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Wait, wait! It’s a mystery!

I should be writing Gothic fantasy, not mysteries. When I consult my pocket notebook (which I often do, because, as Oscar Wilde said, one should always have something sensational to read on the train), I seldom find jottings about sinister strangers or mysterious events. I seem to be attracted by weirdities. I overhear remarks that suggest the speaker is not living a boring life. My passersby live in an alternate universe.

So today I present a quiz, modeled on the radio news quiz, “Wait, wait! Don’t tell me!” The deal is, in each section, I give you three scenarios. One is from my notebook; I witnessed it. The other two are my efforts to create a similar, but more plausible, fiction. Your job is to guess which is the true event.

No prize; the answers are at the bottom of this post.

[Spoiler alert: I have no idea how to make the answers at the end show up upside-down. So don’t scroll past the fourth question till you’ve committed yourself to an answer.]

A London perfumerie in the exclusive Burlington Arcade has premiered its latest original scents. These are:

A. Breath of Bristol and Liverpool Breeze. “The tang of salt, seaweed and steamers to the Orient. The scent of Empire.”

B. Blasted Bloom and Blasted Heath. “Experience the Wild Scents of the British Coast.”

C. Rosalind and Lady MacBeth. “Are you a charmer or a femme fatale?”

Cutting edge European fashion in hair style currently includes:

A. The Angela Merkel short page boy

B. Thin, wispy curls arranged with scalp showing, a la Princess Charlotte

C. The Lisbon pony tail: a shaved head except for a long pony tail growing from the crown.

In his keynote address at Magna cum Murder XXI, author Simon Brett discussed:

A. The new Jane Austen app. It tracks all Jane Austen meetings, conventions and re-enactments worldwide, and lets users chat about their costume plans.

B. Sense and Sensuality, JA’s only attempt at a pornographic novel.

C. An academic article on a murder near Austen’s home at Chawton.

A British gentleman in business attire is walking down Piccadilly with a similarly dressed lady. She gives him a perky smile and says,

A. “So, they exhumed his body?”

B. “She stabbed him. But only with a fish knife.”

C. “My, what a tightly rolled umbrella!”



B, C, B, A

So, what do you find in your pocket notebook?


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