Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 15th January 2019

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: 15 January 2019

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) apologised for being a bit jittery but he explained he had been spending too much time trying to make a Holmesian chronology and now he was broken inside.

The Toasts:
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) proposed the following toast to someone or something. It was difficult to tell because he kept crying:

Watson was a forgiving man
He stuck things no other man can
When Holmes shot at their wall
He did not mind at all

I have no last line, sorry.

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) between screams, proposed that it should be illegal to make a Holmesian chronology.

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) started trying to show some of the findings from his Holmesian chronology, but he ended up sort of laughing and crying at the same time before he curled up on the floor and tried to hide under the sofa.

Any Other Business:
I don't think so, somehow.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 11th December 2018

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: 11th December 2018

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)

What else should "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) be? All apologies.

The Toasts:

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) proposed the following toast to The Season of Forgiveness:

'Twas the night before Christmas, and on Baker Street
Sherlock sat down with a hot toddy treat.
His slipper was hung by the chimney with care,
So he filled up his pipe from his velvet-lined chair.

When out in the road there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
Holmes, at my shoulder, looked on displeased
He opened a drawer, he reached in and seized

My service revolver, and checked it was loaded.
Then he leant out and five shots exploded.
Some reindeer escaped, but there still in the snow
Lay four of the reindeer and Santa brought low.

I remarked to my friend that I was confused
Why had poor St. Nick been so cruelly used?
“It’s a fact that such magic is highly illogical”
“It’s my duty to eliminate” said he “the impossible.”


1. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) proposed a society Christmas meal. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) objected because he is an atheist. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) told "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) to stop trying to bring religion into Christmas. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) withdrew the motion.
2. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) asked for his money back. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) acting as treasurer pointed out no money had ever been paid to the society. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) seconded everything in sight.


"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) gave the following presentation entitled A Study in A Study in Scarlet

A Study in A Study in Scarlet

I often find A Study in Scarlet to be somewhat maligned in the Holmesian community. It is frequently suggested that Holmes is not such a fully formed character in this tale. Obviously the story is recognised as important because it is the first story of the Canon, but I contend that it’s importance goes deeper. It is not a fault in the writing that either man seems less than whole in this story. They WERE less than whole and the writing reflects this.This is the story in which Holmes and Watson are both knocked off the courses they were on and became great rather than just good.

The effect of Holmes upon Watson is easier to see. Having been invalided out of the army, he was rapidly becoming one of the loungers and idlers of the Empire which are drawn to the cesspool that is London. He was a wastrel spending such money as he had, considerably more freely than he ought.  It could have been expected that the lazy and depressed doctor would follow his elder brother into drunkenness and an early grave. Until, that is, his adventures with Holmes renewed his interest in life. He began to write, to take pride in himself and to move himself back into respectable Victorian life. Such was the change that within seven years he would be settling down into general practice, having made a bride of one of Holmes’s clients.

The difference Watson made to Holmes is perhaps presented less obviously and yet it is a big difference. In those early days together in Baker Street Holmes is a far more sedentary detective. He resembles his elder brother Mycroft when he describes his unique role as a “consulting detective”:

“Here in London we have lots of Government detectives and lots of private ones. When these fellows are at fault they come to me, and I manage to put them on the right scent. They lay all the evidence before me, and I am generally able, by the help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to set them straight...”

“And these other people?”

“... They are all people who are in trouble about something, and want a little enlightening. I listen to their story, they listen to my comments, and then I pocket my fee.”

As yet, he is hardly a character who could be said to have had “adventures” (such as his first collection of short stories were titled). What then, brought about this change?

It will be recalled that early in their shared life, Watson was trying to guess what Holmes did for a living; what were his unique skills for and who were all these people visiting Holmes in their lodgings?
No doubt, the ever observant Holmes knew exactly what Watson was up to. Holmes would have been happy to talk about his occupation but was well aware that Watson would never be so rude as to just outright ask. It is my belief that Holmes’s peculiar behaviour on 4th March 1881 was designed to allow the above conversation to take place. While waiting for his breakfast, Watson read an article in a magazine which Holmes had marked out. The article turned out to be written by Holmes and outlined some of the methods by which he worked. I can see no reason for Holmes to mark out his own article unless he wanted someone else to read it. As he had no friends, the only person he could have meant to read it would be Watson. The reason, must have been to allow the question of Holmes’s profession to arise. Which it did.

However, far from the satisfying conclusion to Watson’s studies that Holmes predicted, Watson was rather incredulous. This annoyed Holmes, as can be seen in the rather tense discussion that followed, and that is when events were steered onto different rails.

There soon arrives a telegram from Tobias Gregson regarding the murder of Enoch Drebber at Lauriston Gardens. Watson assumes that Holmes will rush there at once to assist but Holmes tells him:

“I'm not sure about whether I shall go. I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather…”
There is a discussion over this reticence and he changes his mind. Why? No reason is given, but I believe he saw the opportunity to prove his skills to Watson. He could easily have solved the affair from his armchair just as with any other case, but he didn’t. He could have solved it without any one assisting him, but he didn’t. He tells Watson to get his hat and join him and the adventure begins.

And the change in Holmes begins too. The details of the adventure will either be known to you already or better discovered in the original text, but suffice it to say that it is far more active and enjoyable that Holmes has become used to. In the conclusion of the story he says:

“I would not have missed the investigation for anything. There has been no better case within my recollection. Simple as it was, there were several most instructive points about it.”

He may not have missed the case for anything, but I feel sure he would would have missed the case were it not for his desire to show Watson he was wrong.

From there they become a team and they both grow together. Watson as described above, but Holmes is a more easily missed way. In these early cases we see Holmes treating each case as a mere puzzle to solve. There is little consideration for the people involved in the cases. It only takes a small step back to look at the crime in A Study in Scarlet to make one question whether the murder was justified. Holmes never takes this step back. In cases such as A Scandal in Bohemia, we wonder whether Holmes was ever justified in taking the side of The King of Bohemia. In The Five Orange Pips he fails to protect his client from murderers and on learning this he comments “I feared as much. How was it done?” He had expected this might happen but did nothing to prevent it! Contrast this with the cases later on; in Abbey Grange he sides with the murderer and offers advise on getting away. In Charles Augustus Milverton, he becomes a criminal, and lets another murderer off. In His Last Bow he spends two difficult years actively preventing the plans of those who threaten his country. Two things seem to matter to him now; justice and adventure.

Holmes develops because of Watson just as much as Watson benefits from befriending Holmes. It is in Study in Scarlet that we see this subtle but dramatic conflict change both men’s lives for the better. It is this story which gives us the greatest element of the Canon; the interdependent friendship between Dr John H Watson and Mr Sherlock Holmes.

Any Other Business:

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) gave us a brief synopsis of an essay he had written called Facial Expressions in Early Holmes. Which was more than enough for all of us.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 22nd November 2018

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: 22nd November 2018

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) apologised for the screaming. It stopped after a while.

The Toasts:

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) wrote the following poem in honour of The Great Hiatus

Sherlock Holmes went away
At the falls of Reichenbach.
Then just three years later on
Sherlock Holmes came right on back.


"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) suggested we get some heating in the Sherloft. No one seconded the idea, so I have to stay cold.


"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) presented the following presentation:

The Game is Some Feet

While re-reading A Case of Identity recently I was drawn up short by the following comment on Holmes’ posture:
“Holmes stuck his feet up on the corner of the mantelpiece and, leaning back with his hands in his pockets, began talking…”
Previously I had always imagined this referred to a reclined detective, sat in a chair with his legs raised. But when I visualised this, the idea became preposturous. As the following highly detailed diagram shows, this could not possibly be a relaxing position:

My mind turned to possible alternatives. Could he be standing on the mantelpiece? Unlikely; he is a tall man and would have had his head uncomfortably pressed against the ceiling. Could he be a collector of the feet of different animals which he stowed upon the mantelpiece? Again, unlikely; I feel certain either Watson or Holmes would have mentioned this to the naturalist “Stapleton”. Perhaps he was referring to several measuring rulers each 12 inches in length? I can’t imagine why he would be handling these given that he had just finished conducting chemical experiments.

Eventually my mind turned to the details of another story; that of The Gloria Scott. It will be remembered that Holmes became friends with Victor Trevor after the latter’s bull terrier bit the former’s ankle. Clearly then, to spare Trevor’s blushes, Holmes did not tell the whole story. The dog did not merely freeze to his ankle, it savaged his ankle. With a fury that made it unstoppable, the dog continued in it’s frenzied attack until it had chewed it’s way right through all bone and flesh. How Trevor and Holmes must have sighed in relief that the embarrassing faux pas was over. But what’s this? No! Naughty doggy! Not the other ankle! The dog was not sated until it had chewed off both Holmes’ feet and happily devoured them.

Suddenly Holmes’ bizarre posture makes sense. He had removed his false wooden feet and placed them on the mantelpiece. Perhaps they had begun to chafe, prosthetics then not being what they are now. Clearly, he required comfort to tolerate Mr Windibank and his objectionable personality. A comfort that can only come from balancing on the stumps of one’s chewed up legs and threatening a man with a whip.

Any Other Business:


Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 2nd October 2018

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: 2nd October 2018

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) did not apologise.

The Toasts:

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) made the following toast to Rathbone and Bruce:

Here dwell together still two actors of note
Whose fourteen films still survive.
How near they are brought by my remote
From that age before Hollywood went all awry.
But still the game's afoot in modern years
On Amazon Prime, DVDs or rays of blu.
Rathbone is Rathbone yet, for all our fears -
Only those things old Bruce believes are true.

Boobus Brittanicus double-takes once again,
As Basil astounds with a mental feat.
The lonely hansom's replaced by an enemy plane;
Displaced Victorians and World Wars meet.
Here, though HD prevails, these two survive
And it is always that period from 1939 to 1946 which unfortunately does not rhyme or scan.


"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) proposed that in honour of John Bennet Shaw the society should create it's own list of the fifty Holmesian books it has read so far and believes every Holmesian should have. All opposed but "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) came out with this anyway:

The Shingle's Fifty
Basic Shinglian Library

The Shaw's One Hundred Basic Holmesian Library is good, isn't it. In an act of extreme arrogance, I've decided to make the Shingle's fifty list. Obviously, this is my fifty. I have odd tastes. Your fifty might be different. You should write your fifty.

The Sacred Writings
All you really need in terms of The Canon is whatever version of all sixty unabridged stories you can get your hands on. The text is all that matters, not how it is presented. Sure the Paget and Steele illustrations are wonderful to see, but it's the adventures that we really fall in love with.

Any old hardback version of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
You're going to want your work-a-day copy of The Canon. It's going to get used a lot. You need to not be upset when it gets damaged and it needs to be sturdy enough to stand up to your abuse. Personally, I use a nice red cloth bound hardback by the Wordsworth Library Collection that I got from a charity shop for two quid. Annoyingly, though, I now DO care about it because it is the one I always have to hand. Humans, eh? Go figure.
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes (Three Volumes) edited by Leslie S Klinger
For a reference on all matters Holmesian there is no better starting point that these three books. Building on the work of Baring-Gould, the heavy annotations provide insights into just about every part of every story. With details of important further reading on each insight, whatever your Holmesian interest, these books quickly prove their immeasurable value.
The Annotated Sherlock Holmes (Two Volumes) edited by William S Baring-Gould
While much of the content of these two books can be found in Klinger's more modern versions, they still have much to offer. If I could only get one set, I'd chose Klinger's. But I'd hate to have to make that choice.

A lot of the details in the Canon went straight over my head the first time I read them. A Holmesian encylopaedia certainly improved the stories the next time I went through them.

The Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana by Jack Tracy
A dictionary of every confusing Victorian term, every Character and every story in The Canon. When you are trying to remember who the canary trainer was or are confused by what growler used to mean, this is the book you'll be reaching for.
Sherlock Holmes Esq and John H Watson MD; An Encyclopedia of Their Affairs by Orlando Park
A very similar book to Tracy's Encyclopedia. It offers a few bits of information which Tracy does not and vice versa. Again, I'd prefer not to choose, but if I had to settle for just one of the two it would be Tracy. That said, neither are ever very far from my desk.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson; The Chronology of their Adventures by H W Bell
There are lots of books on Holmesian chronology out there, largely because of the difficulties involved in making sense of Watson's dating of cases. I am fortunate that my city library hold the Lancelyn Green Bequest so I have had the opportunity to browse through several of these books. Bell is easily my favourite. I flick through the library copy whenever I can and it always leaves me grinning like a loon.
The Canonical Compendium by Stephen Clarkson
The Canonical Compendium  has been a kicking off point for several of my own researches. If you want to know where all the birds, books or beards are in The Canon, this is worth its weight in gold. It's the index of indexes every serious Holmesian should have.
The Elementary Sherlock Holmes by Portico Books
An odd little reference book, based upon the information available in The Sherlock Holmes Encyclopedia. It is a delightful book of facts presented beautifully. You could live without it, but you shouldn't have to.

Writings on the Writings
There are lots of books of writings on the writings. And they all seem so vital. I've picked out the few that really resonated with me, because to list all the great volumes out there would take way too long and be too big to be of value. I've kept it to my top four, because there were too many contenders for fifth place.

Ladies, Ladies: The Women in the Life of Sherlock Holmes edited by Patricia Guy and Katherine Karlson
A really thought provoking book. Every one of the collected essays gives you something new to think about.
Unpopular Opinions by Dorothy L Sayers
The Holmesian section of this book is so wonderfully written that I tore through it with glee.
Essays in Satire by Ronald Knox
This book includes the wonderful essay by Knox on "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes". While it can be argued whether the flow of Holmesian study was started by this essay, it certainly gave the tap a few heavy turns. For that reason alone, you should be familiar with it.
Sherlock Holmes by Gas Lamp edited by Philip A Shreffler
There's too much going on in this collection of essays to summarise. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed them.

On Conan Doyle
I must confess to not being as interested in Doyle as I am Holmes. My selections for this section will be slight and entirely self-serving. There are much better Doyleans out there to question for book recommendations.

A Study In Southsea by Geoffrey Stavert
My interest in this volume stems from living in the area discussed. Whether others would find it as absorbing, I cannot say. I was rather keen though.
The Doyle Diary by Charles Altamont Doyle
A facsimile print of one of the diaries kept by Charles Doyle (father to Arthur) during his time in a mental institution. I found it utterly fascinating. Some of his watercolours are exquisite and much of his writing is intriguing. It's not really about Arthur, I suppose, but what can I do?
Conan Doyle Detective by Peter Costello
This look at Doyles involvement in solving real life crimes is engaging and exciting.

Other Non-Fiction
There are some non-fiction Holmesian books which aren't quite writings on the writings but are tremendous.

"The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes" (English title) or 
"From Holmes to Sherlock" (every other sane country) by Mattias Bostrom
A masterpiece. Everything you need to know about Holmesian culture from Doyle to today. Written in a way that leaves you unable to put it down and so full of interest you will wonder how you lived without it. For me, it set so much Holmesiana in context that it bridged a gap to a great deal of work. Easily the best Holmesian book of any category or time ever written.
The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany by Roger Johnson and Jean Upton
A delightful pocket sized overview of Holmesian culture.
About Sixty edited by Chritopher Redmond
The first of a series of books edited by Redmond is a compilation of arguments for each of the canonical stories being the best one. It is cover to cover bliss that makes you reach for your own copy of the Canon over and over again. This was followed up with About Being A Sherlockian which is just as joyful a celebration of Sherlock Holmes and the culture he begat. Furthermore, the third in the series is in the pipeline; Sherlock Holmes is Like. It's bound to be brilliant.
Mastermind; How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
This book delves deep into the psychology of Holmes and by the time you get to the end you realise what a brilliant, deep, complex character he really is. Konnikova brings Holmes to life in a way I have not experienced from any other book.
Radical Rethinks on Horse and Hound from The Sherlock Holmes Society of London
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London produce quite a few books, usually to go along with their Expeditions. They are comprised of writings from several different members in several different tones and centre about Holmes' activities in whichever area the Society is visiting that year. My favourite so far has been this one which is for the most part about The Hound of the Baskervilles. Brilliant insightful stuff.

Pastiche is difficult. To write in the same style as another author successfully is best part impossible. Largely on account of being different people. Still, some come damn close. And others that may fall short still produce great books. You'll forgive me then, if some of my selections in this section treat the term "pastiche" quite poorly.

The Whole Art of Detection; Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmesby Lyndsay Faye
Hands down my favourite collection of Holmesian pastiche. Buy it, read it, nothing more to say on the matter.
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by Richard Lancelyn Green
A pretty fine collection of pastiche by various authors, including The Adventure of the Unique Hamlet by Vincent Starrett, which you really should read.
The Final Problem by Michael Chabon
Moving, poignant and enjoyable.
The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories edited by Otto Penzler
Not all pastiche but a massive compilation of great Holmesian fiction from across many eras and authors. It contains too much good stuff for you to avoid buying it.
The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby
Birkby takes a look at how Mary Watson and Mrs Hudson would have got on as detectives. And she does it really well. In this, and the second book; The Women of Baker Street, it is very easy to get lost in their world.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King
A post-retirement Holmes takes on a young apprentice. This is the first of a long series in which King expands on the known Holmes universe with wonderful skill. It remains my favourite of the series, but they are all worth your time.
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
The childhood of Sherlock Holmes is a much overdone area in Holmesian pastiche. Lane micturates with panache over the opposition. Death Cloud is the first in the series and I tore through each and every book as soon as I could get my hands on them. They are fantastic mystery and adventure books for any age.

Graphic Novels and Comics
Comics offer a chance to do something different with all things Holmesian. And a lot of people have tried their hand at Sherlock in graphic novels. Here's a few of my favourites.

Canon Fodder featuring in issues 861 through 867 of 2000AD
Holmes and Moriarty join forces, have a mammoth sex session and commit suicide so they can kill god. A psychopathic leather-clad gun-toting bishop has to stop them. What more can I say?
Aetheric Mechanics by Warren Ellis, Avatar Press
I can't say anything without spoiling it. It's an unusual premise explored well.
The Baker Street Four from Insight Comics
There are LOADS of comics about the Baker Street Irregulars floating about. This series does it in style.
Victorian Undead from Wildstorm
So far this series has produced Sherlock Holmes vs Zombies and Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula. Bonkers but done brilliantly.
Muppet Sherlock Holmes from Boom Kids
With Gonzo as Holmes and Fozzie as Watson, this one isn't so much good as it is enjoyable. It could be better, but I still like it.

Non-Pastiche Fiction
This whole thing is all about my personal preferences. But this section more so. My favourite non-Canonical fiction is the odd stuff. I like weird. That's going to be heavily reflected here.

The Incredible Umbrella by Martin Kaye
I think most Holmesians can guess that the umbrella in the title belongs to a certain James Phillamore. Beyond that I will say nothing of the plot for fear of ruining it. It is unusual, inventive and, so far, my favourite non-canonical Holmesian fiction. It blew my mind.
Warlock Holmes; A Study in Brimstone by C S Denning
Mental but at the same time a believable coherent world. Funny and fascinating. And really very engaging. I love this series of books. You should definitely try the first (A Study in Brimstone) and if it is your bag, you'll be pleased to know there are already another two books in the series and one more on the way.
The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by Ellery Queen
Lots of great short stories that are made all the more appealing because Adrian Conan Doyle hated them.
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin
I've read a whole bunch of Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper books. This one is special.
The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by Anthony Boucher
Strictly speaking, this isn't a Holmes story, it is a story about Holmesians getting caught up in their own murder mystery. And a damn fine job it makes of it too.
Mrs Hudson's Diaries by Barry Cryer and Bob Cryer
Intended to be a comedy book about the indominatable Mrs Hudson, the book succeeds and then some. The Cryers make a very believable (if exagerated) Mrs Hudson and offers an almost touching glimpse into her life.
Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space edited by Isaac Asimov
Speaks for itself, doesn't it?
Echoes of Sherlock Holmes edited by Laurie R King and Leslie S Klinger
If I'm honest, this is on here mostly for the first story alone; Holmes on the Range by John Connolly. It is inspired. That's not to say the rest aren't great too. Like the stories in all of the King-Klinger edited anthologies, they all bring something wonderful to the table. But, by golly, Connolly's imaginative story really appealled to me.
W G Grace's Last Case by William Rushton
Silly, funny and yet, kind of exciting. I enjoyed it a whole plenty much.

Other Oddities
And here's a few volumes I found difficult to categorise.

The Silly Side of Sherlock Holmesby Philip Ardagh
This is not a clever book. It is not a long book. It is not insightful, knowledgable or rich in Holmesiana. It did make me laugh like a blocked drain though.
The Sherlock Holmes Cookbook by Mrs Hudson, compiled by Fanny Cradock
It is more the fact that this book exists that makes me love it, than any Holmesian value. Fanny Cradock presenting her ideas on Victorian cooking via the pen of Mrs Hudson is a bit odd. But, somehow, compelling.
Dining with Sherlock Holmes by Julia Carlson Rosenblatt and Frederic H Sonnenchmidt
If you actually want a Holmesian cookbook, this is the one to go for, rather that the Cradock volume. The meals are well researched, deftly tied to the Canon and you might actually want to try cooking them.
The Crimes of Dr Watson by Duane Swierczynski
This is a lovely solve-it-yourself mystery. Watson tells us his tale and provides us with facsimiles of all the necessary clues and we must work out the solution. It's great fun.


"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) presented the following story he had written. While he read it out "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) fell asleep.

The Adventures of Sherlock Clowns

Sherlock and I had been caravan mates for a little under a year. An unusual pairing; him the premiere clown-detective of his era, and I, an ex-military doctor who had accidentally married the bearded lady. The ringmaster agreed to annul the marriage only if I served a year as the circus physician. Needless to say, I refused to share a berth with my wife when it transpired she was little more than a crudely shaven alpaca. So Clowns and I were placed together; a choice neither of us would have made, but which, eventually, we both found agreeable.
It was upon the 14th June, as I have good reason to remember, that Sherlock Clowns returned from the centre ring of the circus brimming over with fury. Once again, Pietrov of the High Wire had called in the RAC to repair Sherlock’s car, thereby ruining his second half performance. His ire was matched only by the skill with which he honked his own bulbous red nose to mask each of his many and varied invectives. 
With his bright green afro knocking the light fitting and his size 30 feet flailing around the floor, it was only a matter of time before something got broken. I tried to calm him. While his oversized trousers repeatedly fell down to reveal his spotted bloomers, I made my way to the drinks cabinet. As I offered him a glass of brandy, we were both brought to a silent standstill by a handsome young lady who stood in the doorway knocking delicately on the open door.
“Which one of you is Sherlock Clowns?” she asked.
“Which one do you *honk*ing think?” replied Clowns; his painted smile warped as far as possible into a scowl.
She threw her arms around him and began to weep.
“Please help me, Mr Clowns! You are the only man alive who can!”
The flattery began to work on his tempestuous soul and I could see him beginning to relax.
“There, there, my dear,” he said. “Take a seat and tell us all about it.”
We all took our seats, each of us producing the usual rasp from the many Whoopee Cushions Clowns had hidden about the caravan.
“My name is Angela Spratt and I come to you with a most perplexing problem. I come from the village of Hamchestertonham. My father was the local clergyman; a vicar of the old school, all tall and skinny, with buck teeth and spectacles who was shocked at the most trivial of things. When he died last October, my mother, brother and I were left well provisioned and so were not very grief stricken. Indeed, mother saw it as an opportunity to try new things and she began with trapeze acts.”
At this point, Holmes interrupted. “Ah! Surely she must be Flo Spratt, The Darling of the Air who cause such a sensation over the Christmas period with Boffalot's Circus over in Surreyshire?”
“The very same, Mr Clowns! She took to the trapeze like the born swinger she was. She was instantly signed by Jack Boffalot and within a month had become world famous for her tosses and tricks. Clearly, you have not heard the sad news; last weekend she fell to her death during one of her performances...”
“Which performance?”
“Her last one.”
“And you suspect foul play?”
“I do, sir.”
“On what grounds?”
“Call it a female whim, Mr Clowns. An intuition. A notion provoked by the merest trifle. On the day in question, while the act was taking place, I saw my brother, Methaniel at the top of the marquee, cutting through the ropes yelling “I'LL KILL YOU LIKE I DID FATHER IN ORDER TO GET ALL THE INHERITANCE. THEN I'LL KILL MY SISTER SO I DON'T HAVE TO SHARE IT.” It is probably nothing, but I would feel so much better if you could investigate and reassure me.”
“Have no fear, Miss Spratt.” said Clowns, rising, “we will come to Hamchestertonham on the next train and clear up the whole sorry business.”
He showed Miss Spratt out, spouting her gratitude all the way.
“Well, I can make nothing of it.” I confessed to Sherlock.
“I have dire concerns about the whole affair.” he said, tripping over thin air and landing face first in a custard pie I had no prior knowledge of. Then he settled with his pipe, set fire to it, his hair and the caravan, failed to put them out with a bucket of confetti and said nothing more until we were on the express to Surreyshire.

“"The entire affair hangs, like Flo Spratt, from a dangerous thread.” he explained as he opened the train compartment’s window.
“I see no affair, Clowns, just a common tragedy among those in the church and/or circus.” I replied as the door gave way and he dangled over the oncoming track from it.
“You see, but you do not observe” he grunted, while running awkwardly along the track beneath him.
“And you talk a lot of...”
“Honk!” went his nose as he fell face first back into the carriage just in time to miss the oncoming train.

Angela Spratt met us at Hamchestertonham station and drove us to Boffalot Circus in her own car. It arrived largely intact, save for the missing passenger door, the hole in the roof and the engine which had fallen out, somehow making the noise of a trombone.
It took Sherlock Clowns no time to find a trail to follow.
“Look at these peculiar footprints!” he exclaimed. While I did so, he set off to follow them. They were extraordinarily large and went off along the edge of the circus marquee. A mere ten minutes later, he deduced that they were his own and that he had been wasting a substantial amount of time following himself.
“Are you sure you know what you are doing Mr Clowns?” asked the poor, distraught Angela.
“No.” he replied and sprayed her in the face with a soda siphon.
“What are you doing, Clowns?” I asked, as he set fire to the circus tent.
“Eliminating the competition!” he screamed and we ran all the way back to our own lodgings.

The mystery remained as such. Angela Spratt was burned alive. Her brother chose not to press charges. In fact, he seemed rather pleased with the outcome. The police were satisfied that no believable characters had been either created or harmed so the whole matter was left there. Suffice it to say, I returned to my wife that night and we have been happy ever since.

Any Other Business:

There was no other business, any or otherwise.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 12th September 2018

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: 12th September 2018

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)


The Toasts:

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) gave the following toast to the Indian Swamp Adder who featured in the Speckled Band:

I'm the snake that cannot exist
For there're things which Sherlock Holmes missed;
Us snakes don't drink milk
Or climb ropes made of silk
And we're deaf so the whistle's amiss.


1. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) suggested that any member who has attended all meetings to date should be excused from paying their membership fees. No one seconded but "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) pointed out that there are no membership fees.
2. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) suggested that we should introduce membership fees so we could excuse "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) from paying them. No one seconded but "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) agreed to mull it over for further discussion at the next meeting.


"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) presented the following essay on chemical elements to the meeting:

The Periodic Table of Elementary

The most natural question for any Holmesian to ask themselves is "If all the elements of the periodic table were characters from The Canon, which characters would they be?" And yet, so far, no one seems to have tried to answer this question. I felt it incumbent upon me to finally provide an answer. Below is my attempt at matching each element with a Canonical character.

Hydrogen = Kitty Winter (ILLU). Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. Kitty Winter is the most common person in The Canon.

Helium = Mycroft Holmes (GREE and others). Mycroft is just as inert as helium.

Lithium = Mary Morstan (SIGN and others). Like the mood stabiliser, lithium, Mary Morstan's arrival in The Sign of Four dealt with Holmes's low mood and had quite the cheering effect on Watson too.

Beryllium = Mary Holder (BERY). Sir George Burnwell used Mary Holder to get his beryls. He could just as easily have used beryllium.

Boron = Young Master Rucastle (COPP). Given a slipper, Jephro Rucastle's son is just as effective an insecticide as boric acid.

Carbon = Charles Augustus Milverton (CHAS). Crude oil is principally carbon and there is no one with principals more crude and oily than the master blackmailer.

Nitrogen = The Baker Street Irregulars (STUD and others). Making up 78% of the air and having no smell or colour, nitrogen resembles the Irregulars' ability to go everywhere without being noticed.

Oxygen = Professor James Moriarty (FINA and others). Moriarty, like oxygen, can be found in water.

Fluorine = Mathews (EMPT). Nowadays, fluorine is as essential in dental care as this dentist (presumably) who obligingly knocked out Holmes's left canine in the waiting-room at Charing Cross.

Neon = Johnathan Small (SIGN). Small adds Signs of Four to corpses. Neon lights up signs for ads.

Sodium = Jim Browner (CARD). Sodium and Browner are both old salts.

Magnesium = Dr John H Watson. Watson and magnesium are both good at settling people. Although the good doctor tends to use brandy rather than any antacid qualities he may have.

Aluminium = Killer Evans (3GAR). Like Evans's plough, Americans also cannot spell aluminium. And like Evan's pronouncement of a hunt for other Garridebs, the American pronunciation of aluminium is also wrong. Not different. Not correct because it is the way it was first named. It is just wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. There is nothing more to say on the matter. 

Silicon = Sherlock Holmes. Computers are based on their silicon microchips. As Watson pointed out, Holmes really is a calculating machine (SIGN). Therefore, Holmes' really is, principally, silicon.

Phosphorus = Jonas Oldacre (NORW). Phosphorus match heads are almost as good at starting fires as scheming Oldacre when he is creating his own murder scene.

Sulphur = Baron Adelburt Gruner (ILLU). With its distinctive odour, sulphur has to be Gruner as they are both stinkers.

Chlorine = Mrs Hudson. Chlorine and Mrs Hudson are both good at cleaning. And, being the 19th Century, that's pretty much all she was allowed to do.

Argon = John Openshaw (FIVE). John is the son of Joseph Openshaw. And "J's son and the argon ought" to go together.

Potassium = Hugh Boone (TWIS). At the denouement of the story, Hugh Boone reacts as violently to water as potassium ever did.

Calcium = Sir Robert Norberton's brother-in-law's ancestor (SHOS). When he made room in a coffin for his sister, the ancestor Sir Robert disturbed was all skellington. And all skellington is, mostly, calcium. It's a shame we don't know the more about the skellington as it would be nice to know how much being called a skellington would annoy the skeleton.

Scandium = Tarleton (MUSG). Like the briefly mentioned Tarleton, who might be a person or a place or anything, no one remembers Scandium or what it is.

Titanium = Leonardo(VEIL). Titanium is strong and lightweight. Leonardo was a strong man who turned out to be a lightweight when it came to bravery.

Vanadium = Peterson (BLUE). Vanadium can be used to produce purple sapphires. Similarly Peterson, the commisionaire, produced an incorrectly coloured gem in The Blue Carbuncle.

Chromium = Jefferson Hope (STUD). Like Hope's effect on the blushing cheeks of Lucy Ferrier, chromium is what turns rubies red. Which is weak. But it's the best I could come up with.

Manganese = Athelney Jones (SIGN). Mr Jones, like manganese, can be relied on to produce a lot of fertilizer, as demonstrated by his theories in The Sign of Four.

Iron = Jabez Wilson (REDH). Nothing compares to the russet of oxidised iron better than the fine crop of russet hair possessed by London's stupidest pawnbroker.

Cobalt = Von Bork (LAST). Cobalt has a remarkable ability to turn ceramics blue which can only be matched by Von Bork’s ability to turn the air blue when Holmes apprehended him.

Nickel = Birdy Edwards (VALL). Nickel and Birdy Edwards (in the guise of McMurdo) are both incorrectly believed to make American money. A five cent "nickel" coin is actually only 25% nickel and should really be called a "copper". And "McMurdo" never forged a coin in his life.

Copper = Mr James Smith (SOLI). Working with the orchestra at the old Imperial Theatre, Violet Smith's father is a good conductor. Just like copper.

Zinc = Nathan Garrideb (3GAR). Mr Garrideb's home contained everything but the kitchen zinc.

Gallium = H. Lowenstein (CREE). Like H. Lowenstein's gland serum, Gallium has no known role in natural biology.

Germanium = Isadora Klein (3GAB). Germanium is so named because it was first isolated by a patriotic German scientist. Isadora Klein was also first isolated by a German. However, he wasn't a scientist, he was a sugar king and instead of using chemistry, he used marriage.

Arsenic = The Indian Swamp Adder (SPEC). Both the adder and arsenic are great at poisoning people.

Strontium = Cadogen West (BRUC). He might not do it in a nuclear way, but after he was done in, West did "fallout" a window. Sort of.

At this point I was getting to the stupid elements like Niobium, Molybdenum and Technetium so I sort of lost interest.

Any Other Business:

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) drew attention to the fact that he had a second essay accepted for publication in The Watsonian. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) pointed out that this was all well and good but he had had his essay published in the Baker Street Journal, which trumps The Watsonian. Further discussion of the merits of either journal were interupted by "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) boasting that he had had a story accepted for publication in The Sherlock Holmes Journal. When "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) asked him when it was due to be published "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) replied sheepishly that it would not see print until 2022. At this point "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) got fed up with the argument and left to write an article for Canadian Holmes. The meeting had to be closed because "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) refused to converse any further with himself.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 27th August 2018

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: Monday, 27th August 2018

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)


The Toasts:
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) proposed the following toast to the pig from Black Peter:

Piggy piggy,
Face thy doom;
Here comes Holmes
With a harpoon.

There was no time for motioning.

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) presented two videos for the society to enjoy.

The first was a masterclass on painting portraits of Arthur Conan Doyle:

The second was a masterclass on making hats:

Any Other Business:
No thank you.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Monthly Meeting Minutes - 10th July 2018

The Shingle of Southsea Holmesian Society
Monthly Meeting Minutes

Date of Meeting: 10th June 2018

Location of Meeting:
The Sherloft, My House, Portsmouth, UK

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) apologised but "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) pointed out he was present so he didn't need to apologise. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) apologised for the misunderstanding.

The Toasts:
"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) gave the following somewhat unfocussed toast:

The Consulting Detective
by "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller)

Quickly Watson, get your service revolver,
You be the muscle and I'll be the solver.
We'll make our way down to Stoke Moran
To stop a step-father who's a nasty old man.
Then we'll hop on over to Baskerville
Stop a monstrous hound, smoke pipes until
We'll go to Reichenbach, see the falls,
Kill a psychopath in a cliff top brawl.
Then back to London by the early train
To rest at Baker Street again.
But a Boho King stops our repose
Wanting our help to reclaim photos.
And though I'll save the King from ruin
Irene'll beat me; 'cos she's THE woman.
We'll interpret Greeks and dancing men,
Box some ears and now and then
I'll sulk on the sofa while you read trash,
Or I'll identify kinds of ash,
Or find lost gems while you exclaim
How great I am time and again.
And we'll both have fun for ever more
(Or at least until the First World War).

1. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) once again suggested that we should get more members. No one seconded.
2. "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) made a motion. It looked really suave. You wish you could make motions like "The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller).

"The Entire Canon" (Paul Thomas Miller) presented the following pastiche which he had written.

Sherloccoli "The Broccoli" Holmes
The Baker Street Genius of the Brassica Genus
Being A Reprint From Patient Records of John “Doctor” Watson

"I am inclined to think-" said I.
Sherloccoli Holmes did not answer, because he is a head of broccoli.
I tried again; "I AM INCLINED TO THINK-"
I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals; but I'll admit that I was annoyed at the lack of clever interruption. Indeed, nothing came from the consulting legume other than an eyeless glare and a green silence.

Before I could question Sherloccoli on the reason for his taciturnity, the door of our apartment swung open. No sooner had Billy the pageboy announced Inspector Old MacDonald than the man himself marched into the room. As he loomed over us, I found his six foot of height so imposing I had to ask him to step down from the table and use the floor like the rest of us.
"I apologise for the intrusion gentlemen," he began "but I have encountered a case so baffling I don't know where to start. The ticket inspector of the Clapham omnibus has vanished from the top floor of his bus, leaving only his socks standing in his place."
We both looked expectantly at Holmes, but as he barely flinched it was left to me to ask Old MacDonald to continue his narrative.
“Continue your narrative.” I said.
“Edward Futon is a ticket inspector upon the London omnibuses. This morning, at half past ten, he boarded the Clapham omnibus. It seems he went to make his way to the top deck of the bus. The driver stopped him and told him that there was no one on the upper deck. “I shall be the judge of that” he told the driver, in an unusually brusque manner.”
“The driver; Charles O'Cheddary, says that such rudeness was quite uncharacteristic of the ticket inspector. When Futon had not come down from the top deck twenty minutes later, O'Cheddary stopped the bus at Clapham Common and went to investigate. The scene on the top deck was quite beyond his comprehension. Edward Futon had completely vanished. In his place a pair of woollen socks stood upright on the floor in a small pool of blood. O'Cheddary can testify that the socks are those of Futon, being of a particular shade of grey. The blood, however, he claims not to have seen before.”
Sherloccoli remained silent. So as not to embarrass the inspector I elected to pretend Sherloccoli was talking. I surreptitiously wobbled him, concealed my mouth and did my best impression of talking broccoli. “What size shoe does O'Cheddary take?” he appeared to ask in a falsetto Welsh accent.
“I have no idea Mr Holmes.”
“Then perhaps Watson and I should investigate the scene. We will meet you at the omnibus at six this evening.”
I was walking the inspector to the door, when he peered over my shoulder and called to Sherloccoli, “Do you have any advice to give me in the meantime, Mr Holmes?”
Naturally, Holmes did not reply, because he is some broccoli. Nevertheless I imagined him giving an answer of some description and then I slammed the door in the inspector’s face.

When I had finished crying, I asked Sherloccoli what he intended to do next.
"It is quite the three pipe problem" I imagined Sherloccoli saying. So I jabbed three pipes in his stem, lit them and retired to a safe distance.

When we met Old MacDonald at the omnibus that evening, Holmes was feeling weary, so I carried him up to the top deck to examine the scene. Placing him on the floor, I addressed the inspector. “Holmes is quite tired,” I explained, “He has been working on the solution to this problem all day”.
“And what did you discover Holmes?” the inspector asked him.
Unfortunately I was having another episode, so Holmes was unable to reply. Because he is just some broccoli. Even if he had been able to speak, it is unlikely that anyone would have heard him over the sound of my sobbing. As Holmes rolled under one of the omnibus seats and back out into the small puddle of blood, I felt the world slipping away and fell into unconsciousness.

Sometime the following morning, I woke to find Sherloccoli Holmes singing me The Happy Song while dancing across my bed. In any other head of broccoli, I would have been surprised but I had learnt his ways long ago and simply smiled. And while Mrs Hudson, the police and my unhappy wife all insist there is no such person as Inspector Old MacDonald and that Sherloccoli Holmes is nothing but a vegetable, I am proud to add the Adventure of the Clapham Omnibusman to the many hundreds of cases which Sherloccoli and I failed to solve.

Any Other Business:
No, thank you.