Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Commercial Director

(In this holiday period, when news is somewhat thinner on the ground, we thought we would take a few articles from the Spend Matters archives – even the Procurement Excellence blog archives – and feature them again here, with a touch of editing / updating where necessary. Only those of course that are relevant – so nothing about the latest procurement of horse-drawn carriages!  This was, we think, our first Sherlock Holmes spoof. Interesting also given what happened with Andrew Manley some years later!)

As our new neighbour left our lodgings at 221B Baker Street, having made our acquaintance for a few brief minutes, Holmes lay back on the couch and drew on his pipe, stuffed with what noxious substances I never cared to ask.

“A most interesting man. He has obviously seen service in Persia, prefers jazz to orchestral music, cooks well, and represents himself to young woman as a single man, despite the fact he told us that he has a wife and three adult children”.

“Good heavens Holmes! And you could tell all this from merely greeting the chap and spending a few short minutes in his company? ” I exclaimed. Holmes looked at me quizzically.

“No, you are a fool at times, Watson. He’s on Facebook”.

Chastened, I returned to my medical treatise. But as he browsed languidly at his iPad, something had caught Holmes attention.

“But Watson. This is interesting. As you know, I am a reader of these newfangled ‘blogs’, and I came across this one which referred to a new Commercial Director for the Ministry of Defence – a most important role, as you will realise”.

“Indeed, Holmes – I would consider it perhaps one of the four most important commercial roles in Government, along with Messrs Smith, Coates and Smith. Whom I must say, do sound somewhat like a firm of Chiswick undertakers”.

Holmes was rarely impressed with my attempts at humour and this was no exception.

“Andrew Manley is the gentleman who was rumoured to be taking this role. Now see this Watson – look at what happens when I Google him.” I observed Holmes’ iPad.

“The only reference to Mr. Andrew Manley, latterly of Shell, is a press release from Symatirx, a software company, describing his appointment as a non-Executive Director. Here is the document.   Look! “

I perused the press release with interest.

“On the 3rd of December 2009 it was announced that following the approval of the Prime Minister, Andrew was appointed to the role of Director General Commercial in the Ministry of Defence.”

Holmes continued impatiently.

“So it appears he was appointed; the rumours were correct. And yet.... there is nothing – no, nothing Watson – on the MOD website or anywhere else confirming his appointment! Not a single Google article, comment, reference – and this for an apparently most eminent man in a most senior position of great national import. Compare this with the 956,000 entries for Miss Kerry Katona, the music hall performer!”

“But what does this mean Holmes? Are you saying Manley does not exist? Why would the MOD appoint him then hide him from all public view? Are you suggesting he may be linked with the Case of the Disappearing Brigadier? Or the Mystery of Egbert Williamson and his golden scabbard?”

Holmes had taken on his most steely eyed visage, and I could see new energy coursing through his drug-polluted veins.

“I don’t know Watson. But once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be true”.

I must admit I had heard this on a few occasions previously, but I tried to look impressed. Holmes bounded to his feet and hurtled towards the door of our humble lodgings.

“There is not a moment to be lost Watson! To Whitehall!”

(To be continued...)

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