Sherlock Holmes - A Gem Article

Happy New Year. Yesterday, as noted in the prior blog post, we had our annual Hoppin' John dinner which ensures continual good luck for the coming season (you have to read the blog to get the gist of it). During our dinner conversation, our guests remarked upon the new Sherlock Holmes movie out in theaters. This one stars Robert Downey Jr. as the protagonist, Holmes, and Jude law as the ever faithful Dr. Watson. My recollections of Sherlock Holmes are, of course, from the 1940s movies with Basil Rathbone, and the Masterpiece theater presentations, in which the whole Holmes cannon was presented with Jeremy Brett as the inimitable detective.

Like most, I'm fascinated by the facile detective and his almost supernatural powers of deduction. I came across a piece about Sherlock Holmes which I found particularly elucidating. It concerns the Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It's from Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor (Houghton Mifflin Company). And it puts a whole new perspective on the Sherlock Holmes phenomena.

"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories, once hailed a cab in Paris. He climbed in with his bag, but before he could say a word, the driver said, 'Where to, Mr. Conan Doyle?'

'You recognize me? said the author in surprise.'

'No, I've never seen you.'

'Then how do you know I'm Conan Doyle?'

'Well,' the driver said, 'I've read in the newspapers that you were on vacation in the south of France; I noticed you getting off the train that came from Marseilles; I see you have a fan that bespeaks a week or more in the sun; from the ink spot on your right finger, I deduce you are a writer; you have the keen look of a medical man, and the clothes of an Englishman. I felt you must be Conan Doyle, the creator of the detective, Sherlock Holmes.'

Conan Doyle burst out, 'but you are yourself the equal of Sherlock Holmes since you recognized me from all these small observations.'

'There is,' the driver said, 'one additional fact.'

'And that is?'

'Your name is on the bag.' "

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