Friday, January 6, 2012

Conan Doyle Rules!

According to the Baker Street Irregulars, today, January 6th is the birthday of Sherlock Holmes. This is not to be confused with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday which falls on May 22nd, nor Robert Downey, Jr.'s which is April 4th. Sherlockians from around the world gather together at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City to celebrate the day, why they do not converge in London remains a mystery to me.
Though Conan Doyle did not create an actual birthday for his most infamous character, William S. Baring-Gould ("Jan Levinson-Gould, I pressume?") who produced the first annotated version of Sherlock Holmes, claims that the story, "The Valley of Fear" begins on January 7th. In the story Holmes is irritable. Why is he irritable? Perhaps, because he suffered from a hangover. Why did he have a hangover? Well, Baring-Gould believed that Holmes was out celebrating the night before-Why would Holmes do that? Because it must have been his birthday and that's what obsessive, bohemian detectives do. How is that for sound logic? This is unsettling for me. 

Maybe he was irritable, BECAUSE HE IS A COCAINE ADDICT!

Nevertheless, The New York Times published an article in 2009 that proposed an alternative date for the fabulous boy of Baker Street.

Some argue Sherlock Holmes’s birthday really should be pegged to Dec. 2, the real-life birthday of Dr. Joseph Bell, the professor Doyle is said to have used an in inspiration for Mr. Holmes.

I did not make this up. I have no reason to oppose the claim that Sherly's birthday was the 2nd of December. In fact, I rather like that school of thought- mainly for the vanity of it. The alternative date would mean that we share a birthday. Of course, this is all speculation. And, I'm not really going to be the sort of person who brags that their birthday lands on a day that some consider to be Holmes' birthday. Who am I kidding? Of course I am. I'm even blogging about it now. That sure beats sharing a date of birth with Britney Spears!

Well, I plan on spending January 6th, the official birthday (for now) curled up in a corner with a box of truffles and an edition of Sherlock Holmes: Volume 2 ( I'm in the middle of His Last Bow) which I have yet to finish.

Or, maybe I'll catch Guy Ritchie's film for the 4th time... You know it'd be worth it to see the end credits alone.  And to think, people actually get up and leave at that part. It's a tragedy.

Does anyone else enjoy how the credits are likened to Sidney Paget's illustrations in The Strand in the way the text to "The Final Problem" surrounds them?

This entire film was a feast for my eyes.
Just gorgeous! 

Or, I could finally play this Master Detective Game which I bought last July and still have not played.

Until you have played The Miami-Vice Board Game, you simply cannot understand why I have been petrified to play board games ever since, thus neglecting a game that I would thoroughly enjoy.

Pay heed to this warning--If someone ever asks you to play The Miami-Vice Board Game make like a bread truck and haul buns. 

I may even read a couple more chapters of The Sherlockian which has proven to be quite the surprise for this wannabe-Baker-Street-Irregular.  Originally, it was purchased for its innovative cover art, but I have found its contents to be wildly entertaining. 

While reading The Sherlockian, I began to imagine Conan Doyle in the creative process. I'm not sure why I had never done this before, but I think it would have to do with being so engrossed in Conan Doyle's London that I forget that Holmes and Watson imaginary, thus eliminating the creative process altogether.

The Sherlockian author, Graham Moore used Undershaw--Conan Doyle's home as one of his settings. I thought, "Surely, Undershaw must be a tourist attraction to this day!". I was sadly mistaken. On the contrary, it's unfortunately dilapidated.   Here are photographs of Undershaw from an incredible post from Kara of  Teen Sleuth: The Haunted Library.

Isn't it sad to see the windows boarded up. It is now in ruins- Left to criminals. Can you imagine its potential? Kara of Teen Sleuth: The Haunted Library had a scathingly brilliant idea.

Murder mystery dinners, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year (in my calculation: $79.99 a head x 20 x 365 minus the cost of a bloddy slab of prime rib and some pudding = a lot of money). Haunted Halloween House. Holmesian story reenactments. Haunted tours on the moors (moors tours). Anyone? (Stephen Frye if you are reading this please contact me about a potential business opportunity).

I'm trying to decided if Conan Doyle was anything like Holmes. I could see Holmes riding this motorized bicycle...But I have a feeling he was more of a Watson.

And, don't you love Watson's description of Holmes' levels of expertise?

  1. Knowledge of Literature – nil.
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy – nil.
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy – nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics – Feeble.
  5. Knowledge of Botany – Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology – Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks, has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry – Profound.
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy – Accurate, but unsystematic.
  9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature – Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Any excuse to post a photo or two of RDJ as Holmes is fine by me. So, I guess we can celebrate January 6th as Holmes' birthday after all and maybe on December 2nd, I'll have to celebrate again.

Happy Birthday, Sherly!


  1. Jana! Brilliant! This blog post is superb. You had me laughing at times and totally engrossed! I love the comment about the Miami Vice game and sharing a birthday. Your writing is just great and this belongs in a literary magazine of sorts! What an entertaining read!

  2. This is a rather late comment.
    Undershaw, has now been sold to Stepping Stones, a school for special needs, who want to expand their territory. This is, in itself, a laudable use for a large old building with its generous grounds. Alas, first thing the new owners want to do, is to eschew the Conan Doyle past. To get over it, as it were, as if it were a bit of an inconvenient mantel to have to bear, a pesky ghost that must be exorcised. Perhaps the uses mentioned above could also be employed? A part of the house to be spared for public entertainment and curiosity. or are we never to see the interior of this fine and historical building again? I


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