Tickle your grebe and place it on the mantelpiece. Then, while you have the attention of the marital aid engineers distracted by the very precarious positioning of the mantelpiece ensconced giggling waterfowl, you can make your way past the vicar and the pastry chef in bondage, and then slip out of the back door of the village hall. You can then catch the bus back to Little Frigging without anyone suspecting that you are indeed engaged upon any surreptitious investigations into the readiness or otherwise of the Tupping-on-the-Marsh Inter-Village Orgy squad as their team readies itself for next weekend’s all-important fixture.
Classicists amongst you will now be smiling the quietly confident smile of the smug know-it-all. For such scholars will, of course, be very familiar with the use of giggling waterfowl as a diversionary aid from their studies of the Punic wars. Others of you (both) will no doubt be aware (will varying degrees of vagueness) of the story of Hannibal and his elephants from the second Punic war era. However, few of you will be as aware as the classic scholars should be of the way Hannibal’s forbear, Steve, used the subterfuge of placing a giggling coot slightly to the left of some ornamental wainscoting as a way of enabling his escape from a Roman patrol. Steve was just inside a Carthaginian fish and chip shop, ordering the vital fish and chips necessary for the Carthaginian army to continue its struggle against the Romans when he spied the patrol approaching, discussing the merits of the local saveloys. Quickly, Steve took his coot from his distraction waterfowl quiver and placed it on the wainscoting in such a prominent location that the Roman soldiers would be unable to miss it. Steve then set the bird giggling and quickly made his escape.
Some of you may be surprised that we would go to such lengths to discover the Inter-Village Orgy match tactics of another team. However, these days with TV sports channels paying increasingly large fees for exclusive rights to the live coverage of matches, and the all-important residuals from the DVD sales, these days there is a great deal of money resting on the results of a match and the all-important resulting league placings.
Therefore, as our new undercover operatives I would strongly suggest you take to heart all that I have told you above and bear it in mind when you are sent out into the field for this your first – and, hopefully, not your last - mission.
Oh, and on your way past, if you wouldn’t mind, on the Tupping-on-the-Marsh village green you’ll find the probably still-smouldering remains of the wickerman cage that contained – albeit only briefly – our previous undercover operative. So, if you could just place this bunch of flowers there as a small act of remembrance… well, I mean, it is the least we can do.