Ken and Janice meanwhile had underestimated the popularity of the event and arrived too late at the Town Hall to get into the general auditorium which, in the continuing absence of the chairs, was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the stage, and stretching back to the big double doors at the other end.
Faced with that crush Ken steered Janice to another entrance where B.B.C. men were streaming in and out.
‘Dressing rooms?’ he asked the flunkey on the gate.
The man only needed one look at Janice to see how photogenic she was. ‘First right and up the stairs’ he said, and they were through.
The double bill attraction of Neville Thwaite and Wally Wittgenstein, in that order of preference, was proving such an enormous draw that even the eternally depressed Mr Weaver had to concede to Smoggin and Cook, there by claiming to be mayoral attendants, that taken by and large, all in all, what with one thing and another, and touching wood, everything so far was going reasonably well. With the quite definite exception of the missing chairs that is. Even that could be to his advantage of course. It might be enough to convince Alderman Rushton he had done his best to sabotage the evening, without upsetting the present mayor too much.
The huge audience now assembled within the hall divided itself up into roughly two sections. At the front were all the youngsters who actually enjoyed the mind shattering sound produced by Wally’s very expensive electronic amplification equipment, while at the back were gathered the older and wiser heads who dreaded all that noise and were only there to catch a glimpse of the anguished Mayor, rather like spectators at a road crash. Which was unfortunate for them really as Gervaise, acting on Merton’s instructions to get the cameras better sight lines, was busy making Wally’s road crew switch the loudspeakers from the front to the back of the room.
Amongst those nearest the stage were Tommo and the rest of his gang. Howard and Evelyn had seen them and positioned themselves at a safe distance, as Howard knew Tommo and trouble were never far apart. But they were not as well placed as they hoped. Forcing their way up behind them were the ‘Devil’s Disciples’ contingent, so they finished up in ‘no man’s land’ between the two groups. The Disciples still bore the marks of Tommo’s & Co’s retaliation for catching them unawares earlier in the day, and were in turn seeking re-retaliation at the next opportunity to present itself.
Gordon Hargraves hoped to have shaken off Barbara Wolstenholme by now, but she was still ostentatiously clinging on to him. He was concerned at being picked out by the cameras taking crowd shots. If his wife was watching at home and saw Barbara all over him he might not be in any state to attend the Chief Education Officer interview due in only 36 hours time. Sam Brophy was in there somewhere too. He couldn’t resist a free anything, but was having difficulty making himself heard above the general din. On either side of him Mrs Davis and Miss Davis, both wearing ‘Kiss Me Slow’ hats, didn’t mind what he was saying to them. He was an unattached male, which was good enough for both of them, so they edged close enough towards him, to give Mrs Brophy, who was watching at home, a strong case for extracting appropriate retribution herself in due course.
The ‘Merton St de Vere Comedy Hour’, as the Higher Being began ominously referring to it to his deputy, the D.A.DT.T.A.A.C (T.V), was due to go out live at 6.30pm straight after the News.
The programme format provided for there to be a brief introductory speech by the Mayor, to which Wally would reply, equally briefly, and then step forward to throw the switch which would bring all the illuminated displays to life. This would be the signal for Merton to cut to his outside cameras stationed strategically along Marine Parade to show the lights bursting into glorious technicolour display as they came on section by section. Merton would then cross cut between lights pictures and Wally as he started his act and went on to entertain the Town Hall audience and the watching viewers with a medley of his past hits.
These would be heard ‘voice over pictures’ as Merton’s cameras showed the more spectacular of the set pieces such as the illuminated tramcar, made up of no less than 9,742 coloured bulbs, and the illuminated horse drawn Milk Float which was to display the charms of the local beauty queen. She was dressed in not very much white, to symbolise Purity, and was a certain lady called Miss Concepta Immaculata O’Shaughnessy, professionally known as Big Julie.
It could be a tricky operation technically, and much depended on the professional skills and expertise of the programme’s director, hence the A.DT.T.A.A.C (T.V)’s concern.
As the moment of transmission time approached Merton went into his normal pre-programme count down routine. Gervaise, the continuity girl, and the vision mixer were expecting it and gained reassurance themselves from its familiar ritual enactment. First Merton thoroughly picked his nose. Then he produced cotton buds and excavated both ears. These jobs completed to his satisfaction, he did the nervous cough bit, hawking and retching until there could not possibly be another hawk or retch left in him to disturb the smooth running of the programme once it started. After that he took out the two stainless steel balls he carried with him at all times and began grinding them together as he had once seen Humphrey Bogart do to good effect in the film ‘The Caine Mutiny’.
Then he held hands with Gervaise until the pulsing red light above his monitor screen warned him that the six o clock news was about to end and his programme begin. ’Off you go poppet,’ he said to his devoted floor manager, giving him passionate kiss. ‘Be ever so very good tonight.’
‘As always sugarkins,’ said Gervaise, as he left to take up his appointed place on the stage where the main action was to take place.
‘What the hell was all that about?’ asked the Higher Being of his deputy, who had also heard, but not seen, this pre programme routine. But before he could reply the news ended, the red light in the control room steadied to a permanent glare, and the continuity girl next to Merton started counting off the last few seconds left for him.
Luckily for him and everybody else’s peace of mind, none of them were aware that the star of their show was less than fully ready for the call he was about to get to go on stage. There were several problems besetting Wally, quite apart from being well tanked up by now. For a start Duggie was still missing at this vital time. He was hiding in a basket of dirty linen in Bath’s & Washhouses and had no intention of risking coming out. Short of someone sprinkling soap powder on him and tipping him into a vat of boiling water he was there to stay until he was certain the coast had cleared.
The fact he was not available to play guitar in the wings for Wally to mime to was of little concern to him just then. It concerned Wally though. He had the tape recording Duggie made as an emergency back up right enough but, as he explained to the Professor, the trouble with this ‘fail safe system’ was that it had been tried and failed before.
It was prone to glitches in mid-performance that did nothing to add to his public image as a world- class musician up there with Jimmy Hendrix and Django Reinhart.
Another problem was he now didn’t have time to get his cosmetic manhood back into position down his trousers either. That would have meant completely undressing and starting all over wriggling into everything again. Something had to be done as Wally’s fans did tend to focus quite a lot of their attention down there. Zimmerman solved that one to some extent by grabbing some of the Borough Treasurer’s papers, marked ‘strictly private and confidential’, moulding them into balls and stuffing them down Wally’s front instead. The result was lumpy but passable, and managed to survive his staggering progress to the edge of the stage where he was now required to be by an agitated Gervaise.
But this ‘cock up’ so to speak over the missing codpiece, was as nothing compared Zimmerman’s problem with the miming tape. Offering to operate a simple cassette recorder for Wally was one thing, but when it forms part of a pop star’s elaborate sound and lighting kit it is quite another kettle of fish altogether. Suddenly he was faced with a set of controls like Concorde’s cockpit. For once even the Professor’s iron self assurance quailed, and spotting Ken standing nearby with Janice he thankfully enlisted his aid in trying to work the equipment. Ken was no electronics man either, but his knowledge of gadgetry was much superior to Zimmerman’s and he was eventually able to get the tape into the right slot.
By this time Merton, sitting in his control room, was already transmitting. ‘Fade in one,’ he said quietly. Then as a panoramic view of Northpool filled the screen, shot from an extending ladder on one of the town’s fire engines he had commandeered, he murmured even quieter, ‘Roll captions.’
This gentleness of manner during broadcasting is instilled in all television directors during their training, when they are taught, like fledgling police constables, that a paramount need is to stay calm and orderly at all times, both as a means of self discipline and also as a way of setting a proper example to those over whom they have authority.
‘Get the Mayor on his mark now,’ he cooed to Gervaise who was lying face down on the stage to keep out of shot.
The stage manager beckoned across to Mr Thwaite who then appeared from the wings in all his finery, to tumultuous and ribald applause from the audience.
‘Quieten them down please Gervaise,’ said Merton, and on an appropriate signal from him the crowd did settle down to some extent, sufficient for the proceedings to start.
This was all very splendid and Merton gave a hum of satisfaction.
Gervaise went quite damp at the buzz a mere production assistant gets wielding this sort of power over people. What a wonderful world he lived in, he thought, surrounded by people of his own kind, one of whom loved him, and he was even getting paid for it all. Being gay did have its compensations whatever the Pope might say.
‘Infallibility my arse’, he thought, he never had the love of a man like Merton behind him, so to speak.
‘Stand by to cue Mayor, the object of his affections breathed, ever so softly. ‘Right. Cue now and cut to camera three.’ This time he permitted himself the small extravagance of snapping his fingers on the word ’three’, in case anyone was watching him. Nobody was.
On receiving the floor manager’s signal, a blow on his ankle, the Major launched into the opening remarks which he had spent most of the day memorising. His nervousness nearly did for him, but recovering himself just in time, he got off to a good start. ‘Fellow citizens and welcome visitors,’ he said. Then his mind went blank and he stopped.
If the ensuing pause seemed long to him and his wife it seemed longer still to Merton.
‘Why doesn’t he use the autocue Gervaise?’ He asked, his voice just a shade louder than recommended in the Training Manual.
His assistant, unable to speak for fear of his voice being picked up by the sound boom dangling over his head, endeavoured to convey by gesticulating into camera two that the Mayor couldn’t read without his glasses and, vain to the last, had refused to be seen on television wearing them.
This is a complicated message to get across by semaphore from a prone position, and Merton lost patience trying to understand it. In his anxiety to replace the sight of the dumbstruck Major with something better, he made things worse. ’Cut to ‘four,’ he shouted. But that training manual was not written for fun. The unaccustomed loudness of his voice made his vision mixer jump and she cut to ‘three’ instead, replacing the mayor with a shot of Gervaise still going through his sign language routine.
‘Jesus wept’, said the A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P.(TV) back in London, and then started to do the same thing himself.
‘I said ‘FOUR’,’ screamed Merton, leaving the good book well behind. This time the girl gave him ‘two’ which its operator, in an idle moment, had trained on Tommo to see what he was flashing at Sandra, the fat girl sitting next to him, who showed signs of being well impressed.
‘Oh No !!! Not on a Sunday for God’s sake,’ said the A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV).But several thousand eagle eyed elderly ladies phoned in immediately, to confirm that flashing was exactly the right word to use for what Tommo was doing.
The vision mixer was so far gone now that Merton had no option but to lean across and punch the buttons himself .
’I said ‘four’ you stupid bitch,’ he yelled, the training manual completely forsaken, and by doing his own pressing found himself back on ‘three’, where the Mayor was still suffering from television fright and was being implored by Gervaise, biting his ankles, to say anything….anything at all. At last the adrenalin the floor manager was transfusing, vampire like, into Thwaite’s veins took some effect, and he spluttered into speech again.
‘It…. er ….gives me…. er…. great…pleasure….’ he stammered, as a much relieved Gervaise took his teeth out of his leg, but prematurely as it turned out. The Mayor’s tired mind sought refuge from the muddle it found itself in by reverting to parts of a speech he had made many times before from this very platform.’……as Returning Officer for this constituency, to declare Mr er Wally er Stitch in Time, your duly elected Member for this Borough…’
Here Gervaise bit him again, right to the bone this time, and it did serve to get him back on some sort of track. ‘and… er ….to invite him to switch on this year’s Northpool Illuminations display.’
It was at this point the Heavy Gang finally arrived in the hall with the chairs. A ‘delivery note’ meant exactly what it said as far as Harry, their foreman, was concerned. He hadn’t got to where he was today by ignoring them and had no intention of starting to do so now. 742 chairs, to be set out in rows, 64 each side of the main aisle, Mr Weaver had said. What’s more it had the letters A.S.A.P. stamped on it, that he reckoned was probably Latin for ’As Soon As Possible’, seeing as Mr Weaver was an educated man, which meant the job had to be carried out now, whatever the 742 people already in the hall might feel about that.
They didn’t think too much of the idea as it happened, and soon fell to resisting Harry and his gang’s attempts to get ‘bums on seats’ as they say in show business. Tommo and his lads, and the ‘Devils Disciples,’ put aside their differences and immediately gravitated towards where the action was and were quite careless of the route they took to get there, travelling over the feet, abdomens or anything else of anyone who got in their way.
To Harry and his heavies, ex Desert rats to a man, the sight of all these German helmeted, swastika bedecked youths coming towards them brought back glorious memories of their own finest hours at El Alamein. The days when men were men, sheep were women, and Arab boys did whatever was required of them.
Used to taking on genuine Storm Troopers, Harry and Co had no trouble whatsoever in quelling these little Hitlers. Skilled as they were in unarmed combat, guerrilla warfare, and a variety of unorthodox survival techniques, they made sure the ‘S.S.’ insignia the bikers sported on their shoulders came to stand not for ‘Schultz Staffel’, but for ‘short and sweet’ instead.
It really was no contest. The Heavy Gang, using just their bare hands and the occasional leg from a chair broken over a youthful head, simply and bloodily annihilated them.
Mercifully Gervaise kept his head while a lot of people in the hall were nearly losing theirs. He had the sense to cue Wally on stage to start his reply to the Mayor’s remarks, so Merton would have something relevant happening to point his cameras at. ‘Bless you darling,’ said his director, cutting successfully at last to Wally who, as a pop star, was used to appearing before crowds of people kicking and punching the hell out each other. But Wally was drunk. Make no mistake about that. Carried away by the fighting going on before him into thinking he was at one of his outdoor festivals he forgot himself and launched into what he was supposed to say at the volume he would use on those occasions.
The engineer’s sound level needles went off scale and all those wearing earphones went deaf as doorposts instantly. This included Merton and Gervaise. The effect was also felt to a lesser, though still significant, degree by the A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV), the D.A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV), and several million viewers. One of these wrote in later to thank him for restoring her hearing, lost during the war when the American Air Force, in a daringly conceived, but badly executed low level daylight bombing raid, mistook her cottage in Suffolk for the Chancellery Building in Berlin, and missed hitting it by only a quarter of a mile.
Merton had at least something to be thankful for. He was actually transmitting a transmittable picture and at the conclusion of Wally’s shouted remarks was sufficiently in command of the situation to cut correctly to his outside cameras when Wally threw the switch. The lights then blazed out, on cue, to flood the town with their delightful brilliance. There were even gasps of appreciation and applause within the Town Hall as the array of bulbs behind the platform came on to pick out in several colours a very good likeness of Queen Victoria. Ideally it should have been the reigning monarch, but ‘Victoria’ was the only queen the designer could do. It was the same in summer. One either got his sand sculpture of a camel and three palm trees or nothing.
‘Cut to Travelling Eye,’ said Merton. No one could hear him of course as they were all still deaf, but it was obvious what he wanted so they did it anyway. He was delighted now things were working properly again, and they really were. As the Travelling Eye team sped down the centre of the promenade in their high tech van, they fed into his control room shot after marvellous coloured shot of the lights coming on section by section. The illuminated tram was there, with Big Julie’s milk float, and lots of other tradesmen’s’ vehicles resplendent in their share of lights and streamers. Shining out in the darkness beamed the roadside tableaux of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Yogi Bear, a Salute to the Heroes of Stalingrad, then Snow White and about four and a half of her dwarves……..Well nothing can be absolutely perfect.
‘Lovely darlings, lovely,’ Merton crooned to his camera crews, ‘particularly you Gervaise. Get the man ready to sing now, there’s a pet.’
Gervaise dimpled with delight at this praise. Perhaps the surprise little ‘tete a tete’ supper party he’d laid on at the Hotel Metropole, just for the two of them, would go even better than he hoped.
To convey this latest instruction to Wally, he lay on his back tugged the star’s leg, and pointed his finger into his open mouth. Once he had understood that Gervaise wasn’t just trying to make himself sick, Wally nodded and swung his guitar into position ready for the signal to start his first song.
‘Cue ‘Stitch in Time,’ said Merton wittily, almost light headed now with the improvement in the programme.
Gervaise did, and Wally nodded to Ken, who was standing by just off stage, to start the tape recorder, which he then managed to do.
Striking his trademark pose, Wally carefully strummed his fingers well clear of the strings of his instrument and opened his mouth to let fly. But instead of the expected deafening cacophony of spine numbing, blood curdling, mind bending, pantie girdle knotting, trouser tearing explosion of sound, designed to blast all five senses of the audience out into where they’d only be able to use their sixth, nothing could be heard, even by the floor manager lying flat at his feet.
Merton’s normal hearing had by now been partially restored. ’Needs to be louder Gervaise, ’ he said superfluously. Gervaise knew that, as did Wally, as did Ken who was frantically trying to trace what was wrong with the amplification equipment. Suddenly every circuit on the panel seemed dead and Wally’s own lads were indicating they hadn’t got a clue what was going on either. The fault was Zimmerman’s. He was standing on a mains plug that he’d dragged out of its socket by catching his foot in some of the trailing wires. With a sigh of relief Ken spotted what he had done, shoved the Professor aside and rammed it back in again. Once there it started to do the job it was supposed to. It fed the current from the Town Hall’s power circuit through to Wally’s advanced and highly sophisticated electronic equipment, pre set to deliver its optimum output immediately.
But unfortunately, it was all just too much for the ancient wiring to take.
Like some malevolent genie foolishly uncorked form a long buried bottle, the resultant power surge first melted the offending little green wire, then alternated down the red and blue ones to Wally. It reached him at full speed, throwing him three feet in the air and producing from him an unearthly yell that put that old lady in Suffolk’s hearing at risk again. Returning to earth, Wally clutched at the microphone for support and then, as the party most concerned, he really got a glow on, as in creating this new relay he fed all this rampant power out into the Illuminations electricity system which had been linked up to the Town Hall so it could all be switched on from there.
The 9,742 bulbs on the illuminated tram were the first 9,742 to go. They didn’t go quietly either and their consecutive 9,742 bangs disconcerted the horse drawing the Brewer’s Dray behind it. This was battery powered so would not have otherwise been affected, but the horse could not be expected to know that, and therefore was not to blame for deciding to take matters into its own hooves and head straight back to its stables.
This route led directly into Big Julie’s Milk Float, an action which led to Julie ending up naked on the back of the horse in a passable imitation of Lady Godiva. Her wig fell off too, reducing the length of her hair to just stubble.
The four and a half dwarves went next, though Snow White hung on until the Heroes of Stalingrad weren’t being saluted any more.
Not a single illumination escaped. Right down the length of the promenade, including the strands strung round kiddies paddling pools, the Japanese gardens, and the shortened version of the Hampton Court Maze, every single bulb went out.
Merton, Gervaise, the Vision Mixer, the A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV), and the D.A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV), couldn’t believe their luck. They became ecstatic. Their day had just been well and truly made. ‘Shadenfreud’ the German’s call it, well they would wouldn’t they?
The media always prefers bad news to good. Filming the Hindenburg coming in to land, or either Kennedy getting assassinated was better by far, even than a Royal Wedding. This was television history in the making, and they all rejoiced at their good fortune in being part of it. The Travelling Eye camera was getting everything outside, and the ones inside the town hall were recording Wally’s gyrations too for good measure. ‘Keep them rolling everybody,’ yelled Merton. ‘This could run all night.’
For once the A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV) agreed with him, and he was busy issuing instructions to cancel the choir singing from Westminster Abbey which was due on next, and all subsequent programmes. The D.A.D.T.T.A.C.O.P. (TV) had also been told to seek the permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury to scrub The Epilogue at the end of the day’s transmissions if that also proved necessary. There is an award for Best Television Director of the Year, the highest accolade in the trade, and Merton was well on the way to making the short list, when Gervaise blew it for him.
With a totally misplaced humanitarianism he found difficult to explain satisfactorily afterwards, he tried to help Wally by pulling him clear from that live microphone. Granted the man was in danger of being electrocuted to death, but where television is concerned everyone in the business is expected to sacrifice personal convenience from time to time .
What Gervaise’s action did was simply to switch the current from Wally into himself as well. This still would not have been too disastrous from Merton’s point of view, floor manager’s are not irreplaceable after all, except that Gervaise was linked through his headphones to his director’s control panel. This offered no resistance at all to the voltage now shooting down this new channel opened up to it, and the whole desk promptly melted into a cascade of hot plastic sticky gunge that poured over Merton’s poncho and on to his now not so natty nether regions.
By some unexplainable electronic quirk, ten million viewers, including even those watching in black and white, got a sudden colour picture of Merton sitting at what was left of his controls and heard the equally colourful language he used to his floor manager as the hot plastic went through his trousers and came into contact with what lay beneath. Then all became darkness as the whole technical wizardry with which Merton was surrounded popped, banged, crackled, sizzled, glowed, shattered, twisted and then collapsed about him as the raging current ricocheted round the room and finally back down the cables to reduce all his brand new cameras, inside and out, to lumps of smoking rubbish.
Inconsequential thoughts often intrude at moments like these, and the one that occurred to Merton as he sat listening to the screams of his vision mixer, whose knickers had also been badly charred, was whether his outstanding claims for travelling expenses would still be met, but, a professional to the last, he roused himself to give his final television command,
‘Cut,’ he said to his staff, and then went in search of an open razor with which to do likewise to his throat.
So far throughout these momentous events the audience in the Great Hall, unaware of what was happening to the Lights outside, had stayed calm. The only visible manifestation they could see that might have indicated something was wrong was the sight of Wally gyrations, induced by the mike he couldn’t let go of. But this wasn’t much of a clue. The youngsters at the front, used to the antics of Mick Jagger, took it as all part of the act, and the oldsters at the back didn’t know what to expect from a Wittgenstein stage performance.
They wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d levitated himself and flown out backwards through a skylight.
What finally caused them to panic was when the paper wedged inside Wally’s trousers became ignited. Smoke soon billowed out of the holes burnt in his rubber suiting as the blaze got a grip on it and his clump of private hair.
Mrs Davis, hawkeyed as ever, was the first to see what was happening.
’Fire!’ she shouted helpfully, and the stampede began.
The Heavy Gang, who had by now resumed carrying in the rest of the chairs, may have stopped Panzer Divisions in their time, but they couldn’t stop Mrs Gwladys and Miss Davis. Not with the motivation they had and several hundred like minded people right behind them. They were swept aside like chaff before a whirlwind. Even Smoggin’s attempt to impose a small charge on those seeking to leave by his door came to nothing.
On stage Zimmerman rendered the whole exodus unnecessary. He had the fire out almost as soon as it started by simply stamping on the seat of the blaze. This also had the useful by-product of causing Wally finally to let go of the microphone as suddenly, high voltage current or no high voltage current, both his hands were more urgently need elsewhere.
Electricity is a peculiar thing though, and it can seem to have a will of its own. Cut off from its access to the outside world by Zimmerman’s prompt action it got spiteful and expended itself in a big way inside the Town Hall instead. There was plenty of damage to be done there so it got on with it in short order. Within microseconds it had blown every single bit of electrical apparatus in the building. The one single miraculous exception to this general devastation was the large chandelier hanging above the platform in the Great Hall that continued to shine forth regardless, illuminating the awful scene below.
It was not a happy sight. Broken chairs and trampled flowers were strewn all over the auditorium, empty now except for those left on the stage. Happily Wally, because of his rubber outfit, was not badly injured, and neither was Gervaise, thanks to his B.B.C. Issue rubber soled shoes, always worn when broadcasting to keep things as quiet as possible. They were just in shock, as was the rest of the stage party.
One man who was not so lucky was Duggie. Safe under the sheets in his laundry basket he had known nothing of Wally’s ordeal, or even of the whole Town Hall being plunged into darkness. But Angela, his pursuer, frightened first by the distant sounds of exploding bulbs and then by all the lights in Baths & Washhouses going out as well, panicked and flung herself into the nearest bolt hole she could find. Which basket, as one would expect, she unexpectedly found to be already occupied.
Back at the centre of things events took an even worse turn for the worst.
It is often said there is never a policeman about when you want one. Well on this occasion, for once, there was.
It was Constable Yarrow and, to give credit where credit was due, he had realised from the hundreds of people fleeing fear stricken from the Town Hall, and the whole town being plunged into noisy darkness by the exploding Illuminations that something was probably wrong.
The Major and Mayor had now recovered sufficiently to begin to grasp the enormity of what had just happened to the town and town hall, and as the costs of all the damage just done sank into his rate conscious consciousness he sprang into action at the sight of the law’s timely appearance.
‘Arrest him,’ he screamed, pointing at Wally. ’And him, he said, his accusing finger now directed at Zimmerman, ‘and him,’ indicating Ken this time. ‘Particularly him’.
‘Very good Mr Mayor sir,’ said Yarrow, then felt Ken’s collar in the approved manner, though recognising him as a doctor from their encounter earlier in the day, he saluted him first to be on the safe side.
The constable didn’t have enough hands to grab hold of all three of them but was saved having to make a choice by the miracle mentioned earlier proving of short duration. The chandelier hanging shining above them suddenly ceased to do both, and with a resounding explosion it crashed down in bits on to the stage, finally plunging the whole place into total darkness.