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A murder mystery weekend

Chris and I went on several murder mystery weekends over the years, and thoroughly enjoyed them. My college friends, Tom and Katie, had wanted to go on one with us for years, but never managed to get around to it. We did once get so far as all booking to go on one – I think that was 14 years ago! – but it got cancelled at the last minute, and we never found a convenient replacement to re-book.

So Katie decided that this year we were actually going to get around to doing it, and found a company called Murder Most Foul, who do weekend murder mysteries at locations all over the country. We chose one near Cheltenham – partly because it is within reach of Tom’s parents, who agreed to babysit their granddaughter for the weekend, and partly to be within easy reach of Malvern for me, since I’m still not driving long distances.

In fact, the driving did almost get the better of me. When I looked on the map, the shortest route to the hotel took me through the centre of Cheltenham, right past the General Hospital. Unfortunately, I know that route only too well, having driven it so many times last year with Chris, and I didn’t want to get the weekend off to a bad start with a severe case of heebie-jeebies. So, even though I hate motorway driving, I decided to go the longer way round to the hotel, using motorways and A-roads, and avoiding Cheltenham entirely. It was a longer distance, but should have been not much longer in duration. But there was a major snarl-up on the M5, with signposts warning of “long delays”. So in the end I decided to face up to my demons, come off the motorway early to avoid the tail-back, and drive through the centre of Cheltenham past the hospital after all.  I can’t keep putting off things I need to do, just because I’m worried I’ll have bad flash-backs.

The Friday night was rather fun. The premise for the murder was that a travelling musical theatre company performed songs from the shows over dinner – and at the end of the evening one of the actors gets murdered. We were given clues throughout the Friday dinner, and again on Saturday morning and over Saturday dinner, before the denouement on Sunday morning. So we were serenaded with songs from Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Moulin Rouge, Caberet etc. I have to say that, if what we heard was the “highlight” of Phantom of the Opera, then I most definitely don’t need to go see the whole show – I was not impressed! But the others were quite fun.

The only drawback was that the Friday night dinner was billed as a Black Tie event. I don’t “do” black tie. In fact, I barely do “dressing up” at all – my idea of being smart is to wear a jacket with my work trousers rather than a sweater. So I was in a bit of a bind trying to find something suitable to wear – I most certainly wasn’t going to buy a new dress that might not ever get worn again! In the end I found that I could still (just about) fit into the dress that I originally had for formal events at college back in the late ’80s, and which I also wore to our wedding reception in 1993. It is a long black-and-white silk dress, and was still in the dry-cleaners bag from the last time I wore it, which must be about a decade ago! I was very impressed that, after years of Chris trying his best to feed me up, and a year of comfort-eating, I still managed to squeeze into it – thank goodness for elasticated waists! I did take a seam-unpicker to it on Thursday night though, and rip out the 1980s shoulder pads – this wasn’t meant to be a fancy-dress party!

We didn’t manage to guess the murderer. In fact, we didn’t come close. But we had a good weekend away and enjoyed ourselves so much that we’re seriously thinking of doing it again next year.