For it is, to paraphrase a novelist who stayed in Bath for a bit, a truth universally acknowledged, that a city in possession of a gang of villains, must be in want of someone to give ’em a proper sorting.
Yes, coming soon to a screen near you is what can only be imagined as an Empire-line version of every hard-hitting Mockney detective series you’ve ever seen on TV.
Here’s a sneak preview:
A well-appointed apartment in the Paragon. Miss Betty Smallpiece has met an unpleasant end. Her friend, the fashionable Miss Abigail Cavendish, is being grilled by Inspector Nasher, a rough diamond with greasy hair and yellow fingernails bitten to the quick. Sergeant Trotter, his sidekick, lurks menacingly at the back of the room.
MISS CAVENDISH: We have had a most delightful evening, an excellent ball.
NASHER: Shut it, slaaaaag!
MISS CAVENDISH: For shame, sir! Would you toy with my affections?
NASHER: Are you ’avin’ a laugh? You are, you’re ’avin’ a laugh, ain’tcha?
MISS CAVENDISH: Upon my word, you overstep the bounds of propriety.
NASHER: Give us a fag, love. I’ve got a mouth like a fireman’s boot.
MISS CAVENDISH: I most certainly will not. My father shall hear of this!
NASHER: That’s it, darlin’, you’re nicked. Cuff ’er, Trotter.
Nasher and Trotter peer in through the door of a cell at the headquarters of the Bath Watch. Filthy straw lines the cobbled floor. Miss Cavendish languishes in chains.
MISS CAVENDISH: I swoon, I swoon!
TROTTER: Is this some kind of fit-up, guvnor? You’re not tellin’ me it was her what done it?
NASHER: Nah, she’s ’ere for ’er own protection. If we ’adn’t ’ave brung ’er in she’d ’ave woke up in Twerton with a chalk line round ’er.
TROTTER: You’re a sharp ’un guvnor and no mistake. Whadda we do now?
NASHER: We’re the Sweeney, son, and we ’aven’t ’ad any dinner!
Miss Cavendish has returned to her family lodgings with her betrothed, the dashing Mr Lower-Lansdown. Nasher has uncomfortable news.
NASHER: That’s our villain. As soon as I laid eyes on the smarmy git I knew something weren’t right.
MISS CAVENDISH: But Inspector, Mr Lower-Lansdown is heir to a thousand acres in Hampshire. What possible desire could he have to do poor Betty to death?
NASHER: Search me, darlin’. But his prints was all over the blunderbuss. And his real name ain’t Lower-Lansdown. It’s Walcot. We’ve got ’im bang to rights.
LOWER-LANSDOWN: You’ll never take me, copper. I can’t do time again.
NASHER: Yeah, right. Take ’im down the nick, Trotter. And if you ’ave to ’urt ’im, don’t mark ’im.
MISS CAVENDISH: How can I thank you enough, Inspector? Maybe we will meet again at the Assembly Rooms next Friday forenoon?
NASHER (TO HIMSELF): I hate this place. It’s a holiday camp for thieves and weirdoes. All the rubbish...
Next week: Jamie’s Regency Dinners