Something horrible happened at the New Money party

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The Independent Online
This is the last day of the Old Year, and we all know what that means.

It means you will all be going out tonight to behave disgracefully and get drunk, and we all know what that means.

It means tomorrow you will be sitting in a darkened room, wishing you had something light but challenging to read, something bracing but short, a kind of mental pick-me-up.

This is it.

This is a complete New Year's Eve mystery story.

There are enough clues scattered through the story for you to be able to work out the answer to the mystery.

Yes, even a hungover wreck like yourself should be able to work it out.

Right, here we go then with our brand-new Hogmanay tale, entitled:-


It was New Year's Eve, and the guests were arriving at Parvenu Towers for Lord Parvenu's New Year's Eve party. The first Lord Parvenu had been created in the 1540s for services to Henry VIII (he had dissuaded him from marrying a seventh wife, for which Henry VIII was extremely grateful, though not as grateful as the intended wife was) and although the name of "parvenu" had suited him then, for he was indeed New Money, or "Ye Newe Money", the Parvenus had become one of the most traditional families in the country.

One tradition they had established was their grand New Year's Eve Party, which every year had a different theme.

One year in the 1890s it had been a Bring Your Own Wild Animal Party, at which the eighth Lord Parvenu was unfortunately mauled by an emu.

One year in the 1920s the young ninth Lord Parvenu had organised a Marathon Dancing New Year's Eve Party. The marathon dancing had been so enthusiastic that all the guests had ended up 26 miles away at someone else's house.

During the Second World War, the New Year's Eve Party tradition had never been broken - one year they had had a "Beat The Blackout - Bomb Us If You Dare!" Party, at which all the lights were left blazing. German bomber pilots flocked from miles around to bombard Parvenu Towers, but they were all fairly plastered, it being New Year's Eve, and the best they could manage was a direct hit on Parvenu Park, creating a crater which later became Parvenu Lake.

Now, in the 1990s, it was time for the Parvenu Party again. This year Lord Parvenu (the 11th) had decreed that it should be a Guess-The-Contents- of-the-Millennium-Dome Party.

"It's sort of fancy dress," he explained. "You dress up as someone you think will be commemorated in the Millennium, or you come along as someone you think will be involved in the creation of the Dome. There will be a prize for the best idea."

"And after that ?" someone asked him.

"After that we all get pissed as usual," he said.

Everyone was there. There were members of the Cabinet. There were members of the Shadow Cabinet. There were research writers for Kitty Kelley, there were Andrew Lloyd Webber lookalikes, poor chaps, there were minor members of the Royal Family (so minor that they had never been divorced), and there was the artist formerly known as Madonna.

There was also a Middle-Eastern looking gentleman whom nobody recognised, striking-looking with piercing eyes.

"Is it Alan Yentob?" somebody wondered.

"Is it Mohammed Al Fayed's younger son that nobody knows about?" wondered someone else.

"My gosh, is it perhaps Salman Rushdie and will he get murdered at midnight?" gasped someone else.

Midnight came nearer. The party grew wilder. The coming and going of helicopters on the Helipad (where Parvenu Lake had been filled in for the very purpose) grew more purposeful.

Just before midnight, the man who looked like Salman Rushdie went up to Lord Parvenu and whispered in his ear. Lord Parvenu smiled and reached in his pocket. He handed something to the man looking like Rushdie, who handed something back. As midnight struck, the man looking like Rushdie was talking on a mobile phone, and you could have heard him say: "We've got it! And here's the heading! Pusher Parvenu Caught Red-Handed!".

OK, that's the story. Have you solved the mystery?

That's right! The man looking like Rushdie was actually a Mirror reporter entrapping Lord Parvenu into an ill-advised sale of white powder.

But don't worry. There was a happy ending. Before he could file his story, they caught the reporter and pushed him into the Parvenu Safari Park. The hyenas fed well that night.