Andrew here. Ruth came to work today in a black leather ensemble I don't remember having seen before. I said, 'Look, Ruth, about Kevin -''Sergeant MacLean is incorruptible,' she said. 'He's also allergic to prawns.''Rather a non-sequitur, if I may say so.''It's nothing of the sort. Honestly, Andrew. He stayed for supper last night.''Was that after he was incorruptible, or before?''After, obviously. Why else would I give him prawns? Serves him right.'
I sighed. 'I've been wondering about South America. You don't happen to know which South American countries don't have extradition treaties with Britain?''Och, no,' she said. 'I couldn't leave Kevin.''Kevin may be leaving you,' I said, 'and for several years. Ruth, I don't think you realise how serious this is. It's robbery, it's receiving stolen property, it's aiding and abetting, it's passing off, it's - well, I don't know what it is. It's the end of me, I know that. Company Personality of the Year, too.''It's sorted,' she said.
'Oh, Ruth, really. How can it be sorted? Kevin's under lock and key, and I'm sorry, I know he's your son, but he's quite capable of telling the truth. I wish I'd never heard the words Glenweevil Limited Release. I jump whenever I hear a car draw up. The police could be here any time to arrest the two of us.''Och, stop fretting. Kevin won't tell the truth. He'd get his mates arrested with him. They're out to break his fingers, aren't they? The last thing he wants is to be locked up with them. Besides, he'll be safe at home soon.''Oh, Ruth,' I sighed.'Now write me out a cheque for cash. I've got to get to the bank before it closes. You've got a delivery arriving soon.''Ruth, no. No. Not another problem. No, Ruth, please.''Look, do you want to stay out of jail or don't you?'It was rather a large cheque. Jock wandered in after she'd left, accompanied by Charlie. 'Yon delivery's here,' he said. 'Empty barrels, it is.''Why does everyone but me know what's going on?' I said.'They're from yon Ruth's ex-brother-in-law's cousin,' said Jock, by way of explanation.'Ruth has a lot of ex-brothers-in-law,' I said. 'This ex-brother-in-law was the lorry driver yon Kevin robbed the Glenweevil from.' Jock raised his eyebrows. 'You'd think he'd have known.''Aye,' said Charlie, nodding lugubriously.'Being related to Ruth is nothing remarkable,' I said. 'Half the county can claim it.''Yon cousin of the ex-brother-in-law wants cash for his barrels,' said Jock, nodding at the driver. 'Charlie, give him a hand with the unloading.''They smell a bit funny,' said Charlie. 'Aye,' said Jock. 'That they do.' He wandered off, beginning to laugh quite uproariously. The prospect of my imminent disgrace seems to have infected the whole distillery with unaccustomed mirth. If I wasn't so worried I might be hurt.Ruth returned, leaving tyre marks on the tarmac. I saw an envelope change hands. The cousin of the ex-brother-in-law drove off,
grinning at me in what I thought was an unnecessarily pitying sort of way. 'Ruth,' I said, 'what -''He owed somebody a favour,' she said matter-of-factly. 'So he took these old barrels off their hands. You've just bought them. They'll split the profits, half to Stuart.''Your ex-brother-in-law,' I said. 'The lorry driver Kevin relieved of my whisky.''You're catching up,' she said approvingly. 'Stuart's at the police station now, changing his story. I can't stop; I'd best be home when Kevin's let out.''Charlie,' I said. 'Start a bonfire with these barrels.''Are you mad?' said Ruth. 'These are your new experiments with wood finishing. The big ones had Chianti in them; they're all from Italy. Chianti-finished single malt - it'll go down a storm in Italy.''And the smaller barrels?' I said.'Balsamic vinegar,' she said. 'Dead fashionable. The fishy-smelling ones had anchovies in them. They'll make a Lowland malt taste like an Islay. Don't worry - Roger will love them.'
To be continued