“Ye’re gan’tae hae tae see them,” was Tom’s advice.
“Can’t you call a press conference?” asked Pippa.
We were under siege by the media, five newspapers, several freelance and BBC South, our local TV network and their colleagues from BBC radio, in this case, Radio Solent.
“Where would we hold it?” I asked.
“Use a lecture room,” suggested Tom, which meant we could disappear through the back entrance if it got too much. Tom also agreed to chair such a meeting. I agreed if we had an hour to make some preparations–I wanted to write some sort of statement which I could then read, or Tom could if I was unable to.
Tom spoke to the dean who agreed. “At least this time Cathy has done something legal and above board, so we can support her,” was the dean’s opinion. I thought he was a condescending old twat, but I suppose he was right, at least they’re not trying to find an exotic healer or some other outlandish individual–this time it’s just me, Cathy Watts, crime-fighter. We were using my maiden name as the one I use for teaching and filming. We also invited the police to send a spokesperson, but they were doubtful given an hour’s notice.
I went down to my office, made myself a cuppa and then sent a text to Si. He replied wishing me luck. As far as I knew Tom and Pippa were trying to contact Darren, as he’d been with us, though had done very little to help, claiming he got tangled up in the fence trying to get round the two men. Personally, I didn’t believe him, thinking he’d chickened out–but because he’s a reasonable researcher–I overlooked it.
Darren was found and declined to attend the press conference, so Pippa told me on the phone, I continued with my statement.
While attending to some vandalised dormouse nest boxes we heard noises coming from an adjacent field, which sounded like a cow in distress and a dog barking. I suggested we investigate in case there was a dog attacking a cow or her calf. Using image intensifying equipment, I made out two men, one of whom was brandishing a knife, trying to separate a cow and her calf.
Given the recent spate of mutilations of horses and cattle in Dorset and Hampshire I considered these two men were about to do such a thing. I shouted at them and they took up an aggressive position calling me offensive names and threatening me.
I managed to get close enough to one of them to grab him and tie him to the fence, the other was still looking for me and I was finally able to trip him up and restrain him until the police, for whom we’d sent before we commenced our intervention, arrived.
The police arrested the two men on suspicion of intent to harm by mutilation an animal which neither belonged to them nor for which they had permission to visit. I suspect they were also charged possession of an offensive weapon and criminal trespass.
I checked my hair and makeup, I wasn’t sure if wearing some wasn’t a bad idea this morning, but I should have been teaching–they postponed my class until next week. I was wearing a nice suit in a dark pink almost fuchsia colour, with a silk blouse in a lighter pink, with a scoop neck. Was I showing too much cleavage? Probably but that’s too bad, I can’t make my breasts smaller. I could have taken my bra off, but then they’d be swinging round the place and look even more provocative.
Pippa phoned to say the walk to the scaffold was ready to start, and I collected my bag, the statement and gave myself a quick squirt of Coco before setting off to Tom’s office and thence to the press conference. As my shoes clicked up the corridor my mind was humming the March to the Scaffold from, Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz.
Tom put his arm around my waist as we walked, “Ye’ll be alricht,” he said and I reminded him to speak the Queen’s English to the press or we’d be there all day. By the time we entered the stage of the lecture theatre, there were fifty odd people there, some with cameras and video cameras.
Tom introduced us, and invited me to read my statement. I did so and realised that several had left mini voice recorders on the edge of the stage. As I was being filmed as well, I read with a deliberateness which was slower than normal speech but clear in diction, at least I thought so.
Several hands went up indicating questions, Tom reminded them that as an arrest had occurred, the matter was sub judice, so I’d be limited in what I could say.
“Did you honestly think these two half-wits were really going to slash a cow or is it just a bit of self-publicity for you, Lady Cameron?”
“You weren’t here, the man had a large knife and I honestly believe he was going to harm the calf.”
“Is it true the police found incriminating evidence at one of the two men’s houses?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t been told of that,” I lied. I had, but not by the police.
“You’re quite the action hero, aren’t you, Miss Watts, it might almost be said that you get involved in preventing or catching thieves and other ne’er-do-wells, more often that Batman?” That one brought a ripple of laughter.
“I don’t know, I haven’t seen his arrest sheet,” I threw back to more laughter.
“Is it true you used to be a man?” asked a woman seated near the front.
“Why, did you?” I certainly wasn’t going to answer that sort of question.
Twenty minutes later, it was over–Tom had had enough and so had I. He sent me home afterward. I did go home, but not until I’d borrowed a few bits and pieces from the store.
I collected the girls and stopped to do some shopping on the way back. People were standing and pointing, so I had to assume it had got on the news bulletin already. We grabbed an evening paper and my picture was on the front cover with the headline, ‘Crime fighter Cathy strikes again.
“You’re famous, Mummy,” was Livvie’s take on the matter and the other two just roared with laughter–nothing like kids to bring you back to earth.
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