Christmas shopping never seems to end. One is expected to give so many gifts when one is the owner of a castle.
I decided to make a visit to Steiner Brashbag's Antique Shop in Ironside Tower near the Treacle Tunnel - he always has the most interesting curios, eighteenth-century crabtree cudgels, medieval boaster's stools and the like.
Brashbag is a thin anxious-looking man. He has few customers and is always pleased to see me. "Oh sir, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a visit from you." he greeted me "Word gets around when you've been, you know, and others come. 'If the Master of Homeward shops at Brashbag's Antique Shop. I must try it too!' That's the way it goes!" he said.
It is true - the paparazzi had been following me on all my Christmas shopping trips. The celebrity magazines would soon be full of details of all my purchases.
I asked him if he had any new interesting items. He had a first edition of The History of Lion Tower, a Cavalier horse-shoe scraper, a Spanish spider trap. I already have all those, however. He tried to interest me in Robin Hood's tooth-brush but I doubted it's provenance.
Brashbag is not quite the expert he claims. He once tried to sell me an old biscuit tin painted brown that he claimed was a log-box given to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII during their courtship.
I purchased a few elastic photo frames (you can make them round or square, large or small, to fit the size of picture you wish to frame) as gifts - and then suddenly spotted the most glorious gold Bass Viol.
"Oh Sir, yes that is a delightful item" said Brashbag "once played by Mozart himself, but I'm afraid it is rather expensive - £5,000." I'll take it I said and he promptly fainted. I think I had made his Christmas.
I know one should not really buy for oneself when Christmas shopping, but it had a lovely tone and would make the perfect impression at my Christmas Musical Soiree.
The Old Monkey then spotted some bags of flour. Brashbag admitted that they were not the sort of thing he usually stocks but had felt sorry for the rather dissolute man he had bought them from and had been assured that they were the actual bags of flour used by King Alfred when baking the famous burnt cakes. He was rather pleased that he had managed to purchase the items for the knock-down price of £3000.
The Old Monkey whispered in my ear. He said that he had removed the old parchment label and underneath it was a Cheapman's Store label.
I thought it best not to say anything to Brashbag and spoil his happy mood - clearly, however, someone was up to some yuletide criminality.