There was a faint tap at Daisy’s office door. As she was on the telephone at
the time with a client, Daisy Hamilton, private investigator, could only
call out to come in. The conversation was very important as it concerned the
disappearance of a young girl. The phone went dead suddenly and Daisy was
undecided whether to ring back or not, when she remembered someone was
probably still outside the door. Daisy got up, opened the door and saw a man
apparently just about to go away down the stairs. He had a hunched stance
and thick-rimmed glasses. When he saw Daisy, he mumbled something.
“Did you knock?” asked Daisy unable to understand what the man had said.
Again he mumbled something but seemed to want to come into the office. He
looked about thirty-five with long hair going grey, held together with an
elastic band. He was wearing an out-of-date brown chequered jacket with the
collar turned up.
“Please come in,” Daisy said. The man blinked and followed her into the
Daisy sat down at her desk indicating the chair in front for her guest. The
man sat down on the chair as though he were sitting on a bed of nails. He
cleared his throat and in a rather faint voice replied, “I’m sorry. Er...
Euan Robard recommended you to me.” Daisy hadn’t heard this name for six
years or so. He had been accused of something vile and Daisy had found the
evidence which saved him from a long prison sentence.
“We... we need you to solve a mystery which is ruining us all. My name is
David Lewisson. I’m the director of a soap opera - you may have seen it -
Brides and Grooms To Bee, you know, bee with two e’s.”
“No, I haven't,” replied Daisy. "Please go on.”
Daisy thought that the way Mr. Lewisson was dressed would have been called
rather modern once. Now it looked just terribly out-of-date.
Mr. Lewisson explained, “Someone - or something mysterious is
interfering with the filming of our soap. Strange and unusual things happen
continuously. We are beginning to feel frightened. ‘The mysterious hand is
at work again’ is what is being said on the set!”
Mr. Lewisson became very agitated.
Daisy thought that she should sidetrack this nervous man, “Please tell me
something about the soap itself.”
“Well, Brides and Grooms To Bee... er... it's spelt bee
because they are as busy as bees, which is sung about in the signature tune,
and is set in the brideswear section of a big department store. Basically
it’s a different story almost every week, always about someone who is
getting married. We spin it out - bring in her fiancé, drag in relatives and
friends etc. Occasionally there are cameo parts played by well-known actors
or actresses. Er...” Mr. Lewisson started choking.
“I'll get you a glass of water,” said Daisy getting up from her office
chair. Mr. Lewisson gulped down his water, nearly choked again and then
recovered. “The thing is that our filming of the episodes is being
sabotaged! This leads to last minute work and the episodes risk not being
filmed at all. I'm afraid our sponsors are beginning to get wind of all
this. You know, this is my first chance in a soap and I want it to be a
Daisy’s seventh sense told her this was going to be a very interesting case.
“Please take your time but tell me exactly what has happened.”
“First it’s one thing, then another, Miss Hamilton. To begin with, the
actress playing the part of a young carefree girl who worked in the bridal
department became pregnant in real life, so we had to kill her off by
marrying her suddenly to a man who works in Guatemala. The newcomer is an
actress called Lucy Keith-Hammond, who has taken her place, a rather more
serious and innocent-type young woman. Strangely enough, as soon as Lucy set
foot in the studio, unusual things began to happen. For instance, after a
couple of days her costume couldn't be found, and then later turned up in a
Mr. Lewisson spoke so quickly and nervously that it was difficult to follow
him. He continued, “One time the actor Zac Summerstone, who plays the part
of the store detective, was telephoned by someone saying that the script had
been changed, so we didn’t need him any more that day. As he didn’t turn up,
my wife, the scriptwriter, had to change the story for that episode at the
last minute. Naturally we checked afterwards and absolutely nobody from the
studio had phoned him! On another occasion Zac’s tyres were slashed outside
his flat. He was also stalked by someone for days - this even got into the
papers! And two days ago someone stole his script so he was late
learning the part for the next day.”
The anxious soap director winced as he spoke. “What on earth can we do?”
Daisy thought for a moment, “Well, I suppose the only thing is for me to
come onto the set for a while and pry around.”
David Lewisson nodded energetically. “Would you? Oh, wonderful!”
“I must have a good excuse for being there, of course,” remarked Daisy.
Mr. Lewisson sat thinking for a moment. “Euan told me you are good at
dressing up as different characters, couldn’t you actually act in the
soap - a small part of course? I can get Heather, my wife, to create a small
role for you where you'll be chiefly listening to others, so that it's
reasonably easy for you to do.”
Daisy was thrilled to bits at the thought of taking part in a soap while
attempting to solve a strange case, but remained apparently very calm and
collected in front of Mr. Lewisson. “Yes, I think I could manage that,” she
answered, “but I’d like to bring my camera along, it’s such a useful tool in
cases like this. You could explain I’m a friend’s daughter who’s an aspiring
on-set photographer to whom you owe a favour...”
David Lewisson looked confused but nodded in agreement.
made their arrangements and Daisy went up to the studios near Manchester.
Mr. Lewisson had found her a small flat but sufficiently comfortable just a
bus ride away.
“Please call me David,” said the soap director. “This is Heather, my wife.”
Daisy thought Heather must be from the Caribbean. She wore very vivacious
colours which suited her generous smile admirably and looked a friendly and
practical sort of person.
“David told me to write you into the script. You are to be Iris, the
temporary store assistant. Here it is, Daisy, and I’ll help you all I can.
Anyway if you forget something you can more of less make up your own lines,
as many actors do. So don’t worry and see you tomorrow.”
following morning Daisy arrived at the studios as had been arranged. She had
told David and Heather that she didn’t want them to introduce her to the
actors so that she could keep a low profile and study their reactions
David and Heather were already on the set looking at the script in a corner.
Daisy merely said, “Hello,” and had a look around.
Suddenly Zac, the store detective in the soap, bounced onto the set clearly
convinced that he was God’s gift to women. He was rather tall, dark and very
handsome, but in spite of all this his real winning point was his smile. He
had a very appealing smile - relaxed and well used. Even though he didn't
have an athletic physique he was a natural model - his clothes looked
wonderful on him. Zac noticed Daisy who was trying out her brand new digital
camera. “Hello honey, you new here? What’s your name?”
“Daisy,” she answered pretending to be rather shy, “I’ve got the part of
Iris, the temporary sales girl. I'm so proud to be working with all of you -
I hope you don't mind my taking a few photos. I know I’m just a beginner but
my dream is to become an on-set photographer!”
“Please go ahead star in the making, with a beautiful flower name – and a
photographer to boot – how could we refuse you anything? My name is Zac and
I’m the store detective no one can hide from,” he quipped. “Oh, here comes
Jeanette Milbridge, the owner of the department store in the soap. She’s
rather formidable even when she’s not acting, to tell the truth.”
When Jeanette came over to say hello to everybody Daisy noticed that she had
a wonderfully modulated voice. “Oh, you must be - er - Daisy, the new sales
assistant. Welcome to our little happy family.”
Daisy couldn't help noticing that when she said ‘happy family’ there was
irony in her voice.
Jeanette proved to be a woman in her fifties who cared not at all for
fashion or any other obvious conventionality - she was just herself, which
seemed to reinforce her strong presence. Jeanette wore a dark mauve blouse
and dark-coloured jeans well, as she was quite slender. Her amber-coloured
eyes missed nothing but she certainly wasn’t a chatterbox. Daisy saw later
on that it was not until she changed into her costume, which made her much
stouter, and started acting, that she became a garrulous loudly-spoken
domineering store owner. In the soap Jeanette had to make everybody afraid
of her and render life difficult for them as the store was losing money.
However, Daisy observed that when she wasn't acting she had quite a sad
Zac was looking at himself in the mirror on the set, straightening his tie.
“It’s my birthday today!” he said as though it were of great importance to
“Oh, really. So that makes you Leo the lion, doesn’t it?” Jeanette remarked
with a certain sarcasm. Her voice was that of an actress of time ago who had
performed every possible role. Daisy could imagine her as Hedda Gabler or
Miss Julia, then remembered seeing a television recording of one of the
angry young men's plays. Yes, that horrid frowsy woman was Jeanette. Whew,
what an actress!
“Yes, indeed, Leo’s my sign,” confirmed Zac. “What’s yours, dear Jeanette,
Jeanette wasn’t perturbed even a bit. “Actually it is. How clever of you.”
Now Zac turned to Lucy, the new young actress, who had arrived a bit late,
and eyed her as though she had been won over already. “And you, my dear.
What delicious sign were you born under?”
“I’m a Pisces, actually, but I don’t really like my double sign,” said Lucy.
She had a rather naive expression but was a young modern woman who delighted
in skimpy jumpers which showed her midriff and tight trousers with a rather
garish chain belt around them.
Jeanette observed Lucy carefully but said nothing.
“Hello slaves, hello,” this was Ben Skittleworth. Daisy recognised him as
the rather mature, famous and extremely
lovable, very humane comic actor she had seen on the television screen many
times. She had watched him time and time again as Perce, the reliable
Cockney garage mechanic, with his tragic yet humouristic outlook, or as
Stan, the rather high-principled workman from Lancashire, always dressed in
a boiler suit. But now Daisy observed that he wore, surprisingly, smart
clothes with tasteful colour combinations and had no regional accent
whatsoever. She also noticed that he seemed to be quite a different person
from the humane comic characters he had impersonated.
Zac stood up as though he were about to make an important announcement. “Now
we're all here, everybody is invited for a drink at the King's Horse this
evening as soon as we've finished, as it's my birthday.”
“When are we going to start, David?” Ben called out to the director ignoring
Zac. He seemed quite irritated, and wasn’t even interested in asking who
David came over, “Oh Ben, there’s been a mix-up!” David seemed rather
nervous at speaking to him. “I’m sorry but you’ve been cut out of this
scene. I telephoned you but your mobile was apparently switched off.”
“Whaaat! You mean I’ve come early for nothing?”
Ben threw down his script and stormed out.
“No, no – er – you’ll be needed in a couple of hours’ time! No need to get
upset, Ben!” called out David, picking the script up again and running after
The actors had to have their make-up put on and their hair combed into the
style of their characters in the soap. Daisy never liked having her hair
done by others but she rather enjoyed being made up as Iris with a blond wig
and kohl on her eyelids. Daisy’s character was a chirpy talkative young
woman with a short skirt and high heels. There were walk-on actors as well,
who rarely had close-ups and weren’t even made up.
It was quite tiring acting in a soap even though there were few takes, as
everything was done strictly to budget, so Daisy didn’t really feel like
going to the pub that evening to celebrate Zac’s birthday, but she knew she
had to, so as not to miss anything.
King's Horse proved to be quite a pleasant pub just around the corner to the
studios. When Daisy arrived with her camera in her shoulder bag, Jeanette,
Lucy and Zac were already there. Soon after an anxious-looking David arrived
with Heather who was carrying her scripts.
They sat down still discussing the day’s shooting amongst themselves whilst
Zac prattled on about the acting profession, which almost made Jeanette
Heather handed Lucy, who was looking, as usual, admiringly at Zac, her
script for the next day. “The best people in this business are Leos of
course - and those born on the first are especially talented,” boasted Zac.
Strangely enough he was able to get away with it. He had charisma and people
just smiled at his extravagancies.
Lucy asked, “And what about those born on the third of March?”
“If they look like you they are born lucky!” Zac smiled his toothpaste
Lucy blushed happily.
Having asked the cast if they objected to her taking pictures of them, Daisy
clicked away trying to look like an on-set photographer. Nobody minded and
Zac even seemed to like it.
Daisy saw that Jeanette was more than a little quiet. Something was causing
her some sort of a problem. She was sitting in a chair alone, without saying
anything - without even looking at anybody, but her hands were twitching.
Daisy sat down next to her. “Jeanette, if you can give me any tips or
anything, I’ll be glad to hear them. You know, I’ve never been in a soap
Jeanette seemed to wake up from a dream, “Of course, I’d be happy to give
you any hints I can.”
“Keep close to me and I’ll protect you, little one,” Zac was still making up
to Lucy. She reacted to this, “Well I’m not so little, really - I was
twenty-six last birthday,” but still giggled at him.
Daisy saw that Jeanette turned pale. Did she fancy Zac?
At this point Ben, the famous comic actor, wobbled in. He had certainly had
more than enough to drink but was ready for more. “Hi, battleaxe,” he was
looking at Jeanette and waved to her, “who are you trying to dominate now?”
Jeanette simply ignored him.
Seeing he had no reaction from her, Ben changed his tune, “Zac, are you
still trying your charm on the little Scouse?” Ben was referring to Lucy,
who of course had a Liverpool accent. “What about my drink?” At this
point the publican came over and swiftly marched him out of the door. He
clearly knew him well and was determined not to have any trouble in his pub.
“Come on my dear,” Zac seemed a little old-fashioned in his approach to
Daisy. “What are you having?” he asked her.
“I'd prefer a soft drink please,” Daisy replied.
Now Lucy’s script accidentally slipped off her lap and as she leaned down to
pick it up, Zac fell to his knees.
“And you, dream girl, what nectar can I tempt you with?” he purred
giving Lucy her script back.
Jeanette now turned her attention to the conversation between Lucy and
“Ben is always being nasty to someone,” Lucy explained. “Well, I may have a
Liverpool accent, and I’d love to have an airport dedicated to me, but
actually I was born in Glasgow. What about you, Daisy? I can't make your
accent out. Where do you come from?”
Daisy mumbled something about being born nearby.
She observed Jeanette again. “Why does she look so tense when Lucy is in her
company?” Daisy asked herself. “Is she secretly in love with Zac herself and
jealous that Lucy has stolen Zac away from her?”
Every now and then Daisy took photographs of the actors when they were too
absorbed in their work to notice what she was doing. Jeanette didn’t seem at
ease and looked completely lost in thought. Realising this and not wanting
to draw attention to herself she suddenly joined into the conversation.
“Heather, I wanted to ask you about a couple of lines in tomorrow’s script.
I really think they should be modified a bit.”
Daisy exchanged chairs with Jeanette so that the two women could huddle up
together to discuss the changes.
Later that evening Daisy looked at the whole series of photos she had taken
using her laptop. She tried to sum up the expressions in the photos. There
was Ben behaving in a truculent manner, Zac, who was very pleased with
himself, Lucy obviously in love and then there was… Jeanette. What did
the different expressions on her face mean? Sometimes she looked very
intense, other times she showed no reaction whatsoever, or even looked
Clearly Ben hated Zac. Lucy looked almost completely inexperienced and naïve
but there was something else in her expression that Daisy couldn’t quite put
her finger on. Something she had seen before. But... what was it?
next morning the mysterious hand struck again. Everybody was in the canteen
for coffee. Zac had already drunk half a cup when he suddenly felt ill
knocking the table over and then rushing to the bathroom to vomit.
“David, help, Zac is ill - someone has tried to poison him!” Lucy
started shouting hysterically, “David, please, go and help him!”
David was not the type of person one should call in an emergency and
hesitated. Heather pulled him by his arm and they both followed Zac into the
Ben looked at Jeanette strangely pleased, “Well, well, well!” and went on to
quote in beautiful English, “I have given suck, and know / How tender 'tis
to love the babe that milks me.”
Lucy seemed scandalised, “Ben, how can you quote Shakespeare at a moment
like this?” she said.
Soon after, David and Heather managed to get the white-faced Zac to the
first aid centre which was in the front of the building.
When David returned to the canteen he was terror-stricken and Heather was
trying to reassure him that Zac was going to be all right. “If he really had
been poisoned he would have been much worse, Dave. Calm yourself!”
Also Lucy looked less worried now while Jeanette merely watched what was
the four o’clock tea break everything was back to normal and Zac was already
putting on his charm for Lucy's sake. Everybody was having tea and cakes
when Ben began to attack Zac. “You think you can have just any woman - but
what about your wife and family. Do you think you can get away with all this
Zac turned to Ben, and for the first time Daisy saw him angry. “What the
hell are you talking about? You know damn well that we divorced eight years
ago. You’re a disagreeable old clown...” Ben suddenly dealt Zac a right
hook. The younger man fell off his chair onto the floor and put his hand to
his bleeding face.
Members of the crew dragged Ben away and helped Zac to his seat again. Lucy
rushed over to Zac. She pulled a pack of tissues from her bag to wipe the
blood away from his face and sat down next to him. “Whatever has got into
Ben? How can he be so vicious?”
“OK everybody. Let's stay calm.” Pale-faced David tried unsuccessfully to
take charge of the situation.
Even in these difficult circumstances Zac brought out his old bag of tricks
to charm Lucy, “Well, if I need a transfusion, I’ll get you to give me one,
I'm group O,” he said as though it were a sign of nobility.
“ 'fraid not, I've got a rare blood group - AB. I already donate blood, but
only to those who have the same group as me,” Lucy quipped cheekily bending
over to kiss him on the forehead. Jeanette stared at Lucy but Daisy couldn’t
interpret the expression on her face. Jeanette looked as though she was
suspended in time. Was it jealousy or something else? The make-up girl did
some magic on Zac's face as soon as it stopped bleeding, and David made an
announcement, his voice still shaky. “Heather has rearranged the script and
Iris will mention the fact that Zac had a slight car accident which will
account for the sticky plaster on his cheek. Let's all get back to work!”
Daisy breathed a sigh of relief when the filming broke up for the evening.
Lucy and Zac walked off together hand in hand and the others didn’t even say
good night and just went their separate ways.
That night Daisy dreamed that Ben was trying to strangle Jeanette, who
changed into a bird-like figure armed with a knife and was threatening Lucy
telling her to leave Zac alone. Then Zac appeared masqueraded as a woman.
When she woke up, Daisy felt very confused. Then suddenly… she had an idea.
Maybe things were just the opposite of what they seemed - or were they?
next morning there was a lot of tension on the set. Lucy clung to Zac
protectively and Ben sat in a corner sulking. The filming began and Ben
acted a scene with Zac. Daisy noticed that Ben was a great professional and
seemed completely convincing when he smiled at Zac benevolently, patting his
hand affectionately, and even Zac acted extremely well, inspired by Ben’s
performance. One would have thought that the two were very fond of each
other and so by lunchtime everybody began to feel that maybe the feud
between them had come to an end. Then it happened. They were filming a scene
and Zac, who was just going to adjust his tie in a mirror in the bridal
department, stepped back suddenly. There it was. Someone had stuck a
photograph onto the mirror with cellotape.
Zac grabbed at the photo but not before Lucy, who was standing beside him,
had managed to see who was in it.
Lucy began shrieking, “Oh no! Zac!”
Zac looked embarassed and said nothing. His silence was more than eloquent.
Lucy began to cry, “How could you? You monster!”
Zac stammered out something.
“What’s wrong Zac?” shouted David getting up from behind the television
Lucy snatched the photo from Zac and tore it up. “You bastard, don’t you
ever come near me again!” and rushed out crying.
Daisy picked up the pieces of the photo and put them together again with
some cellotape. It was a snap taken at the London Eye recently as proven by
the date printed on it. Zac was kissing a pretty young woman with a small
baby in her arms just as a doting husband and father would.
David looked over her shoulder and nearly passed out. “Break for one hour
everyone!” he bleated and looked really desperate.
“Could I have a word with you, David?” Daisy asked. “Do you think you could
persuade the cast to come to the canteen now, as something very important
has come up. Tell them there is a crisis and the sponsors who have put up
the money for Brides and Bridegrooms to Bee are pulling out of the
“All right, Daisy,” David looked completely exhausted. If Daisy had asked
him for a return ticket to Mars he would have replied automatically, “Yes,
I’ll get you one.”
David, Heather and the four principal actors in the soap all arrived at the
canteen and went into the inner room reserved for the kitchen staff. The
actors were surprised to see that Daisy was taking charge of the situation
as she had placed the chairs into a semi-circle around her and a laptop on a
small table to her right and asked everybody to sit down.
“What the hell is going on?” Ben asked David who looked panic-stricken.
“Please sit down! We are here to discuss a very serious situation,”
Daisy declared. “But before we start, let me clear the air a bit. I want you
to know that you have all been deceived - by me, by David and by each other.
As for me, I am not an on-set photographer student nor an actress - at least
not a professional one. I’m a private detective!”
The four actors stared at her and began protesting. Daisy paid no attention
to their protests and continued talking over them. “It’s not true either
that the sponsors are withdrawing their funds - yet - but they will
surely do so if all this cat and mouse situation is not cleared up.”
David looked as though he were about to faint, but Heather seemed a bit
“David hired me to investigate the strange events happening around this
soap. Luckily he did so when the things which occurred were relatively
harmless. His intuition had told him to act before it was too late!”
David goggled at Daisy. Heather looked at him as though to say, ‘I told you
Daisy pulled herself up to make an announcement, “I’m about to suggest what
has been going on. I don’t expect all I say is exactly what really happened
- maybe you will see fit to correct the details. Anyway, what I’m certain of
is that the mysterious hand that struck was not a single hand
at all, but several different hands!”
This remark seemed to create a small earthquake and nearly everybody started
raising his voice and turning to his neighbour to see if they could guess
what was meant by this statement.
Daisy refused to let her audience interrupt her, “Well, first of all, let’s
go over the things that happened on the set and after. David told me that
Lucy’s costume disappeared. Then there was the mysterious telephone call
telling Zac he wasn’t needed for the day. His tyres were slashed, he was
stalked and his script went missing. Things got even worse when - to
top it all - Zac was, shall we say, poisoned! Ben attacked Zac – well, that
wasn’t mysterious really, but even then it hadn’t finished because a photo
of Zac’s present family was found stuck onto the mirror!”
“It’s clear that someone wanted to kill me and the police had better be
informed,” said Zac rather pompously, but nobody heeded him.
“I asked myself,” Daisy went on, “what type of action had been taken and it
came out like this: one was perhaps just an accident, one never actually
happened, four were extremely unpleasant and one could have been fatal. I’ll
go further, one at least was a typical male action and one a typical female
Zac broke in indignantly, “Why don’t you just get on with telling us who the
criminal was who tried to poison me? That’s the most important issue as far
as I’m concerned!”
“Well, Zac, if you want a quick answer you’ll just have to wait! But in the
meantime let me tell you that a plausible explanation of the stalking thing
is, that it was invented by you. In fact, it got you wonderful coverage in
Zac’s face turned red.
Heather remarked, “I thought as much!”
“I can see that at least one of my ideas was right!” noted Daisy. “Let’s
continue. When Lucy lost her costume, which I believe was just mislaid, this
gave someone – one of the mysterious hands – the idea of creating havoc. The
mysterious hand working against Brides and Grooms to Bee seemed
rather romantic to you, Ben, didn’t it? Whereas it could have caused the end
of the soap! Of course, you didn’t really want to destroy the soap, but it
was an opportunity to ruin Zac whom you dislike intensely. The very
handsome, charming and lucky Zac, who in your eyes isn’t even a real actor,
was beginning to become the star of the soap. That’s why you stole his
script and slashed his tyres.”
Ben's bleary eyes gave nothing away.
“You have great control when you are sober,” Daisy continued, “you were a
famous comic actor once, highly respected for your art in the profession,
but also well-known to insiders for your bad temper and difficult character.
You started losing work and had to accept what, for you, was a downgrading
in your career: acting in a soap!”
Daisy explained, “I discovered this from a theatrical agent I know. Then you
were jealous of Zac’s success which you felt he certainly didn’t deserve.
Even Jeanette, whom you call a battleaxe, would not have upset you so much
if she had become the star of the show, as she too is a real artist, a thing
Ben looked down for a moment, still without saying a single word.
“So one day you telephoned Zac telling him he wasn’t needed, using a
disguised woman’s voice. Doing a woman’s voice is one of your specialities:
I recall seeing you some years ago in a TV show where you were imitating
working women’s regional accents effortlessly.”
“You bloody rogue!” exclaimed Zac.
Ben almost smiled as though what Zac had said was a compliment.
David gasped at Daisy’s analysis and started mumbling to his wife who was
obviously enjoying it all as if it were a stage show.
“Then something else happened,” Daisy continued. “There was a birthday
party, and this almost led to tragedy the next day when something was put
into Zac’s coffee which, as you all saw, made him very ill. I don’t think it
was a lethal substance at all but we will never know as the cup he drank
On hearing this, David dropped his glass of water which broke into tiny
fragments. Everybody turned and stared at him with questioning eyes.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions!” warned Daisy. “We have a supposed
poisoning. But whatever it was, did someone really try to harm Zac or was it
self-inflicted in order to get more publicity?”
“Self-inflicted? How dare you! I really was ill!” Zac was astonished
that anyone should think that He, the Magnificent Male, could hurt himself
Daisy brushed this remark aside, “Okay, this means two problems still remain
unanswered: the poisoning of Zac and the episode of the photograph stuck on
the mirror. We have already got our male
culprits, now let’s turn to the ladies!”
Daisy swivelled her chair towards Heather. Heather looked astonished. “Yes,
Heather, I took you into consideration as well as David. But excluded you
both when I discovered what was really going on.”
Heather looked relieved.
“If Zac’s poisoning wasn’t self-inflicted, then somebody wanted to poison
him - or teach him a lesson. Now it’s time to sum things up. We have Zac - a
charmer - a man famous for his smile who wants to be popular with women, a
man who enjoys being admired for his handsome face and manner and will play
any sort of game to win over his prey. No, he would hardly do anything which
would show himself to be vulnerable. Then there is Ben, a very troubled
person who clearly isn’t the baddy he would like people to think he is. The
person who once interpreted the lovable Perce and Stan characters cannot
possibly be a really bad person at all.”
“Well, maybe you’ve got a point there,” said Ben bowing ironically.
Daisy continued with her analysis, “Now there is Lucy, a rather credulous
young woman who pretends to herself not to recognise a Don Juan for what he
Lucy looked rather like a small child who had been told off.
“She is – or rather was, madly in love with Zac, that alone makes me think I
can exclude her from my list of possible culprits. And what about Jeanette?
I was surprised how antagonistic Zac was to Jeanette when they talked about
zodiac signs. Zac always courts women, why not Jeanette? Later I realised
why. He sensed that she didn't like him at all and felt uneasy about it as
he was used to women falling all over him.
So, Jeanette: a formidable lady but still a woman at heart. Rather kind
actually - but you’d better not attack the most important person in her
life.” Daisy stopped to drink some water.
“And who is this ‘most important person’?” Heather broke in.
“I’ll come to that in a minute,” Daisy replied.
Abruptly Jeanette got up to leave. “Jeanette, wait!” Daisy called to her.
“Can’t you see - we must get all this out into the open. Things have gone
too far. The ‘most important person’ may need you, you know.”
Jeanette sat down again and bit into her lower lip.
Daisy continued with her reconstruction, “Jeanette, you probably guessed
that Ben was behind the attacks on Zac, which gave you the copycat idea of
the mysterious hand which strikes yet again. Poison is a woman’s weapon. You
put something in Zac’s coffee, didn’t you?”
Everybody started talking all at the same time. Jeanette shivered and looked
like a trapped animal.
“You didn’t want to kill Zac, you probably just wanted to give him a nasty
lesson,” Daisy suggested. “Ben, you worked out that Jeanette was the one who
had put something in Zac’s coffee and made that quotation from Macbeth - you
knew that Jeanette had made her name in the part of Lady Macbeth.”
Jeanette’s eyes were those of a petrified animal about to be ripped to
pieces. “Now we come to the last incident,” announced Daisy. “It was rather
a clever psychological trick, a woman’s trick. Jeanette, you have been a
famous actress for a long time. I don’t suppose it was difficult for you to
telephone an old friend who works for a tabloid and just ask if there was
any recent scandal on Zac or if he really was divorced. Luckily your friend
came up with something quite spectacular. Zac had married again and there
was even a photo of him with his second wife and child, taken in recent
times at the London Eye. Naturally you asked for a copy to be sent to you.”
Daisy held the famous photo up, which she had pieced together, and showed
everybody what was written on the back of it: copyright The Sunday
Zac protested, “Please, my reputation...!”
Ben laughed, “As a lady’s man - you haven't got one any more. You'll
certainly lose a few female followers now – and unless you learn how to act
you’ll soon be out of a job!” Ben almost spat this out to Zac, then looked
approvingly at Jeanette.
“Jeanette, do you prefer to tell us about what you did?” asked Daisy
Lady Macbeth had not cracked yet but when Daisy asked her this, she shook
her head slightly and her expression was of one who is about to be beheaded.
Daisy went on, “The conversation that was to change everything for you was
about astrology. Lucy was born on the third of March and later it transpired
that she was twenty-six years old.”
Jeanette’s hands twitched violently.
“Well, go on Daisy. Tell us everything. Don’t leave us in suspense,” urged
“As you all know I took quite a number of photos with my camera. Now I would
like you all to look at some of them and, I hope, all will be
Daisy pushed her laptop round towards her audience. “Notice the frozen
expression on Jeanette's face when she learns that Lucy has an AB blood
group, as if the whole world had turned upside down.”
Daisy clicked again at her computer. “And here is another photo of you,
Jeanette, when Ben quoted those famous lines of Lady Macbeth I have given
suck, and know / How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me. You had
an expression of infinite pain! But there was something else, even though I
couldn’t work out what it was until I heard your character getting angry in
the soap. Your wonderful brazen Cockney accent became slightly Scottish...
and Lucy was born in Glasgow!”
“Whatever are you getting at, Daisy?” Heather was feeling the tension rising
in the canteen.
Daisy ignored her question and carried on, “Here is another photo I took
accidentally. Jeanette and Lucy were sitting on a divan watching Ben who was
on my right. They have exactly the same expression!”
Everybody looked at the photos and gasped. “It's true!” Heather remarked,
“Lucy doesn’t actually look like you, Jeanette, but…”
Lucy looked at Jeanette with astonishment, “What does all this mean? I don't
Jeanette took a deep breath and in a stage whisper said, “It’s true,
you are my daughter - I...” but she couldn’t continue.
Lucy stared around the canteen as though she didn’t know where she was. “I’m
your... daughter? I always knew I had been adopted but...”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Jeanette pronounced these words as though she
should not have spoken at all.
Ben stared at Jeanette and nodded to himself as though he understood
Daisy took over again, “You hated to see your daughter deceived by Zac, whom
you saw as such an obvious fake. The thing is, Lucy wanted to believe that
Zac was sincere with her. If you had told her what he was really like she
would never have believed you and would have defended him. The sticking of
the photo on the mirror was a very spectacular and clever trick.”
Nobody spoke for a moment.
“But you say you're my mother – how do I know it’s true?” A bewildered Lucy
asked of Jeanette.
Jeanette looked upset, “When you said that your birthday was on the third of
March and that you were born twenty-six years ago in Glasgow I began to
realise that you might be my daughter. Then you said your blood group was
AB, which was my daughter’s too, and is quite rare...”
Ben interrupted, “It certainly sounds very convincing but...”
“There’s something else,” added Jeanette. “You’re right, I wasn’t completely
sure until the moment when Lucy kissed Zac after he had been ill. Her cotton
jumper rode up… and I could see a scar. It was quite visible in the light
because it was paler than her sun-tanned skin. It was the scar of the
removal of her spleen when Lucy was a baby.”
Lucy touched where the scar was. "It's true, my spleen was removed
when I was a baby.”
It was like being at a funeral, nobody said anything for a few moments.
Finally Heather broke in, “So, what are we going to do now?”
“Well,” continued Daisy, “as I said at the beginning, my explanations can be
all wrong! If you want the soap to go off the air you could carry out your
individual vendettas and tell this tale to the newspapers - or – you could
forget everything that has been said and get on with your work.”
Daisy switched off her laptop and got up. “It’s your choice!”
Naturally it was in no-one’s interest to spread all this gossip, so nobody
said anything to the press and the soap continued.
Three months later Daisy watched Brides and Grooms to Bee on
television and saw herself acting in a couple of brief scenes. She also
watched the following episode, the day after, which was the triumph of the
great comic actor Ben playing the part of good old Vic, the store doorman,
who heroically steps out into the street to pull a small child out of the
way of a car, and is himself knocked over. Zac, as the store detective, was
acting better than he ever had and looked really concerned when he visited
his old friend Ben in hospital. On screen, Jeanette and Ben were
exceptionally moving when they declared that they were both very fond of
each other and, who knows, in the future…
A week later, the character of Lucy had changed rather drastically, as
happens in many soaps. Instead of the naive girl she was before, she now
wore skimpier clothes and much more heavy make-up and had become a spiteful
young woman trying to get her best friend’s boyfriend away from her! Daisy
hated this but had to admit that Lucy was acting better and better, maybe
learning from her great actress mother!
In the new year Daisy watched the soap awards. Jeanette and Ben were awarded
as the best comic couple, Zac as the sexiest male actor and Heather Lewisson
as the best script writer. In Jeanette’s acceptance speech she spoke about
the extraordinay affection there was amongst all the actors in the soap. Ben
confirmed this with tears in his eyes and spoke of the wonderful family unit
they all were on the set. Daisy thought that Ben actually looked younger and
healthier as if something had changed for the better.
Zac looked extremely handsome receiving his award and announced that he
would be taking the lead in a new crime series about a Scotland Yard police
inspector, so he would be leaving the soap. Daisy thought that now Zac would
be even more convinced he was the bee-all and end-all of television!