Saturday 7 June

The beginning of a therapeutic week in the Lakeland love laxative that is my home-from-home. Here self-demands are sidelined, along with those of work and friends, and no matter how much I may enjoy the latter it proves a grand relief. Largely insulated, indisputably fed, the struggles of Grandma Bargreaves – with a mind as sharp as her body is weak – pre-occupy in a way she wouldn’t wish on us, but following a writing stint each morning there is mutual pleasure to be found in spending my afternoons with her, talking of the family past and present. And it is halfway through the week, having watched an obscene amount of Euro ’63 on the worldwidewotsit that a discovery from the past reinvigorates my own mind.

My maternal grandfather, a scientist and pragmatist; kindly but sometimes bewildered by the unstoppable locks and creeping libertinism of each new generation, was no battling Grandpa Bargreaves, instead kept at home while wars were fought in Europe. Here we knew he was working on secret projects for the Government. What we didn’t realize, before studying the musty proof this holiday, was that after the last war he had continued in this role. Had the infamous mushroom bomb been dropped in the Northwest (and it was rumoured that toxic fungi could be transported via long-range balloon) he would have had to supervise evacuations, calculate probable casualties, all the while reporting in code to our panicking London overlords. The evidence that such intelligence exists within my genes (albeit thus far obscurely) is enough for me to resolve to solve the mystery of flat 13, and the untimely demise of my neighbours, on my return to town.

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