Marmalade Beefeater Mouse !

London Book : Your Sneaky "Peaky" Preview !

It was early in the morning, as Marmalade the Mouse stood silently on the platform at Paddington Station. The train he’d pulled in on had long since huffed and puffed its way off to somewhere else, and everywhere was quiet. Too early for office commuters, the station platform was clear, except for a middle-aged man on a sweeping machine, who bopped his way back and forth to the sound of London FM.

Marmalade the Mouse was hungry. It had been a long trip from Cornwall, and the last few crumbs of his Cornish pasty were now stale and dry in his coat pocket. “Oh, I do wish I had a nice cheese and pickle sandwich to munch on !” he sighed.

Marmalade gazed upwards at the Paddington Station building. It was enormous ! There was concrete and steel everywhere with the dark grey arches of the roof blending perfectly into the pale grey sky. Nuts and bolts were all about and, through a vast glass ceiling, aeroplanes could be seen overhead. 

Then, out of the greyness, Marmalade thought he heard a voice ? “Coo-coo ! Coo-ey !" coo-ed a little pigeon, who was limping towards him, with one foot in a bandage.

“Coo-coould you be Marmalade ?” the pigeon asked. 

“Errrr, yes ! I'm Marmalade the Mouse !" replied Marmalade, wondering how the pigeon knew his name ?

"Coo-coould you please come with me ?" said the pigeon. "I'm to escort you to the Palace, where at 9 o'clock, you will begin your new job !"

"Palace ! What Palace ? And WHAT JOB ?" shrieked Marmalade. "I think you've got the wrong mouse ?" he said.

The pigeon tilted her head to one side, quizz-ickly, and seemed bemused. “Why Buckingham Palace, of course !" she said. "I've no idea what job you've got ? I'm just your 'Meet & Greet' ! Now, coo-coould you gather your things, and hurry along !"

The mouse and the pigeon made a strange couple, as they made their way around Marble Arch and down towards Hyde Park Corner. Taxis and London buses whizzed past, leaving a slight whiff of exhaust smoke hanging in the air. Marmalade felt it tickle his throat and coughed.

“Coo-could you please walk a bit quicker ?” said the pigeon. “There’s no time to lose ! Tick Tock ! Tick Tock ! Hurry Hurry !" she said.

The streets buzzed and whirred with the sound of traffic. The city was beginning to wake up. Coo-Coo and Marmalade continued, as quickly as they could, down Park Lane, past Victoria Station, and finally along Buckingham Palace Road, where the scene before them opened out into the biggest expanse of fountain, roundabout and railings that Marmalade had ever seen. Behind the railings, rose an impressive stone building with more windows than walls, and giant flags flying in the breeze.

“Crikey !” gasped Marmalade, staring upwards. “Is that what I think it is ?”

"That, my little country friend, is Buckingham Palace !" announced Coo-Coo, proudly. "Rather grand, isn't it ?” she smiled.

Marmalade gulped. "Are you sure I work here ?" he asked, gazing through the iron railings at the lines of Palace Guards.

“You’re expected. You've even got a pass," replied Coo-Coo. "All we now have to do is sneak across the courtyard in front of the Guards."

Marmalade quivered with nerves. "It's easy !" said the bird. "Just make sure, you walk EXACTLY in step with me, and DON'T MAKE A SOUND ! The Palace Guards NEVER notice the pigeons," she smiled.

Marmalade did as he was told. The poor little mouse had been in London for less than an hour, and already his nerves were frazzled ! The gravel crunched under their feet, as they crept across the courtyard. "Surely, the Guards would see them ?" But, oddly, the mouse and pigeon went unnoticed, just as Coo-Coo had said.

“This is where I leave you !” whispered Coo-Coo to Marmalade. “We’re perfectly on time !" she smiled. "They'll be coming for you in a few minutes. Until then, stand here against the courtyard wall, and whatever you do, DON'T MOVE !”

“Who's coming for me ?” whispered Marmalade.

“Why, your friends, of course !" replied the pigeon.

"But, I've just got here. I don't have any friends !" said Marmalade.

"Oh, yes you doo !" smiled Coo-Coo. "You have LOTS of friends !" Then, with a tilt of her head, and a quick salute, she limped back across the gravel towards the fountain.

End of Chapter One.

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