Monday, September 9, 2013

Tour de Hound - Chapter four - Snarky tour guides and lots of fun stuff.

It is a shame that our tour had to take a detour down Mean Street to find it's way back to Baker St., but even tour guides can have several bad days a month.

When I first read the Hound many (many, many) years ago I was unaware of scion societies and 'Playing the Game'.
How fun it would be to go back and read this story again for the first time and 'Play the Game' and look for clues and try to figure it out as we walk along with Holmes and Watson. That is one thing societies can offer new members. When I meet new Sherlockians I like to suggest they read the stories the first time without the aid of reference books like Barring-Gould and Klinger or even the fun book 'Sherlock Holmes for Dummies' (Hey, B.K., maybe that should be the hand book for us 'Elementary' fans!), suggesting that they try to look for clues and take in the tale without any outside influence. Sure they come up with lots of stuff many of us long time Sherlockians have already covered, but to see them discover it for the first time is such a trill. And, not as rarely as it might seem, they often come up with some new thoughts for us to consider.

The Hound abounds with discussion points and chapter four is no exception.
We find towards the end of the chapter that there were perhaps as many as 23 hotels near Charing Cross.
I don't know what the density is now a days, but I find that remarkable.
Discussion points; how many actual hotels were in that area, and what were some of the names, and are any still around. We now know Northumberland Hotel was, and is still there, and is the home of the Sherlock Holmes Pub. But what was the actual number and how many are there now.

Another discussion point; just today I got on google maps and tried to follow the route Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer could have taken back to the Northtumberland using the streets Watson records.
Touching on Oxford and Regents and going through Charing Cross it would have been approximately two and one half miles. I have walked much of that, and you can really get a feel for the period.
(Simpson's on the Strand is only about a half a mile further, you have to go there for roast beef!)

Another great discussion point, and working for the post office something I find very interesting, is how reliable and often the post (mail) is delivered.
We are told that the letter to Sir Henry was posted the evening before from Charing Cross.
In most large cities in the US, if you post something the evening before it could possibly make local delivery the next day. But in Hound we are also told that the letter probably would have still found Sir Henry even if it had been sent out early the same morning. A few years ago that could have still happened in a small US post office for local delivery, but those days are gone.
Not to many years ago England still had twice or three time daily mail delivery, I don't know if they still do. But even three times a day would probably seem like poor service to many Victorian Londoners.
This wonderful piece in The New York Times explains the British Mail service at the time, suggesting the mail service happened sometimes twelve times a day. (I had one mail route I use to have to walk eight miles a day just to make the rounds once,. . let's see? . . times twelve. . . .?)
Just think about how many times Holmes uses the post in the Canon.

Again, this part of the Hound was not handled well in the Brett series. Again, also, it would be fun to see Cumberbatch and Freeman deliver the tale, even in modern times, as it is written in the Canon.

Let me know some discussion points you found interesting in Chapter Four.
And let's get together again for Chapter Five.

P.S. Sherlock Holmes did not carry 23 shillings around in his pocket (nor 56 for that matter), he asked Wilson for change.

Maybe we can stop by a pub between chapters and get our tour guide in a better frame of mind.

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