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‘So,’ Mower said as two empty cans occupied the coffee table, ‘you’re saying the past is being dabbled with?’

‘Spot on, matey,’ Diamonde replied. ‘All sorts of havoc there’d be if it wasn’t for our arm of the organisation.’


‘You see,’ Kai continued, ignoring Mower’s interjection, ‘Strange Phenomena Magazine is a front for Route 1066 to flush out strange phenomena to provide advance warning history has been messed with. So we can tidy up any problems our elite and exclusive time travelling arm causes.’

‘This is total bollocks!’ Glen opined expecting a lot of spin in return.

‘Your vocabulary is so testicular,’ Kai remarked in dismay.

‘New balls please,’ announced the tennis umpire with impeccable timing. Both men chuckled which somewhat broke the febrile atmosphere.

”Look,’ Diamonde explained. ‘A guy tells us that he has a picture of Gail Jackson and Phyllis McGinley receiving their Raven Awards in 1960.’


‘Well, Matey, a day earlier the same picture displayed Alfred Hitchcock receiving his Raven Award too, so where’d he go?’

‘Sounds more like a Raven bloody Loony Award to me.’

‘Strange Phenomena Magazine were alerted, paid the guy off then set in motion processes involving thousands of historians to discover why there was no Alfred Hitchcock and what threat it now posed to us.’

‘Boll… I mean balderdash. I’m a historian and know plenty of fellow history buffs and none of us were consulted. Thousands indeed!’

Kai Diamonde pointed at Glen and laughed heartily, then drawing the back of his hand across his moistened lips as if creating a demarcation point to return to seriousness, he continued.

‘You see, this all tied in with one of our select, wealthy time-travellers. He’d taken up the offer to meet Jack The Ripper before he commenced his atrocities in the Autumn of 1888. Trouble is these tycoons think rules don’t apply to them and this paticular rich pillock considered it a wheeze if he persuaded Jack The Ripper to take up a First-Aid course.’

‘Ugh?’ Glen ventured, somewhat lost for conventional words.

‘We found by De-Rippering a historian that if there was no Jack The Ripper there’d be nearly five million extra trees in this country as there would no longer be hundreds of books and articles speculating about his true identity. It was discovered that Crufts would descend into chaos with all the extra trees and dogs around, an unwelcome combination, and Geoff Hurst wouldn’t have scored his famous hattrick to win the World Cup for England in 1966 as a mighty thick oak suddenly appeared in the German goalmouth. But worst of all, it meant the poor sods living those awfully hard lives in late-Victorian London suddenly found they would have to contend with a serial life-saver on the loose! Now that is bad.’

‘But what’s this to do with Hitchcock going AWOL?’

‘Because Hitchcock’s breakthrough film as a director was The Lodger in 1927, based on Jack The Ripper. Without The Ripper there would be no Hitchcock. So alerts were issued to prepare people for life in Britain with the prospect of nearly five million more trees suddenly sprouting up.’

‘Alerts?’ Glen remarked. ‘I’ve never heard any.’

‘Alerts aren’t dished out to the general public, Matey, It would cause mass panic.’

‘Oh, all very convenient. It’s total bollox.’

‘Then I shall let you in on a current alert,’ Kai smugly revealed. ‘Why do you think I switched the TV on? Take a good look at the tennis, now.’

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