(Editor's Note: The Diogenes Club is pleased to welcome Judith Crowther as our first guest writer, and to present her first submission for your enjoyment.)
Go back in time: I’m thirteen; I have chicken pox; I am bored, miserable and spotty. I don’t know what to do with myself and I hate the world. I’ve been driving my parents mad with my whining, but all that changes with a visit to my sickbed from my father. He is carrying a bulky, buff-coloured paperback, which he hands to me with the words ‘There you go--that will cheer you up’. I look at the cover: the Penguin edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I’m aware of Sherlock Holmes, of course I am. I’m a precocious teenager with a voracious appetite for books. I’ve watched Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce pace around spooky moorland looking for gigantic hounds. But read the stories? No, that hasn’t occurred to me.
I know that my father is a passionate Sherlockian and is dying to get one of his children to feel the same way; so I take the book and promise I’ll give it a try. I open it, read the preface and then launch into ‘A Study in Scarlet’.
How can I best explain the effect the story had on me? As with all the best stories, I was instantly hooked, gripped, absolutely lost in the world that Conan Doyle created. By the end of ‘A Study in Scarlet’ I was in love with Sherlock Holmes, with Dr Watson, with 221b Baker Street... I too was a Sherlockian.
That love has never left me. That book accompanied me to university (to read English, of course), through marriage, through motherhood and all through all the other things that life entails. I return to it again and again for enlightenment, for sheer pleasure and, most recently, to dig through source material to enjoy all the canonical references in Sherlock, the brilliant modern BBC version of the stories,
My love for Sherlock Holmes encompasses the original source material, pastiches, films and television drama. From Jeremy Brett's quirky, magisterial champion of Good in the Granada TV series, to Michael Dibdin’s deranged killer in his novel The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, I can find a place in my heart for all of them.
So, thank you Dad. You’re gone, and I miss you, but you gave me great gifts: the love of reading, and the love of that genius of observation and deduction, Mr Sherlock Holmes.
Judith Crowther (@jcrowther9)