This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Assisted Dying on the Orient Express

"That was a strange case, Hastings, mon ami," said my friend Hercule Poirot. "I was taking the ad Orientem Express to the mysterious east (Margate), to consult my friend Fr Tim Finigan on a curious question of hermeneutics, when we were held up by two or three snowflakes on the line - apparently, they were the wrong kind of snow. Still, there we were, marooned in some uncharted wastes near Faversham, with no hope of rescue for several days."

Somewhere near Faversham.

The chef de train summoned Poirot to one of the compartments, where there lay the dead body of a fattish man in his early sixties. One could tell at a glance that he was dead: there were stab wounds and bullet holes in various parts of his body, a rope round his neck, an empty bottle of pills by his side, and the marks of a blunt instrument on the back of his head. "His name is Charlie Falconer, and he was some sort of gangster," commented the train guard. "Could it be suicide, M. Poirot?"

Lord Falconer

Charlie Falconer in happier times, singing the Nightmare song from Iolanthe.

Poirot examined the body carefully. "I think not, mon vieux. Someone evidently helped him on his way. The worse case of assisted suicide that I have ever seen. We must find an explanation for his death."

An eager, fresh-faced man joined them. "Hi! I'm Tony!" he said. "I used to be something big in politics, but now I go round the world making money. Also I've been bringing peace to the Middle East. Charlie was an old friend of mine, and I gave him a job once."

"I have heard of you, Monsieur," acknowledged Poirot. "You are a pious Catholic who supports abortion and same-sex marriage. Can you think of any reason why M. Falconer could have opted for assisted suicide?"

Blair and Pope John-Paul II

Tony gives Pope John-Paul II some tips on becoming a saint.

"Well, he had a sore throat, and he didn't like train journeys, and England did badly in the World Cup, and he was worried about his pet hamster, Miliband, and he scratched his car against the gatepost last week, and they'd run out of gin, and he thought it might rain later, and..."

"I understand. All perfectly good reasons for a doctor to recommend assisted suicide. Now, let us see if there are any likely suspects." At that moment, a strange character entered the compartment.


John Birt. Formerly of the BBC.

"EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! AS-SIST SU-I-CIDE! AS-SIST SU-I-CIDE!" screamed Lord Birt, for it was indeed he. This was a man who had been Director-General of the BBC, an organization that had employed megastars such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris. During his rule, it was said that more people had switched off their televisions and said "I can't go on!" than ever before.

"There are indeed marks of extermination on Charlie Falconer's body," said Poirot, "but they may have been inflicted after death." He was then joined by a bumbling figure dressed as an Anglican archbishop.

Lord Carey

"And if my sermons don't finish them off, a good swipe with the crozier will do it."

"Hello, everyone, I'm George," said the man, who was wearing a strikingly silly mitre and carrying a large blunt instrument. "I am man of deep Christian principles. Can I be of assistance to you as you seek to end your life in a truly Christian way?"

"No! No!" said Poirot. "I wish to live to be 130. Indeed, if Agatha Christie doesn't sort out the chronology of her stories, I may be forced to."

At that moment the compartment began to fill up with other well-intentioned supporters of assisted death: apparently, the House of Lords had organized a day trip to Margate for all its most irritating members.

Ian Blair the Sikh

Ian Blair as seen in "Hello (Hello, Hello)!" magazine, deals with the old and Sikh.

"You've all been very helpful," said Poirot. "Of great assistance, in fact..."


  1. The contributions by the speakers in the House of Lords debate were fascinating

    See Hansard:

    From looking at the contributions, it really is a Left vs Right debate

    The contributors who were strongly and viscerally in favour of the Bill appear to be mainly appointees under the Tony Blair administrations

  2. I think you omitted the contribution by the creepy Baroness Warnock