One of my favourite characters in literature and one of the best fictional detectives ever has to be Sherlock Holmes. It is also down to him and the unusual way that I was introduced to him by a very special relation of mine which really got me into reading when I was younger.
From since I can remember my family was big on walking though not so much now. When I was younger we would think nothing of a nice thirteen mile hike through the peak district before a nice late Sunday roast (who was making it or how long it was in the oven I have no idea as we were all out). Occasionally we would also do one on Saturday. As I got older we would go on walking holidays. These involved my Gran (Granny Savidge Reads), Bongy (who I mentioned the other day) my Great Aunty Pat and her husband Derrick who is my Gran’s eldest brother. They would also involve anything between nine and fourteen miles of walking a day either for a week or a fortnight.
Naturally this could get a little boring for a young gent so my Uncle Derrick would memorise tales for me of Arthur Conan Doyle. Initially starting with such greats as ‘The Croxley Master’, ‘The Brown Hand’, ‘The Nightmare Room’, and many, many more. These are all contained in a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories he gave me in my early teens and one I still treasure dearly and dip into now and again. I loved these tales, though it was with Sherlock Holmes that my Uncle Derrick realised he had struck gold half way through The Dales Way. I was apparently spellbound. All these wonderful adventures in Victorian London with dastardly doings and seemingly impossible mysteries to solve, all done by a rather rogue and mysterious man who would fathom them all easily with his trusty sidekick.
It seems I wasn’t the only one hooked as Gran admitted when she was here that she would walk quicker to stay in ear shot of me and Derrick as he regaled these tales for a good mile or three. After the walks stopped (I got a bit teenagery – I needn’t say more) the reading of Sherlock didn’t and I think for a good few years I would start at the beginning read the whole lot and then return to the beginning again. I had a wonderful illustrated omnibus that actually fell apart from over reading and all the journeys it went on. Shockingly I have never bought them again, and now I think it might be time. Maybe I should have a Sherlock Season this spring?
I hinted yesterday that I was going to see a film in this households Boxing Day movie ritual. It was of course Sherlock Holmes. I was slightly worried as I have always found the TV versions lacking something; he always seems too old and more mentally apt than physically which isn’t the case in the books where he boxes like he does in the film. Would a blockbuster directed by Madonna’s ex do the job? The answer is a resounding yes!
It’s utterly brilliant and everything a Sherlock Holmes tale should be. It’s got an impossible mystery, masterly disguises, devilish doings, tonnes of action and mayhem galore. Robert Downey Jnr is just brilliant as a wily, mysterious, dry humoured and cunning Holmes. Jude Law is great as an authentic Watson who, again like in the books, doesn’t just keep notes and stand by the sidelines but gets fully involved. It was everything I hoped it would be and probably a bit more. I cannot wait for the second one already. You must go and see it; I think it will cause a huge serge in Sherlock sales in the next few months with both adults and younger fans. The game is afoot.
So who else has been thrown under the spell of Sherlock or indeed Arthur Conan Doyle in their reading life? Who has never read him? Who really wants to? Who out there might be up for a read-a-thon? Also who of you have had a remarkable relation who through you further into reading in an unusual way? Uncle Derrick sadly now has Alzheimer’s and when I go and see him has no idea who I am. I often hope he goes back to his favourite tales and gets lost a little in the Victorian adventures he loved and passed the love of on to me?