Category Archive 'Sherlock Holmes'

20 Apr 2018

Sherlock Holmes’ EDC Knife

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H. Clay Aalders, at the Truth About Knives, speculates on Sherlock Holmes choice of Every Day Carry knife.

A couple of weeks ago we shared a really awesome series of posts from In them, the author derives a very convincing list of the Everyday Carry items carried by the iconic Detective, using clues from the texts as reference.

In the second installment of the series, the author focuses in on the knife which Holmes might have carried, and settled on a “Winfield Knife” from Thornhill of London.


HT: Glenn Reynolds.

21 Nov 2015

19th Century Social Media

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Watson reads the newspaper to Holmes and Jabez Wilson

In the 19th century, safe and anonymous communication was achieved via classified advertisements in the daily newspapers.

In the Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock Holmes often turned to them for clues.

Adventure of the Red Circle:

He took down the great book in which, day by day, he filed the agony columns of the various London journals. “Dear me,” said he, turning over the pages, “what a chorus of groans, cries, and bleatings! A rag-bag of singular happening! But surely the most valuable hunting ground that was ever given to a student of the unusual.”


More examples

And more

still more

21 Jul 2015

Sherlock Holmes, Conservative

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Sherlock Holmes lecturing Dr. Watson, drawn by Sidney Paget

Christopher Sandford, writing in The (always dubiously conservative) American Conservative, concludes perfectly correctly that Sherlock Holmes was everything The American Conservative is not “a Victorian libertarian—and imperial conservative,” i.e. essentially an older version of that now vanishing American species, the Goldwater Conservative.

Holmes is an individualist. In the best sense of the words, he’s a confirmed loner and an inveterate free-thinker. Holmes is often the only man in the room with a contrary opinion, whether about someone’s character or a set of circumstances. Even in his latest BBC manifestation, it’s hard to imagine him carrying a sign or joining a picket line. Instead, the tell-tale signs of the libertarian are everywhere, from Holmes’s dress-code—essentially respectable but with just that touch of the haphazard to eschew the orthodox—to his famously bohemian lodgings, and erratic but long work hours.

He’s the epitome of the sort of self-sufficient, small-state, freelance operator Margaret Thatcher surely had in mind when she said that there was no such thing as “society” in Britain, merely millions of innately free-willed and aspirational men and women.

Holmes is also a precursor to James Bond—surely another neo-Thatcherite—in enjoying some of life’s more luxurious consumer goodies. He frequently accepts expensive presents from grateful clients in high places, invariably travels first-class, smokes custom-blended tobacco, and takes hits from a jewel-encrusted snuff box, one of numerous gifts from the nobility. …

Here’s how Holmes sets the scene of his retirement in The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane:

    [The case] occurred after my withdrawal to my little Sussex home, when I had given myself up entirely to that soothing life of Nature for which I had so often yearned during the long years spent amid the gloom of London. … My villa is situated upon the southern slope of the downs, commanding a great view of the Channel. … My house is lonely. I, my old housekeeper, and my bees have the estate all to ourselves.

Surely this retreat to the heart, then as now, of Tory England speaks to the deep vein of traditionalism that lies under Holmes’s bohemian façade. The final stories may include some of the most outlandish plots of the entire series, but alongside all the veiled lodgers and creeping professors, the obsessive moral theme becomes more than ever the urgent need to maintain a social order under threat both from within and without. There’s no need to look further for proof of Holmes’s profound sense of disquiet than when he’s left in old age with a feeling of having “failed both my clients and myself,” or when he contemplates the coming ruin of the “quiet, ordered, harmonious, well balanced” Britain personified by Queen Victoria and the rise of the “brash, smug, self-regarding generation” yapping impatiently at the old nation’s heels.

“Is not all life pathetic and futile?” Holmes inquires in his 60th and final appearance, The Adventure of the Retired Colourman. “We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow—misery.” There speaks the true voice of the British conservative.

06 May 2010

Iowahawk: The Case of the Purloined Pathfinder

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‘s latest is a Bloomberg Holmes classic detective, with Eric Holder playing the role of Watson!

“What have we here, officer?” Holmes inquired of the chief constable on the scene, pausing to alternately suck in his left and right nostrils and shudder in deep contemplative satisfaction.

“Open and shut case, you lordship,” said the man, whose badge bore the name Sainsbury. “Roight. Now if you look here, this is a late model Nissan sport utility brougham, registered to a man what goes by the name of Faisal Shahzad, and what soaped up these signs in th’ windows that says ‘death to those who insult the prophet,’ all written up in the Arabic nice-as-you-like. Now if you look, the vehicle is parked pretty-as-you-please in front of Parker & Stone’s…”

“Parker & Stone? Do you mean those ghastly men who produce the South Park penny dreadfuls that have so offended the city’s peaceful Muhammedans?” I inquired. “I thought they were to be taken in for questioning.”

“Patience, Holder. It is the next item on my agenda after shutting down the sodium dens,” said Holmes. “Go on, officer.”

“Roight. It seems our Mr. Shahzad is a member of the mosque of the cleric what read him a death fatwa against Parker & Stone. Now sir, if you look inside the brougham you’ll see what is some wires that is set up to this bomb, ready to go off with this mobile telly, and a basket of baklava and a note what says ‘Dear Faisal, good luck with the big infidel cartoonist killing, Love, Mum.’ Ah, there’s our suspect now!”

Our discussion was interrupted by another constable, an affable Chinaman by the name of Ming, accompanied by a swarthy ululating young man whom he had entrapped in handcuffs.

“Pinched ’em sarge!” enthused the man’s captor. “An’ just in th’ nick of toime. Just as you said, the scoundrel was down at the docks tryin’ to stow away on a tramp steamer to the Suez.”

“Well well well, what ‘ave we here?” said Constable Sainsbury, reaching into the man’s pocket without so much as a warrant. “A mobile telly what has the number of the bomb telly on the old speed dial. Book ‘im, lad!”

“Unhand this man at once, you incompetent fools!” exhorted Bloomberg Holmes, angrily smacking the Nissan with his magnifying glass. “He may be speaking and gesticulating in a tongue strange to our ears, but it is quite obvious he is protesting his innocence!”

“…but sir…” stuttered Sainsbury.

“But nothing, Sainsbury. Why would a guilty man so vehemently maintain his innocence, particularly one who is a devotee of the religion of peace?”

“but sir, I assumed…”

“And quite obviously assuming makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘Ming.’ With its own constabulary engaged in such blatant racialist profiling, is it any wonder our city’s peaceful Mohammedans are occasionally driven to piques of frustration? If nothing else, that cavernous hole in lower Gotham should stand as a monument to the consequences of such blithe and ignorant bigotry.”

“I… I don’t know what to say, your Lordship,” said Ming, head held low in shame.

“Say nothing more,” said Holmes. “Release this man at once, and turn in your badges. On the morrow, you shall report for mandatory diversity training. Consider yourselves fortunate if you are reassigned to the anti-sugared drink enforcement squadron. As for you, Mr. Shahzad, please accept my sincerest apologies for interrupting your evening activities, and my personal invitation to serve as Grand Marshall in the gala Macy’s parade. If you would like to file a discrimination suit over this unfortunate incident, my friend General Holder will be delighted to assist you.”

I tipped my silk hat to the young man and handed him my calling-card.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

19 Feb 2009

Giant Rat of Sumatra Apprehended in China

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Photo: HTTP://NEWS.163.COM

The Telegraph reports one of those natural history curiosity stories, in this case featuring a literary twist.

A giant rat with one-inch-long teeth has been caught in the southern Chinese province of Fujian.

The rat, which weighed six pounds and had a 12-inch tail, was caught at the weekend in a residential area of Fuzhou, a city of six million people on China’s south coast.

The ratcatcher, who was only named as Mr Xian, said he swooped for the rodent after seeing a big crowd of people surrounding it on the street.

He told local Chinese newspapers that he thought the rat might be a valuable specimen, or a rare species, and had to muster up his courage before grabbing its tail and picking it up by the scruff of its neck.

“I did it, I caught a rat the size of a cat!” he shouted out afterwards, according to the reports. Mr Xian is believed to still be in possession of the animal, after stuffing into a bag and departing the scene.

The local forestry unit in the city identified the nightmarish creature as a bamboo rat from initial photographs, but said that it would need to examine the rat more closely before making a final identification.

Chinese bamboo rats rarely grow beyond ten inches and are found throughout southern China, northern Burma and Vietnam.

However, the Sumatra bamboo rat, usually found in the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan and in the Malay Peninsula can grow up to 30 inches long, including tail, and can weigh up to eight pounds.

A “Giant Rat of Sumatra” is mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes tale: The Adventure of a Sussex Vampire.

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