Saturday, 1 January 2011


As an aficionado of the work of E.F. Benson, I admire his comic creations,  particularly the sequence of six novels creating the world of Mapp and Lucia in Tilling and Riseholme. Every year I re-read each volume with continued enjoyment and have conveyed some of my enthusiasm with an alphabetical reference blog which is intended to help fellow readers and explain many of the characters, places, events and references cropping up in the text.

Like many fans of Mr Benson - or "Fred" as he was known to his intimes - I have turned an amateur hand to write further stories, set in his exquisite world of  1930's Tilling. To do this, I have chosen to focus on one of the lesser characters, Inspector Morrison, the senior police officer in the town during the term as Mayor of Mrs Emmeline Pillson aka Lucia. By this means, I was able to imagine the work and home life of the good Inspector - christened "Herbert" - and the daily round of his family and various well-known Tillingites.

My task has been rendered more difficult by an appreciation of the sensitivities of some fastidious Bensonites who are loath that others should tread on their holy ground and perhaps impinge upon their vision of the world Fred created.

In having the temerity to visit his jewel (or perhaps "bibelot") of the Sussex coast, I did my utmost to mirror the great man's values and sensibilities, as authentically as possible. I have intentionally added some melodrama and a little farce, but hopefully in a genteel form, which never approached vulgarity. Others may disagree, but I have tried my best to honour his lovely Tilling and, respectfully, to leave it as I found it.

By way of preview, here are some of the somewhat primitive drawings accompanying the stories in "Un Film de Busy Indoors." Naturally, no rights whatsoever are reserved or claimed in the delicious background music.

We begin with a written Report by the Inspector to the new mayor commenting officially upon the recent activities of prominent local figure Mrs Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, latterly Mayoress.

We go on to witness the near-death experience of Mrs Mapp-Flint at the hands of the Sardine Tartlet Poisoner, coolly resolved by Inspector Morrison.

A crime wave afflicts staid Tilling when the Travelling Circus visits the locality, calling upon the Inspector's ingenuity to resolve.

As the year progresses,  summer is marked by a universal craze for cycling and scandalous events take place on a Bicycle Picnic in the Sussex countryside.

By the way for anyone not attending the Gathering in Rye on 1st September I have printed a few copies of my abridged short story “Inspector Morrison and the Bicycle Picnic”: five thousand words of bucolic frolics of favourite Tilling folk through the leafy lanes of 1936 Sussex with a thrilling-ish denouement. If anyone would like a copy – signed and dedicated or not – please e-mail at for details. Copies are available for £3 plus UK P &P of £1.

Back to the Case Book: subsequently Tilling is honoured by a royal Private Visit, which shakes the town to its venerable foundations. As ever, the calming influence of Inspector Morrison is to the fore in restoring the status quo.

In the ensuing weeks, as Tilling celebrates the first year in office of its beloved Mayor, the seaside calm is  shattered with the insidious malefactions of both a Phantom Arsonist and Ruthless Blackmailer. All the deductive skills of the Inspector are brought to bear to resolve these demanding cases

Autumn in Tilling's  annus criminalis sees the  advent of the Daring Jewel Thief and yet another testing conundrum for Tilling's senior police officer. Yet again, Herbert rises to the challenge.

As Sussex nights draw in and a memorable year approaches its close, Tilling is traumatised by the shocking Christmas Club Scandal in which suspicion falls upon one of the most respected leading lights of its society. Through this - as indeed through every other  incident in a thrill-packed year - the Inspector retains an imperturbable air of calm and applies the coolest of analytical skills in the search for an answer. Expressed as a pie chart, the year's material felonies in the ancient town of Tilling look something like this:

Hopefully, by the end of the year we shall know Inspector Morrison, his family and the burghers of our favourite seaside town even better.  The stories are admittedly amateur fan fiction intended as an expression of regard, respect and enthusiasm for Fred's work and the delightful world of Tilling he created: so please temper your critical faculties accordingly!

The thrilling events following those set out in "Inspector Morrison's Casebook" are described in "Inspector Morrison : Another Year in Tilling" in yet another  free blog
Please do feel free to click and take a  look!

Copyright 2011 Deryck Solomon. All rights reserved in appropriate territories

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was delighted to discover this site and am very much enjoying the Inspector Morrison stories. These seem to me to be very close to the original books and are a pleasure to read.
Just one small point occurs in your references to Diva's Tea Shop when you refer to one and eight penny teas. The original books refer to eighteen penny teas which in those days was one and six pence. You are obviously too young to remember real money