Chapter 6

The other thing about St Mary Mead was the issue of death. There seemed to be a remarkable number of deaths in the village of a rather dramatic kind, involving all kinds of sensational and eye catching features. As a consequence, Mrs McGillicuddy thought, no-one paid much attention to the less sensational passings. No-one ever died from too much drink in the village – heart attacks, strokes, cancers, road accidents all left their mark on the village, and despite the fact that alcohol could be seen burrowing its way under many of these individual illnesses and deaths, no-one ever commented on this, let alone blamed the drinking. Least of all Dr Haydock…

And drink did feature in more high profile deaths – Marina Gregg’s dispatching of Heather Badcock used a daiquiri at a drinks party; that unfortunate Rudi Scherz had been shot whilst the company was sipping the sherry, and alcohol was certainly a factor in the appearance of a body in Gossington Hall library.

Like the role of drink in deaths in the village, the existence of violence was also subject to a sort of shared taboo. There was Agnes Woddell’s boyfriend, whose ‘temper’ would get the better of him sometimes, with the result that she would spend many a tearful afternoon on her own at the Symingtons. Everyone knew, but no-one said, that Colonel Protheroe used to hit his wife after a few drinks. Miss Hinchcliffe might not physically attack Miss Murgatroyd but her verbal assaults could be bitter, aggressive and wounding.

Yes, there was violence in the village.


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