11th August

The Corpse

Gary and Hannah made the discovery when they were renovating their first home, a 1950s three-bedroom semi-detached in a quiet city suburb. First they found the sealed cupboard under the stairs: this was a bonus, as they needed all the storage space they could get. Then they prised open the door and found the corpse. Thankfully things had progressed far beyond the decomposition stage: only a skeleton, clad in a few shreds of dark suit, remained. A wisp or two of silk around the cervical vertebrae indicated that the skeleton had once sported a tie.

The police were relaxed about the matter, especially when they saw where the corpse was located and how it was dressed.

‘We get a lot of these,’ the lead detective told the anxious couple, ‘especially in houses of this vintage. No, the circumstances are not suspicious. What we have here is a classic example of the forgotten bank manager.

‘You’re too young to remember,’ he continued, ‘but back in the 1960s banks didn’t have the terrible reputation they have today. They didn’t tempt you with easy credit, encourage you to buy things you didn’t want and couldn’t afford and then sell you more credit at higher rates of interest to service your debts. No, no, your local bank manager then was a figure of common sense and irreproachable probity. He was there to guide you in the careful conduct of your financial affairs, always recommending thrift and prudence.

‘There was a big advertising campaign on television, as a result of which people took to keeping a bank manager in the cupboard under the stairs, so that they could bring him out and ask his advice whenever they needed it. A great innovation, but over time values changed. Society learned to despise thrift and embrace extravagance, and these domesticated bank managers became unfashionable. Some were decommissioned. Others, like this one, were simply forgotten. Please don’t worry. You’re not responsible.’

Gary and Hannah did wonder about attending the funeral of the man they thought of, after his removal from the premises, as ‘their’ bank man- ager. But they led busy lives, and instead went on holiday to Spain while the painters were in.

Reader: Tam Dean Burn
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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