“We dined out the other night with a friend,” he tells me. “And, in the ebb and flow of conversation, he mentioned one time he was down in London and attended a social evening at a local club. It must have been back in the 1960s.
“There was a raffle with a ‘star prize’ which was a brand spanking new, still-boxed upright vacuum cleaner. Back in the 1960s, these were quite expensive and, as such, they were much sought-after. So the obvious happened.
“Quite early in the evening, it did a Paul Daniels and vanished.
“There was one very nice old lady who was sitting at a table towards the front of the bar area. When she heard that the vacuum cleaner had been half-inched, she nodded to two rather large gentlemen who then went away.
“About an hour or so later, they returned with the ‘lost’ vacuum cleaner, still boxed and it was once again put on display.
“It turned out there had been a little ‘misunderstanding of sorts’ but, after those two large, bulky, awfully nice gentlemen told the person who had had the misunderstanding that the very nice old lady was very upset, he was more than happy to let the two gents take it back to the club.
“There was one slightly strange thing about the incident because, rather oddly, either the man who had had the understanding or one of the two large gentlemen who retrieved the missing item must have cut himself – perhaps on the cardboard box – as there seemed to be some smears of now dried blood on the box that had not been there beforehand as far as anybody could recall.
“It turned out the two men were twins and the very nice old lady was their mother: Mrs Violet Kray…”