Friday, May 31, 2024

Is There An Archimedes In The House?

As you know, if you've read some of my posts on here lately, I've struggled with remaining in the Sherlockian hobby. I still am, but I'm working on it. I have left behind many a-hobby in the past few years, and I'm looking for something that really sparks me. This still does, but I tire of some of the sillier things that happen when you get too many humans together in a passionate pursuit. But, without going into specifics, please know that I am not referring to my fellow chronologists. They've been very encouraging and patient with me, and I am grateful. Even with my being unsure, I still want to write a blog post for you. It's not going to be deeply chronological, but more of a glimpse into the aspect of what I do here that interests me most.
I've been collecting books about the Victorian era for decades. I have so many that I'm out of room for more. (I may have to clear out others just to add to them.) The reason is that I love that time period. I was clearly born in the wrong time. I love picking them up and browsing through them. I realized, though, that I had a lot of them that I had never even given the opportunity to tell me what they held. So, I grabbed one of them off the shelf called More Wanderings in London by E. (Edward) V. (Verrall) Lucas and published in 1916. It's the follow-up to A Wanderer in London from ten years before. (He also had ones for Venice, Paris, Holland, and Florence.) It's an old library copy, and the mark on the back cover shows it was against a bookend and near a light source for waaaaay too long. See the picture below.
All of my books were bought with the idea that each one might have information in it which would help in my endeavor here. This particular one surprised me with a fact on the first opening - "I might mention that St. Mary Le Bone is not, as some have thought, a corruption of Le Bonne, but it has reference to the Bourne, the stream also called Tybourn, which once flowed here." Well, I was not aware of that. I don't know if it could help date a Sherlock Holmes case, but it's a cool tidbit. In a later chapter I find something more of note...
"Pancras is like Marylebone, Marylebone is like Paddington; all the streets resemble each other, you must read the names of the squares before you venture to knock at a door. The amount of building capital ought to have produced a great city...Marylebone alone ought to have produced a revolution in our domestic architecture. It did nothing. It was built by Act of Parliament. Parliament prescribed even a fa├žade. It is Parliament to whom we are indebted for your Gloucester Places, and Baker Streets, and Harley Streets, and Wimpole Streets, and all those flat, dull, spiritless streets, resembling each other like a large family of plain children, with Portman Square for their respectable parents...The power that produced Baker Street as a model for street architecture in its celebrated Building Act, is the power that prevented Whitehall from being completed, and which sold to foreigners all the pictures which the King of England had collected to civilise his people."
The above, though in this book, is from Tancred by Benjamin Disreali. Tancred was published in 1847, and ol' Ben was really not impressed with London's architects at the time. It would've continued, I suspect, since the buildings on those streets remained largely unchanged by the time Holmes and Watson arrived in the early 1880's. It does make me wonder if Holmes chose the place because of the simpleness. The elementary nature of them. (See, it's all connected. Heck, maybe the first time Holmes said the infamous non-canonical line to Watson was if The Good Doctor asked The Great Detective why he chose such a drab setting to live in. "Because they're elementary, my dear Watson.")
Every page in a book like this has something that anyone interested in history would find fascinating. I read a good chunk of it, but didn't find a lot I felt could be used in what we do in the Sherlockian Chronologist Guild. I suppose I could make some extreme leaps and tie something obscure to a case, but that isn't what we need. We require hard evidence and facts. Things that directly affect a date have to have substance. That's what all of the other books are for. One, or more, of them has to have something in it that can be utilized in our struggle. So, I'll keep reading. They should supply me with plenty of posts to come.
You know, I had a light-bulb moment while editing this. For over a decade now I have felt the importance of bringing you the Sherlockian chronology world. I understood that there were so few people reporting on this part of the hobby, and even fewer places to find information. I never took that lightly. I'm not quitting this blog or my work, but I think I can safely take it down a notch. We have so many more voices in on the journey. So many great minds with fresh eyes are coming in and making themselves known. The future of our subset is in good hands. I can look in from the fringes and have a little more fun with all of this. Our very own newsletter, TIMELINE, has now become the sun for our little universe. Everything revolves around it, and it should because it's a great publication.
I find this revelation to be a great thing for me. Not only do I get to keep enjoying bringing you these posts about the far corners of the Sherlockian chronology world, but I get to do it with a lighter touch. Sort of like that reporter on the mid-morning news who gets to travel to all the odd and unique places around the area. The biggest difference is I get to do it for a time period from over 125 years ago. I think I love this. And I'm so glad the idea came to me. I think I'll have a nice dinner to celebrate. I'd ask you to join me, but I have research to do. So, I'll say goodday here, and look forward to our time together next month. See you then, and as always...thanks for reading.