When a hamster is stolen, Billy Bones, lackadaisical part-time private detective and full time drinker, finds himself caught between MI5 and the CIA, but Billy just wants to get the hamster back.
Hamsters! is a thrilling tale of intrigue and adventure, a delightful story of friendship, and a rather silly account of a lost hamster. Set entirely in the town of Bedford and mostly in the pub.
I will begin by describing my employer, Billy Bones.
In order to describe Billy I must describe his mother, and in order to describe his mother I must tell you a little of his maternal grandmother. So bear with me.
Billy's grandmother, Eliza Moore, married Harvey Bones shortly before he went away to fight in the Second World War. Not long before he left she became pregnant and the baby was born while he was fighting in Egypt.
Harvey longed for a son to carry on the family name and talked of little else in his letters home. Yet, when Eliza gave birth, it was a baby girl that was handed back to her by the midwife. Unwilling to let her husband down Eliza lied in her letters and told him that she had given birth to a bouncing baby boy. She named the boy Ambrose after Harvey's deceased father.
The lie became easy because Eliza had convinced herself, perhaps in the throws of maternal hormones against the background of the current bombing campaign over England, that Harvey was sure to die from a German bomb in Africa, having, she said, 'no place to hide in the desert.'
Inconveniently, the Germans failed to bomb Harvey Bones and he came home in nineteen forty-five expecting to find an eleven month old baby boy waiting for him. Eliza, a nervouse and timid person, chose to do what it would have been many nervous and timid people's first reaction to do. She continued in a lie that had been working up till then in order to avoid the embarrassment of owning up and explaining it.
And so little Ambrose was brought up a boy until, when she was fifteen, her father finally conveniently died of a heart attack.
Eliza, it seems, assumed that once the pretence was unnecessary Ambrose could and would simply resume life as a female in much the same way as if she had always been brought up as one, discard her football magazines in favour of lipstick, her trousers for dresses, her short cropped hair for pigtails and ribbons, the name Ambrose for something more feminine. Ambrose, of course, had no such plans.
She continued to live as a man, very soon after running away from home to London, and then to America where she lived with a hippy commune for a while, and then India, and then, it seems, pretty much everywhere, as both man and woman, long-haired, androgynous, and fiercely independent. Until, one day in nineteen seventy-five, she turned back up at her old mother's door and announced she was pregnant.
Who Billy's father was Ambrose never divulged. Guesses as to his nationality have been made based on Billy's swarthy complexion and the tendency of his features to suddenly and unexpectedly take on a curiously lissom eastern elegance from certain angles and in certain lights; but Billy's true paternal lineage remains a mystery.
So Billy Bones was brought up without a father. Instead he had a doting grandmother, relieved that her deception had paid off and her deceased husband finally had a male heir to carry his name, and a mother who careened unpredictably between gender roles.