Poirot, puzzled, had never come across such a crime in his career, disappearances of individuals, oui, but the gradual disappearance of a nation’s parliament and its powers? Non.
He had flown to Edinburgh, the capital city of the beautiful country of Scotland, at the behest of the First Minister, the diminutive Nicola Sturgeon, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the strange and sinister disappearances.
After a leisurely breakfast in his city centre hotel of lightly grilled Loch Fyne kippers, fresh local scallops and bread described in the menu as ‘ A plain ootsider’ Poirot straightened his bow tie, applied a comb to his oiled hair, pulled his pinstriped suit jacket around his ample frame and strolled down the Royal Mile to meet his client.
“Ah Mr Poirot, I’m so glad to see you. Thank you for coming. We really need your help” said the red-suited leader of the government of Scotland, as Poirot was ushered into her office in the modern parliament building.
“You are most welcome Madame, how can I be of service to you?” said the Belgian detective, bowing gently.
“It is a vexing matter, of that there is no doubt Mr Poirot. A person or persons unknown is stealing our parliament, and our democratic rights. It’s got so bad that when I came in to work past the parliamentary chamber this morning I noticed that some of the seats, desks and lecterns on the edges of both sides of the room have even started to disappear. We can’t figure out what’s happening”.
“I see, and do have any ideas about who may be behind this heinous crime Madame Sturgeon?” said the portly moustachioed sleuth.
“I have my suspicions that a gang of con artists originally from here but based down south, abetted by some local muscle, might have something to do with it. That’s where I would suggest you start your investigations.”
The early afternoon found the Belgian detective knocking on an ornate front door in the New Town with a shiny plaque above the doorway denoting that this building was the Scotland Office.
Receiving no answer Poirot noticed through the large frosted glass entrance the shape of a figure ducking down, as if pretending no one was in occupation of the premises.
Leaning down and opening the brass letter box Poirot called out “Allez Monsieur, I can see you, please answer the door. I mean you no harm!”
At this the lumpen figure seemed to relent, the sagging body language visible through the frosted glass seemed to denote a sense of resignation in the man now approaching the door.
It sprang open.
” What do you want? I’ve explained before to you hacks from The National, we’ll make amendments to the Brexit legislation when we are good and ready. We’re working towards a deal that works for Scotland and all of the UK, a deal that is worthy of our great Union” said a miserable looking puffy-faced bearded man in glasses (who wasn’t David Torrance either).
“Sir, you confuse me, I believe, with the gentlemen of the press. I am Hercule Poirot, Detective extraordinaire, formerly of the Brussels Capital Police force, to whom am I addressing?”said the dapper Belgian.
” Brussels you say, oh I think that’s the phone ringing, I must be going” said the sour vaguely ginger haired man, nervously turning pale as he attempted to close the door again.
At this the detective thrust forward his walking cane, barring any possibility of the door being able to be closed. After a moment the now sweating bearded man spoke.
“I am Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell. I am important. What business do you have with me?”
“Ah I see Monsieur. Madam Sturgeon did mention you to me, describing you as, how did she say it again…. ah yes, La Fluffy Ecosse”.
“That blasted woman, she’s a thorn in my side” said the British politician, London’s man in Scotland.
Just at this moment Poirot could see over Mundell’s shoulder four men struggling, carrying wooden furniture up the ornate staircase of the opulent building. What looked like a microphone stand fell and bounced down the stairs to the bottom.
“Monsieur, your colleagues. Something is amiss. They are having difficulties carrying those desks and chairs upstairs. Should we perhaps assist?”
“No, no, they are fine. They’ll manage ok. I’m having some seating brought in for a reception this evening for a group of colleagues I’m mentoring, to thank them for their excellent work in parliament recently, particularly this week. I’ve spent a Queen’s plumbing refit on the catering. Lovely people they are. The right sort, all focussed like me on doing our very best for our country” said the future knight of the realm.
“But may I ask” Poirot said quietly, “where did you acquire this furniture? Those chairs and wooden desks look familiar to my eye. I have seen them somewhere before I think”.
“IKEA Mr Poirot, IKEA” said the now sniggering government minister, finally able to close the front door, in the world famous detective’s face.
Poirot stood on the doorstep for a moment in contemplation. He stroked his moustache as he thought to himself, there was something dreadfully amiss going on in this small country in Northern Europe. Recognising deception and dishonesty was his stock-in-trade, and he clearly could see both very much in play.