see you later’. He paused then said, ‘promise me one thing...’ Now it was Edna’s turn to appear confused as she replied, ‘What would you like me to promise love?’ -‘If I’m not home by six, call the police!’ Looking somewhat relieved she giggled, ‘somehow I doubt that’ll be necessary, now, have you got everything you need, if I remember last week you said your class were going on a field trip later’. Tomas frowned, ‘yes we’re off to…’ he wrinkled his nose and reaffirmed, ‘Mr. Smith said we’re going hunting’. -‘Hunting what, its not animals is it?’ She repeated her final two words, ‘Is it?’

‘No its not’, came the stern reply and with that he slammed the door, vaulted over the wall and made his way directly towards the stop. Edna watched as he turned the corner before retiring into the kitchen to make Tomas’ favorite steak and kidney pie with a thin crust pastry, served with baby carrots, peas, boiled potatoes and lashings of gravy, and for pudding, a strawberry, fresh cream roulade, actually it was hers and Clifford’s favorite too.

Edna didn’t mind spoiling her one and only son, because he was just that, her one and only son. His birth proved difficult or problematic one might say, but when he came some four weeks premature, it was all hands on deck so to speak. Clifford helped enormously not like dads of old no he was always there offering support, massaging her feet when swollen, rubbing her back as she lie in a steaming hot bath, he even for the first few years did the shopping, ironing and household chores, indeed you could rightly say that he was mother and father in the Tilly home and yes Tomas was a good boy never complained, he’s such a kind, conscientious, funny, studious, clever, inquisitive not nosey, but helpful, always tries his best to remain optimistic, especially in the early years, plus he’s very handsome in an unusual kind of way in which only a parent could fully understand. Regardless of that Tomas had a solid network of close friends; one could accurately describe him as being a bookworm, you know that someone who’s far more interested in reading about historical battles, pirate mysteries, hidden treasure, rather than wasting precious hours playing the latest video games, blood, guns and being a super hero who always rescued the girl didn’t interest him one iota and Edna was proud of him for that simple reason alone.

Nevertheless, when rolling puff pastry on the granite worktop, her phone rang, it was Clifford, he too was going to be delayed this evening, but she didn’t mind because Edna knew he had to show willing, its not easy to find a new career aged of forty-two, no he’d done very well, and to further enhance his feelings of euphoria, tarrying in Luther’s Fine Antiquarian Books was for Clifford Erasmus Tilly not really work more a labor of love.

Perhaps it was midnight conversations and vivid story telling that fuelled Tomas’ interest in all things medieval, she couldn’t be quite sure but remembers one particular evening when after going to kiss her treasure goodnight, discovered him hiding in one of the drawers of his divan bed looking absolutely petrified, after asking what the problem was, Tomas said, ‘the shadow on the wall was a fire breathing dragon and George hadn’t slain it after all’, and on another occasion when much younger, Edna saw him clambering over the roof after claiming aliens landed in the garden and he was ‘looking for materials to construct a sturdy space craft’ actually the thing which concerned her most apart from the health and safety aspects was the fact that he’d made pre-flight arrangements for himself, not them, oh what a strange world he occupied!



Mr. Smith

Gangly, sparrow-like, forever dressed in old-fashioned Harris tweeds, Mr Smith was undoubtedly a throwback from decades past where Grammar Schools in the fifties and sixties were seen as unchallenged places to be formally educated, before moving into halls at Oxford or Cambridge and immersing oneself in the classics most notably Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid in their original language using critical apparatus. Anyway, upon his graduation Mr Archibald Granville Smith Pc was recruited by men in dark suits to break codes Germans used post war at Bletchley Park, but of course society moved on, full time hours diminished to half days followed by that inevitable, horrid word redundancy. However, undeterred Mr Smith relocated to the Home Counties, namely Hertfordshire for a period, teaching youths about the joys of, ‘Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis, and only then learned the national curriculum had amended without his knowledge, but that’s nothing compared to the loss of his beloved Gwen. Therefore, with a void to fill, memories to banish he moved further South, and then applied successfully for the one vacancy, which remained unfilled at the local Kings Hall Comprehensive school, working his way up from a poorly remunerated teacher to head of the History department, not bad for an old codger.

Actually, Mr Smith imagined there must be a degree of kudos in having an ex code-breaker from Brasenose, Oxford on their paid ranks, but if you typed in the Wikipedia search engine Mr Archibald Granville Smith Pc, his name would be first and last on the list as there weren’t many blessed or cursed with such a moniker, plus there’d be no mention of previous exploits, who said MI6 were ineffective?

Anyway, this Thursday was like any other when he appeared as a conductor often does, trying to squeeze the last dregs of effort from a violinist by turning his back in disdain, waving arms, before pointing a skinny index finger above his greying widow’s peak and then he muttered somewhat mischievously to no one in particular, ‘today, we’re supposed to be going…’ He thought shortly, ‘does anyone care to tell?’ However, moments later when hearing no audible response Smith turned sharply on heels scanned the room then picked out a boy who without doubt appeared reluctant to meet his gaze. ‘Master Benjamin J could you please answer my question?’

The lad shuffled nervously before replying, ‘I think on a field trip sir, is that right?’ Mr Smith neither confirmed or denied his answer, but merely chuckled, ‘very good Master Benjamin on a field trip. Can you tell me where it’s supposed to be?’ The boy retained a sense of nervousness when answering, ‘I think it’s to see monks?’ -‘Is that a question or an answer?’

For some unknown reason, Benjamin grinned broadly, ‘that’s a question sir’. The sparrow hawk raced towards him on spindly legs determined to wipe the sarcastic grin off his face. ‘Young man, tell me how can you see something that is already dead? Please don’t reply with ill thought out answers’, he said, ‘I’ll ask another question, if you look outside tell the class what you see, it shouldn’t prove difficult’.

Benjamin seemed bemused yet followed Mr Smith’s instruction to the word by glancing outside. ‘I see the playground’, he said triumphantly, ‘I see the playground sir’.

‘Correct, the playground, but what else?’ Benjamin muttered, ‘err climbing frames, swings, see-saw’. The conductor raised his hand, ‘we know all that, but again I ask what else?’ He scanned the classroom as each child endeavoured to avoid making eye contact nevertheless his gaze settled on a small figure dressed in vivid red. ‘Master Alexander, Alex to his chums, perhaps you spy something Benjamin can’t?’

Feeling somewhat under pressure when eyes focused intently on him, Alexander stuttered, ‘I, I, I see the slide, and if I’m not mistaken…’ Mr Smith interrupted, ‘no, you are not mistaken, please go on…’ -‘I, I, can’, he paused to clear the mucus, which built up in his throat and then choked, ‘is that the witches hat?’ Mr Smith sighed with disappointment, ‘do you need water?’

‘No sir’, came the reply. Mr Smith chuckled, ‘in truth I would not have been allowed to give water it’s against the regulations, and Alexander that’s not a witches hat, more of a triangle, I am struggling to…’ He scanned the room for another target, ‘ah, lets try you Georgia, perhaps you’ll be able to enlighten us, tell the class what you see when looking outside?’

The blonde haired girl toyed with the tip of her pencil and then replied, ‘I can see the trees, is that what you’re asking?’

Mr Smith grinned with satisfaction, ‘you are getting as children often say, warmer, but what else young lady?’ Georgia huffed, ‘the shed’, she squinted, ‘Is that, is that?’ -‘I won’t know what it is unless you say’. At that point, she glanced at Freddie for signs of comfort but unfortunately, for her there were non. Indeed, it appeared as if their lovers tiff had reached the stage where they would after class be going separate ways. She pinched her nose as someone so often does when about to sneeze and said, ‘Isn’t that Mr McDonald’s caretaker’s hut?’ She looked closer and confirmed her findings by saying, ‘yes, I think it is’.

Mr Smith shook his head, ‘now we are getting a closer, it seems as if a light’s been turned on’, he scanned the room for a third time and finally eyes settled on that beacon of common sense, one Mr Tomas Tilly.

‘There are a few constants in this world, one is Christmas will always be the 25th December, Paris will always be the capital of France, another is Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, the third and possibly most well known being, ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. He turned to face his nemesis and growled, ‘why don’t you grace us with undoubted words of wisdom, can you succeed where the others have failed? Apart from what is considered the obvious, what else can you see that might restrict us from going on our field trip?’ He hunched his shoulders then said, ‘Please don’t consider this a trick question’.

Tomas repeated the same action as his friends, but couldn’t see anything different not least, because the multitude of raindrops on the window distorted his vision, ‘It is as the others have said, except rain excludes me from seeing further than the window’.

Mr Smith screeched the transliteration of the Hebrew word, ‘Hallelujah!!! We have found the answer and not before time, I might add Master Tilly is correct, the reason why we cannot go on our field-trip is because of the inclement weather, and if you had bothered to check the forecast from the night before, you’d have learned the temperature will drop to four degrees with a ninety per cent chance of precipitation, coupled with a south easterly wind of thirty-six miles per hour, which if you didn’t know is enough to blow you away, we wouldn’t want that now would we?’ Although disappointed, the entire class of year six responded parrot-like, ‘no sir we wouldn’t’. Mr Smith grinned, ‘It is settled, what I have in store for you is far more exciting, as Benjamin previously said, there’ll be no searching for deceased monks, actually, lets just say I’ve a treat, something which will test you too the limits, educationally that is’. He returned to his chair, placed leather patches sewn into his jacket at the elbows on the desk and asked, ‘who enjoys a treasure hunt?’

Tomas mumbled, ‘bet it’s not real…’ Yet, somehow Mr Smith heard the dismissal, ‘how do you know that?’ Tomas sunk back into his chair and sighed, ‘well there aren’t any mysteries left’. -‘I beg to differ’, came the reply. ‘In fact I can think of many’.

Tomas creased his forehead, ‘I don’t wish to appear rude but my father often says all the worlds mysteries have been solved’. Mr Smith tutted, ‘correct me if I’m wrong, doesn’t your father work at Luther’s Antiquarian Books on Baker Street?’ Tomas replied, ‘yes, what’s that got to do with our present discussion?’

-‘Don’t you see?’ The boy shook his head, ‘no I don’t, perhaps you can enlighten me?’

The sparrow hawk swooped on his prey. ‘Mr Tilly if anyone should know the world is full of mystery it is your father’.

Tomas appeared confused and asked, ‘Why?’ Nevertheless, Mr Smith remained incredulous when echoing the word, ‘why’.

‘Yes sir, why should he know?’

‘Simply because on a daily basis he is surrounded by the most wonderfully decorated tomes, inside there’s stories of the past, complex narratives, prose from around the world, each country have their own deities, one might add, their own undiscovered paths to enlightenment’.

When Mr Smith eulogised, the children glanced at each other in confusion and shrugged shoulders, because they were totally lost by what he meant undoubtedly some thought he’d lost his mind and if that’s the case, so be it, well at least it wasted a few minutes of their lesson, however, moments later the hawk stood with eyes glinting in the reflection of his glasses, ‘enough of this, let me ask who of you would like to participate in what shall we say’, he paused for dramatic effect, ‘a real life treasure hunt?’

It was true, Mr Smith had lost his mind, never in the history of Kings Comprehensive School had there ever been in place of a lesson, a treasure hunt. Freddie glanced at his ex Georgia who in turn peered at Tomas Tilly who looked outside and yawned, only Alexander showed willing. ‘Me, I’d like to take part in this game’, he shouted, but the hawk appeared disappointed with his catch so repeated, ‘don’t stand on ceremony let’s see a show of hands’, after which, he dangled the sweet carrot, ‘and if you are successful, no doubt there will be others. My job as history teacher is to bring this subject alive, make you feel part of that time, use your imaginations to think as they did, see what they saw if I cannot do that, it will be as if I have failed’. Mr Smith dipped his hand inside in pocket took out an handkerchief and wiped his face, ‘I’ll ask again, who present in this room, would like to participate in my treasure hunt?’ As rain lashed heavily against the side of the building Tomas was relieved that their trip had been cancelled so raised a hand, when doing so, others followed suit, ‘me, me, me’, they sang, ‘me, me, me’, indeed, it appeared as if they all wanted to participate in the thrill of the chase, and after seeing this, not for the first time Mr Smith smirked behind astute eyes. ‘Excellent’, he said, ‘after break, I insist you all get into eight groups of four, there are thirty-two of you here?’ A swift count of all the sitting heads confirmed his proclamation, ‘yes, eight groups of four’, he said, ‘see you after break’.



Groups of Four



‘What do you think Mr Smithy means?’ Alex cautiously asked. ‘When he says what?’ Tomas replied, ‘Oh, don’t be silly’, came the rebuttal, ‘I mean a treasure hunt’. -

‘Oh, I think he just wants to take our mind off missing the field trip, soften the blow so to speak, anyway, he’s done a good job, look at them over there whispering excitedly if it were up to me I’d let us go home’. Tomas countered, ‘No Smithy would never do that, he’s a reputation for being a right meanie’. Alexander turned to the boy sitting on his right and pleaded, ‘Freddie, Freddie didn’t he once visit the hospital when you having a cast put on your leg with at least two weeks homework?’ The ginger haired boy grimaced, ‘I do remember all too well unlike you’. Alexander protested his innocence, ‘tell me what do you mean unlike me?’ -‘I had a broken arm’, came the drool reply. ‘Oh that’s a small detail, nevertheless what I’m saying is he’d never let us go home’. Tomas interjected fearing an argument might ensue. ‘I must confess’, he said, ‘our chum Alex is right Smithy would never allow that, ok what we have to do is decide on our group of four. In my opinion those two have to be separated’, he pointed at Freddie and Georgia, but Alexander demanded clarification, ‘why do you say that?’ -‘Well, I’ve seen these types of relationship problems on the television when eating my tea’.

-‘Oh’, came the reply, ‘mother doesn’t allow me stay up late so I’ve no experience of those things, relationships and all that’.

Tomas sighed, ‘Alexander they’re on all of the time anyway it’s commonly known as a lover’s tiff’.

-‘What does lover’s tiff mean?’ -‘It’s where one party, say in this case Freddie is unable to get on with Georgia’, he grinned, ‘It could quite easily be the other way round I’m not sure but they do say girls tend to mature far quicker than boys, so in fact I stand corrected Georgia is unable to get on with Freddie’. After hearing the reaffirmation of female superiority, Georgia smiled broadly then said, ‘thank you Tomas, it’s true, we do mature a lot faster than the male species’. Undaunted, Freddie shook his head and mumbled, ‘Lies’. -‘What do you mean lies?’ The red haired boy insisted that, ‘we all mature the same’, then added, ‘some quicker than others depending on socio economics’. -‘No Freddie not true I read somewhere on the problem pages that girls mature quicker than boys, fact’.

-‘Its not a fact…’ Tomas pulled a face, ‘you’ve made my point, now can we decide on our group we’ve only a few minutes left’.

Freddie whispered sheepishly, ‘what shall we do?’ Tomas said, ‘In my opinion what’s needed are four intelligent people and by the way you’re behaving I think under the circumstances it’s best if I join Benjamin and Cressida’. -‘Why them?’

‘Because Freddie they seem to know what they’re doing and we don’t’. When Tomas rose to leave the group, Alexander lunged forwards and grabbed him by the arm. ‘So Mr Tilly you really are prepared to desert a sinking ship, a captain never does that, he always stays’. Tomas looked closely at his friend and replied, ‘very true Mr A Temple, but when mutiny’s afoot, well as the saying goes its every man…’ he glanced across at the sitting girl before correcting himself… ‘And woman for themselves, don’t you agree?’ Before Alex could offer a suitable answer, Georgia interrupted. ‘I said, its like…’ However, Tomas raised his arm and whispered, ‘please excuse me, but I think we know your thoughts on the matter, now if you’ll let me…’

Before finishing his sentence he reached over and grasped the present his father had given him for Christmas, a lucky number seven of eighteen limited edition Mr Hercules sandwich box off the table then pushed his chair firmly under, yet at the moment he was about to wander towards new allies, Freddie touched his sleeve. ‘Let’s put this to the vote, what say you skipper, isn’t that a good idea?’ Reluctantly Tomas replied, ‘yes’. -‘Ok, since this is a democracy, who votes we have Tomas as our captain?’

Unsurprisingly, both males eagerly raised their hands like mini

icebergs jutting through icy seas except Georgia who remained sitting on hers. ‘Its not fair, I can do just as good a job as him’. Tomas frowned, ‘Freddie, Alex it’s true, Georgia could, I vote we vote again, only this time I nominate her’. -‘Do we have to?’ -‘Yes we do’, came the reply, ‘can I see a show of hands?’ Apart from Tomas, the other two sat on theirs; however, following a kick from under the table Freddie first then Alex shot hands up, but this time like reluctant bees in winter.

Georgia giggled, ‘do you really mean it?’ -‘Yes, we really mean it’. After hearing that, her face grew redder than a beetroot, ‘oh

Freddie I do love you’. Tomas nudged Alex and whispered, ‘if you value life, don’t you dare say anything, not one thing’. The boy in red soothed his shins and mumbled, ‘I won’t captain’.

-‘If you hadn’t noticed I’m no longer in charge’, he smiled, ‘it’s as I said mutiny’s afoot!!’ With that, both laughed when seeing their first mate flounder under an avalanche of pecks and only after Georgia came up for air made her first executive decision. ‘It’s as Freddie said, we live in a democracy, I’d like to appoint us as captains of this ship, now, doesn’t ‘Group of four’ sound terribly boring, I vote we think of another name do you agree?’ Alexander nodded, ‘A grand decision what do you think would be appropriate?’ Freddie was the first to say, ‘what about the four musketeers?’ However, Alex appeared is if he were about to choke by the historical inaccuracy, ‘Fred, there were three’. -

‘Well brain-box what do you think is better?’ Alex replied, ‘the four ninjas’, after knitting eyebrows Tomas said, ‘tell me out of interest why four ninjas?’ - ‘Because we move around quietly in shadows and nobody knows we’re there’. -‘I see, undoubtedly a strong contender, but Alex we know we’re there’, he smiled, ‘I think a suitable name would be ‘Coetus Amicorum’. Georgia repeated the phrase a number of times yet maintained an air of confusion, ‘Tomas what in heavens name does that mean?’

Before answering, and in order to ratchet up suspense further, he turned his back, packed the Hercules sandwich box into his satchel and finally responded, ‘lady and gents it means group of friends!’ It left Georgia feeling elated who exclaimed, ‘perfect, we’re all friends aren’t we, yes an admirable name, let’s put it to the vote’. Nevertheless, after Alexander repeated his mantra of, ‘do we have to?’ Tomas gasped, ‘yes we do, who says I’, and in absentia of a credible alternative, all present voted to adopt the name ‘Coetus Amicorum’ into their constitution just as the bell rang for afternoon class.



Steak & Kidney

Ingredients for the base:

Approximately 250-300g of puff pastry.

One egg, one yolk; beat them together.

The filling:

Two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

800 grams of (diced) stewing beef.

200 hundred grams of lamb kidney.

Two white onions chopped finely.

1-2 pints of beef stock.

One ounce of plain flour.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Edna pre-heated the oven to gas-mark seven or two hundred and twenty degrees centigrade, next she warmed the vegetable oil in a large frying pan added the diced beef, browned it, in order to seal the meat, after which, repeated the same with the lambs kidneys, once happy with the colour and texture, she cooked the onions until they were soft.

Following a quick gulp of sherry, she returned the beef and kidneys to the pan, sprinkled a handful of flour over the meats, added all the stock, then brought the pungent smelling ingredients to the boil.

A second swig of sherry followed as she turned the heat down and let the filling cook for a further ninety minutes, after which, she removed the pan from the heat, added salt and pepper, licked the spoon, smiled, before decanting the contents into a large Pyrex dish.

For the next stage, she rolled out the pastry to a little bigger than the dish she was using, lifted the lid, placed it carefully over the contents, trimmed, crimped the edges with her fingers, and in a final act of artistry, added handmade petals around the entire edge.

Finally she brushed the pastry with the remaining egg mixture, returned the pie to the oven then left it to bake for a further thirty-five minutes on the original gas-mark until it was ready.

The steak and kidney pie looked inviting, golden brown pastry with flowery petals, in the centre, where Edna had dipped her knife, a rich, thick gravy oozed, it reminded of a volcano about to erupt, lightly salted vegetables bubbling gently on the hob.





Roulade

Ingredients:

Approximately 5 egg whites

10 ounces of caster sugar

2 ounces of flaked almonds

The filling:

150ml double cream

200 ml tub Greek yoghurt

230 grams strawberries (de-seeded)

As the pie was left to cool on the granite work-top Edna turned the oven down to one hundred and fifty degrees centigrade or gas mark two, before lining a Swiss roll tin with greaseproof baking paper, and after rummaging inside the cupboard overhead, found her electric whisk.

She then plunged the stainless steel head into the albumen, stirred them frantically until they began to stiffen all the time adding the caster sugar until the mixture resembled a fine glossy meringue, for completion, a small measure of Corn flour was also added. Once satisfied with the texture and consistency, she poured the mixture carefully into the tin, left it to cook for approximately one hour, after which, let it cool.

Edna then turned the sweet smelling meringue out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, sprinkled with sieved icing sugar and peeled off the baking paper. Expertly, she whipped the cream into soft peaks, which resembled the hills outside her back window, finally, she scattered a handful of plump strawberries evenly over the cream, before rolling it up. Now, ready to serve, she left the Roulade on a serving plate with the smooth edge showing and dusted the entire length with icing sugar, not bad for an afternoons work.





Acting Strangely

‘I trust you all enjoyed a wonderfully filling lunch, and judging by your lethargy, yes I’m looking at you Master Luke Diaram and you William Pitt the greedy, it appears that you’re ready to as youngsters say crash out, isn’t that the case?’


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