The First Noel

Psychic investigator Hamilton Coe surrounded by allies and adversaries. Featured characters include Annabella Lwin, Mark E Smith, Donna Tartt, Dashiell Hammett, Robocop, Patricia Highsmith, Cornell Woolrich, Robert Morley, Ming the Merciless, Jean Seberg, Del The Automator

Dateline Drumfeld – Friday

Wednesday – My first Christmas cards arrived this morning. No advanced graphology skills were necessary in identifying Hazel Eadie’s savagely embedded scrawl. Not having heard from Hazel since September, I’d hoped that she might have embarked upon some fresh fixation. Apparently not. Her annual newsletter contains its usual trite fantasies about our life together. Does Hazel seriously imagine that normal couples use their Christmas newsletters to subject acquaintances to such nauseating innuendo? At least the reference is veiled. Last year’s was so hideously explicit that I took the precaution of passing a copy to our community police officer.

Later I went into Stirling to collect my own Christmas cards. Last year I made the mistake of allowing Gordon Gilfeather, one of Christine’s clients to design my card. The image of a young Hamilton Coe, partially concealed from behind a couch, peering at an unsuspecting Santa Claus through a magnifying glass was competently executed, but misjudged in almost every respect. Apart from begging the question why I would require a magnifying glass to observe someone from a distance of three feet, Gordon’s depiction made me look sneaky and furtive. Nobody who knows me would deny my ability to take a joke but an advanced sense of humour is accompanied by an instinctive sense of what is appropriate. When I confronted Gordon he completely failed to convey why he thought his caricature was funny. Nor could he adequately explain why Santa Claus was included despite my explicit instruction that the American icon of greed had no place in a Hamilton Coe Christmas. “But that’s why you’re investigating him,” he stammered, a feeble improvisation that failed to convince me that he deserved anything more than half the originally negotiated fee.

This year’s card features a passable likeness of Yours Truly surrounded by characters appropriate to a Christmas narrative – Noddy Holder, for example, makes an appearance, as does Alastair Sim’s Scrooge. I thought it pleasing, though when I showed it to Christine, she queried the incorporation of a Ouija Board. I’d assumed it was some kind of platter.


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