In the CPS office, Barry Badger sighed with satisfaction. His BVT bid with Sgt Ferret had been successful: £250 a conviction. OK, there were a few expenses, police helmets got more costly every year and there was the Archbold subscription; but, provided PC Dormouse and his colleagues nicked up to their usual standard, the future was secure until July. There would be salt in the gruel this month.
Couldn't lose today?s trial either, always useful when you were being audited. He didn't fancy his opponent?s chances.
Neither did the Defence.
Felix Mansfield: This is a right loser, Squirrel. Vivian Vole, the aristocratic lush? With a bottle of angostura bitters in his underpants and a can of mackerel in each sock? Who put that over for a trial? Squirrel Nutkin: You were my agent, remember? You put on the CMH form: "factual dispute?.
Felix Mansfield: Diplomacy. I recall the instructions as being, "I am not pleading today, Dear Boy.? What?s the careless cycling?
Squirrel Nutkin: His drunken bid for freedom, thwarted by a cunning traffic bollard.
I?m in front of Percy Puffin MP, with his train from the Cotswolds delayed by a peasant on the track, a filthy temper and only two search warrants to sate the bloodlust before he gets to me.
Felix Mansfield: Try delaying it a bit further. Percy can suffer an attack of liberalism after a long lunch? At the words "long lunch?, Vivian Vole hove into view, well supped on shoplifted Shiraz, a vision of Viyella and tweed.
Vivian Vole: I am not pleading today, Dear Boy! Wearily, Squirrel took instructions.
Squirrel Nutkin: When Sgt Ferret arrested you, did he ask, "Is that a bottle of angostura bitters in your trousers??
Vivian Vole: Certainly.
Squirrel Nutkin: And was your reply, "No officer, I am just pleased to see you?? I do hope not but you seemed to have signed the notebook.
Vivian Vole: Of course, Dear Boy, an immediate denial! Besides no world class fly-fisherman steals mackerel!
Squirrel filed that away for his closing address. Percy Puffin had been stuck outside Bicester for an hour, his temper unimproved by the email from Theresa May refusing to consider his white paper suggesting compulsory flogging for Romanians.
Marty Mole (list caller): Next case: Vivian Vole! Percy Puffin: Mr Nutkin,I have read the papers and that CCTV won an Oscar! What?s the defence?
"Wondering that myself,? mused Squirrel. Perhaps Vivian would come up with something when called, perhaps something better than "No gentleman quaffs angostura bitters with a mackerel chaser??
Squirrel Nutkin: Factual dispute, sir.
The security guard withstood Squirrel?s lacklustre onslaught and it was time for Sgt Ferret, when prosecutor Barry Badger suddenly paused.
Barry Badger (sotto voce): If Viv pleads to the cycling, I?ll bin the theft.
Percy Puffin: Outrageous prosecuting! Dammit, I want to jail something!
Marty Mole: Don't worry, sir, got a Romanian beggar coming next.
Later, on Friday night, after two pints of Gaoler?s Remorse:
Squirrel Nutkin: OK, Barry, why?
Barry Badger: Fergus Ferret reminded me it was a Peckham case. We only bid for Walworth. Not doing any other b*****?s work are we? Not on this price.