As anybody who has read any of my blogs to date will have guessed I read a lot. I also read fast (a lexicographical Usain Bolt my brother once called me), and can remember much of what I have read. So it is hardly surprising that I occasionally come across curious items that I know could be developed into stories. This is one of them.
Ingoldisthorpe – taken by camera
It was complete chance that I spotted the paragraph, I was in the large drawing room at Ingoldisthorpe Hall in Norfolk, the temporary home of some friends of ours. The house was quiet, the other guests were off in pursuit of pleasure, my wife was either sewing in the little drawing room or in the housekeeper’s room. I knew she wanted to finish the spencer she was making, but I had last seen her sitting at Mrs Bonner’s table. I was going to call her when I heard her utter the mystic words ‘rhubarb’ and ‘apples’ and knew that the conversation was not for the likes of a husband.
I picked up an old copy of the Morning Chronicle and glanced idly at the front page, I skipped over the advertisements for gentleman’s hats, and genteel estates, was surprised that the proprietors of Waterloo Bridge were announcing a loss, then stopped as I noticed a curious paragraph.
WHEREAS a large quantity of WHEAT and HOPS was lately warehoused in the Borough, or some pIace in its immediate vicinity, by Mr. Charles Day, of Sussex-place, Kent-road, and also of Linton, in the county of Kent, who, from the circumstance of his having been accidentally killed, in the month of May last, left his surviving friends unacquainted with the precise spot where such Wheat and Hops are deposited. The personal Representatives of the said Mr. Charles Day would therefore feel themselves particularly obliged to, and, if required will handsomely remunerate, any person who shall give such information to the solicitors as shall lead to the discovery and reclamation of the property above referred to.
WHITE and BOSTOCK, Solicitors,
‘Now that is strange,’ I said to myself, glancing at the date at the top of the paper, August 3 1818, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to that story than meets the eye?”
Now what do you think of that? How did a load of wheat and hops disappear? Was Mr. Day just very bad at keeping notes, or was there something else going on. He was dealing in hops, a principle ingredient of beer, and both beer and hops were heavily taxed. Was there a tax fraud underway? Mr Day’s death, the paragraph calls it accidental, was it? So here it is, an idea for a story, if anybody would like to use it, please feel free.
Oh, and how I found it, that story is completely accurate as my wife and I are regular and enthusiastic time travellers.