I’ve just finished a Simon Brett mystery, one of the Charles Paris series, Situation Tragedy.

There’s lots in his books to want to transcribe (for instance the Anglican vicar in on of his Fethering novels, oh man was he funny), but in this book, about some Suspicious Deaths that happen during the filming of a TV show in the early 80s (or sit. com. as he writes it even in 1981), there are some recurring union characters (“the men whose only function was to wear lumberjack checked shirts”) are amazing. For one thing, there are the constant threats of strikes (it’s an ITV show they’re filming, and the BBC has been on strike to reach parity with ITV and now ITV is going on strike to get away from parity with the BBC), but then there are passages like this (none of the people or names of things matter to the plot at all, just read and enjoy and don’t wonder if there’s missing context because it was obviously written not to need any):

The location caterers opened up their double-decker bus to reveal rows of tables and chairs, and served a substantial meal of truffles pork pâté, cold duck with a variety of salads, and fresh strawberries (not cheaply available in May), washed down with a choice of, or, if you felt like it, a mixture of, red and white wines.

Since he hadn’t been involved in recent filming, Charles was early in the queue and sat down alone with his Loaded plate and a large glass of red wine. Two of the men whose only function was to wear lumberjack checked shirts sat down opposite and, oblivious, proceeded to discuss their profession.

“You reckon it’ll overrun?” asked the older one.

“Don’t know. He seems to be more or less to to schedule.”

The other one grimaced. “Might pass the word round to the lads to cool it a bit, or we wont get into the overtime.”


“Incidentally, I need a fiver off of you.”

“What for?”

“Oh, do own up. You come in my car with Rog and Bill, we’re all going to claim the first-class rail and taxi link. I got to get a cut for depreciation on my motor.”

“Have Rog and Bill paid up?”


“Okay then. There you are.”

“You on this filming for the Wragg and Bowen thing next week?”


“Reckon we’re on a flier there.”

“What you mean we’ll have to stay overnight?”

“No, no, sonny. The location’s only an hour and a half down the motorway. No, we only claim the overnights, don’t do them.”

“Sure.” A pause over the truffled pâté. “You reckon it’s all right today?”

“Filming? Yeah, okay, I reckon. Mind you, I’m just waiting for him to do. Shot that’s got one of the greens of the golf course in it.”

“Why’s that?”

“Haven’t you noticed, son? They’ve got the sprinklers on.”


“Oh, come on, where was you brought up? If you got running water in the shot, then you have to have a plumber on the set, haven’t you. Specialist work, son. Need a fully paid-up plumber when you’re using sprinklers.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“You got a lot to learn, son. Have a word with Rog, he’ll fill you in about your rights.”

They raised their glasses and drank. The older one grimaced at the taste. “‘Ere, I don’t reckon this lot’s been château-bottled. Might have a word to Rog about that, and all.”

I thought that was pretty good. Also, I typed this up on mu iPad!