Talk at Barts Hospital

Yesterday evening saw me give a talk on Holmes, Watson and Barts at the great hospital itself. Despite my nerves it went well. I shall blog in more detail later but, for the benefit of those who asked, here is a link to a PDF of my slides.

A Study in Barts.pdf

The podcast:


I promise that the seats were in use later

The hi-tech console from where I ran my presentation

Intentionally silly pic of me with Ardy & Curly of the Baker Street Babes following the talk.

In my case there is a huge sense of relief that I'm no longer on parade

The wonderful @kafers

The fantastic pictures of me as incarnations of Holmes which you can see here on my blog and on my Twitter web page were drawn by the wonderful Katherine Ryan (aka @kafers). I feel that she deserves a lot of trumpeting for her undoubted skills.
Modern and Victorian - both excellent

Book review - Sherlock Holmes On Screen (Updated Edition)

Some time ago I bought the book Starring Sherlock Holmes by David Stuart Davies which itself was, effectively, the latest update to a book he had first written during the 1970s.

When I read about Alan Barnes’ book, my first inclination was not to bother. As far as I was concerned I already had an excellent book on Holmes on screen why did I need another?

I’m glad I caved into curiosity and bought it.

In my opinion there is a strong parallel between the books of Barnes and Davies and the Conan Doyle biographies of Russell Miller and Andrew Lycett. In the case of Lycett and Miller both authors were, on paper, covering exactly the same thing and both produced books with positive and negative aspects. I found that owning both ensured that all bases were covered. Each one compensated for the other’s deficiencies (such as they were).

The same can be said of the film books of Barnes and Davies. Both have their up and down-sides and both complement each other. I would advise that any Sherlockian film buff buys both rather than relying on one or the other. Davies’ book is not as current as Barnes’ but I personally find Davies’ more readable and less like the reference book that both undoubtedly are. Davies’ book also has the major advantage that he lists his entries chronologically rather than alphabetically which is the approach Barnes takes. In my opinion this is Barnes’ biggest mistake and this shows up most when you endeavour to look up a non-English adaptation. I have even found myself using Davies’ book as a means to locating an entry in that of Barnes’.

Barnes’ book presents the information in a uniform and accessible way but I also found it a little clinical (but perhaps that’s just me). It could be said that where Davies’ book is full of opinion Barnes’ tends to be more “just the facts ma’am”.

All-in-all, an excellent book but it should not be your sole resource. 4 orange pips.

Haslemere Museum - Arthur Conan Doyle Exhibition

The Arthur Conan Doyle exhibition at Haslemere Museum will no longer be available to visit after June 30th. If you are in the area or can get there do try and make the effort. It is not a huge exhibition but it is very well done.

New book

Hi all.

I've started work on a new book. I'm not giving any details yet but it will mark a shift away from Arthur Conan Doyle and back towards Sherlock Holmes.

Wish me luck.

The Norwood Builder - Will Analysis if the story was set today

The Norwood Builder contains one of my favourite pieces of Holmesian deduction - the part where Holmes explains to Lestrade how a document was written on a train.

Given the state of the UK railways these days I thought I'd redraft the passage to reflect the modern train travel experience:

Holmes had picked up the pages which formed the rough draft of the will, and was looking at them with the keenest interest upon his face.

"There are some points about that document, Lestrade, are there not?" said he, pushing them over.

The official looked at them with a puzzled expression.

"I can read the first few lines and these in the middle of the second page, and one or two at the end. Those are as clear as print," said he, "but the writing in between is very bad, and there are three places where I cannot read it at all."

"What do you make of that?" said Holmes.

"Well, what do YOU make of it?"

"That it was written in a train. The good writing represents stations where he sat as the announcer kept changing which platform the train would be arriving at, the bad writing represents movement where he was knocked by the man next to him fiddling with his iPod, and the very bad writing represents being knocked by people with rucksacks.

“A scientific expert would pronounce at once that this was drawn up on a suburban line, since nowhere save in the immediate vicinity of a great city could there be so quick

a succession of rucksacks and platform alterations. Granting that his whole journey was

occupied in drawing up the will, then the train was an express, only stopping once between Norwood and London Bridge."

Sherlockian or Holmesian - What do these terms mean now?

There was a time when these terms were readily understood. Their scope was nicely defined. Essentially both were terms for a person well versed in the world of Sherlock Holmes. This world was generally understood to comprise the canon of stories, television adaptations, movie outings, plays, scholarly writings and, to a certain extent, pastiche efforts.

A learned journal
The more serious members of these ranks were also known to be members of related societies and, perhaps, contributed scholarly articles to learned society journals.

The principal difference between the two terms was that Holmesian was decidedly British (and perhaps formal) and Sherlockian was used across the pond.

In the latter stages of the 20th century the term Sherlockian began to be used more and more by British devotees to the extent where the two became interchangeable. It was, however, generally the case that the users of the American designation tended to be younger than the adherents of the British one.

Since the BBC's Sherlock has taken hold, the term Sherlockian has been appropriated in a way that Holmesian has not. Social media is full of people who describe themselves as Sherlockian. However, a significant number (not all) of these will have done little more than watched screen adaptations. In the UK at least, Sherlockian has effectively become a term for a fan of the BBC's series (and possibly the recent RDJ films) and Holmesian remains largely the term for the more scholarly devotee.

Given that usage is the ultimate arbiter, it seems that these two terms, which were once separated by geography rather than scope, are now effectively separated (in the UK at least) by scope rather than geography.


Haslemere Festival

Well yesterday saw my appearance at the Haslemere Festival. My wife and I arrived very early and had a wander round Haslemere Museum and looked at their Conan Doyle exhibition which was very good.

We then made our way to Haslemere Hall where I was to introduce a screening of Hammer's Hound of the Baskervilles. At this point I became truly scared as I don't make a habit of public speaking.

We checked my slide show, ran through a few points and then, just for the exercise, we went back to the museum for a buffet lunch. It was there that I met those who had already given their talks. These lucky individuals were Andrew Lycett and Andrew Lane.
Yes I'm terrified

At 2pm I made my way onto the stage following a lovely introduction from Roger Johnson.

Following a talk of about 20 minutes I was relieved to leave the stage for the film screening. There was laughter in all the wrong places (which was quite funny). At its conclusion we drew a raffle. The prizes were a number of books from my publisher MX Publishing. These included my book An Entirely New Country which you can order via this page.

Roger Johnson, yours truly and organiser Jeannette Hatcher drawing the raffle

SHSL Boat Trip - Following the Aurora

Members gathered today at Temple Pier to follow the river route taken by Sherlock Holmes in pursuit of the Aurora in The Sign of Four.

The troops gather

Catherine Cooke
David Jones, Ashley Mayo
Yours truly

Undershaw Latest - Fossway Appeal

To recap. On May 23rd the Judicial Review into the decision by Waverley Borough Council to grant Fossway planning permission to redevelop Undershaw was heard at the High Court. One week later it was revealed that the planning permission had been overturned. A period of one week was allowed for an appeal.

The deadline came and went without news. Later it emerged that Waverley Borough Council had elected not to appeal. However it has emerged today that Fossway, the owners of Undershaw, have decided to appeal against the decision.

However, all is not lost. Although they have requested an appeal there is no guarantee that it will be heard. Even if an appeal is heard there is no guarantee that the decision will be any different.

So don't fret just yet.

Undershaw Appeal Deadline

Well what are we to make of the silence? Yesterday was the deadline for Waverley Borough Council to appeal against the High Court decision to quash their planning permission for Undershaw. Is no news good news? Or is it the case that we just don't know the decision yet because it's sitting with someone who is yet to release it?

Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it.