Friday, 29 June 2012

Introduction to Inspector Morrison: Another Year in Tilling - An Inspector Calls

The first year's entries in Inspector Morrison's Case Book are set out in a free blog at If you have a moment, please free free to click and take a  look.  This blog continues the story of what  happened  to Inspector Morrison in Another Year in Tilling.

After a happy but hectic Christmas with his wife and family at their semi-detached home “Braemar,” conveniently located just outside the ancient town of Tilling, Herbert Morrison, the Inspector commanding the town’s vigilant and valiant police, was enjoying the quiet few days between Boxing Day and New Years Eve.

On this late-December morning, the cobbled streets outside the police station were cold and deserted. Within, Tilling’s thin blue line took the opportunity to enjoy the warmth and catch up on paperwork over cups of hot, sweet tea.

Having emptied his in-try and filled that marked “out,” the Inspector picked up his cup, selected a custard cream and mulled over the events of the year, now drawing to a close. He pondered how best to reflect the achievements of his force in his written annual report to the Chief Constable and Watch Committee of the county.

Before the holidays, he had enjoyed helping his twin son and daughter with their arithmetic homework, which had included some colourful bar graphs and pie charts. He wondered if his formal review might, for the first time, include a bar or pie representing the success of his Tilling constabulary in thwarting the positive wave of crime, which had washed over the normally staid seaside resort in the preceding twelve months.

Scanning the list of offences, he placed his saucer on the paper before him and drew a circle around it in pencil. Measuring the centre with his ruler, he drew segments corresponding with the total of crimes committed and shaded appropriate sections to represent the proportion of each felony.

Irritatingly, the only unsolved reported offences involved a repeated allegation of the theft of fruit – colloquially known as “scrumping” – from the apple trees of Mrs Mapp-Flint out at “Grebe.” Since technically this property fell outside the boundaries of Tilling and, in any event, was such a minor issue, the Inspector felt justified in disregarding it for statistical purposes.

He recalled a phrase from the dim and distant past in a dusty classroom at the police college at Hendon – “De minimis non curat lex” – the law does not concern itself with trifles,  even perhaps at the behest of the formidable Mrs Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, the current Mayoress of Tilling.  Pleased with his daring, Herbert ploughed on with his pie chart.

Reviewing the diagram, the Inspector thought the overall effect was sufficiently impressive and would be more so when the hatching was substituted with coloured shading tomorrow. He must remember to borrow the twin’s crayons.

Next day, the pie chart was completed.  Looking at the contrasting colours on his diagram, the Inspector ruminated whether the Chief Constable and members of the Watch Committee would ever think about the human stories behind the statistics.

He thought of poor old Mrs Gashly staring into space in her cell after her first Christmas in Holloway all those miles away from Tilling, continuing "It was only a year ago that her employer Captain Puffin had met his tragic and undignified end by drowning in a bowl of her oxtail soup.  At her trial she simply said she was driven to try to poison Elizabeth Mapp-Flint because she was so angry at her taking the poor old Captain’s only friend from him and making his life even lonelier. No doubt Mrs. Mapp-Flint and her Major had enjoyed their Christmas out at “Grebe” on the marshes, still oblivious to what they had caused to happen."

"In some ways," thought the Inspector, "The question of blame was much the same with the Mayor's husband, Mr Georgie’s former chauffeur, Dickie.  He just passed him on to the chap that bought his house up in the Midlands like a fixture or fitting, a carpet or a pair of curtains - without so much as a thought as to the effect it might have on the servant’s life." 
"Surely enough, things go wrong for the lad. One thing leads to another, he starts mixing with a bad lot and a respectable chauffeur turns into a daring jewel thief. So daring, it’s almost as if he was asking to be caught. Dickie ends up doing a long stretch in Pentonville and the piano recitals in the garden room at “Mallards House” carry on in the candlelight. "

"That might amount to a story worth telling," the Inspector thought, "If one day a mysterious person in authority called out of the blue on some respectable, well-to–do folk and forced them to understand the consequences of their thoughtless acts, someone like a Police Inspector perhaps? The Mayor had said she had invited that playwright, Mr Priestley to speak at one of her lectures at the Literary Institute. He might have a chance to mention it to him then….perhaps something like, “An Inspector Calls”?"

"Enough day-dreaming," thought Herbert, "Time to plan the duty rosters for January…."   
The ensuing year featured work and play for Inspector Morrison in Tilling and further afield. Here is a short preview of a family holiday to Italy in the summer. Naturally, no right or interest is claimed in the charming soundtrack featuring the delightful and talented Miss Fields.....

Always remember.....
Inspector Morrison stories have expanded our narrow existences and taught us the true meaning of Life and the Universe" ~ Bonar Law, Winifred Atwell, Noele Gordon, Gandhi, Cecil Beaton, Albert Einstein and Hans und Lotte Hass.

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