I find a bag of money!!!
It is a clear plastic bag, of the sort that they give you in banks. I pick it up from beneath the pile of household bills, where it had been hidden.
There are some notes in there, and many coins. I study the bag in puzzlement.
“Is this your money?” I ask the LTLP, who has arrived in the kitchen to check that I am not doing something that I shouldn’t.
The LTLP denies all knowledge of the money, and is as confused as I am. We don’t use bank bags, and certainly won’t have mislaid forty-five quid without noticing.
“Whose could it be?” she asks.
“It is like some weird reverse burglary,” I ponder. “Have we lost anything to the value of about forty-five pounds? That somebody could have paid us for, without us knowing?” It seems unlikely.
We go through a mental list of people who have visited the Cottage in the past couple of weeks, and whether they would have been anywhere near our pile of household bills. My sister, RonnieB, seems the most likely suspect.
“Did you lose any money when you visited?” I ask her, using the telephone.
“Yes! I did!” she replies.
“How much?” I demand.
“It was – umm – about two hundred pounds?” she replies.
I put the phone down, and park myself in an armchair to consider the problem. Having always been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes books, apart from ‘The Engineer’s Thumb,’ this is my opportunity to follow the methods of the great detective. It is not often that the normal layperson is presented with this sort of opportunity! I do not have any cocaine to hand, so I pour myself another glass of wine and have a quick strum on the banjo.
The bag is clear, and contains money. What am I seeing but not observing? Before too long, I start to get into the Holmsean mindset.
“Sniff this,” I request. “Would you say that the bag was the property of a smoker?”
The LTLP smells the bag. “No,” she says.
“Oh. I thought it was,” I reply. Already we have had a breakthrough and established that the money may, or may not, have belonged to a smoker.
“We don’t use bags like this,” I say. “The only time where we might have a bank bag is if we were going on holiday and had some foreign money. Maybe we then transferred the foreign money to our pockets, swapping it with the English money?”
I open the bag with forensic hands. Carefully, I take each note and coin and examine their dates, one by one. When I am done, I announce my findings. “The newest coin in here is from 2008. So the bag has lain there no longer than that. Where that’s foreign have we been on holiday since 2008?”
“But I tidied up that shelf last week,” she replies. I am a little disappointed that she is not more impressed with my timeframe deductions.
I ponder some more. I am seeing, but not observing. Seeing, but not observing. The coins are of mixed denominations, and so don’t fit the profile of raffle ticket money, or a float for a market stall. The answer, I am sure, is in the bag.
“Let’s work through the case slowly,” I say. “You have a bag like this for one of two reasons. Firstly, if you get an exact quantity of money from the bank. But the coins in here are mixed, so it is not that. Secondly, if you have money that you want to keep separate from your other money, because it has some significance or something.”
I clasp my hands together as my brain works overtime.
“I’ve got it!” I shout triumphantly. And I have – I really have solved the mystery. “It’s my money. John Twonil gave it to me on Thursday as my share of the snooker club funds.” She stares at me. “I was a bit pissed at the time,” I add.
I wave the money around, happily. “You see? By following the methods of Sherlock Holmes, it’s possible to solve any problem.”
“You do not need to follow the methods of Sherlock Holmes when it is your own fucking money,” she replies.