“Irene will be delighted to host Janice and us at her house on Saturday afternoon. I think we should both go.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 18
Strike and Robin head to Circus Street in Greenwich on November 23, 2013, to interview two former employees of Margot Bamborough’s: Irene Hickson and Janice Beattie. Noting the date, Robin remembers that it’s Strike’s birthday and gives him a card and gift upon picking him up at Earl’s Court Station.
“Many happy returns, love Robin x”
“She’d never put a kiss on any message to him before, and he liked it being there.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 19
“Irene Hickson’s house lay in a short curving Georgian terrace of yellow brick, with arched windows and fanlights over each black door.”
The street reminds Robin of Albury Street, where she last lived with Matthew. “Here, too, were traces of London’s trading past. The lettering over an arched window read ‘Royal Circus Tea Warehouse.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 20
“’Mr. Hickson must’ve made good money,’ said Strike, looking up at the beautifully proportioned frontage as he and Robin crossed the street. ‘This is a long way from Corporation Row.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 20
Strike finds the inside of Irene Hickson’s house to be over-decorated. The sitting room is olive green, “and everything that could be swagged, flounced, fringed or padded had been.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 20
Irene also has a large collection of porcelain figurines. “Some wore crinolines, others twirled parasols, still others sniffed flowers or cradled lambs in their arms” (Troubled Blood, Chapter 20). Irene points out that her Margot Fonteyn figurine had shattered that morning.
“’My Margot shattered. My Margot Fonteyn, on the top shelf,’ she said, pointing to the gap in the china figurines. ‘Fell apart into a million pieces when I ran the feather duster over her!’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 20
We don’t have enough information to know for sure, but below is a popular Margot Fonteyn figurine that could have likely been the victim of Irene Hickson’s feather duster.
Strike and Robin’s interview with Irene and Janice is interesting, to say the least. They’re able to obtain some new information, but Strike (and readers, most likely) find Irene’s constant interrupting and need for attention to be distracting and annoying. Not to mention the fact that Irene is currently battling a flare up with her IBS, which they guess is from the curry she had the night before. She creates a rather uncomfortable and embarrassing moment when she reaches for a biscuit and “a deafening fart ripped through the room” (Troubled Blood, Chapter 20). Worried that Strike is about to laugh, Robin avoids looking at him and continues questioning Janice.
“’Well, I’m no doctor,’ said Strike, as they crossed the road back to the Land Rover, ‘but I blame the curry.’”
“’Don’t’ said Robin, laughing against her will.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 21
If you’d like to give Irene a visit, find Circus Street on the map below.