The Empty House
Steady, Watson. Okay, yes, this is the return of his beloved Holmes, but there is a lot of thrilling, tingling, flushing and flooding from Watson elsewhere in the books. More than enough to bemuse this reader, in any case. A few pages later the poor boy actually faints like a girl (too much flooding, per chance?) though shame on Holmes for playing such a cruel trick on poor, devoted, Watson.
You know, I used to have the slash goggles firmly locked in the drawer when reading Holmes, mainly because the character were always played by gentlemen of a certain dotage and I was a young lass and I didn't want to go there (seriously, no). But now they've cast him and him, well, slash goggles fully deployed, sir, and, to my bemusement the source material isn't disappointing, and in many cases, exceeding my expectations.
Mind you, it's so long since I read Holmes it hardly counts as a re-reading, but almost reading for the very first time. As with most things, a lot of water has passed under various bridges between the reading for pleasure I used to do when in school and the reading for pleasure I do now (a great many set texts from course work and set texts from well meaning friends and social expectations has chewed up hours that could have better been spent in wallowing in glorious "popular" fiction, as the trade papers sneer at it). Also, when I read it then, although probably being better versed in Victoriana than my brutish fellow students, I knew nothing, certainly far less, than I do now about the Victorian age, London and Victorian London. Indeed, I feel I've only just recently finally come to understanding of London with my little walking in my ancestors' footsteps holiday I had recently which was fun, informative, deeply personal and yet still managing to take in the odd museum and filming location. Anyhoo, reading Holmes and Watson while in London and then trotting down some of the very streets was a hoot, which has given depths and colours to my current reading I never thought possible. In other words, having a ball.
One of my favourite bits so far is the following, which, given the cerebral nature of Holmes, rates as practically pornographic imho:
Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation, I had tossed aside the barren paper, and, leaning back in my chair I fell into a brown study. Suddenly my companion’s voice broke in upon my thoughts.
“You are right, Watson,” said he. “It does seem a very preposterous way of settling a dispute.”
“Most preposterous!” I exclaimed, and then, suddenly realizing how he had echoed the inmost thought of my soul, I sat up in my chair and stared at him in blank amazement.
“What is this, Holmes?” I cried. “This is beyond anything which I could have imagined.”
He laughed heartily at my perplexity.
“You remember,” said he, “that some little time ago, when I read you the passage in one of Poe’s sketches, in which a close reasoner follows the unspoken thoughts of his companion, you were inclined to treat the matter as a mere tour de force of the author. On my remarking that I was constantly in the habit of doing the same thing you expressed incredulity.”
“Perhaps not with your tongue, my dear Watson, but certainly with your eyebrows. So when I saw you throw down your paper and enter upon a train of thought, I was very happy to have the opportunity of reading it off, and eventually of breaking into it, as a proof that I had been in rapport with you.”
But I was still far from satisfied. “In the example which you read to me,” said I, “the reasoner drew his conclusions from the actions of the man whom he observed. If I remember right, he stumbled over a heap of stones, looked up at the stars, and so on. But I have been seated quietly in my chair, and what clues can I have given you?”
“You do yourself an injustice. The features are given to man as the means by which he shall express his emotions, and yours are faithful servants.”
“Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my features?”
“Your features, and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot yourself recall how your reverie commenced?”
“No, I cannot.”
“Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which was the action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a minute with a vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed themselves upon your newly framed picture of General Gordon, and I saw by the alteration in your face that a train of thought had been started. But it did not lead very far. Your eyes turned across to the unframed portrait of Henry Ward Beecher, which stands upon the top of your books. You then glanced up at the wall, and of course your meaning was obvious. You were thinking that if the portrait were framed it would just cover that bare space and correspond with Gordon’s picture over there.”
“You have followed me wonderfully!” I exclaimed.
“So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your thoughts went back to Beecher, and you looked hard across as if you were studying the character in his features. Then your eyes ceased to pucker, but you continued to look across, and your face was thoughtful. You were recalling the incidents of Beecher’s career. I was well aware that you could not do this without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember you expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he was received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so strongly about it that I knew you could not think of Beecher without thinking of that also. When a moment later I saw your eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your mind had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clinched, I was positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then, again, your face grew sadder; you shook your head. You were dwelling upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand stole towards your own old wound, and a smile quivered on your lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind. At this point I agreed with you that it was preposterous, and was glad to find that all my deductions had been correct.
“Absolutely!” said I. “And now that you have explained it, I confess that I am as amazed as before.”
“It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you. I should not have intruded it upon your attention had you not shown some incredulity the other day. But the evening has brought a breeze with it. What do you say to a ramble through London?”
The Resident Patient
Mind you, as of last evening's reading. Watson's co-dependency has taken a rather disturbing turn:
"I, at his request, had sold my practice nd returned to share the old quarters in Baker Street"
The Norwood Builder
Watson! Good grief, man, does he only give you allowance for shopping, not let you out of the house, not let you have any friends or use the telephone? Speaking as one who has been controlled in such a fashion, I gotta say, not good. Oh, it gets worse. Further reading proves that Holmes does indeed have the Watson cheque-book under lock and key (The Dancing Men). Oh dear! The cute living arrangements have just taken a turn for the creepy, imho. Himself wanted to know if Watson had ever woken up to find Holmes by his bed, watching him sleep and I had to report that yes, indeed once (I forget which story) Watson did wake to find Holmes lurking by his bed. Oh dear...
Anyway, moving on, I was trying to read my book in the park when two gents in tutus wafted across the park. Wait, it's not mardi gras time...whatever. Park like, eh? Alas it was just a bit too cold in the long shadows cast by the office buildings for this little invalid so it's back to desk, and trying to drink my tea while being audibly bitched about. Sigh. And why, I do wonder, does the personal indiscretions of certain gentlemen have to impact so greatly upon the webpages I do? It's a crazy old world.
TV? Still having trouble with that, especially yesterday when an outtage killed the stuff I had set. Grump, cause I really wanted both of those progs. Did catch Demons again, again, because I'm shameless, however last week's episode, I forgot to mention, took in St Bart's, which I love, it being an old Norman church of much turbulent history. Demons managed to catch the somewhat cruddy Victorian "restoration" (Himself says its typical of the Victorians to destroy perfectly lovely Tudor or Georgian features to get at the gothic beneath) and the somewhat industrial formerly gas powered candle holder/ red lamp things. It's sort of halfway between the Museum of London and St Paul's, if you ever find yourself down that way. Well worth a visit, tell 'em I said 'hi'.
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