Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Any surprises?

The list of actors who have played Sherlock Holmes in film, television, stage, or radio includes:
  • The Penultimate Problem of Sherlock Holmes (Off Broadway play, 1980)
  • Murder, My Dear Watson (stage play, England, 1983)
  • Grit in a Sensitive Instrument (Regional theater, 1980; Off Broadway, 1982; cable TV also)
  • The Blue Carbuncle (Off Broadway play, 2007; Los Angeles stage, 2008)

Monday, September 26, 2011

From Bookforum

Haven't heard any more about this happening since 2008!

Not your father's Sherlock Holmes
This summer brought the rather surprising news that two major Sherlock Holmes films would simultaneously be going into production in Hollywood, both supposedly offering significant reboots of the iconic detective. On the one hand, there's the version from Warner Bros., with Guy Ritchie at the helm and adapted in part from a comic book by coproducer Lionel Wigram. It features a more action-oriented Holmes, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., fresh off his blockbuster success in the superhero flick Iron Man; Variety reported that this Holmes would display "brawn as well as brains." On the other, Columbia's comedic take on Holmes will give us Sacha Baron Cohen, of Borat fame, as the sleuth, with Will Ferrell as his sidekick, Dr. Watson. (Jude Law will play Watson in the Ritchie film.) Needless to say, some purists were worried. One writer for The Guardian lamented: "The mind boggles. In the left corner Sherlock getting involved in over the top ultra-violence and in the right corner a farting Sherlock (or would it be Watson?) with the sensitivity of an average American teenager."
Readers and viewers could be forgiven for thinking that the competing Holmes reinventions indicate a newfound Hollywood irreverence toward Conan Doyle's character. But a quick glance at Holmes's legacy on film suggests otherwise. "The idea of the movies trying to be truthful to the Holmes character is pretty laughable," says Leslie Klinger, author of The Life and Times of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, John H. Watson, M.D., Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Other Notable Personages and editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. Setting aside the popular Granada series of the '80s starring Jeremy Brett, which tried to be scrupulously faithful to Conan Doyle's stories and novels, revisionism and refashioning have been the rule rather than the exception. Over the years, we've had Holmes the lovesick melancholic (The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes [1970]), Holmes the troubled addict in need of psychoanalysis (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution [1976]), Holmes the precocious schoolboy (Young Sherlock Holmes [1985]), even Holmes the incompetent buffoon (Without a Clue [1988]). The movies have rarely been able to portray literature's greatest detective without introducing some high-concept twist.
This isn't a recent phenomenon. "Prior to the Basil Rathbone–starring The Hound of the Baskervilles, there were probably well over a hundred Sherlock Holmes films, most of them silent—and all of them had been set in contemporary times," says Klinger. Hound and its sequel, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, both released in 1939, may have been the first films with the detective actually in Victorian England. But Klinger notes that the series, and its iconic star, were quickly taken over by Universal, which cut the budget and employed contemporary settings in subsequent films, often with Holmes battling the Nazis. That's right: Even the Rathbone films represented, essentially, unconventional takes on Holmes.
So what accounts for the constant reinvention? Perhaps it's the fact that Conan Doyle revealed so little of Holmes in his stories. "There are a lot of blank pages in the biography," says Klinger. "The very nature of a Victorian male leaves a great deal to explore, because the standard code of conduct was that you didn't talk about your personal life." He notes that we know "virtually nothing" about Holmes's family, for example.
And we know even less about his love life; debate rages to this day among Holmes scholars over whether he in fact had one. "Should we take Holmes at his word that he abhors romance?" Klinger asks. It's easy to predict which side of that dispute the new movies will take: The Ritchie film features Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, whose appearance in Conan Doyle's first Holmes story, "A Scandal in Bohemia," in 1891, has fueled speculation ever since about the detective's feelings for her. In other words, perhaps Hollywood is not so much reinventing Sherlock Holmes as doing what it's always done: giving the audience a hero and a pretty girl.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hey, I hadn't seen this one . . . .

From IMBD or things you may not know you didn't know.

The new movie trivia;


The first Sherlock Holmes film to reach U.S. movie theaters in over twenty years, since the 1988 comedy Without a Clue with Michael Caine as Reginald Kincaid/"Sherlock Holmes".

Robert Maillet accidentally knocked out Robert Downey Jr. while filming a fight scene.

Robert Downey Jr. read many Sherlock Holmes stories and watched The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in order to learn more about the character.

Sienna Miller was in talks for a role before her ex-fiancé Jude Law was cast as Watson.

The song that plays from 1:03 to the end on the second trailer is a piece called "Unstoppable" by the group E.S. Posthumus (specifically 1:47 to the end on the track).

The set for Sherlock Holmes's home in this film was previously used as Sirius Black's home in Harry Potter

The part of Sherlock Holmes has been previously played by Michael Caine (in Without a Clue), while Watson is played in this film by Jude Law. Law took over Caine's role in Alfie (remake of Alfie) and Sleuth (remake of Sleuth), appearing together with him in the latter film.

Early rumors had Brad Pitt as Moriarty, but were quickly denied.

Guy Ritchie's first film not to be rated R in the US, to be rated 12 in his native country (UK), and where he has not been part of the writing process.

Guy Ritchie's first film to be rated 12 in his native country (UK), and his first film where he has not been part of the writing process.

The outfits worn by the navvies are the same ones worn by the railway workers in Return to Cranford: Part 1
Delivered to some theaters under the fake title "Elementary Education".

Watson's line to Holmes, "You know that what you're drinking is for eye surgery?", is an obscure reference to Holmes's cocaine usage. At the time, cocaine was used as a topical anesthetic for eye surgery. In the stories, Holmes injects cocaine.

Although Irene Adler plays a large role in the movie, she only appears in one Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, "A Scandal in Bohemia", briefly referenced in the movie. Holmes retains the portrait of Irene Adler acquired for his services in that story and also once refers to her as "woman" as he does in the latter story.

The story 'The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual' mentions that Holmes practiced shooting his pistol by putting VR (Victoria Regina) on his wall with bullet holes. In the movie, Holmes shoots VR in the wall in his room with a gun.

The four symbols referred to in the movie, the Man, the Lion, the Ox and the Eagle, are also attributed to the four Gospels of the Christian Bible: Matthew (Man, the humanity of Christ), Mark (Lion, for courage and for action), Luke (Ox, for strength and perseverance), and John (Eagle, for clarity of sight and for divinity).

Rachel McAdams, Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. reportedly did most of their own stunts.

Attempting to escape the clutches of wearing a tight corset every morning, Rachel McAdams would trick the costumers by pushing her stomach out or eating a big breakfast of oatmeal before being laced up. However, they eventually caught on to her ruse.

Before the scene where Sherlock Holmes reenacts the black magic ceremony, we see a brief shot of an inn called The Punch Bowl. The Punch Bowl is the name of Guy Ritchie's pub in Mayfair, London.

The letters "VR", visible throughout the film, stand for "Victoria Regina," the Royal Cypher (monogram) of Queen Victoria, who ruled England at the time.

The name of Holmes and Watson's English bulldog is Gladstone. He seems to be named after William Gladstone, four-time Prime Minister under Queen Victoria. A Gladstone is also a type of bag, named after the man, which was sometimes used by doctors in this period to carry their medical equipment.

The second movie about Sherlock Holmes with Geraldine James, who plays Mrs. Hudson. She was previously in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Jude Law previously appeared in the Granada TV series The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, in Shoscombe Old Place.

In the stories, Holmes is described to be an expert in Baritsu. In the film, however, the martial art that Holmes used is the Wing-Chun Kung Fu (famously used by Ip Man and Bruce Lee). Robert Downey Jr. is a practitioner of the art in real life and the fight scene between him and David Garrick at Punchbowl Pit was coordinated with the help of his trainer.

Director of photography Philippe Rousselot used a special high-speed digital camera specifically to film the Punch Bowl fight sequence. The key moment where Holmes punches his opponent's jaw was filmed one second in real-time and turned into a seven-second shot without additional post-production aid.

After Guy Ritchie signed on as the director, he insisted that the two most common clichés of Sherlock Holmes - the "Elementary, my dear Watson" quip and Holmes's deerstalker - be dropped entirely.

Sphinxes are shown throughout the movie in several of the scenes: the graveyard, Blackwood's father's black magic room, and Reordan's makeshift laboratory.

Sam Worthington was considered for the role of Watson.

The bare-knuckle fight between Holmes and McMurdo references the Holmes story 'The Sign of Four'. In the story, Holmes encounters McMurdo and says to him, "I don't think you can have forgotten me. Don't you remember that amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back?"

When Sherlock says "Now that you're sitting comfortably, I shall begin" to begin explaining Blackwood's plot, it is reference to a BBC children's radio program from the 1950's, Listen With Mother, which was famous for it's opening line "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin."

Although Sherlock Holmes takes a number of liberties with the original Holmes stories, it also contains numerous references and allusions to the earlier works. The film quotes the Conan Doyle novels and stories on several occasions, including "The game is afoot" ("The Abbey Grange", as well as the original source of the phrase, Shakespeare's "Henry V"); "Because I was looking for it" ("Silver Blaze"); "You have the grand gift of silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion" ("The Man with the Twisted Lip"); "Crime is common, logic is rare" ("The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"); "My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work" (The Sign of the Four); "It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely" ("The Boscombe Valley Mystery"); "Data, data, data. I cannot make bricks without clay" ("The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"), " begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts" ("A Scandal in Bohemia"), and "There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you" ("The Hound of the Baskervilles").

The scene in which Holmes and Watson make a series of deductions from a dead man's watch closely mirrors a similar sequence in "The Sign of the Four" (as does Holmes' ability to follow the carriage's path whilst blindfolded), in which Holmes uses nearly identical observations (scratches around the watch's keyhole, pawnbroker's marks on the inside of the case) to deduce information from a watch belonging to Watson's late brother. Holmes's passing reference to locking Watson's checkbook in his desk parallels a similar statement in "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", which commentators such as William S. Baring-Gould have taken to mean that Watson had a gambling problem, an interpretation that the film adopts. Holmes also uses a riding crop as a weapon throughout the film, as he does in "A Case of Identity". In the "Six Napoleons", it is described as his "favorite weapon".

A number of the film's details recall "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone." The first is the name of the primary antagonist, Lord Blackwood, which parallels that of "Mazarin Stone" villain Count Negretto Sylvius (Negretto is Italian for black and Sylvius is Latin for woods). (As Holmes scholar W. W. Roberts notes, this is "presumably a private joke at the expense of Blackwood's Magazine, long and unavailingly courted by Conan Doyle in the 1880s.") Another common detail is the Crown Diamond, an alternate name for the Mazarin Stone, which hangs around Irene Adler's neck in the film. "The Mazarin Stone" is also the first story to mention that the 221B Baker Street apartment had multiple exits and a waiting room. The extra exit, which was through the bedroom, is employed by Holmes to follow Irene early in the film.

There are repeated references to five women murdered by Lord Blackwell before the beginning of the movie. Five is also the number of women that the bulk of historians agree were murdered by Jack the Ripper (additional victims are disputed).

In the scene where Sherlock and Watson visit Blackwood's grave, Sherlock says "And on the third day..." - a reference to Jesus as he rose from the dead on the third day.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

At the end of the film, Mary asks Watson if she could read his journals of his adventures with Sherlock Holmes. Of the 60 Arthur Conan Doyle-penned stories of Sherlock Holmes, all but four have Watson serving as the narrator.

The three murders of the men and the attempted murder of Parliament coincide with the four Greek elements. The first was a burial crime scene (Earth), second was drowning (water), third was immolation (fire), and fourth was poison gas (air).

Guy Ritchie has stated in interviews that he is a fan (and a practitioner) of Brazilian Jujitsu, made popular in mixed martial arts. Towards the end of the movie Holmes and Watson fight Dredger and finally manage to subdue him with an arm-bar and a modified rear naked choke, both popular Brazilian Jujitsu submissions.

All events take place in the year 1891. After Holmes and Watson are released from custody following the events in the shipyard, Inspector Lestrade hands a newspaper ("The National Police Gazette") over to Holmes. The title on the newspaper is "London In Terror", and the date is Friday, November 19, 1891. This sets the story during the period when, in the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Holmes was believed dead. According to "The Final Problem", Holmes and Professor Moriarty apparently plunged to their deaths over the Reichenbach Falls in May 1891. Holmes did not reveal he had survived until the spring of 1894, as described in "The Adventure of the Empty House".

A raven is visible every time a character is killed or thought to be killed.

In the newspaper with the headline "London In Terror: Blackwood Lives and the Devil Walks With Him," handed by Lestrade to Holmes when Holmes is bailed out, the names of the five women who were Blackwood's first five victims are revealed. They are: Susan Willis, Margaret Coile, June Gray, Mary Wilson, and Sarah Moss. The woman whose murder Holmes intervened on is revealed to be named as Beatrice Church.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Adventure of Black Peter

Every month the Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn examine a different story within the Canon, with the exceptions of July and Dec. In Dec.the Harpooners always do the Blue Carbuncle, which is the only Christmas story in the works.
In July, which celebrates the anniversary of the Harpooners and their namesake, they do Black Peter.
This July, Wayne had the presentation, and with his permission it follows.
I hope it makes you think about the story, and feel free to add your comments.

The Adventure of Black Peter: Insights into Holmes’ Character
Wayne F. July 22, 2011

The year 1895 was a spectacular year around the world and especially for Sherlock Holmes.  In 1895, Alfred Nobel establishes the Nobel Prize.   We have the birth of Babe Ruth, George VI and Nigel Bruce.  It is most appropriate that we have Nigel Bruce, the man who portrayed Watson in so many movies and radio plays, an Englishman so closely affiliated with the canon, born in 1895.  However, we have barely touched the list of exciting news in this fine year.  Five Holmes adventures that Watson was good enough to commemorate for us take place in 1895: The Adventures of the Three Students, the Solitary Cyclist, the Norwood Builder, the Bruce-Partington Plans and of course, The Adventure of Black Peter.  Also published in 1895 was H.G. Wells’ story The Time Machine, which will allow us to transport ourselves back in time tonight to that year.

For Holmes, 1895 was an exceptionally productive year.  Watson begins this tale by describing for us what it is to be Holmes in 1895.  Holmes has never been “in better form, both mental and physical. “  Watson stresses the fact that Holmes was doing well financially.  This financial freedom allows Holmes to accept those cases that are of particular interest to him, accepting these little problems based on the “strange and dramatic qualities, which appealed to his imagination and challenged his ingenuity.”

Watson mentions several cases that Holmes has recently been involved in.  There was the sudden death of Cardinal Tosca, investigated at the request of the Holy See.  There was the case of Wilson the notorious canary trainer.  One can only imagine what kind of person Wilson must be to earn that kind of reputation.  Then there was the incident at Woodman’s Lee and the “obscure circumstances, which surrounded the death of Peter Carey.” Holmes was keeping very busy indeed.  Clearly at the height of his powers and practicing his skills often as noted by Watson’s list of cases or rather Holmes’ accomplishments.

Now Watson was never the interfering type.  He kept to himself and assisted Holmes whenever the opportunity arose.  Watson knew Holmes was on a case and certainly interested in the facts of the matter, but he knew the details would come later.  For now all Watson knew was “The fact that several rough looking men called during that time and inquired for Captain Basil…” which led Watson to “understand that Holmes was working somewhere under one of the numerous disguises and names with which he concealed his own formidable identity.”  Watson’s patience for Holmes is amazing to me.  Tolerating strange visitors to their residence without asking any questions or expecting answers.  Not many people would be this patient and provide the level of respect to a roommate that Watson provides Holmes.

All these items that Watson shares with us provide insights into Holmes’ methods and personality.  Perhaps Watson enjoyed unraveling Holmes’ personality and that’s what made him so tolerant in managing the comings and goings of his friend. 

For example, for most of us, some early morning exercise would mean a brisk walk, perhaps running through our neighborhood or maybe going for a swim.   Holmes has his own unusual method of exercise in this case.  Even Watson is somewhat surprised when his friend turns up for breakfast with a harpoon under his arm.  “He had gone out before breakfast, and I had sat down to mine, when he strode into the room, his hat upon his head and a huge, barbed-headed spear tucked like an umbrella under his arm.”  At this point, we do not know why Holmes is carrying a harpoon around London although Holmes explains the situation to Watson.  For Holmes, this test is the start of his usual logical process to solve one of his little problems. 

What is rather interesting is that Watson notes that Holmes stated that, “There can be no question, my dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast.”  While Watson has said that Holmes takes no exercise Holmes clearly understands the benefits of exercise.  That is if exercise means boxing, stick fighting, practicing baritsu or harpooning dead pigs. Somehow Holmes worked these items into his busy schedule.  You cannot maintain a mastery of these skills without practice.

Watson soon learns that Holmes has been in contact with “Stanley Hopkins, a young police inspector, for whose future Holmes had high hopes, while he in turn professed the admiration and respect of a pupil for the scientific methods of the famous amateur.”  Hopkins has asked Holmes for assistance in resolving a murder investigation and this case has enough twists to spark Holmes’ interest.

Hopkins describes the case for Holmes.  However, Hopkins has jumped to a conclusion that led him away from the solution of the crime.  Hopkins’ first mistake was to assume “It was the man’s own pouch, sir.  His initials were inside it.  And it was of sealskin-and he an old sealer.”  However, we know the man did not smoke a pipe, so it was unlikely he would own a tobacco pouch.  Hopkins assumes Peter “might have kept some tobacco for his friends.”  Hopkins has molded the facts to fit his theory.  From our previous experience we know that Holmes is taking in data and waiting to find a logical answer.  Holmes can be very patient while gathering the facts of a case. 

Hopkins provides some background on Peter Carey.  He tells Holmes about Carey’s adventures at sea, how he retired and spent time travelling and that Carey finally settled down, building a house where his wife and daughter live and a cabin for himself.  You do have to wonder why Carey married, as we know he does not like people and has beaten his wife and daughter.  We know that Carey clearly longs for his previous life at sea.  He surrounds himself with logs books and rum in his “cabin”. 

While reviewing the facts of the case Hopkins mentions the small notebook found at the scene.  The notebook has the initials J.H.N.  Holmes immediately identifies the symbols in the notebook as representing investments.  Holmes asked only one question about the notebook.  He wants to know where the notebook was found.  Hopkins replies that it was found next to the blood on the floor.  Holmes immediately surmises that this means the notebook was dropped after the murder.  With Holmes’ question concerning where the notebook was found, I find myself realizing just how patient and methodical Holmes is as an investigator.  He is assembling the facts first and will determine what the clues mean when he has all the available data.  We know Holmes to be curt with some people and I have always understood this to be impatience.  Yet, Holmes will mull over the details of a problem for hours if necessary to bring a case to its logical conclusion. 

During their investigation of the cabin, Hopkins notices that someone trying to enter the cabin has scratched the door. Holmes again goes full speed suggesting that the culprit, not being able to access the cabin will return to try again.   What an opportunity this presents to our investigators.  Once inside the cabin, Holmes notices that something is missing from the bookshelf. “Something has been taken.  There is less dust in this corner of the shelf than elsewhere.”  Every pertinent detail is noticed and recorded by Holmes.

Once the investigators are finished with the cabin, Holmes suggests to Watson that they take a walk “and give a few hours to the birds and the flowers.” Watson revealed a side of Holmes that we rarely see.  Holmes has a love of nature.  His interest in flowers will certainly come into play later when he retires and takes up beekeeping.  However, I think the real reason Holmes heads into the woods is to spend some quiet time thinking to sort through the facts and determine his next steps. 

Later that evening, Holmes and company wait outside the cabin to better observe anyone approaching.  Late into the night, they surprise a young man trying to enter the cabin.  John Hopley Neligan tells his story and Holmes acknowledges that he is familiar with the matter of the West Country bankers.  Holmes knows the facts behind the failed bank, which indicates that Holmes, not up to date on the workings of the universe, has had reason to improve his knowledge of the financial system of England.  Watson again provides some insight into Holmes personality and lifestyle brought about by his improved social standing and financial status.  Is it possible that Holmes was hired to investigate the case of the Country Bankers and realizes this connection may give him a chance to complete that investigation?  Why else would Holmes take off for Norway if not to attempt to track down some of the remaining securities and solve a second puzzling case as well?

Holmes has explained to Hopkins that he has the wrong man in custody while setting up the finale to his investigation.  Holmes starts with a few telegraphs, one to Hopkins to come to breakfast and another telegram from Captain Basil recruiting men for an arctic journey.  Patrick Cairns walks into Holmes’ trap and is handcuffed and in police custody within minutes.

While Hopkins has provided his explanation of how he thought Neligan perpetrated the crime, he learns that Holmes has gone beyond the facts presented to him.  Holmes tells Hopkins that his solution has “only one drawback, Hopkins, and that is that it is intrinsically impossible. Have you tried to drive a harpoon through a body? No? Tut, tut, my dear sir, you must really pay attention to these details.”  Holmes went the extra step and wired Dundee for a list of crewman aboard the Sea unicorn and in that way, obtained the name of Patrick Cairns, the actual culprit in this investigation.  Although Hopkins shows promise he never delved into the details according to the methods of his instructor, Sherlock Holmes.  Holmes knew through his own experience that Neligan was incapable of driving a harpoon through Peter Carey. Holmes took nothing at face value, not the use of a harpoon as a murder weapon, not the initials on the tobacco pouch, nor the fact that whiskey and brandy were available in the cabin.

Holmes tells Hopkins, “One should always look for a possible alternative and provide against it.  It is the first rule of criminal investigation.” Looking deeper into Watson’s account of The Adventure of Black Peter we realize that Holmes has spent most of this case schooling young Hopkins in the methods of deductive reasoning. Holmes may be looking for a protégé to carry on his practice or a partner at Scotland Yard to collaborate with him. Once again, we need to thank Watson for providing us with some keen insight into the character and personality of Sherlock Holmes and most importantly for giving us another of Holmes’ adventures.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Second book . . .

Just finished Val Andrews. . .

I did enjoy the book, especially the first two thirds.
Holmes and Watson seemed very familiar in this first part.

The last part, the last third, came off as a little, well, staged and reminded one to
much of the Holmes and Watson of the Rathbone era. And the ending seemed a little rushed and unimaginative.
I did however like the fact that Holmes comes off as a little more approachable in Andrews books.
And my favorite thing about all his books so far is the inclusion of historical characters and facts
in the books, which makes you want to find out more about those things. And you can certainly see Andrews love of the theatre in this book.

You can, however, tell in his books, as with many pastiches, when one attempts to recreate Victorian speech and language, when one is not use to it. If any thing Val maybe tries to sound too Victorian.

But, like I said, I enjoy his books and will continue to read the ones I still have not read.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And just a little bit more. . .

Val Andrews 1926 - 2006
Remembered by Martin Breese
Val Andrews passed away on the 12th October following a heart attack. I knew and worked with Val Andrews for at least 30 years and he was a kind and gentle man. He believed in the old fashioned ways and was courteous and considerate to all those he came in contact with.

He was the son of an architect and for many years of his life lived in Brighton. He was a prolific writer and his aim, he told me one day, was to be able to say that he had written and had published over 1000 books and booklets. His output was prolific and in the past he wrote programme ideas and scripts for many of our leading comics. He wrote many of Tommy Cooper's scripts for him including the sketch in which Tommy Cooper had one side of his body in a German army uniform and on the other profile he was an upper class British army officer. By turning from left to right Tommy Cooper was able to have a conversation with himself. All Val's own idea and for that he earned the paltry sum of just 10/- or 50p in today's money. And he had to fight even to get paid.

Many years ago Val told me that he had written some new Sherlock Holmes stories and asked me to publish them. I had no confidence in the idea but Val knew what he was doing. He wrote many of these new Sherlock Holmes novels which sold around the world and in many different languages as well. He will not only be sadly missed by the magic community but by countless Sherlock Holmes fans everywhere.

Val had the honour of receiving a major award from the
Magic Circle
for his literary work and later was given a Literary Fellowship by the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood. Val was a tragic figure and had the awful experience of seeing his own daughter run over by a bus. The tragedy destroyed his marriage and many years later he became a life-long friend and companion to Terri Rogers and supported her through her own final tragic illness.

Val was a kind and generous soul and much of the money that he earned he gave away to those in need. His contribution to magic will stand as a fitting memorial to a highly talented writer whose writings have greatly contributed to our art. I will miss my dear old pal Val.

Martin Breese, 2006

Trying to find more on Val Andrews. . .

I came up with this interesting site. . . .

Crime Writers

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A fun read - Val Andrews

The first I learned about Val Andrew was through a family magician friend who knew Val through the magic and entertainment circles.
Our magician friend showed me a couple of books written by Val about Sherlock Holmes.
I started a correspondence with Val in the early 90's and we were lucky enough on the Harpooners trip of '93 to have lunch with Val. He also took the time to show us some of the locations mentioned in the Canon.

This past week I finally picked up one of his books and read it.
It was a delightfully fun read and a quick one at 109 pages.

Val, born in 1926, was a music hall artist, ventriloquist and writer.
A very prolific writer about magic, writing over 1000 books and booklets on the subject.

In all of Val's 21 books about Holmes, he blends history, theatre and the arts with the world of Sherlock Holmes.

In the two books of his that I have now read (well, actually working on the second now), Holmes, being a little older when the stories take place, comes off more jovial and easy going than he can sometimes appear, and this adds a freshness to the stories.

Vals style is close enough in language to invoke the Victorian era, but not so close to Doyle's that you feel he is trying to copy it.
It was a pleasure getting to meet Val, a gentleman and artist and I hope you check out some of his books.

Val's Sherlock Holmes books;

Sherlock Holmes novels
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Charlie Chaplin Mystery
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Eminent Thespian (1988)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Brighton Pavilion Mystery (1989)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Egyptian Hall Adventure (1993)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Houdini Birthright (1995)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Yule-tide Mystery (1996)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Man Who Lost Himself (1996)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Dozen (1997)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Circus of Fear (1997)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Greyfriars School Mystery (1997)
  • Sherlock Homes and the Theatre of Death (1997)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Sandringham House Mystery (1998)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Tomb of Terror (1999)
  • Sherlock Holmes on the Western Front (1999)
  • Sherlock Holmes at the Varieties (1999)
  • The Torment of Sherlock Holmes (1999)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Longacre Vampire (2000)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Holborn Emporium (2001)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Seven (2001)
  • The Ghost of Baker Street (2006)
  • The Prince of Ventriloquists: Another Case for Sherlock Holmes

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is why he should be king. . . . . Sherlock liked pubs, didn't he?

Save our village pubs: Charles warns that monoculturalism is killing rural communities

By Fay Schlesinger
Last updated at 8:37 PM on 14th March 2011

The Prince of Wales addresses a tourism conference at Anglesey Abbey, in Lode, Cambridge
The Prince of Wales addresses a tourism conference at Anglesey Abbey, in Lode, Cambridge
Prince Charles has warned that the British countryside risks being ruined by monoculturalism.
If society continues to spurn village pubs and traditional crafts, it will end up ‘pulling threads’ from the ‘delicate tapestry’ of rural life, he said.
The heir to the throne today used a verbose speech to tourism bosses to drill home his views on the importance of harmony and eco-living - and the paralysing peril of monoculturalism.
He told a conference in Lode, near Cambridge, that visitors to the countryside should be asked to make a voluntary contribution to support its farmers and local businesses.
He also sang the praises of a hotel surcharge scheme in Rome to raise funds for the upkeep of its historic monuments, though he did not suggest introducing it in the UK.
And he revealed that he – and presumably Camilla – have ‘very happily fallen into the familiar pattern of returning year after year to stay in a particularly fine bed and breakfast in the Fells of Cumbria’.
Charles added: ‘All these things attract and maintain tourism in an age of otherwise stultifying monoculturalism – it is the things that make us so different that is so attractive to people. But without assistance we will lose a national asset of incalculable value and one that, once lost, can never be recreated.’


He claimed that farmers are the tourist industry’s ‘greatest ally’ because they preserve the landscape, which is a ‘living, breathing’ place.
Prince Charles, seen being greeted by well-wishers during a tour of the grounds of Anglesey Abbey, warned of the dangers of 'pulling threads' from the 'delicate tapestry' of the UK countryside
Prince Charles, seen being greeted by well-wishers during a tour of the grounds of Anglesey Abbey, warned of the dangers of 'pulling threads' from the 'delicate tapestry' of the UK countryside
He said: ‘The delicately woven tapestry that is our countryside is facing unprecedented challenges. Start pulling out the threads and the rest unravels very rapidly indeed.
‘No farmers, no beautiful landscapes with stone walls; no thriving rural communities, no villages with at their heart the famous British pub so rightly beloved by our tourists; no sustainable agriculture, no distinctive local foods – no unique local story to tell and to experience.
‘In other words, no cultural continuity to give life its meaning and people a sense of belonging.’
Charles, speaking at a tourism conference near Cambridge, said that 'without assistance' an 'incredibly valuable national asset' could be lost
Charles, speaking at a tourism conference near Cambridge, said that 'without assistance' an 'incredibly valuable national asset' could be lost
Tourism and heritage minister John Penrose urged Britons to take ‘staycations’ in the UK and claimed we are more likely than anyone else in Europe to underestimate the beauty on their doorstep.
He said: (People in) other countries go abroad less than we do. They take more holidays in their own countries than we do. We need to get out there and sell the heck out of (Britain).’
Charles, 62, has vaunted his eco values for decades. He has described himself as Defender of Nature and began his book Harmony, published last year, with the words: ‘This is a call to revolution.’
In a documentary on his views, the prince last year described himself as being born ‘for a purpose’.
Giving fascinating insight into his view of his inherited wealth and influence, he said: ‘I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose.
‘I don’t want my grandchildren or yours to come along and say to me, “Why the hell didn’t you come and do something about this? You knew what the problem was”. That is what motivates me.
‘I wanted to express something in the outer world that I feel inside... We seem to have lost that understanding of the whole of nature and the universe as a living entity.’

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