A man of mysteries

DON'T you just love a good murder mystery?A drawing room drama set in a large country house, with a suspicious butler, an actress with a secret, the retired colonel with a dodgy past.

DON'T you just love a good murder mystery?

A drawing room drama set in a large country house, with a suspicious butler, an actress with a secret, the retired colonel with a dodgy past.

Well this week, as I sit in my little Ipswich sitting room, draining the last of a pre-supper martini looking forward to a sumptuous creation cooked in my functional-but-comfortable kitchen, my incisive mind started to discourse on the merits of a good detective.

"Well James,” I said to myself.

"Yes James,” I replied.

"What makes a good detective? Is it the ability to melt unobstrusively in to the background? Or is it perhaps a natural curiosity?” I countered.

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But before I went stark raving mad with this solo dialogue - those of my fans living alone know will understand - I ceased my internal conversation and put pen to paper.

Not that I want to model myself on Hercule Poirot - I am much thinner and not at all odd - but I must admit to noticing a few similarities which I have decided I must share.

Nosiness-both Hercule and I are insatitiably curious about the foibles of others.

Arrogance-well I'm not arrogant perish the thought, but just like Hercule I'm never wrong.

Fashion-I think I might have the edge here over Monsieur P. I do look stunning in black tie.

Mental prowess-well I can list the Kings of and Queens of England when pushed.

N Camouflage- I can peer through the bushes without causing alarm.

These facts alone do not make a brilliant detective.

As a journalist of unimpeachable reputation, and many years standing, I know the methods used to discover the truth - and, most crucially of all, I can always tell when someone is lying.

So I wondered if I might start a lucrative sideline as a private detective. I might get a card printed up…eg:

“JAMES MARSTON PI, Bsc (for 'tis true I am a scientist)

Award winning hack and gorgeous guy.

Give me a bell and the truth I'll tell"

I haven't checked out the competition but I can't think there are many private detectives in Ipswich. I shall offer a discreet service for the discerning client. That means the rich.

I shall offer suspicious wives and unhappy husbands the chance to uncover infidelity.

I shall provide the answer to that nagging mystery.

I shall clear up the disappearance of the char/au pair/cat.

I shall solve the problem of the missing diamonds/pearls/mother-in-law.

I shall do some delving/rummaging/breaking and entering.

I shall stop at nothing to get the truth and facts-however uncomfortable/unwelcome/costly.

I shall charge a fortune and live in the lap of luxury.

It can't be that hard.

I've already started looking through bushes and trying out the latest surveillance methods.

It won't be long before every dinner party I get invited to, will include a poisoning or jewellery theft. I won't be able to go on holiday without having to help the organisers cover up a murder. Soon, as I walk through the streets of Ipswich people will stop asking me if I'm “that nutter from the Star" -it has happened more than once - and whisper to each other in lowered respectful tones.

"There he goes, it's that famous detective. Thinner in the flesh isn't he? Handsome really. He should be on TV."

The speculation is over.

It is true.

I am going to look like a pig in knickers - it's official.

Despite weeks of internal struggle with the costumiers of the Ipswich-almost-Operatic-and-very-definitely Dramatic Society (IODS) I am going to succumb to the overwhelming pressure, break with protocol and appear in public in shorts.

Not only once but through most of the second act. I think, as Mr Blair might say, we need a public consultation first but there isn't time-the IODS watching public will just have to accept it.

After extensive high level talks with Pam and Janet the resourceful costume ladies - and I noted neither offered to run up for me a pair of jeans to sweeten the pill - I have decided that the part of a Swiss farmer-cum-humpty-dumpty really does demand brown leather lederhosen.

So, dear readers, if you want to watch tickets - though selling very quickly now word has got round that I'm performing alongside my non-fool suffering photographer friend Lucy - are still available from The Regent.

I have promised to make myself available at the stage door to sign autographs and thanks fans after each performance-and that includes the Saturday matinee- a nice way to spend a couple of hours after a little light shopping and a boozy lunch.

Well, in this business we call show, you have to be seen to be believed.

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