Today started out as a really bad day to be me, forgetting to take my work laptop to work, having a dentist appointment that I didn't know if I needed, other odd bits . . . but then Sherlock Holmes entered the picture. I had half an episode of The Final Podblem on "The Retired Colourman" to listen to, and the evening held the promise of Peoria's Sherlock Holmes Story Society gathering at the library to discuss "The Abbey Grange." And that, my friends, is a combo that will just make your day.
I don't think I'll ever get over how much regularly listening to other people's takes on my favorite stories has become such a joy to me of late. I don't know if we were all just treading the same ground for a while, and it took a new crop of Sherlockians to bring the fresh or if I just was a complete narcissist before who was too busy with my own opinion. I'm sure there are a few who shouted "THAT ONE!" after reading the second option, but to each their own.
I don't think I had felt the actual horror of "Retired Colourman's" gas chamber crime until hearing Nick and Casey unspool Amberly's villainy from their fresh read. The idea of Watson just dealing with the matter, or an ongoing Barker series, were nicely intriguing as well. Plus, they just make me laugh like a good two person podcast should.
Eleven Sherlockians rooting around "Abbey Grange" live and in person is bound to turn up some previous unremarked facts. Like that I pay so much attention to Sherlock Holmes (and then Doctor Watson) that I completely gloss over bits like Captain Croker's flat-out racism for no reason: "I believe you are a man of your word, and a white man, and I'll tell you the whole story." I mean, hopefully, he meant that in a "white hat" sense at the time, but these days, it comes out flat racist.
And then there's the little side-jaunts one goes on because Google is in your pocket. Someone mentioned a Swiss Army knife being in the story, and that led to this:
The actual reference is to a "multiplex knife," which existed since the 1850s, and we know it couldn't have been a true Swiss Army knife as a.) The story takes place in late winter 1897, and b.) Though the Swiss Army knife came into being in 1891, it didn't gain a corkscrew, as was used in the story, until July of 1897 . . . about six months too late. (Just the sort of thing Vince Wright means when he says you have to look at every detail in a story to do deep-dive chronology on these tales.)
So then the mind goes: Wait . . . Moriarty died in Switzerland in 1891. The Swiss Army knife came about in 1891. Could it . . . naaawwwwww.
Funny though, that even a table of Sherlock Holmes fans all had to get five minutes of talking about our first time with Star Wars in tonight, as we were all missing the first showings of the end of the third trilogy. Never thought this day would come, but life is long and the world just keeps pulling rabbits out of it's Earth-sized hat.
So, when all was said and done, today was a good day, for a Sherlockian. This Sherlockian, in any case.