A confirmation note from your secretary, Felicity Lemon, I couldn’t believe it, M Poirot. I did hope, but the odds were against your accepting my invitation for an interview.
Poirot: I have solved many cases for royalty and the nobility, cher Madam, but Miss Lemon, she has convinced me that the ordinary person is also interested in knowing all about Poirot. Miss Lemon is inventing a filing system worthy of me that will one day astound the world.
I love the era you come from; the glamour and elegance, the top hats and tails, those beautiful gowns. I’m sure I was born in the wrong time.
Poirot: The garments are elegant, yes, but the women who wear it, bah, they are always starving themselves (I am told that it is fashionable to call it Banting) to fit into those gowns. Their figures are lamentably deficient.* Have you met the Countess Vera Rossakoff? Non? The rich curves, the voluptuous lines that delight the eye. What a sumptuous creature.* That lady is one in a million. The Countess is the exception to my rule about the functionality and beauty of the square shape.
Would you like a cup of coffee, M Poirot?
Poirot: Do you have a sirop de cassis, perhaps?
I’ve got a bottle of Ribena in the fridge. I’ll see what I can do. What would you say have been your favourite cases?
Poirot: There have been many, but Poirot likes the best the adventures he has been on with Captain Hastings. When Poirot is lost, Hastings has made suggestions that have often led to the right path.
He is your partner in solving crimes, then?<a
Poirot: Non. Not so much that, no. It is that Hastings has flights of fancy that often give me my little ideas. When I am most puzzled they serve to show me how wrong I have previously been in my thinking. Dear Hastings, he has a penchant for the red heads. He has recently married one and gone to the Argentine to raise cattle. Perhaps he will come back one day and mon ami Hastings and I will share one more adventure.
I’ve read somewhere that you do not approve of murder. But on the Orient Express…?
Poirot: Yes, an interesting case, that. Judge and jury and executioner rolled into one, each has been affected by a most heinous crime, and all taking the responsibility for their crime and bowing to the final judgment of le bon Dieu when the time comes. Poirot does not like to think of it. The little grey cells triumphed once again in that case but alas, only those on the train and le bon Dieu will ever know about it.
There are more up to date tactics these days for working out the guilt of the criminal.
Poirot: Pah, You have been speaking to Inspector Giraud of the Sûreté. That man likes nothing more than finding footprints and burnt matches. He makes much of cigarette ends that come from Argentina. Giraud is no match for Poirot and his little grey cells.
Well DNA is another kind of cigarette end but more effective. It’s a genetic fingerprint technique that can be used to identify an individual.
Poirot: That sounds to me like a more modern version of the Giraud method. I prefer the human interaction to the fingerprint. If you want to understand the psychology of the criminal mind you must talk to everyone involved in the case. The more people speak the more they give themselves away. Often even the innocent keep back facts that they do not realise are important to the case. After that it is time to sit in an armchair and use the little grey cells to put together the facts and come to a conclusion. Even though I have proved to him time and again the superiority of the brain over brawn, Hastings prefers the Giraud method of running hither and thither.
Would you like to stay for dinner? I have prepared a Cassoulet in your honour.
Poirot: et je suis désolé Madame I must go. Inspector Japp has invited Poirot to dinner. His good wife is away visiting her sister and Japp has promised me a good English dinner. It will not be, as he puts it, ‘that fancy stuff that doesn’t stick to the ribs’ but a good English dinner of mashed potato, mushy peas and faggots and I am told we are to have the spotted dick for desert. I have an allergy spotted dick.
Interviewing a favourite fictional character
*Their figures are lamentably deficient.
*The rich curves, the voluptuous lines that delight the eye. What a sumptuous creature. Taken from Agatha Christie’s: ‘One, Two, Buckle my Shoe’