08 June 2006

Tea and Sherlock

One of the most famous fictional characters in history would have to be Sherlock Holmes. Invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes' deductive reasoning and amazing powers of observation have never been duplicated. The most recent character bearing a resemblance to him, in my opinion, is Dr. House, played by Hugh Laurie. The ability to solve problems by paying attention to small details, the attitude problems, the chemical dependencies...do I detect a pattern here? Sherlock Holmes' name has been linked to sarcastic reactions to stupid questions much in the same way Einstein's name is used.

As many books as I've devoured throughout the years, I have yet to complete a volume of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I got through much of "A Study in Scarlet" but got bored when the subject matter turned to Mormon history. Perhaps I'll return to it in the future, I don't know. I know the bulk of the stories from the wonderful series presented in the US on PBS's Mystery! program.

It was a teatime tradtion in my house for a while. On Saturday nights, my sisters and I joined my mom at the table for tea and Clue (the board game.) After this, we'd watch Mystery with my Dad. Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, all good. Sherlock Holmes, played by Jeremy Brett, accompanied by two different Dr. Watsons, was my favorite.

In my preteen years it was all I could do to understand the plot, but my burgeoning anglophilia kept me fascinated. I loved Jeremy Brett's portrayal. With his acquiline nose, rolling r's, brief smile twitchings and maniacal outbursts, I had one of my early crushes on a much older man. (At one point I felt that way for Reagan and the president of Astoria Federal Savings Bank, but I was only like six and didn't really have a clear perspective.) I loved the cobblestone streets, the room at 221B Baker Street, the Victorian/Edwardian clothes, though the women's clothing left something to be desired. The violin opening of the show - I should have that as a ringtone.

On our first trip to London my sister Pam and I went to 221B Baker Street, and like many other tourists were dismayed to see an Abbey National Bank. I never met their president, but I'm sure he was fine... still we sent a Sherlock Holmes postcard home, purchased from the requisite museum across the street.

In the summer of 1995 my Dad had back surgery, and was in the hospital for the weekend. Bon was away and Pam wasn't living at home, so I had the place to myself. So I had my friend Cindy over for a night. I made herbal tea, and we watched Sherlock Holmes videos late into the night. Someone else was hooked.

That September Cindy came up to me and said she heard that the guy who played Sherlock Holmes was dead. I couldn't believe it. Can't I be into anything involving living persons? I was sad, and hardly watched the videos for years. (Jeremy Brett died of a heart attack. He'd been sick before that, notably suffering from bipolar disorder, especially after the death of his second wife.)

Recently my Dad and I have had a Sherlock Holmes marathon going on. Last night I watched "The Hound of the Baskervilles." I still love him, I say him because to me Jeremy Brett was Sherlock Holmes. I've never been into Brett's character on "My Fair Lady" because it's too different. Well, I guess he was a good actor, if much underrated.

And I still love curling up with a cup of (usually herbal) tea while watching him (I mean, the show, I think.)


Marie said...

Ah...nice memories. President of Astoria Federal????

Arun said...

Jeremy Brett was a very masterly Holmes. Have you read the book "Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes" by David Stuart Davies.

This book is a recommended read for fans of Jeremy Brett.

Check out my review .