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Dr John Hawkins

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Posted on 2006/01/27 05:22:27 (January 2006).

[Thursday 26th January]
It had been quite a tough week thus far, and I felt I really needed a complete rest in the evening. Thankfully I managed to leave work at a sensible time for a change, giving me plenty of time to just veg out. I did have one minor task to deal with though - our new curtains had arrived in the daytime, and had been put in a delivery locker by the entrance to our apartment building. As Chie was out for the evening I had to fathom how to open the locker thing by myself - and of course the instructions were all in Japanese. It took several attempts, but somehow or other I got there in the end, and then dutifully went about unpacking and hanging up the new curtains. It is crazy to think back that we have now been in that apartment for over a month, and only had a single set of curtains (which weren't even the right size) to cover both sets of windows at the back of the flat.

I made a simple dinner for myself - a potato and spinach gratin, with some salad, and then wiled away the evening with Holmes and Watson, both on DVD and in the more conventional written form. Today I finally finished reading the last story in The Complete Sherlock Holmes (I had read them a bit out of order, so I finished on "The Second Stain"). This means I've now read every Holmes novel and short story ever written (50 or 60 in total).

It's sort of sad to have come to the end really, particularly as I hadn't actually read any of these books as a kid. My only real knowledge of Holmes and Watson had been from films and TV, and even then I realised I actually hardly knew any of the plots. I am sure I'm not unique in this - it is interesting just how pervasive and well known this famous duo are, and yet many people, like me six months ago, have never actually read any of the stories. So yes, kind of sad to be at the end of that now - I will never be able to read these stories "for the first time" again.

Still, at least I still have a good chunk of the DVDs left to watch!

Comment 1

Well done re Sherlock! And don't the J Brett versions stand up well? I know Brett was driven half mad playing the part (along with the death of his wife) but doesn't his interpretation just "shine" somehow?

Posted by Nigel at 2006/01/27 09:17:51.

Comment 2

Yes I agree Nigel, Brett really is fantastic as Sherlock. So far I have watched just over half of the DVDs - I think that corresponds to the first two of the four series (Adventures and Return), so still have the other two series (Casebook and Memoirs).

Embarrasingly, I now realise in the first two series I must have seen both of the two actors who played Doctor Watson (David Burke and Edward Hardwicke), and am not quite so sure I noticed the difference. People often say that Hardwicke was a more practical Watson, whereas Burke veered a little bit more towards the former big screen interpretation as a bit of comic relief. I think I would have to go back again and watch more closely to see the difference, but on the first run through I was just busy being absorbed in the wonderful atmoshpere of it all, and didn't really want to analyse it too much.

Some of the rest of the acting is a little, well, shakey at times. Maybe partly that is just a 1980s thing - I think "hammy" was not necessarily such a bad thing in that era! Still, Brett and Burke/Hardwicke were always really good, even though at times I got the impression they were gently poking fun at the whole thing. Having said that, the occasional bit of dubious acting certainly didn't spoil it for me.

Let's face it, Sherlock Holmes is not really intended to be particularly high brow entertainment, it's mainly pure escapism, which just happens to have a healthy dose of comedy thrown in now and again. Although apparently Conan Doyle claims in his autobigraphy that Watson never made a single joke, I can't help but finding both the books and the TV series to be totally hilarious at times. I'm not laughing at either of them either, in the way a cheaply made B movie might be funny. Its Holmes and Watson's utterly gung ho attitude to everything that I find so amusing, the way they often flout the law (because it is generally an inconvenience to them) and the way they consider themselves to be above everyone else - when the Prime Minister comes to Holmes in person for help in The Second Stain, Holmes inititally tells him to sod off, because he won't give him the information he wants. It's that quiet feeling of superiority - and the wonderful comraderie - (the "it's me and you versus the world, Watson") mentality) about it all that I really love.

One of my other favourite things is the way they rely on brandy for just about any medical ailment - Watson, apparently a man of medicine, often seems to administer it personally. Given that Conan Doyle was also a medical man, I would have thought he would have been aware, even in those days, that the "medicinal properties" of high strength alcohol were on slightly shakey grounds... So I couldn't help but wonder if this was half intended as a joke, especially towards the end of the stories...

- He's suffering from severe exhaustion!
- Quick, give him brandy!

- The dog's bitten his arm off!
- Quick, give him brandy!

He's been poisoned!
- Quick, give him brandy!

...etc. Marvellous.

Posted by John at 2006/01/29 05:37:30.

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