Measured Extravagance

2001-01-27 - 9:10 p.m.

Happiness is a mug of hot tea, a saucer of dried plums, Monteverdi's Altri Canti, and more Sarah Caudwell:

...I gathered that the joint oeuvre was designed to be in the romantic rather than the realist tradition.

"It's designed to make us pots of money," said Cantrip. "You can't do that if you don't ginger things up a bit."

"We are of course anxious," said Julia, "to appeal to as wide a public as possible, and it seems to us that the readers who want fiction to be like life are considerably outnumbered by those who would like life to be like fiction."

"But that doesn't mean it hasn't got verysmellitude," said Cantrip. "It's all based on real life, so it's going to have verysmellitude in bucketfuls."

I spent a good part of the afternoon at the Sherlock Holmes Pub in the company of The Nashville Scholars, consuming a steak-and-kidney pie and mistaking mashed peas for guacamole (which just goes to show you the kinds of bars I usually frequent...). The pub also stocks decaf Earl Grey, so I'm looking forward to returning for crumpets with jam some other mellow afternoon.

The table was heaped with books and magazines and papers and pins - my favorite exhibits were the issues of Collier's, with all those lovely line drawings and period ads (including one for a safe called "The Sleepless Watchman" manufactured in Columbus, if memory serves, purportedly endorsed by the Master himself).

I'm still trying to decide which Canonical Name I want to use with this group. Part of me wants to indulge in pawky humor and adopt the name of something non-existent. For instance, one of my favorite stories in the Canon is The Illustrious Client, and one of my favorite annotations in Baring-Gould is the observation that there is no such thing as a deep blue Ming saucer, so it would amuse me greatly to pose as such - if only it were actually mentioned in the story in those words. But it isn't. It appears as "a small object most delicately wrapped in some fine Eastern silk," "a delicate saucer," "a specimen of an absolutely unique set of Ming china," and simply "the Ming saucer" or "the precious saucer" -- none of which will quite do.

In a similar vein, I'm also tempted to apply for "erysipelas," after the infection falsely reported in the London papers to indicate Holmes' deteriorating condition. Or perhaps I could get away with styling myself as Holmes's hypothetical sister? ("And yet he would always wind up by muttering that no sister of his should ever have accepted such a situation." - The Copper Beeches)

But perhaps I should go for something half-obscure instead, like the literally obscured "the armorial bearings upon the panel" of Sir James Damery's coach, or "the letter back in the box" of The Second Stain. Or perhaps I should settle upon the personal association offered by "a remarkably fine emerald tie-pin" (given to Holmes in The Bruce-Partington Plans) - my birthstone being the emerald - but I'm also anti-monarchist, can I live with that association? Or perhaps "his monograph upon the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus" (hm, no, too long). Or perhaps "the dusty bottle of Imperial Tokay" (a/k/a "a remarkable wine") from His Last Bow, which would tie in nicely with the Peter Wimsey story about "The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste" as well as my own oenophilia... Or perhaps the "well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot" featured in the first chapter of The Hound of the Baskervilles? (But I think I've already seen that one used. Scratch that...)

Or perhaps I will just extract an identity from favorite quotes such as "Because you will find me a dangerous companion now" (from A Final Problem ... I wonder if anyone has already claimed "Reichenbach Falls"?...)

Or maybe I'll name myself Pompey or Toby after one of the Canonical pups.

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