The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

The strangely unsatisfactory case of the Liverpool-Spanish striker

5 June 2018

Seldom in my long association with Sherlock Holmes was there a case in which he displayed his deductive ability so rapidly and yet to such an unsatisfactory end as in the case of the Liverpool-Spanish striker.

Through the long winter, the affair of the Limestone Saints, which had baffled the football scouts of three continents had placed a considerable strain even on the powers of my illustrious friend. June had brought sunshine and recovery, to an extent that I now feared Holmes might lapse into boredom and feel the pull of those narcotic stimulants that had once tested his iron constitution.

It was his habit, when he was not engaged in a case, to sleep late. Holmes had only just completed his breakfast, and was yawning even as he prepared his pipe. Seeking a subject to engage his interest, I glanced out of the window of our rooms at 221B Baker Street.

A frazzled looking man, with tufted grey hair, was standing across the way, staring at our door. His jacket was stuffed with scruffed scraps of paper and he wore a deep frown. His mouth was working constantly, muttering to himself. Occasionally he took out a notebook and scribbled down a word or two.

"I fancy you shall have a new client in a few minutes, Holmes. What do you make of the fellow?"

Holmes followed my gaze.

"Why, that is Middle-Aged Diary."

"You know the man then?"

"On the contrary, I have never met him, but he is surely unmistakable. His anxiety is clear for all to see. The worn bits of paper show numerous arithmetical calculations. But the ink is quite faded on them. They are, I perceive, the feverish sums of a man who was concerned that his football team might be relegated and was trying to calculate the chances that their rivals might catch them. They are faint now as the season is over and his immediate fear has abated.

"That he is a Grimsby Town supporter is clear from the constant frown, as a man knowing the worst could still happen at any time. That he is a Cod Almighty diarist is evident from his muttering. He has a close-season diary to post and he is trying out phrases. And I have slept through too many Tuesday lunchtimes not to know that today it is Middle-Aged Diary who shall post the Cod Almighty diary. He has quite the soporific effect that my seven per cent solution of morphine used to afford."

"Amazing, Holmes!" I cried.

"Elementary. But come, there is the doorbell. No doubt Mrs Hudson shall show him up and we will learn what brings him to us."

A few minutes later, having refused coffee but accepted gratefully the offer of a Cleethorpes Pale Ale, Middle-Aged Diary sat in the chair that Holmes reserved for clients.

"The affair is such a simple one that I hardly like to trouble you with it. Our manager has signed for one season a 21-year-old striker, recently in Spain..."

"You deduced that from his tan and his slight accent, perhaps?" I interrupted.

"No, from Wikipedia," the ageing Grimsby supporter replied, before continuing. "Louis Robles is his name. He appears to have played for rather more clubs than he has actually scored goals, but apart from that, all I can find of him are a few snatches of action from training fields and practice games. Yet Cod Almighty readers expect me to tell them whether he will prove a saviour of our club or an irredeemable failure..."

"... and being Grimsby, it is of course quite impossible he might show himself to be a quite respectable player who scores an average number of goals and displays an average amount of commitment and skill, without ever hitting the heights or plumbing the depths," Holmes injected. "I quite see your difficulty, but I'm afraid I cannot help you," the great detective went on.

"You are perhaps too busy helping the police with matters on which the future security of our nation depends, or you have this moment decided to retire and take up beekeeping on the South Downs?"

"Not at all, not at all. But it is a capital mistake to theorise before you have all the evidence. Or, in this case, any evidence at all. I suggest you wait until you have watched him play some matches and then write your diary in October."

Middle-Aged Diary sat up sharply in protest, though he was careful not to spill his pint. "Our readers demand a diary today though!"

Holmes lay a soothing hand on the diarist's arm. "'Readers', in the plural? 'Demand'? I think you overstate your difficulty. They'll have nodded off by now in any case. You could always tell them instead that Max Wright has signed a new two-year deal."

I rose to the ceiling. "Holmes. How can you possibly know that?" I implored.

"Simplicity itself. There are season tickets to sell."

Our client however looked strangely elated at the news. For the first time since I had first observed him, his frown cleared. "I have read of your powers but this is truly astounding. That Grimsby have offered a two-year deal to a local young player. Astonishing."

"I cannot claim the credit, I fear. This is the work of my brother Mycroft Jolley. But come, Watson. Sussex are at Lords and if we hurry we can be there in time to watch CB Fry take the crease."