Since completing the manuscript of Empire Made Me in March 2002, I have been a bit surprised to have come across or received very little by way of additional information on the subject of the book, Maurice Tinkler. In this and the next two posts I will present the tidbits that have arrived, gifts via email from interested readers.
I was certainly unprepared for Maurice Tinkler the amatuer thespian, but here he is, skected by the wonderful Russian cartoonist ‘Sapajou’ (Georgi Sapajnikov) in the North China Herald. The date is April 1930, and the play is Agatha Christie’s ‘Alibi’, based on her book The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
Tinkler, we are told by a reviewer in the Herald of the 15 April 1930, ‘probably greatly enjoyed himself as the member of the local police force in charge of the first murder case in that locality for years and, while possibly he does not agree that the only real detectives are found outside the force, proved an admirable foil for the sharp remarks of the clever little Frenchman [Poirot]. His acting was very enjoyable.’
Does it add to the picture? Perhaps it reinforces his ambivalent position within the foreign community at Shanghai. His fellow cast members are just the people he often railed against in his letters, yet here he is, playing at being one of them in the A.D.C. Tinkler had only just been promoted to Inspector, but since late the previous year he had been back in the uniform branch, after a decade in the detective branch and then the riot squad. At this stage, acting on stage was as close as he could get, or was ever again to get, to Maurice Tinkler, Shanghai detective.