Monday, 1st June.  The day after Sunday, 31st May.  I am still here and, I believe the world is still round but that’s about it.  Last night, at 8.31pm precisely (always fashionably late), I signed in to Zoom for a Murder Mystery extravaganza and … I have never laughed so much in all my born days!  I don’t think that was the point but, somehow, it was inevitable.

A date which had been looming in my diary for some weeks, I decided it was time for some preparation, perhaps a little too late.  However, I had the tennis racket, found the balls and  am in possession of plenty of Wimbledon memorabilia.  1920s fanatical tennis player – Annette Kord – who tends to over-indulge on the Pimms?  A little far-fetched – and requiring of much acting expertise, obviously – I could do that!  Picking out a suitable white top of the characteristic sailor-style, I even had a long white cotton cardigan, edged in navy, which I wore in the 80s – perfect.  From the waist down?  No matter.  Nobody would see my white jeans.  Pearls?  A must!  The only thing missing was some kind of head attire.  Bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have a Wimbledon visor, I winged it with a pair of Ralph Lauren sunglasses in the club colours.  Yes, yes!  Doing my own thing, as ever, my roaring 20s were now very much of the 2000 variety but it would be a conversation starter.  Wouldn’t it?

Becca had downloaded Zoom onto my laptop – seven words I never expected to type – and I decided I needed a suitable virtual background.  Well, perhaps, ‘suitable’, was stretching it!  I had the brilliant idea that I would have a backdrop of my favourite tennis player on Centre Court.  Bound to raise a smile.  So it was that I settled on a black and white photo of Bjorn Borg, in action, in 1973, his very first Wimbledon, I think.  I remember it well and how he was hounded by the girls wherever he went.  SW19 had never seen anything like it.  Happy days.  If I had to do Zoom (does one ‘do’ Zoom?), then I was going to improvise and make it interesting …

Content that it was all falling into place (au Pop!), Becca and I walked into town and back and then she went off for supplies while I got ready – and into character.  Large G&T?  Of course!  After all, I hadn’t a clue what I was about to face.

Suddenly, it was 8.30pm and, it seems, I was the last to sign-in!  As my fellow-players appeared on screen, it was exactly as I had anticipated.  Most had gone to great lengths to authenticate the era in question and were in full costume and make-up.  Here I was dressed in white ‘tennis attire’, admittedly, swigging gin with a bottle of Lanson on the table beside me – complete in its Wimbledon cover – with Borg behind me taking a shot!  Let the performance begin …

With no reference to my friend behind me – but a comment as to why I had a bottle in front of me – the mood of the evening was set.  Thankfully, my ball girl was on hand to replenish my glass, enabling me to steam ahead into character!  As everyone introduced themselves, I was bouncing the tennis balls beside me when I turned to pick up my racket.  Unbeknown to me, Becca had put a large, open bag of crisps on top of said racket and, as I lifted it in preparation for my serve, the crisps flew into the air and all over me!  That was it.  It was all downhill from there.  Onscreen, they continued sharing vital information seemingly oblivious to my plight, while Becca and I collapsed laughing – for the duration!  I had missed most of the character synopses, as we scrambled to make notes and catch up, and had absolutely no idea who anybody was – a slight handicap.  Oh, phew!  Break for starters.  Starters?  Did I miss something?  Well, the crisps were gone.  Get that pizza in the oven, ball girl/Becca!

Play resumed, as clues appeared on my phone, but, what with impromptu singing, neighing and me practising my serve, it was utter chaos endeavouring to be heard.  Poor Dougie was doing his best to hold the whole thing together but to little avail.  A seasoned player, this was he and Alexis’ third night in a row of this form of entertainment and I can only surmise, the most unruly.    Meanwhile, apparently, Stan had been murdered – something we were, all, struggling to grasp – and the inordinate scrambling of the clues was serving, only, to further add to the confusion!  Time to accept there was no pulling it back.  The fact that I, still, had little idea as to who anybody was meant I had zero chance of solving the crime so … on with the 19 Crimes (see what I did, there!) Chardonnay and a few slices of pizza courtesy of my ball girl!  Onscreen, the others were indulging in lavish culinary delights, painstakingly prepared.  Was there a chance I was not taking this seriously enough?

Time was moving on and desert (for some) brought a summing up before we were, each, asked to name our chosen murderer – giving reasons?  Oh, help!  Nothing for it but to face it head on – Juan Iron … and the reason for my choice?  Just because!  There we go, insurance that this would be my one and only invitation to participate in a Murder Mystery!

Suffice to say, I was still bouncing my tennis ball and practising my serve as my ball girl replenished my 19 Crimes.  Convinced that I had never laughed so much, the murderer was held to account.  Game over.  Now after 11pm, the general conversation turned to Coronavirus and lockdown.  As Mike, in Denver, announced his horror at the existence of anybodywho could believe it all a hoax and the very suggestion of brainwashing, I caught Becca glancing at me in worried anticipation.  I did come forward and cite the example of Sweden and the need for some form of herd immunity before the onset of winter – and it did fall on silent ears.  Destined to be a lone voice, suddenly the screen went black.  My battery was dead and Annette Kord consigned to the annals of time.  Oh, well, anyone for tennis?

Now then, what do we know?  One, that Professor Fassbinder and his daughter have been kidnapped.  Two, that someone has kidnapped them.  Three, that my hand is on fire.’

Peter Sellers, The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

This is Trish, signing off (alias ‘Annette Kord‘, for one night only!)