One of the lessons one learns from cable television is that there are Desperate Housewives everywhere. However, there was none as desperate as I was on New Year’s Day 2014 and while we were not in search of the same thing, no housewife in New York, Dallas or Beverley Hills was as frantic as I was to find the object of my desire. This was no mere act of desperation akin to Desperately Seeking Susan but I spent several Desperate Hours and took many Desperate Measures looking for a particular object of my desire. While many consulting detectives spend most of their time looking for people, I spent a lot of time trying to find one particular member of the species—a man named Sherlock.
New Year’s Day was the start of Sherlock Series Three and I was home for Holmes. Even though it was due to start on BBC1 at 4.45 p.m. Caribbean time, I was on the computer from early o’clock combing the web to see if I could find it. Initially this was my backup plan since I had asked my local cable supplier in Antigua to help me out by looking for a Holmes, something Brook Benton’s boll weevil might have considered an option to pesticide. Eventually I caught “site” of Sherlock and my day was made. Despite the gross inadequacy of Antigua’s Internet services, and with many breaks in transmission caused by the need to buffer, I was still able to see enough not just to make my day but to make my year.
Sherlock is a British television crime drama that is based (up to a point) on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories featuring “Consulting Detective” Sherlock Holmes, his partner Dr John Watson and their support to London’s Metropolitan Police, most times in the person of Inspector Lestrade. Holmes, with his deer-stalker hat and microscope, first burst on the crime scene in 1887. He was subsequently featured in four novels and 56 short stories, all of which can be found in my library, or on my Kindle software, my phone, my computers and, most of all, somewhere in my head wherever good memories reside.
I first met Sherlock when I was 12 years old and since then, having found Sherlock, I explore the mysteries of life looking for clues. So far I have found many that have led me up all kinds of garden paths and thorny byways but have never found any that takes me closer to wisdom or understanding. This is already the story of my life.
Sherlock’s is different, even in death. When, despite his cocaine addiction and many experiments on Watson’s dog “Gladstone”, Sherlock arrived in heaven, he was able to make the same almighty impact that he had on earth. Immediately upon his arrival, Sherlock was invited to consult with St Peter.
Adam, the first human, was missing, Eve was distraught and heaven was in an uproar. With his usual brusqueness Holmes went about his business and tracked down Adam very quickly. The Lord asked Holmes how he recognised Adam among the millions of souls, without ever having met him. Eschewing the opportunity to make his standard point “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”, Holmes said condescendingly, “Elementary, my dear God, he has no navel.”
Sherlock Holmes is fiction’s master observer of the passing parade. For example, in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he says, “Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence.
“If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.”
There is a Sherlock Holmes revival happening these days. In addition to the three seasons of Sherlock (sold to 200 countries and watched by many millions around the world), there were two Sherlock movies starring Robert Downey Jr, and an American television series now in its second season on CBS called Elementary, not after the highest level of education Sherlock attained, but from an interchange between Watson and Holmes (“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.) Holmes never said, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”
This leads to Watson’s elementary error of reasoning. Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson (guess which one) went on a camping trip and eventually retired to their tent for the night.
Early in the morning, Holmes nudged Watson and asked, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?” Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.” Holmes queried, “And, what does that tell you?” Watson responded, “Theologically, it tells me that God is great and we are small and insignificant; horologically, it tells me that it’s about 5 a.m. and meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?” Holmes retorts, “Someone stole our tent while we were asleep.”
• Tony Deyal was last seen saying Holmes and Watson were lucky. Inspector Lestrade was just about to arrest them for loitering