Kazuo Ishiguro, prize winning author of Remains Of The Day, has just voiced his sympathy and support for the disdained cliche.

With this in mind, plus our national obsession with food, here is a short piece which might have been conceived by Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett had they been alive today.

Mike Carp was of the old school of private eyes. Peppery, crabby and hard-boiled, a real twenty minute egg. On the rare occasions when he smiled his face creased like an old prune and the cauliflower ears hinted at a pugilistic past. Hell, he'd even done porridge in his time. And the beetroot complexion was a testament to years of bourbon drinking.

As he negotiated his old banger round the tangled mess of Spaghetti Junction he thought of the dame. Had he bitten off more than he could chew with this one? He was used to handling hot potatoes but this tomato was different. She was the cream of the crop, a real slippery eel. So what she was mutton dressed as lamb? He'd seen worse. Still her look of "butter wouldn't melt in my mouth" made him wary.

The phone rang, slicing his thoughts like a sharp knife. A sausage finger switched it on. "Yeah.." There was only silence.. "Yeah.." Was the cherry messing him around again? Maybe she was just a fruitcake who enjoyed whisking a guy's brains. But Carp knew the code. If you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen. If she was guilty she'd get her just desserts but right now was not the time to spill the beans. Deep down he knew this crumpet had him hooked. So, quit wriggling kid and enjoy the ride.

As he made his way to her joint he started to hum "When I take My Sugar To Tea."

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