The phone rings in the lost property office at Euston Station in London.
“Lost Property, Smith speaking, how may we help?”
He takes a sip from his tea, listens.
“Yes, sir, anything left on a train on this line ends up here. Assuming it’s turned in, like. What have you lost?
“So, a banjo is it sir? Well let me have a look, won’t be a minute.”
A smile plays across his lips. Paddle faster, I hear banjos. Old joke.
“Sorry to keep you waiting sir, had another customer to deal with. Well, I don’t see a banjo in the log, sir. Sorry about that.
“Yes, I hear what you’re saying, sir. Duelling Banjos with only one banjo would be a bit of an anti-climax, I agree and I can see why that might be a problem for you at your gig tonight. There isn’t a banjo in the log, though, and if it’s been turned in, it’ll be here.
“I do sympathise, sir, and I’d like to help you but I don’t know what I can do. Hang on, look, the latest load has just been delivered, if you bear with me I’ll have a browse through it. OK, sir?
“Yes, still here, sir, I’m having a look. There’s an old green greatcoat here, bloody odd that ‘cos it’s been a bit parky of late. No, I understand, sir, just talking to myself.
“An Elvis lunch box, a stack of books, always get lots of books of course. Hmm, here’s something. Four strings, bit like a guitar. It’s a ukulele, sir, I’m sure of it, my Uncle Harry used to play one.
“No, I can see that sir. Wouldn’t be much of a duel, a banjo versus a ukulele. I can see that, yes.
“Ah, here it is! Well, it’s a banjo, can’t say it’s yours for sure. Could you describe your particular banjo for me?
“Well, you’d be surprised. We have over three thousand umbrellas left every year so it wouldn’t be a stretch to find two banjos, now would it? It’s not my fault you’ve lost your banjo, sir, I’m just trying to help.
“I don’t think saying it looks like a lollypop with strings is sufficiently precise to allow a definite identification, sir. And, I have to warn you, we don’t tolerate that sort of language. Good bye, sir.”