As he parked his bum upon the timber seat of Mr Singh’s bicycle pulled rickshaw on that fateful afternoon little did fanatical globetrotter Ludwig Von Stamplicker know that this would be his last day on earth.
Just an half an hour previous Ludwig had enjoyed a stupendous lunch, one so favoured by East Londoners, namely that of ‘pie and mash’ at ‘Ronnie’s Place’ a culinary establishment on London’s Mile End Road and much heralded by the many local ruffians who frequent the place. The meal had however played havoc with his guts so unused to such fare was he. Thus it was that with a full belly and having been refused access to the gentleman’s cloak room (on the basis that he was, after all a Jonny Foreigner and as such likely to stink the place out) Ludwig had an urgent need about him, a need so great that he really did have to get to the nearest public convenience rather sharpish! A reticent traffic warden had advised that said lavatory was half a mile onward. Good fortune smiled upon Ludwig though for he spotted an aged Mr Singh bent over and pumping up the tyres of his rickshaw aside the kerb as black cabs aplenty zoomed past at a rate of knots, none willing to stop and pick up the likes of a glaringly obvious outsider dressed in Lederhosen as he was. Regardless Mr Singh was only too pleased to come to Ludwig’s rescue and a fare was agreed – indeed a generous tip on offer should Singh make haste.
What Ludwig did not know was that none other than Dick Malone, a solitary man, a night-time sleeper, day time serial killer was on his case! Dick you see had spotted Ludwig scoffing and had noted that instead of engulfing his meal in traditional ‘green liquor’ had squeezed great big splodges of tomato ketchup all over his pie and mash. Dick, as ever, viewed such action as a cardinal insult, sacrilege no less, to one of the great culinary traditions of the East End – indeed a blasphemy akin to holding in a burp in the company of generous Bedouins sharing their grub with a passing stranger. The thing was that when Dick saw ketchup, Dick saw red!
As for Ludwig, albeit now over anxious his bowel might let him down in a public place before he reached the sanctuary of a lavvy all was, relatively at least, well as he took in the local sights and sounds, the hustle and bustle en route. Indeed Ludwig was intrigued to note a fracas break out at the traffic lights as a large muscular shaven-headed chap in a sleeveless stark white vest with ‘Love You Mum’ tattooed on a bicep alighted his own vehicle armed with a baseball bat and bellowing, ‘You fucking slag’ at the gentleman in the car behind. Thereafter he smashed in the others windscreen with said bat, then dragging him out through the driver’s window beat him to a bloody pulp in the road – all before the lights had turned back green. Ludwig was fascinated to learn from Mr Singh that such action was a neighbourhood sport of sorts the object of which was to disable those that caused affront within the traffic light cycle thus earning the respect and admiration of others down the boozer.
Of course, while all this was going on Dick Malone was on Ludwig’s tale. Dick paused a moment to gawp at the wretched battered one now in the gutter and covered in his own blood yet blood, red as it is, had never got Dick in the killing zone, only ketchup on pie and mash did that – a fact that Ludwig was soon to discover to his own cost.
Dick, a slightly built sinewy man and as was his want on his trusty rollerblades kept a discreet distance allowing Mr Singh to manoeuvre his rickshaw this way and that toward the public toilets and Ludwig’s perceived salvation.
However, upon arrival at the nominated latrine Mr Singh, without turning about simply said, ‘That will be £2.50 Sir plus the promised tip’ yet no riposte was forthcoming from Ludwig let alone due payment advanced his way. For his part Ludwig was no longer sat within the confines of the rickshaw – indeed Mr Singh was somewhat flummoxed at his passengers disappearance at first presuming he had ‘done a runner’.
When later questioned by the local constabulary Mr Singh was unable to provide any worthwhile evidence as to when or exactly where Ludwig, one way or the other, had alighted his push bike powered glorified cab.
It mattered not for Ludwig’s corpse, naked, smeared all over with ketchup and neatly bubble-wrapped, was discovered in a telephone box by a passing geezer a short distance away. Also affixed to the transparent plastic suit that saved on a body bag was a sticky label upon which was penned, ‘MANNERS MY SON, MANNERS’.
Following an autopsy the Coroner determined that the actual cause of death had effectively been by ‘drowning’ as Ludwig’s lungs were found to be full to bursting point with green liquor. Discovered in a bin close to his body the forensics team had come across a turkey baster presumed to be the murder weapon. Concluding his somewhat lengthy adjudication the Coroner concluded that Ludwig had been murdered and that his demise bore all the trademarks of the one the tabloids had nicknamed ‘The Tomato Ketchup Killer of Whitechapel’ and that he (or she) had plainly struck once again. Additionally a recommendation was made that posters should be displayed far and wide about that bastion of Britishness that is the Mile End Road warning locals and tourists alike that they are at this time and until the killer has been apprehended to keep a wary eye out for any person in their vicinity in possession of a turkey baster.
Back in Ronnie’s Place a relaxed Dick Malone, feeling rather splendid in the Lederhosen he was attired in this day, was enjoying a plate of said pie and mash smothered in lashings of green liquor whilst thumbing through The Sporting Life picking out a few horses upon which to place a bet. Grinning from ear to ear Dick made note of the fact a young Oriental girl sat opposite had, in broken yet intelligible English just asked the waiter to pass her the plastic squeezy bottle of ketchup as the green liquor had scant appeal!
Editorial note for the uninitiated! : Pie and mash is a traditional London working-class food, originating in East London and remains popular to this day. As to the ‘green liquor’ the recipe remains a secret!