WITH A MORE THAN AFFECTIONATE NOD TO MYLES NaGOPALEEN’S KEATS & CHAPMAN
No. 49. The Baffling Case of the Siamese Cheese Wand
It was New Years Eve, midway through the cruel winter of 1893 and as the chill wind rattled the window frames, world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Dr. Watson luxuriated before a roaring log fire in their rooms at 221B Baker St. Whilst Watson flipped through the December edition of Tittilating Trifles, Holmes puffed contentedly on his pipe and busied himself with his magnifying glass, deciphering some Ancient Egyptian heiroglyphics. It was Watson who broke the studious silence.
“It says here Holmes,”’ he said, reading from the pages of the popular magazine, “that during the recent outbreak of catastrophic flooding in the West Country, Cornish farmer Tom Runcible, whose home had been torn from its foundations by the raging torrents of the swollen River Fowey, managed to save his own life and that of his family by urging them to cling on to bits of the only room in the house left floating. He himself held on to the wooden sink and draining board, and was able to drink fresh water from the still-attached taps, whilst his wife clung to the dresser drawer she used for hoarding brown paper and elastic bands. His two sons, Raoul and Mahatma, survived by lashing themselves to the kitchen table and eating small pieces of bacon rind which had accumulated underneath, until they were all eventually rescued. It’s utterly astonishing don’t you think Holmes, that only one room survived whilst the rest of the house, the bedrooms, the lounge, the bathrooms….all disappeared without trace. Washed miles out to sea probably”.
A faint trace of irritation scuttled like a tiny beetle across the detective’s normally inscrutable brow. The unmistakably pungent odour of Tutenkahmen’s Fine Olde Pharoe No.2 Shag suddenly filled the room as Holmes removed the famous cherrywood briar from his face and exhaled a thick cloud of foul, acrid smoke with a hiss. Without lifting his gaze from the Egyptian scrolls, the great man spoke:
“Everything but the kitchen sank” he declared, before clamping the the burning briar back between his teeth and resuming his studies.
His faithful companion carefully folded and replaced the copy of Tittilating Trifles in the magazine rack, sat back in his chair and said nothing. Behind a mask of buddha-like serenity he mentally rehearsed the action he intended to take the next time the great sleuth visited the lavatory. The doctor’s vengeful plan, fuelled as it was by high dudgeon and incandescent umbrage, was mean-spirited in the extreme. Without going into detail, it involved the conjunction of the stem of Sherlock Holmes’ famous cherrywood pipe, and the interior of Dr.Watson’s dark and mysterious anus.
No. 27. The Incendiary Tale of the Libellous Fireman
It was December 24th and a light carpet of Christmas snow had settled over chilly Baker Street. In the cosy study of number 221B, Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson luxuriated in large leather armchairs in front of the flickering log fire after a most agreeable meal of cold salmon, devilled kidneys and Ouefs Caledonia.
Holmes puffed contentedly on his pipe as he studied some rare criminal case histories whilst Dr Watson flicked idly through his copy of The Tatler. The fire crackled. It was Watson who finally broke the post-prandial silence.
“I see our friend Lord Fahaha is in the Tatler’s society column again,” said the doctor.
Holmes appeared to be engrossed in his reading, but his left eyebrow twitched at the mention of the infamous gossip-rag.
“It seems” continued Watson, “that his Lordship has got himself attached to some showgirl again, in this instance a Miss Renata Shazami, a hypnotist and conjuror with The Hartlepool State circus. According to The Tatler, he has become so enamoured with this woman that it was only the intervention of his uncle Ramases the Third Earl of Tralulu, which prevented him from allowing his two sons, Tiberius and Caligula, to assist Miss Shazami in the performance of her magic act.”
Feigning indifference, the world famous detective coolly tapped his equally famous briar on the fire grate and replenished its cherrywood bowl with a plug of Tutankhamun’s Fine Old Pharoe No.2 Shag, from his Morroccan moleskin tobacco pouch.
“Are you not astonished,” Watson went on, “that a chap of Lord Mahaha’s impeccable breeding could be so easily swayed as to allow his beloved and only heirs to facilitate the performance of some cheap vaudeville entertainer? A performance incidentally which apparently concludes with the sawing in two of both her assistants! Does it not strike you as wholly bizzarre Holmes? Are these the actions of a rational, highly educated man?”
Holmes took a long luxuriant puff of his pipe, exhaled and without looking up from his book remarked casually from behind the noxious black cloud: “He wanted her to halve his children.”
Watson, seething, bit his lip and mentally recited the Hippocratic Oath. But his patience was amply rewarded when Holmes turned to attend to the dying fire with a fresh log.
Using the detective’s violin as a spatula, the doctor carefully slipped a lightly poached egg into Holmes’s tobacco pouch.
No. 32. The Remarkable Case of the Reconstituted Artichoke
Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Dr.Watson were enjoying a hard-earned weekend in Margate. Watson perambulated gaily along the thronged promenade, his light step and rolling gait betraying not only the spiritual rejuvenation engendered by the sea air, but also the sheer exhileration of the pair’s temporary escape from the stuffy confines of 221b Baker St.
Holmes, conversely, preferred a brisk military march. Puffing manically on his distinctive cherrywood briar he casually inflicted a pungent cloud of his specially blended mixture, Tutenkhamen’s Fine Olde Pharoe No.2 Shag, on each passing stroller.
Frustrated by Holmes’ reluctance to engage in frippery, and noting the first drops of an impending shower, Watson dodged into a nearby joke shop, so that he might indulge his childlike fondness for novelty items. Emerging half an hour later, he located Holmes in a cosy teashop where he had taken refuge from the pouring rain. With a look of intense concentration, the damp detective was studying a dismembered starfish through a magnifying glass. Watson entered, just as several customers with small children were leaving hurredly. He ordered a pot of tea and idly picked up a copy of The Margate Examiner lying nearby; whereupon his eyes alighted on a story.
“Good heavens Holmes!” he cried suddenly, “Old Monty Bowman’s bought it!”
Holmes looked up, irritated. His ample eyebrows seemed, momentarily, to be trying to change places with each other as he attempted to comprehend these words. Watson appeared perplexed. “My dear chap, you must remember old Monty….tall with a stoop, went to Eton, slight stammer…… his mother was the Times’ gossip columnist who married Randolph Ghillespie, the fake Russian orthodontist. Turned out to be a bit of a cad and a terrible man for the horses and the cards apparently.”
Holmes’ somewhat sarcastic expression informed his companion that, although the world famous sleuth had made a thorough search of his mental filing system, no-one by the name of Monty Bowman dwelt there.
“According to The Examiner” continued Watson bravely, “he was celebrating a big win at the roulette table with some friends in a suite on the third floor of the very hotel we are saying in, when he happened to spot a cat patrolling friskily on the ledge outside his window. Its acrobatic nimbleness fascinated the impulsive Monty so much that in his champagne-induced reverie, he decided to join the beast on the balcony. To his friends’ horrified amusement he frolicked with the cat on the ledge, me-owing and matching its every move, but suddenly tragedy struck. In the middle of this human-feline pas de deux, he trod on a half eaten mouse, slipped, and plunged to his death on the pavement below. Poor old Monty. A salutory reminder don’t you think Holmes, of the tendency of alcohol to encourage reckless bravado?”
Holmes put down his magnifying glass and relit his pipe, driving the two remaining customers out of the cafe and into the pelting Margate monsoon. Expelling a perfect smoke ring which hung in the air like a toxic hula hoop, he declared drily; Its a mog’s game, gambolling.
Watson, utilising all his strength of character, waited patiently until the sleuth’s notoriously weak bladder forced him to visit the gentlemen’s lavatory; whereupon, with the understated grace of a professional conjuror, he sprinkled a teaspoonful of Sneezo, the sneezing powder he had purchased earlier, into the detective’s unattended cocaine pouch.