From The Surrey Shore . . .
The Newsletter of the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore Vol. 3, No. 4, August 2004
****A Scion Society for All Who Enjoy Sherlock Holmes in All His Manifestations!****
. . . as we turn our attention once more to historic Crown Hill Cemetery for a self-guided tour of some of the site’s most famous Victorian residents, including, of course, Indiana’s own James Whitcomb Riley. We’ll converge on the hollowed grounds on Sunday afternoon, September 19, at 1 p.m. (See the “Coming Meetings” section at the end of this newsletter for directions, or visit the Crown Hill Web site at www.crownhill.org for directions and a map of the cemetery. You can also call the cemetery at 317-925-8231 for additional information.) We’ll gather at 1 p.m. sharp, just inside the main entrance gate, in the part of the cemetery that lies south of 38th Street. Then we’ll depart as a group to visit a number of Crown Hill’s 19th-century gravesites, concluding our tour with the daunting (but doable) hike to the top of Crown Hill itself. As we noted in preparation for our Crown Hill tour two years ago, make sure that you wear some comfortable walking shoes so that your own “dogs” do nothing in the nighttime that evening. (Those who may find that prospect too daunting—never fear. We can always drive to the various locations if walking is a problem for anyone.) Attendees who hunger for additional Sherlockian fellowship after our tour may join us for an early dinner at a local area restaurant, to be chosen at the time by all who wish to participate. We will enjoy Sherlockian toasts and hold a short business meeting there, the latter focusing on what kinds of meetings you’d like to see for next year. And if it should rain on that afternoon, do bring your umbrellas. Depending on the exact weather conditions at the time we arrive at Crown Hill—including the possibility of extreme heat and humidity, as we faced two years ago—we may cut the tour portion short (or forego it altogether) and move directly to the indoors portion of the meeting. (In which case, we’ll also add a short Sherlockian discussion, to be determined there.) We do hope that you’ll join us at this almost-autumn event of your favorite Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore!
Well, it’s late summer, and the relatively cooler temperatures earlier in the season have given away at last to those lazy, hazy dog days (which seem to continue on into the nighttime). We’re hoping, of course, for a bit of relief by mid-September, for our second tour of historic Crown Hill Cemetery.
In the meantime, you can begin thinking about next year, our fourth as a scion, which starts in the cooler confines of a Hoosier January. We’re planning an encompassing theme for next year’s meetings—The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes! That means that each meeting will focus on one of the Victorian rivals of the Master Sleuth of Baker Street. But which rivals will be featured at which meetings? Well, that’s largely up to you. Our January Victorian Tea and Holmes Birthday party meeting will focus on the Great Detective himself—and perhaps some of his allies, canonical and noncanonical. And, of course, the July meeting will be our annual Barker birthday bash, so the focus, of course, will be on Holmes’ premiere hated rival upon the Surrey Shore. For the other four meetings? We welcome your suggestions. (Although you can almost surely expect one meeting to focus on the other, mostly unsung Master Sleuth of Baker Street: one Sexton Blake. And if you’re not familiar with him, all the better.) The rivals can be actual, contemporary detectives from the Victorian era (as is Blake) or modern inventions whose adventures are set during those years. One word of caution: If you suggest a particular rival, be prepared to provide information about him—or her—at that meeting (or before), either in the form of a short paper to present yourself or notes that someone else can use for a similar presentation. And be prepared for a year to “rival” all others!
Now on to this issue’s musings . . .
Have you ever happened to glance at a clock and noticed that the time at that particular moment was 2:21? Or looked at anything else that generated a series of three numbers and—lo and behold!—there it was again: 221? Coincidence? Or something else . . . ? Well, of course, it’s just coincidence, a fact that’s provable by taking into account all the times that you look at a clock and see a time other than 2:21 or any other set of different numbers. And yet, how many times does it actually happen? For me, it would seem to occur too often not to be statistically significant in at least some way. Could there actually be some sort of as-yet unrecognized phenomenon that somehow connects Sherlockians and the numbers 221? Could some “Sherlockian deity” be guiding us into situations in which we encounter those magic numbers, 221? Are Sherlockian space aliens beaming the numbers to us from some vast distance in the universe? Or we just plain bonkers, with all things Sherlockian on the brain?
In truth, none of the above. There’s probably some sort of fancy psychological term to describe how certain people—in this case Sherlockians—become more aware of certain numbers or other objects or concepts that relate to a hobby or other endeavor. Not being a psychologist, however, I have no idea what the term is. But I do recognize that the “phenomenon” is quite real—at least perceptually. Not only do I seem to run into the numbers 2-2-1 all the time, but I also seem to encounter numbers that can be broken down into 221. My own street address, for example, is 3721. There you have the last two numbers—21—but what of the initial 2? Easily accounted for: If you subtract 3 from 7, you get 4, half of which is 2, so you end up again with 221! Amazing! Or . . . is it?
Actually, this is merely a quirk of perception and memory. As Sherlockians, we’re familiar with the street address of Sherlock Holmes, so whenever we see that number somewhere, we tend to remember it. It harbors meaning for us, so it stands out in our minds, whereas the memory of other numbers—unless they, too, have some significance to us—fades quickly. (The house where I grew up, for example, had a street address of 210. Even now, I still find myself noticing those numbers on clocks, in account numbers, and so on. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the first two numbers of that particular sequence also make up the last two numbers in 221 . . . hey—wait a minute . . .!) Readers of Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus books may recall his contention that “all things come in 5s”—which included the famous line from the ’20s, “23 skidoo” (where adding the 2 and the 3 gives you 5—hence, “all things come in 5s”). That, too, is a quirk of perception—after you’re introduced to the concept, you may become more aware of the number 5 in its various combinations and permutations.
And so it goes. Whatever the cause, what Sherlockian who’s experienced it can deny the reality of this phenomenon—the seemingly ubiquitous nature of that magic number, 221. (Ah, you may ask, but what about the Bs that should appear with those numbers to make them truly represent Holmes’ street address? I wouldn’t worry about them all that much—unless, of course, you aspire to become a B keeper . . .)
As you know if you’ve read past newsletters, I long ago decided to give Sherlock Holmes’ hated rival on the Surrey Shore, Barker, the first name of Cyrus. (In one of those cases of Sherlockian serendipity —or perhaps of great minds thinking alike—Hated Rival Will Thomas also quite independently decided to name his version of the detective Cyrus as well.) As yet, however, I’ve not given Barker a middle name. (If Will has, I’m currently unaware of it.) I did, however, in using the name as a signoff for e-mail, start giving Barker the middle initial of “Y.” (Mainly, this was because Y is the second letter in “Cyrus,” and I simply shortened it first to “Cy” and then to “C.Y.”) But what does the Y stand for? Frankly, I’ve never decided, partly because not that many male names begin with the letter. I thought perhaps of using place names—Yorkshire, Yosemite (no relation to Sam), and so on. I also thought that, perhaps, as often can be the case, Barker’s middle name was the same as his mother’s maiden name—a common practice then as it is now. But again, I ran up against a blank wall in devising a common name beginning with Y. (Off-hand, the only one that came readily to mind was “Yankovic,” being a Weird Al fan and all.)
And then it struck me: Rather than straining my brain alone to come up with a Y-initialed middle name for Baker, why not put it to the Hated Rivals as a whole? After all, we are quite a diverse and creative group of individuals. So put on your thinking bowlers and see what you come up with as a middle name for our favorite hated rival upon the Surrey Shore. Then let me know via e-mail what moniker you think that Barker should sport as his middle identity. (If you like Yorkshire—where I’ve determined Barker has some relatives—or Yosemite—which his parents may simply have chosen because of the U.S. area, which had been discovered in the mid-1800s—go ahead and vote for one of those. Or give me a write-in name of your own choosing. The only stipulation is that it must begin with Y.) If I get several different offerings, I’ll then put the various entries up for a vote. Or if all (or most) of you are in agreement on a particular name, I’ll go with that. (And if no one has a preference, I’ll just pick a name on my own.) Depending on the response, I will announce the winning name here in the next issue. In the meantime, just think—you could be a prime contributor to a bit of (fictional) history here. So . . . name that detective!
And on that final note, I remain, till next issue, as always . . .
—C.(Y.) Barker, Esq.
The air was hot and humid, and rain clouds slowly covered the sky, but despite the climatic conspiracy, the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore persevered (and perspired at bit, too) at our July 11th meeting downtown on Indy’s Canal. The expected crowds for the week’s Black Expo event never did materialize—at least not where we were—and the Rivals had no problems parking or getting around at the Canal area, from the Indiana Historical Society building to the Indiana State Museum. After meeting at the former location, we toured several of the IHS exhibits before strolling to the latter for a late lunch. Among the highlights of the IHS tour were the building’s bookstore (which offers many books set in the U.S. in general and Indiana in particular during the Victorian era) and the Cole Porter room. (Yes, the latter is post-Victorian, but interesting nonetheless, especially a replica of an old-time jukebox playing Porter tunes— including one done with a modern rock beat by Deborah Harry and Iggy Pop!) We also took turns gazing into a Victorian-era stereoptoscope, showing old photos in a 3-D manner. As we walked along the Canal, we took a few moments to look over the War Memorial area, displaying names of Hoosiers who fought in past wars. (Of particular interest was a wall of veterans of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.) Arriving finally at the Indiana State Museum (after an exhaustive investigation to locate a wheelchair ramp), we dined in its cafeteria (its Tea Room, unfortunately, unavailable by the time we got there). Following our meal, we toasted both Sherlock Holmes and his hated rival, Mr. Barker, and sang Happy Birthday to the latter (the Rivals having determined that the following day, July 12th, is the detective’s birthday). Our own Barker, Bill Barton, then read a paper about his own fiction version of the detective, entitled “The Birth of Barker: 1986 and Beyond . . .” It described how he first came to flesh out the detective for a role-playing scenario he’d written and then continued to add to Barker’s backstory as the years went by. (The paper is currently posted on the Publications page of our Web site for those who missed the meeting itself.) As the program portion of the meeting concluded, various Rivals checked out parts of the State Museum, including its gift shop, before we headed back to the IHS building. (The looming clouds began to release their contents as we walked back along the Canal, although it wasn’t until we reached our cars in the IHS lot that the light sprinkles gave way to a near-deluge.) We said our good-byes and left the downtown area, looking forward to the next exciting meeting of the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore.
Victorian London and its environs had much more than its share of cemeteries, from the famous Highgate to countless smaller parish plots. Among the largest and most famous, however (at least at the time), was the Woking Necropolis.
The Necropolis (formally The London Necropolis and National Mausoleum at Woking) was first proposed in 1849 by Sir Richard Braun and Robert Sprye, who foresaw using the Southwest Railway (L&SWR) as a means of transporting corpses from London to their burial site at a large cemetery in Woking, in Surrey (south of the metropolis). The service that they envisioned was designed to provide swift transportation to safely and hygienically carry the bodies of London’s dearly departed to their final resting place, as well as to be affordable while retaining a certain degree of dignity for relatives and other mourners.
The Necropolis, which opened its grounds in mid-century, provided an express service train to the cemetery for the living’s convenience in viewing the site of their departed’s last internment. A crematorium also was onsite for those who couldn’t afford a plot of ground for eternity.
The funeral package that the Company offered, however, transcended even the class distinctions of the day. That trains that carried both the deceased and their mourners traveled along the same railway line, using the same hearse car, whether the funeral party traveled first, second, or third class. For at least part of their journey, therefore, death became the “great leveler” despite the strong class divisions of the Victorian era.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere!
Postscript Book’s July catalog (No. 130) features a new book, The Literary Detective: 100 Puzzles in Classic Fiction, by John Sutherland (749pp., Postscript catalog number 28611, ₤5.99 + ₤2.80 s&h). One of the questions it answers is “Who fed the Hound of the Baskervilles?” It also explores puzzles from other Victorian fiction classics by Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and so on. Included with the book’s catalog entry is a photo of Basil Rathbone as Holmes with classic pipe, deerstalker, and glass. For more info about the book—and whether it’s still available—check out the Postscript Books Web site at www.psbooks.co.uk.
TrishArt (16505 Colwyn Bay Cove, Pflugerville, TX 78660; (512) 251-9208; www.trishart.com) is offering a signed reproduction of an original painting, “221B Baker Street, London,” by Trish Prehn, for $67 (including shipping tube and postage). The print shows the artist’s version of the interior of Sherlock Holmes’ and Dr. Watson’s flat. (A bit too garishly colored and impressionistic for my own taste, but you can look at the postcard version I received with the notice if you think you may be interested so that you can determine for yourself. It’s also posted on the artist’s Web site, although the price listed there is $70.)
Carol Nelson Douglas has another Irene Adler novel out, Femme Fatale (Forge Books, 2003; $25.95—but discounted at $10.38 at Amazon.com!), in case you haven’t seen it yet. This involves a trip to New York City in 1889, where she and Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (alias Nellie Bly) pursue a serial killer who seems to be attempting to wipe out Irene’s past. As usual, Holmes makes an appearance, although he’s not the focus of the book.
If you missed the movie at the cinemas, the DVD for Van Helsing, the Victorian-era monster fest, is due out in October. (No word on a VHS version as of yet.) I finally did see the movie, and it’s truly a fun action-adventure outing, in the style of the Indiana Jones movies but set in 1888 and featuring the classic creatures from Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolfman (plus a Mr. Hyde that resembles how the version in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would have looked a decade earlier). Recommended if you like rip-roaring adventures and can overlook the lack of character development (which you can find in the original books or movies of this movie’s novelization, described last newsletter).
Although it’s based (very loosely) on the Jules Verne novel of the same name, the recent film version of Around the World in 80 Days is more a Jackie Chan movie than a Victorian extravaganza. That’s okay if you like Jackie Chan (which we normally do), but he just doesn’t quite make the grade as Phileas Fogg’s French servant. (Fogg, by the way, is relegated a secondary role in the movie to Chan.) If you’ve not yet seen it, it’s probably worth renting (and should be out on DVD and perhaps video soon), but unless you can still find it at a dollar theater, you’re probably better off waiting. Too bad.
For a look at authentic Victorian home life, Inside the Victorian Home, by Judith Flanders (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004; $34.95) is probably the best book you can currently get on the subject. At 416 pages, the book takes us right into the typical middle-class Victorian English home, providing a room by room guide to what you’d see, hear, and—yes—smell in each. (Those nostalgic to actually live as the Victorians did may get a shock here and there, especially at such tidbits as how much of Keating’s Bug Powder it was wise to sprinkle into one’s hair before retiring for the night.) It doesn’t cover such abodes as Holmes’ and Watson’s flat at 221B, but if you wonder at all how Dr. Watson really lived during those years away from Baker Street, this is the book for you. Recommended. (And you can find it for less at the online bookstores such as Amazon.com, as well as through book clubs such as the History and Book of the Month Clubs.)
Sleuth, the classic card game of mystery and deduction (“Solve the Mystery of the Missing Gems!” the cover cries out), by Sid Sackson, is back in print in a new edition from Face2Face Games. The boxed card game sells for $16.95 and prominently displays illustrations of Holmes on the cover (in profile, in deerstalker and Inverness and with magnifying glass and curved pipe) and on the back (looking straight on through his glass). Available at most game and toy stores and department stores that sell family games.
We’ve mentioned in past newsletters the hilarious novels of Jasper Fforde featuring the “Literary Detective” Tuesday Next (and her Uncle Mycroft). Fforde has since penned two more novels in the series, The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten (both Viking Books, 2004; $24.95). (See past newsletters for details of the earlier books in the series.) In these two novels, Next has retired from the Literary Division of the Special Operations Network, which protects the plots of the great books from change by sending agents into the books themselves to thwart those who’d twist the plots to their own advantages. Her adventures continue, however, as a member of Jurisfiction’s Character Exchange Program in the first book and back in service in the second. These books are hard to explain, and if you haven’t read the previous entries in this series, we suggest you start with the first, The Eyre Affair (in which she visits Holmes’ literary world). These books are also greatly discounted at Amazon.com and other outlets.
We also mentioned in a past newsletter (see what you’ve been missing if you haven’t kept up?) the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon, about an autistic boy whose hero is Sherlock Holmes—and whom the boy emulates in an investigation of the death of a neighborhood dog. The novel is now out in trade paperback from Vintage for $12, if you were interested in the book but didn’t want to pay the hardback price.
The Spring-Summer issue of The Strand Magazine (also mentioned in past newsletters—we find ’em all eventually) features a new Holmes by pastiche writer Barrie Roberts, “The Affair of the Weeping Child.” The issue also offers an interview with Anne Perry, author of the Victorian-era mystery series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and William Monk (no relation to Adrian Monk of the USA series). Its “Sherlock’s Corner” book review column reviews The Game, the latest Mary Russell novel from Laurie R. King, and Loren Estleman’s Holmes pastiches Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula: The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes.
The latest issue of Sherlock magazine, an English publication, also features a new Holmes story, “The Case of the Conk-Singleton Forgery” (yet another telling of this lost case mentioned by Dr. Watson), by June Thomson, as well as an article by Paul M. Chapman on “The Gothic World of Sherlock Holmes.” In the latter, Chapman explores the use of elements from the Gothic novel in the Holmes stories, starting with A Study in Scarlet and culminating in The Hound of the Baskervilles. The magazine includes other Sherlockian and Victorian fare, such as Part 3 of an article on “Jack the Ripper and Popular Culture,” also by Chapman, and articles on “Mrs. Hudson of the Movies” and “The Cinematic Adversaries of Sherlock Holmes.” (Locally, I’ve found this and The Strand Magazine only at Borders at River Crossing.)
The September/October 2004 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine includes the story “The Westphalian Ring,” by Jeffrey Deaver, which features appearances by Holmes, Watson, and Inspector Gregson. It is not, however, a Sherlock Holmes story; the protagonist is a burglar who’s stolen a valued heirloom and runs afoul of the Great Detective as a result. (One other Sherlockian connection: the burglar is a veteran of the Battle of Maiwand in the Second Afghan War, just as Watson was.) Unfortunately, the story is set in 1892, while Holmes was actually on the Great Hiatus, so must be considered apocryphal.
They may very well be gone by the time you receive this newsletter, but Half-Price Books in Castleton recently had in stock a number of the Breese Books Sherlock Holmes pastiches by Val Andrews and others for the astonishing price of $2 each! A recent catalog from Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller, also offered about a dozen or so of these books, although at a somewhat higher price of $3.95. (Several of the same titles were available from both sources, and each offered several that the other didn’t—or that were already sold out at Half-Price by the time I got there.) Unfortunately, these were all in Hamilton’s New Arrivals section and many are sold out by now. But at those prices, it may be worth your effort to check out both sources. (Thanks to Jon and Ronda Burroughs for the Half-Price Books tip; check out our past newsletters—posted on our Web site—for the Hamilton catalog address, or check the Hamilton Web site at www.EdwardRHamilton.com.)
GenCon report: Not much in the way of Victorian- or Sherlockian-focused games at this year’s GenCon game convention in Indianapolis this past August, other than the items described in last year’s con report. Most of the Sherlockian material was located at the Hamster Press booth of our own Chris Engle, who was selling his Sherlock Holmes Casebook and individual case files of the Great Detective in his other books. Chris was also selling our own Bill Barton’s RPG, So Ya Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star!: A Rock ‘N’ Role-Playing Game (which features the Sherlockian band Sherlock & the CDs, the adventure “Sounds of the Vaster Hills,” and other Sherlockian references throughout). Face2Face games was selling their new edition of Sleuth, as noted above, and Osseum offered Heresy Games’ Dragon In the Smoke, an adventure for the company’s Victoriana role-playing game (which is currently being reworked to support the popular D20 RPG system). Perhaps more in the way of Victorian gaming will be available next year . . .
Following are the details of our upcoming meeting, plus the dates and tentative information about the rest of our meetings for 2004. (Check our Web site or our Indianapolis Star Web page for updates.) So set these dates aside to join the Hated Rivals at the following soirées:
A Grave Encounter
Sunday, September 19, 2004, 1-4:30 p.m.
Crown Hill Cemetery
700 W. 38th Street
Directions and Details: Take West 38th Street to Crown Hill, which lies about 7 blocks west of Meridian Street. Turn south on Boulevard Place, just east of the cemetery, and enter at the 34th Street entrance at 34th and Boulevard Place. We’ll meet just inside the main entrance, where you can park and from where we’ll depart on our self-guided tour. The exact duration of our tour will depend on the weather—if it’s extremely hot and humid, we’ll cut it short. (If it’s raining, bring your umbrella; we’ll decide at that point whether to go ahead with the tour or proceed directly to the indoor part of the meeting.) Following our perusal of the many points of interest in the cemetery, we’ll adjourn to a local restaurant for food, a brief formal meeting, and additional fellowship. (For a map and additional information, go to the cemetery’s Web site, located at www.crownhill.org.)
And don’t forget to mark your calendar for this (and next) year’s other great meetings . . .
Saturday, November 20, 2004 [new date!]: A.C. Doyle Mini-Film Fest
Location: The Lawrence Library, on Hague Road, in northeast Indianapolis
Sunday, January 9, 2005: Our Annual Victorian Tea and Sherlock Holmes Birthday Party
Location: The Hamilton Country Historical Society Jail Museum in Noblesville
(Note: Dates and programs are tentative and subject to change as circumstances
change—but we’ll try to stick to these as much as possible!)
For more information, contact us at P.O. Box 26290, Indianapolis, IN 46226-0290; or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (And don’t forget to venture online to check out our Hated Rivals Web site at http://surrey-shore.freeservers.com, for recent updates, or drop on by our Indy Star Web page at http://community.indystar.com/928/.) See you again in two months, back on the ol’ Surrey Shore, where the game’s always afoot! (But you already knew that—didn’t you?)
And Now, for Your Creative Enjoyment . . .
“The Adventure of the Blank Space”
(A Do-It-Yourself Sherlock Holmes Mystery!)
Instructions: Pick up a pen, pencil, tube of lipstick, or a crayon (or, if you insist, a bloody engineer’s thumb). Proceed to write down right here, in the following space, your own Sherlock Holmes story. You can be as creative as you like. Make it a drama, a comedy, a love story (well, maybe for Watson), or even a farce. Include new characters or old, such as Inspectors Lestrade, Gregson, or Hopkins—maybe even (dare we suggest it?) Mr. Barker himself. Hey—you can even make them talking dogs or cats, if you want to. After all, this is your story! (The only stipulation is that it—yes, the entire story—must fit in the following space.) After you’ve finished your masterpiece, send it to us. If it’s good enough, we may publish it in a future newsletter. (Or we may not. Depends on whether we run short again.) So have at it! (And most of all, have fun!)
(Okay, we admit it—we just ran short of things to discuss in this newsletter. But, hey—think of all the creative things you can do to make up for it. Enjoy!)