It was meant to be the 8 PM. But it was late. I am on my way to Warwickshire on family business. The main line up to Didcot seems problem free. After that it gets worse as it is snowing again. I think I can make it though by train to Moreton-in-Marsh but that is where my problems begin. My father is the world’s worst driver in perfect conditions. After dark? In the snow? Forget it. And so how to get to Shipston-on-Stour? This is an Agatha Christie murder in the Cotswolds vicarage in the bleak midwinter – sort of Roger Ackroyd but in Warwickshire.
Perhaps I might already have hidden my cross country skis behind the railings at Moreton and just speed over the hills to Shipston? There is more chance of that than of getting a taxi. Nine firms tried, four answered and that was only to say that “it is snowing, good night.” Maybe I might hitch a lift if there is anyone else mad enough to travel on a train into rural white-out tonight?
Let’s be realistic. I have booked into the Bell Inn for the night. A roaring fire. A stiff whiskey from the landlord who keeps looking out over the wintry fields with a worried eye. The mystery blonde woman of a certain age in the corner with her plain, but attractive, hen pecked daughter. And there is a report that David Mills has escaped from Tessa Jowell’s farmouse retreat near Shipston and is on the loose. Who is that Italian gentleman in the corner who keeps on mumbling about Rubies?
All credit to the Bell Inn, had I arrived a bit earlier its owner (Chris) said he would have dropped me at Shipston free of charge. Chris dares to do what the professional tax drivers fear: i.e. drive a car. If you are ever tempted to spend a weekend in Moreton (a lovely small town) I heartily recommend a stay at the Bell Inn on the high street (for just £45).