Another piece of the puzzle arrived in the mail today, from, of all places, Russia. The letter included a copy of the original concept drawing of the Spagthorpe Russkiy Toy of which only two copies were built. One made its way to Italy and, under another name, was surprisingly successful in speed competition, whilst the other was donated to the Hermitage during preliminary trade negotiations. There it remained mothballed for decades until the curator, while searching for a few suitable gifts for V.V. Putin's forthcoming birthday, came upon it. Aware of Mr Putin's penchant for flying it seemed the perfect choice and was duly scrubbed, decoked, filled with fuel and fired up. It ran faultlessly.
In mid-July 2014 it was transported to a small aerodrome in western Russia where Petrushka Yanukovych, a young woman related to the famed ex-president of Ukraine, slid gracefully into the tiny cockpit, fired up the machine and did a couple of ground runs before lining up on the piano keys and giving it full throttle. The tiny beast leapt into the air after a very short ground run. A few moments later a small flame briefly appeared at the rear of the craft before it literally rocketed out of sight. The hydrogen had ignited.
Then silence. A few minutes later there was an enormous explosion high in the sky followed by wails of Petruschka, Petruschka, Petruschka from the small crowd.
Vodka flowed. And flowed. That evening the now well-lubricated mourners were given the news of a passenger jet crashing some miles from the test site. Ms Yanukovych from Ukraine had taken out MH-17.
Comment from the gallery curator has not been forthcoming, a spokesperson informing us that he is on extended leave. A Russian journalist contacted his wife who gave a very different version of events, but both wife and journalist have since gone very silent.
The upside to this story is that we now know that the Russians were telling the truth all along about Ukrainian involvement in the downing of MH-17, and perhaps more importantly another piece of the great Spagthorpe saga has been added to the annals.