“I’VE got a scoop for you,” said out-of-breath, off-duty garage mechanic Mervyn as he ran along the narrow path that links the riverbank and Osney Mead, dragging his old spaniel, Ned, behind him.

“A scoop, eh? Ice cream or poo?” I asked, aiming to gain the high ground in what might follow. He won by ignoring the comment.

“Listen,” he ordered while checking Ned hadn’t succumbed to the extra exercise. “Vera Lynn is opposite the Punter pub. I know you’re a fan and with Cilla signing off, there aren’t many singers left in your age group.”

I began to doubt, but he was quick off the mark.

“You wrote that she likes boats.” (I don’t remember doing any such thing, but couldn’t swear to it.) “Vera Lynn is on a smart cabin cruiser. Hurry up, she’ll be moving off soon.”

Could it be true? I couldn’t risk not saying hello to the now 98-year-old wartime ‘Forces’ Sweetheart’ whom I’d last spoken to at a Forces remembrance event in Hastings more than 30 years ago.

Without wishing to appear too eager I stepped out more quickly.

Yes, what he said was true; she was on a smart cabin cruiser – well, her name was, in large letters.

The boat was called the Vera Lynn, named after the owner’s late mother, Vera, and his wife Lynn.

I looked around yet couldn’t see Mervyn, but I’d swear I heard his maniacal laugh.

I SEE the world’s second best secret – after the mystery of life – comes to the stage of the Playhouse Theatre next week: Agatha Christie’s thriller, The Mousetrap.

Sixty-three years since the late Dickie Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim first headed the cast, the play has continued without a break.

As if by some agreement, audiences don’t seem to reveal the identity of the villain. No one has ever put me wise. Should I go along and spill the beans?

Heaven forbid!

A NOTICE on the large windows of refurbished offices in George Street announces that the prospective occupants known as High Level Complexity are looking for people who can get to the root of high level challenges using innovative solutions.

I wonder if making the central area of the city appear less like a bomb site and easing journeys here in spite of the incessant and lengthy roadworks might qualify.

No? Still, it’s worth asking.

FINALLY some good news. Peggy Barson, who was 95 last week and who had worked at the New Theatre for 72 years, is out of hospital.

She was quickly on the phone to praise the doctors and nurses at the JR who had made sure her time clock kept ticking.