Play to the End
few years ago."

    "Sorry to hear that. Occupational hazard, so they say."

    "It's pretty common in the acting profession, that's for certain.
    Anyway, our divorce hasn't come through yet, but '

    "Are we talking last-minute reconciliation here?"

    "No, no. Jenny lives with a man. They plan to marry as soon as they can. I ... well, they live near Brighton, as a matter of fact. The point is that Jenny and I parted amicably. I'm still .. . concerned about her. So, I'm anxious to assure myself that this bloke's not..

    "A wrong 'un?"

    "Yes. Exactly. And he's local. So, thinking about what you said Sunday night, I wondered if ... you might know anything about him."

    "Hoping to dig up some dirt, are you, Toby? Something that would make Jenny think twice about marrying him?"

    "If there's dirt to be dug, fine. If not, fine again."

    "Point taken." Syd leaned as far across the table as his paunch allowed. "Who is he?"

    "Roger Colborn."

    Syd frowned thoughtfully. "Colborn?"

    "Know the name?"

    "Maybe. What else have you got on him?"

    "Some sort of businessman. Lives in a big house out near Fulking.
    Wickhurst Manor."

    "Thought so." Syd grinned. "Father in plastics."

    "Yes. Colbonite Limited."

    "That's it. Colbonite. Walter Colborn Sir Walter, as he became was Roger's old man. He had a younger brother, Roger's uncle, Gavin. Gav and I were in the same year at Brighton College."

    "You were?"

    "No need to look so surprised. My dad had high hopes for me. His timing was spot-on, as it happens. He didn't go bust until the year after I left. But that's another story. Gav made senior prefect and went to Oxford, much good that it did him. Time's evened up the achievements score between us, I'd say. He's having to prop and cop these days, same as me, but he doesn't have the aptitude for it. Too old, too lazy and usually too drunk to make the effort. That about sums him up."

    "How well do you know him?"

    "Middling to fair. We're not exactly close."

    "And the nephew?"

    "I've met him a few times. Nothing more. Gav doesn't speak kindly of him. That I can tell you. Whether it damns the fellow ... is trickier to say. Gav got nothing out of the family business, see. His father left it all to Wally, probably for a good reason. That's niggled away at Gav over the years. So, the nephew who inherited the lot isn't top of his pops."

    "I suppose that might make Gavin quite .. . forthcoming ... where Roger's concerned."

    "Very possibly."

    "Any chance of ..."

    "Meeting for a chin wag I think I might be able to arrange that, To be. Seeing as it's you who's asking."

    Tt'd be great if you could."

    "Shouldn't be too difficult. Can I let him know scotching Roger's marriage plans could be a part of the equation?"

    "If you think that'll make him happier to talk to me."

    "Sure to, I'd say."

    "I appreciate this, Syd. I really do."

    "Don't mention it. Leave me to mention it, when I need a favour in return." Syd guffawed. "Don't worry. I haven't got a star struck niece trying to get into RADA by the back door. The odd complimentary ticket's about the most I'm likely to touch you for."

    "Any time."

    "Actually, though, now I come to think about it .. ." He looked almost sheepish as he turned an idea over in his mind.


    "Well, I, er, I'm .. . bringing a guest to the play tonight. A lady.
    Toby as frank and open as you must already know I always am, Toby, Audrey's not been that long widowed, so I'm treading carefully. Trying to register a few Brownie points. If you could see your way clear ...
    to joining us for a bite of supper after the show ... I reckon I might just zoom up in her estimation."

    In the circumstances, I could hardly refuse. Not for the first time, Syd had out manoeuvred me, since it appeared that I'd be repaying a favour before it had actually been done. "My pleasure, Syd."

    "Grrreat." He beamed tigerishly at me. "We're going on to the Latin in the Lane. Do you know it?"

    "I think so, yes."

    "Maybe you could catch

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