This And That

Because I’ve not been taking pictures as I usually do, but still want to run the blog, here’s this silly snap from New Year’s Day:

If you’re gonna spray graffiti, at least make it positive! The shop the wall belongs to is a Chinese takeaway. Which should put a smile on your face just by existing.

The arrival of 2023 welcomes, among other things, all of Sherlock Holmes stories (and I think that means all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works too, unless I’m missing some of the last ones) into public domain. You can now write and publish any Sherlock story of your own, without worrying about getting into trouble with the estate.

One of Agatha Christie’s best books, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, has also entered the public domain. All these works are available for free in digital format.

I hoped Kenneth Branagh would tackle the case for his third Hercule Poirot film, especially as he mentioned “wanting to retire to grow vegetable marrows” in last year’s Death on the Nile, but it is not so. The next instalment (which is being filmed now) is A Haunting in Venice, an adaptation of Halloween Party. It seems Poirot retired to grow vegetable marrows, not into an English village, but to Venice. (It will be a loose adaptation, as Halloween Party doesn’t take place in Venice.) Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a tricky one to adapt for screen, because of its unique twist, but it can be done. The David Suchet TV episode was unfortunately not good, but I still hope someone will do it well.

I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately. More than usual, more than photography. Even the algorithms know, I keep seeing ads for writing classes on Facebook and Instagram. I posted three stories in quick succession over on my writing blog, to my own surprise. It turns out the secret to writing is… writing. As opposed to thinking about writing, daydreaming about fictional characters and noting down ideas. It was like discovering the pearl of wisdom. I hope to continue with it this year. I’d like to experiment with different genres.

It’s been raining almost constantly. No walks in the park, no taking pictures. I have to march in my living room to meet the steps target on my FitBit!

That’s about it for my random and weird thoughts. Have a good January.

2022 Recap

The year is ending, it’s time for another recap post.

Do look up – the world’s not ending… yet

Let me get this out of the way first: this is a personal post on a personal blog. This is not a current events blog. There’s been a lot of bad stuff this year. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, most of all, the cost of living crisis, the absolutely insane weather brought on by climate change. But for me, on purely personal basis, it has been a good year.

My mum said the other day when we spoke on the phone, that things happen that we have no control over and can’t do anything about. So what is left but to live one’s life? I’m devastated at the state of the world… I hope it gets better and wish I could do something… I hope Putin’s head explodes… I want a better world, for everyone. I want the Star Trek future to be real, not just a fantasy. But to want something is just that.

So, the recap.

I have made 106 posts on Some Photoblog. That’s not just a record, that’s outstanding. I thought last year’s 89 was an achievement. (Note, these numbers are correct at the time of writing, I sometimes delete old posts, sometimes without a trace, sometimes I republish them later, keeping the original text and adding new pictures, or keeping the pictures and changing the original text.) Over on my writing blog it was 13 posts, also a record. Although not all of them are technically stories, writing is writing.

And in 2022, I’ve had my share of nice things.

Well, it can hardly get any better than meeting one’s favourite actor and travelling to one’s home country after seven years of not travelling to one’s home country, like the proverbial prodigal daughter.

Meeting Sam Claflin was without question a highlight of the year (and one of the highlights of my life), not only because of how nice he was, and how magical the experience felt, and how his smile is really like that, but also because the whole trip to London for the convention (by coach, because one can’t rely on trains anymore in this kingdom united, meaning I had to leave the day before and spend a night at a hotel) thrust me out of the familiarity of my comfort zone straight into the uncharted waters of the big wide ocean. For someone who never goes anywhere and sticks to the same places and activities, my stress levels reached the stratosphere. I knew once I got through it, I’d be able to do anything.

At the convention, aside from meeting Sam Claflin, I also got an autograph of Ben Barnes. He, too, was very nice–and chatty! (Sam seems more quiet.) His eyes are really that dark.

Another favourite I saw was the band Bastille live in concert. They were my most streamed artist on Spotify wrapped.

it’s the stuff I usually listen to

Taylor Swift released her album Midnights. But I still keep listening to Evermore.

And it was a good year for an Agatha Christie fan. Death on the Nile was finally released in the cinemas, after numerous delays (and a scandal involving one of the actors), with Kenneth Branagh directing and playing the role of Hercule Poirot. Then there was the film that directly honoured the queen of crime: See How They Run. A murder is committed in the theatre that hosts her play The Mousetrap and Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan of the London police force team up to solve it. It takes place a year after the play opened, 1953. The film very meta–and the character of Agatha herself appears too. And finally just in time for Christmas, Glass Onion came out on Netflix. After the success of Knives Out, Rian Johnson gives us another case for detective Benoit Blanc, played (with much fun) by Daniel Craig. Rian once again brilliantly combines Agatha Christie-like tropes with current issues and lots of humour. If you hate Elon Musk, you’re gonna love this movie.

I’ve seen a few articles talking about how murder mysteries are back, but I think people have always liked them.

The above mentioned Mousetrap celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2022 and I went to see it when they came to Manchester as part of the anniversary tour.

It was so good to see my home town of Bratislava again. I was so happy I finally took some pics there with my Canon (last time I had gone there I didn’t have a DSLR camera). November is not perhaps the best time to travel (right after the clocks went back too, so days became even shorter) but I made the best of it and I got lucky with some nice weather.

I was a bit worried about putting my cat in a cattery, fearing that she would think I was abandoning her. It was her first time staying in a cattery. But she got through it alright. (Imagine running a cattery, though, it seems like one of those dream jobs.)

I cannot do a 2022 recap post without mentioning the death of the longest reigning monarch, Elizabeth II. I’m not keen on monarchy, it’s inherently anti-democratic, but I can’t deny Elizabeth was an impressive person. She’ll be remembered for centuries to come.

The UK also went through three Prime Ministers. One of them, Liz Truss, was at the job for 49 days–and was outlasted by a lettuce.

The chaos in British politics would not have existed had Leave not won the referendum in 2016. But, you know *shrug* I have said everything that needs to be said about it.

So as not to end the post on a depressing note, let us remember the heroes of the year. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the women of Iran who rose up in protest of the regime. And also you. The person reading this, for getting through whatever you had to get through. Keep on keeping on.

Bring on 2023!

It’s been so cold and I’ve not been taking pictures

I took some shots from the window earlier in the month. The top two with camera, the last one with smartphone. (It’s not snow, it’s frost.)

Temperatures plummeted to, like, minus eight degrees Celsius, and I was legit worried it would never get warmer. Cold snaps like this tend to last two to three days; this one went for longer than a week. It was awful. I still went for my usual walk in the park on my lunchbreak, but I had to keep my hands in my pockets. There was nothing to photograph anyway.

Luckily it got better, now it’s back to the normal Manchester weather of grey skies and rain, and much warmer temperature.

I’ve not taken any pictures since 9 December, apart from this one of Pepper chilling on the kitchen radiator:

Although “chilling” is probably not the right term here. More like “warming”.

Depressing post is depressing, but it explains why there was no content on the blog. I’m not depressed, in fact I’ve been reflecting that 2022 has been a quite good year for me.

I don’t have any concrete plans for any Christmas-themed post, but I’ll probably slip something in, because I usually do.

I hope you’re keeping warm.

A Work Of Art (With Thoughts On Pirates Of The Caribbean)

Note: A post titled A Work Of Art was originally published on Some Photoblog in June 2021. I have come to a decision to delete and republish it with some changes to the text and expanded title (the pictures remain the same as in the original post). I explain why below.

This painting hangs in Manchester Art Gallery (quite high up, hence the awkward angle).

It’s Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse. Waterhouse was an English painter of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and Hylas and the Nymphs is one of his best known works.

The Gallery’s label:

(Look, I don’t know. Maybe the nymphs were just like: dude, you’re trespassing. It doesn’t have to be that deep. Waterhouse can hardly be blamed for some femme fatale shit, when it’s a story from the Greek mythology. Also, I like Pre-Raphaelites. I like nice things. I’m a visual person.)

The image below is a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth film in the series, released in 2011, directed by Rob Marshall:

image credit: IMDb

Okay, so you have to squint a bit. But you can see it.

The two stunningly beautiful people are Philip and Syrena, played by Sam Claflin and Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Syrena is a mermaid, not a nymph (and there are no water lilies, obviously), but she does look like something Waterhouse would have painted. He seemed to have had a thing for women of mythology and legends, and bodies of water. (Waterhouse, get it?) Philip is no Argonaut, he’s a missionary, which is why he wears that cross, but he was on a ship. Which is, I suppose, a logical occurrence in a movie centred on pirates. On Stranger Tides is probably the weakest in the series, but it’s still worth watching for these two, if nothing else. Their romance would surely inspire artists and poets alike. There was something so pure about it, stupid as the word is. I love Philip and Syrena, they own my heart.

*spoilers* Interestingly, much like Hylas, Philip was never seen again either. His fate is a bit ambiguous, as he’s injured, likely quite critically, and the above scene is the moment just before he and Syrena kiss and she pulls him into the water. It was established earlier in the movie that a mermaid’s kiss can heal, and she does tell him: “I can save you, just ask,” though he doesn’t ask, he says he wants only forgiveness, as he blames himself for her capture. She kisses him anyway (get in there, girl!), and the last we see of them is when they float underwater. But I’m positive Philip didn’t die, the reason why neither him nor Syrena appear again is that The Powers That Be decided not to use them any more. *end spoilers*

So, now for the controversial part. My original June 2021 post was a silly entry about how film snobs need to get over themselves and step on a Lego, because the similarity between the Philip and Syrena scene and the Waterhouse painting proved that Pirates of the Caribbean films were a work of art. Not that I no longer believe this to be true (because the similarity cannot be denied), but it is a frivolous matter compared to… well, everything surrounding the lead actor of the franchise.

However, I maintain that the Pirates movies don’t necessarily have to revolve around the character of Jack Sparrow because they still have a lot going for them that is not Jack Sparrow. (In fact I think the later instalments should have reduced his role). Adventure, humour, horror, romance, and a lot of swashbuckling action. There are plenty of other great characters; the first trilogy truly belongs to Will and Elizabeth. I mean, it’s Elizabeth who becomes the Pirate King. Not Jack. There’s Tia Dalma and Davy Jones. Weatherby Swann (Elizabeth’s father), James Norrington, even Cutler Beckett. And the films always nail their romances. Will and Elizabeth, Philip and Syrena, and Henry and Carina in the fifth film. And I think Geoffrey Rush’s performance as Hector Barbossa is just as iconic as Johnny Depp’s Jack. The scene in The Curse of the Black Pearl “you’d better start believing in ghost stories, you’re in one” where he’s revealed to be a skeleton in the moonlight, is so bone chilling and so, well, iconic! I also love Elizabeth and Will’s wedding in the third film, At World’s End. On a ship, in the middle of a battle, Elizabeth shouts to Barbossa: “Barbossa, marry us!” To which he responds: “I’m a little bit busy at the moment!” But he nevertheless marries them, while all three of them are fighting their enemy.

Plus Ragetti and Pintel are a hilarious duo.

All that and the theme tune (composed by Hans Zimmer, no less) is the best.

On Stranger Tides was Sam Claflin’s first film. You know how I feel about the guy.

In conclusion, Pirates of the Caribbean films are a lot of fun. But if you feel you can’t watch them any more, that’s okay too. And if you’ve never liked them anyway, then it doesn’t matter.

I wonder if Waterhouse would have been a fan?

Alone

This week the Weekly Prompts Weekend Challenge is Alone.

May I just offer my whole blog?

Only joking. Here is a lone crow perching on a fence by the tram tracks.

Most of the time I’m alone. (Unless you count my cat.) All the time, really, except for days when I go into the office. I’m single by choice and not looking for relationship, and I go everywhere on my own. I can’t imagine it any other way anymore. I can’t imagine not seeing a film at the cinema because I have no one to go with, I can’t imagine missing out on seeing a favourite artist of band because there’s nobody to accompany me to their concert. I date myself.

Sure, the system screws over single people. When I recently needed a hotel for a night, I saw how much the price increased when I changed the booking from the default two people to one, even though it was the exact same room. The insatiable capitalistic greed punishing solo travellers for merely existing, but there’s another way to look at it. They wish they were like us. They wish they had the courage to travel alone. But they’re too scared, and so they take it out on us. They hate us ‘cos they ain’t us!

Some of my posts here on Some Photoblog feature solitary objects or animals. The tagline of my Tumblr blog is “in solitude” (also my username is a play on the word “misanthropy”). I have a Pinterest board dedicated to single life.

It’s just my way.

Bye September

So, how to wrap up the ninth month of the year 2022?

September is the month when I started Some Photoblog, back in 2015. September marks the transition from summer to autumn. The first autumn leaves appear, that phenomenon that makes poets pick up their pens and photographers their camera. And painters their brush.

transformative

adjective

causing a marked change in someone or something

(from Google)

Queen Elizabeth saw Liz Truss becoming prime minister, said this is too much, and bowed out.

And I discovered mushrooms grow in my local park.

The blogger on the first day of the month is the same person as the blogger at the end of the month, but she has been through something… transformative. (Refer to my previous two posts.)

But she is still taking pictures with her smartphone in the park. Because that is what she does.

Mindful

I have mentioned, here and there on this blog, that I suffer from anxiety. I have so for my whole life. But it wasn’t until summer 2022 that I finally got help. (I was actually contacting my doctor regarding ADHD, which I’m sure I’ve got, but because I scored so high on anxiety in a questionnaire, I was referred to mental health services for it.) The six sessions I had with my practitioner included some helpful tips for when that dreaded feeling rears its head again. One of them was a mindful activity.

A clump of trees in my local park became my favourite place to do this exercise. It just means using your five senses to be aware of your surroundings.

September is such a month. The last remains of the summer are still present, but autumn slowly creeps in. Can’t wait for the colourful glory of this season!

It is important to slow down.

Pigeon conference, again.

Garbage… but it’s history

One day I was walking down the well trodden street that leads from my place to the park, when I spotted it. It lay there, on the ground, as if it had been there for days or weeks–but it hadn’t. It wasn’t there the day before.

I took a picture of it, because that’s what I do, you know, and also, my brother is a huge Lord of the Rings fan. Later that day, I sent the pic to him.

He joked that it was such a waste throwing it away. I, of course, remarked that littering never ceases to irritate me, considering there are bins nearby.

Then I looked at my pic closer. The cup has an Odeon cinema logo but, as Paul pointed out, the movies were out two decades ago. I thought it might have been an advert for some other type of media, a video game perhaps, as there’s the new series on Amazon Prime set in Middle Earth, so I thought “The Ultimate Quest” referred to something else of this universe (I don’t keep up with LOTR stuff, not one of my fandoms). But no, the image on the cup is definitely related to the last film of the trilogy, The Return of the King. But that was released in 2003. Also Paul was able to notice that the Pepsi logo is old. I never know what the Pepsi logo looks like, I buy Coca-Cola.

So, what is a nineteen-year-old cup doing on the pavement? And how come someone kept a paper cup from a cinema for nineteen years in the first place? It’s quite well preserved, albeit squashed. On one side it had marks from a bike, but that bike would have run over it once it was already on the street. It seemed to me someone was doing a big clear-out. But if they were doing a big clear-out, wouldn’t they have put the cup in the binbag with the rest of the rubbish?

WHAT IS THIS MYSTERY, I NEED ANSWERS!

The next day I walked that street again (I always do, since I go to the park most days) and the cup was still there. The location of the cup is near the point where a wall of one house meets the backyard of another house. The backyard has recently been filled with old, broken furniture. I think I might have cracked it.

There’s obviously some renovating going on in one of the houses and the cup must have got stuck somewhere in the furniture. As the furniture was being dumped to the backyard, the cup, being much lighter, landed further away.

I also wonder if the cinema goer kept the cup because they were a fan of LOTR. I can imagine a kid, perhaps twelve or thirteen years old making it part of their little LOTR collection. Maybe their parent/s couldn’t afford to buy them any merchandise. So they cherished the cinema cup with the image of the film, because it was the only thing they had.

Later, when they grew up and started earning their own money, they would buy whatever else they wanted. The family moved out and the cinema cup was left behind, long forgotten.

Until the renovators came.

What a relic. Might not be worth much, but it’s history.

The Sherlock Holmes Post

Note: This post was originally published on Some Photoblog in October 2020. However, I deleted it after I grew unsatisfied with the pictures. I took some new ones and I hereby, with some minor changes, republish the post.

No spoilers ahead, except for The Final Problem, which I think is safe to say everyone knows anyway.


The game’s afoot!

If you’ve ever visited Some Photoblog, or ever talked to me at all, you know I’m all about Agatha Christie. But I have much love for Sherlock Holmes too.

Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), a writer and by profession a medical doctor, born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now, I feel kind of bad because I always try to promote lesser known works by authors (e.g. Agatha Christie’s books without Poirot or Marple that are not And Then There Were None and non-Anne of Green Gables works by LM Montgomery) but this time around I’m going for the most obvious choice. It’s also a well-known fact that the author ended up hating his most famous creation and had wished his other writings received similar attention. (Sorry, Sir Arthur!) I have read other works by him; a couple of Professor Challenger books and a short story collection Tales of Terror and Mystery and the guy does deserve to be known for his non-Sherlock writings–he was quite prolific and wrote sci-fi, historical fiction, non-fiction. I remember a few years ago a commenter on ACD’s official Facebook page post said “I didn’t know he wrote stories other than Sherlock Holmes” and I thought, how stupid can you get? Please.

Anyway… today, I’m basic.

Sherlock Holmes is without a doubt the most popular fictional detective in the world and this is unlikely to change, in our lifetimes or perhaps ever. What is it that makes him so appealing, more than a century after his first appearance?

I don’t know the answer. He just is. An eccentric character, with brilliant mind, skilled in detection, what’s not to love? (He was also a cocaine user, but this was legal at the time.) Mystery is a popular genre, people love their detectives. And Sherlock Holmes is a classic. I think there is certain appeal in Victorian and Edwardian era London as well.

Sherlock Holmes first came to life in the 1887 novel A Study in Scarlet. Altogether he features in four novels (the other three being The Sign of Four, The Hound of Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear) and 56 short stories, majority of them written by his sidekick Dr John Watson. The character of Sherlock is inspired by Dr Joseph Bell (1837-1911), a surgeon and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, for whom ACD served as a clerk at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Dr Bell used observation to carry out a diagnosis and was a pioneer of what we now call forensic science. He also served as a personal surgeon to Queen Victoria when she visited Scotland.

“My friend and colleague, Dr Watson.”

I am lost without my Boswell.

Sherlock Holmes about Dr Watson

The quote is a reference to James Boswell, who was a biographer of the writer Samuel Johnson.

The lifelong partnership–however you want to interpret it–was born in A Study in Scarlet. Dr Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes by an old acquaintance Stamford as someone to potentially share a place with, as he’s in a precarious financial situation. Stamford knows Sherlock from the hospital, where he, Stamford, works as a dresser and Sherlock likes to dabble with chemicals at the lab.

“Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stamford, introducing us.

Watson, The Study in Scarlet

Sherlock already knows of a suitable lodgings to rent, 221b Baker Street. The next day they meet and go view the place, Watson decides it’s suitable, and they move in.

Everyone, raise a glass for Mr Stamford, without whom this iconic duo would never have existed.

Watson at first has no clue about Sherlock’s profession and for some reason is afraid to ask. Because he really has nothing else to do, he studies his flatmate and even makes a list of his skills and abilities. I made a graphic of this list, which I posted on my Tumblr where it enjoyed some popularity. This is it:

there’s a typo–soild instead of soils, I never bothered to correct it

Watson is also shocked at Sherlock’s total ignorance of the Solar System. Of course, now it seems funny, because you’re thinking, haha he’s obsessed. He admits as such right there, in the text. He has nothing else to occupy his mind, has no close friends and his health is not in the best condition. This is what made me come up with a theory–I think meeting Sherlock Holmes saved Dr Watson’s life. Hear me out.

So, as we know from Watson’s narrative, he qualified as medical doctor, joined the army and served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, where he was wounded during the Battle of Maiwand. His injury healed, but then he contracted enteric fever (which a quick Google search informs me is the same as typhoid fever). Afterwards, his health was so poor, he was discharged and sent back to England to recuperate. Having no living relatives in England, he arrived in London and booked himself a room in a hotel. His description of the capital city is amusing: “that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained”. (You wouldn’t think it of him, but our doctor does have some good burns.) His army pension was eleven shillings and sixpence a day (another quick Google search informs me this should have been quite a comfortable income). He describes this period of his life as a “meaningless existence” and confesses to spending too much money. Hence the aforementioned precarious financial situation. He realised that he needed to change his lifestyle and having just made the decision to look for cheaper living, he bumped into Stamford.

What I wonder about–what was he spending his money on? Drinking? Women? Gambling? It was at a bar where he came across Stamford, so draw your own conclusions. (Also in The Sign of Four, we learn that Watson had an older brother with a drink problem.) Stamford comments that Watson is very thin and very brown (suntan from Afghanistan, presumably). It’s not unreasonable to conclude that he suffered from PTSD. And the “meaningless existence”–could that be… depression? When he moved in with Sherlock, he got his life and finances in order and his mind was revived from idleness by this intriguing new friend of his. Then, when Sherlock finally reveals to Watson what his profession is–a consulting detective–he invites him to come along to view a dead body. The rest is history.

Watson is at first sceptical of Sherlock’s science of deduction, but soon learns that yes, it really does work. It seems to me that Sherlock, whether intentionally or not, pulled Watson back into life. BBC Sherlock series pretty much plays it that way.

In the next book, The Sign of Four, a new client named Miss Mary Morstan enters the scene and she and Watson fall in love and get married. It was an extremely short courtship, but it seems to have worked out for them. ACD needed to marry off Watson, so he married him off. *shrug* Sherlock remained in Baker Street, as Watson says in A Scandal in Bohemia, “buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature”. In other words, he missed his friend. (The Guy Ritchie movies with Robert Downey Jr showcase this well.)

Screenshot of Sherlock Holmes, The Definitive Audio Collection from my Audible app. The complete works, all for one single credit, (a marvellous deal!), read by Stephen Fry, who played Mycroft in the sequel to the above mentioned Guy Ritchie film, Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows. Speaking of which:

Brother Mycroft

“All men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience.”

Sherlock on his brother Mycroft, from The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans

Sherlock Holmes has a brother called Mycroft, seven years his senior. We first meet him in the story The Greek Interpreter; he also features in one of my personal favourites, The Bruce-Partington Plans. Mycroft possesses even greater ability for deduction and observation than his younger brother, except he can’t be bothered to do any actual detective work out in the field. No ambition and no energy. (I can relate.) He rarely ventures beyond his circle of home, workplace and the Diogenes Club. In The Bruce-Partington Plans Sherlock nearly falls off a chair when he receives telegram from Mycroft informing him of his upcoming visit to Baker Street. It must be something really serious to drag his brother away from his usual territory!

Mycroft’s skills enabled him to create his own position in the Government. He makes himself indispensable. That’s why Sherlock says Mycroft is the Government itself. But my favourite part about the older Holmes is the Diogenes Club. A gentlemen’s club set up for those who hate company, whether due to shyness or misanthropy, but who still like comfortable chairs and newspapers. Talking is not permitted, except for Stranger’s Room and three offences will get you expelled from the club. Mycroft was one of the founding members.

We don’t know what Mycroft’s politics is. From Sherlock’s description, he certainly can make any regime work for him, but I like to think he was at least somewhat progressive. There is nothing in the canon to say he wasn’t.

According to Sherlock, both of them may have inherited their talents from their grandmother, a sister to French artist Vernet. Vernet was a real artist that really existed, in fact there were three of them: grandfather, father and son:

  • Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789)
  • Antoine Charles Horace Vernet, known as Carle Vernet (1758-1836)
  • Émile Jean-Horace Vernet, known as Horace Vernet (1789-1863)

ACD doesn’t specify which one of them it was, but based on the timeline, the youngest one is the most likely one. Horace Vernet mostly painted battle scenes and enjoyed patronage from, among others, King Louis-Philippe. He also took photographs by daguerreotype process, the first publicly available photography technique.

Check out his self-portrait:

image credit: Wikipedia

It looks very Sherlock Holmes, doesn’t it?

Aside from this, Sherlock never mentions any other family. He says his ancestors were country squires, but offers no further details. In The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, after Sherlock returns from the dead, Watson moves back with him to Baker Street and sells his practice to a young doctor named Verner. Years later he finds out that this Verner was a distant relation of Sherlock and it was really Sherlock who provided the money for the practice, which was sold at the highest price. Verner, Vernet, sounds very similar, also R and T are next to each other on the keyboard. Most likely a coincidence, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

“The Best and Finest Man I Have Ever Known”

So, Sherlock believed his talent for observation and deduction came from his artist great uncle. “Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms”, he says in The Greek Interpreter. Sherlock is the logical, scientific type. He also plays the violin and is fond of music. I think we can safely say that in the mind of our great detective, science and art combine.

Watson’s list of Sherlock’s skills is not entirely accurate for the rest of the series. In The Sign of Four, for example, Watson notes that “[Holmes] spoke on a quick succession of subjects,—on miracle-plays, on medieval pottery, on Stradivarius violins, on the Buddhism of Ceylon, and on the war-ships of the future,—handling each as though he had made a special study of it.” Yet none of those subjects are mentioned on the list in A Study in Scarlet. Quite the opposite–any facts he considers irrelevant must be forgotten at once, as to not clutter his mind. When ACD came up with the character of Sherlock Holmes, he couldn’t have known he would still write about him decades later (he didn’t even want to!). With time, he developed his character more, realising that, when you work as a detective, no knowledge is useless. This can be easily explained by Watson not knowing Sherlock that well in their early days yet. There is also another inconsistency. Watson’s wound was in the shoulder in A Study in Scarlet, but in The Sign of Four, he tells us it’s in the leg. Not that it matters much, in any case he could have sustained more than one injury in the war. BBC Sherlock got round it by making Watson’s leg pain psychosomatic–quite clever, I think.

This is a popular outline of Sherlock’s profile (drawn my myself), thanks to illustrations by Sidney Paget. It is Paget that gave Sherlock the iconic deerstalker hat, never mentioned in the actual writing. Paget’s illustrations accompanied ACD’s Sherlock stories in The Strand Magazine, where they were published. (Random fact: Agatha Christie also published her Poirot short stories in this magazine.) ACD himself requested Paget to continue illustrating in The Strand when he resurrected Sherlock. Sidney Paget definitely deserves some credit for contributing to the famous detective’s image.

The Birth of a Fandom

ACD killed off Sherlock in 1893 in The Final Problem, hoping this would help him concentrate on the more serious fiction and non-fiction he wanted to work on. Sherlock faces his ultimate antagonist, Professor Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime. Interestingly, Moriarty is also a man of science, a mathematical genius. During their last showdown at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, they both plunge to their deaths.

Or not.

The reaction of fans to this move was like nothing else ever experienced before. Angry letters poured into ACD’s mailbox, people wore black armbands, The Strand Magazine suffered 20,000 cancellations. These days you’d shrug your shoulder, just another Tuesday in the fandom. But then, it was new. ACD eventually brought the beloved sleuth back; he needed the money and people wanted their Sherlock. Luckily the way he wrote Sherlock’s end enabled him to explain it away with “actually he didn’t fall into his death, only Moriarty did” and “he quickly realised that faking his death would help him break Moriarty’s criminal network and protect his dear Watson”. ACD though killed another character, Mrs Mary Watson, off page, so that he could reinstate Watson back into 221b Baker Street. (It’s kinda shitty if you think about it, but I understand why it had to be that way, besides, readers likely didn’t care about her. Apart from all the other qualities of the Granada Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett, I like that their Watson remained unmarried and Mary Morstan exited at the end of The Sign of Four episode.)

And so the adventures continued.

Sherlock’s message to Watson, from The Adventure of the Creeping Man

Sherlockians, or Holmesians if you want, were the first modern fandom. (Ahhh, fandoms, yes, fandoms, that’s a discussion I’d rather not have today.)

Aside from the books written by ACD, Sherlock appears in numerous books by other authors. This is called pastiche. Most of ACD’s works are in public domain now, which means you can get them free as eBooks. Project Gutenberg is the best place for this.

I truly hope that if Sir Arthur can see from beyond how loved the character he grew to hate is, and how much Sherlock Holmes means to people, he is not too angry. After all, Sherlock, and all the related adaptations and pastiches, bring many of us joy and in the end, that is what really matters.

My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.

The Adventure of the of the Blue Carbuncle

Overthinking

This week’s Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge is my middle name–Overthink. This is my contribution.

I overthink if this picture is worth posting on blog

I overthink when there is nothing to overthink. I overthink when there is nothing to think.

I overthink in the morning, in the evening and all the time in between. I overthink when I’m eating and when I’m not eating.

I overthink.

I made this three years ago:

I have always been an overthinker.

Top photo taken with Canon DSLR, bottom with smartphone.