You're a right royal spoiler

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The Independent Online
TODAY I bring you an unabridged police thriller that is guaranteed to get your red corpuscles racing this Monday morning, because YOU are the hero] And at every important turn, YOU have to choose the right option before the story can carry on. You'll get the idea immediately, as we tell the story of:

The Sleeping Prince]

It's autumn in the Scottish hills. Everywhere a soft brown and green cloak lies across those rocky shoulders. Only one human form can be seen on the side of Glen Voilort. It's you, Inspector Hugo Tranter, taking a welcome week off from crime- hunting in the big city to fill your lungs with good Scottish air . . .

Actually, your holiday has nothing to do with fresh air. You are up here because:

1. You meant to go to London but took a wrong turn.

2. You expect hourly to be arrested on corruption charges.

3. You are having a secret assignation with a lover.

4. You are jealous of Inspector Morse.

Yes, you are desperately jealous of the ponderous TV policeman who always gets his man in two hours flat and is therefore totally unrelated to reality, and you have fled north to get away from his new series . . .

As you plod upwards through the scree, you suddenly halt. Not 100 yards away your eagle eye has spotted a body. Off-duty though you are, you hurry over to have a look. It's a well- dressed man holding a mobile phone. He has been hit from behind by something hard, but is still alive, though unconscious. As you turn him over, you recognise him, and gasp. It is:

1. Salman Rushdie.

2. Andrew Neil.

3. John Thaw.

4. A member of the Royal Family.

Blimey, this is all you need. The first day of your holiday, and you have in your arms a stunned prince, miles from the nearest private detective. In fact, as you look round the upland waste you realise you are miles from anything or anyone - so who could have delivered the blow to the royal skull?

There's one clue. The phone. He must have been talking to someone. He has been cut off. But perhaps you could reconnect the call. . . . You press the redial button. The phone rings. A voice answers and says:

1. 'Aye?'

2. 'Cairngorm Dry Cleaners - can I help you?'

3. 'You have dialled incorrectly. Please replace the handset and try again.'

4. 'Darling, darling - are you all right?'

Yes - somebody unknown, but female, is calling you darling. She obviously thinks you are the man on the ground. She is your only lead. You must not let her ring off. So what do you say to gain her confidence?

1. 'It's the police here.'

2. 'It's the News of the World here.'

3. 'It's Romford Public Library, Overdue Reminder Department here.'

4. 'Oh, darling, I need you . . .'

Yes, your only chance is to imitate the prince's voice in a whisper - almost all voices sound the same when whispering. And it works] The woman carries on an agitated conversation with you, sometimes rather intimate. You play ball as best you can, knowing that if you reveal your identity she will immediately ring off. Just then the prince groans and comes round. You put the phone down.

'Who are you?' he says.

'Oh, I'm out on a walking holiday,' you say. 'I saw you lying here. You seemed to have been attacked, Your Highness.'

'Don't worry,' says the prince. 'I was, er, just doing a bit of shooting down in the woods and I slipped away to make a phone call. While on the phone I was hit on the back of the head by a flying pheasant.'

Sure enough, there is an unconscious pheasant lying not 10 yards away. Mystery cleared up. But several years later you read a transcript of certain tapes in the Sunday papers, and you realise the man talking on them is not a prince as everyone supposes, but YOU. Do you:

1. Say to yourself: 'Well, this is a real-life Cyrano de Bergerac situation and no mistake]' and think no more about it?

2. Tell your superior?

3. Tell your wife?

4. Have your door kicked down by armed men with their faces all black and shiny with stage paint?

Yes, I'm afraid Fleet Street has discovered your identity and sent a hit squad to get you before you ruin their great story. The men raise their pistols and - ooops] We've run out of space. You're on your own now. Sorry about that. Good luck]

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