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review 2018-02-10 18:15
Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection - Arthur Conan Doyle,Stephen Fry

An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction.

Not that I am in the least conventional in that respect myself. The rough-and-tumble work in Afghanistan, coming on the top of a natural Bohemianism of disposition, has made me rather more lax than befits a medical man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs.

I have always held, too, that pistol practice should be distinctly an open-air pastime; and when Holmes, in one of his queer humors, would sit in an arm-chair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.

Our chambers were always full of chemicals and of criminal relics which had a way of wandering into unlikely positions, and of turning up in the butter-dish or in even less desirable places.

Having read this, I am much relieved and encouraged that my own housekeeping is a little more organised than that at 221B. 


The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual is a bit different from other Holmes stories - and is very different from the TV adaptation (I'm talking about the Jeremy Brett one. It's always the Jeremy Brett one for me.)


As with the Adventure of the Gloria Scott, which was Holmes first "adventure", this one precedes Holmes meeting Watson for the Study in Scarlett. And, unusual also, this story is told by Holmes, not Watson. So, what we get is Watson recording Holmes own speech, and as a result the narration is a little more to the point than other stories. 

We also get to know Holmes a little better. 

“These are the records of your early work, then?” I asked. “I have often wished that I had notes of those cases.”

“Yes, my boy, these were all done prematurely before my biographer had come to glorify me.” He lifted bundle after bundle in a tender, caressing sort of way. “They are not all successes, Watson,” said he.

As for the mystery itself, there is quite a Gothic feel to it: an old estate in the country, which has been passed through the same family for hundreds of years, a treasure hunt, and a wronged woman. 


I mentioned that the TV adaptation is quite different to the original story. The plot is almost the same, but the characters - especially the relationship between Holmes and Mr. Musgrave - are quite different, which Mr. Musgrave being the source of some rather mean ridicule by Holmes. That is not really there in the story, and as a result, Holmes does not come across as an ass in the same way. I like the TV adaptation, apart from that particular aspect, and I have no idea why it was scripted like that.


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text 2018-01-31 21:06
Reading progress update: I've read 31%.
Lord Edgware Dies - Agatha Christie

‘Surely, Poirot, that has got no connection with this business.’

‘You are blind, Hastings, blind and wilfully obtuse. Do you not see that the whole thing makes a pattern? A pattern confused at present but which will gradually become clear…’

I felt Poirot was being over-optimistic. I did not feel that anything would ever become clear. My brain was frankly reeling.

Oh, Hastings, you magnificent, long-suffering soul.

I'm loving this book. It is a lot of fun.

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review 2018-01-26 22:50
Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection - Arthur Conan Doyle,Stephen Fry

“How, then, did you know of it?”

“My dear fellow, you know my methods.”

“You deduced it, then?”


“And from what?”

“From your slippers.”

I glanced down at the new patent leathers which I was wearing. “How on earth--” I began, but Holmes answered my question before it was asked.

There are a lot of little things that make a long-term buddy read like this one of the complete Sherlock Holmes canon so rewarding. Having time to read each story without rush, having a friend to bounce ideas off or do research with or just have fun with are some of the best parts of course. However, I also like the way that this particular project has lead to a little Friday night ritual: I get home from work, make supper and pour a mug or glass of something to settle down with and open up the next of Holmes' adventures, then exchange thoughts with my reading buddy.


Why am I bringing this up?


The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk is not a brilliant story. It evokes a sense of deja vu with a plot that features a young man who is offered a post of employment that he is not obviously qualified for, that is paid at a rate that he can't refuse, and that sounds too good to be true. Our young stockbroker's clerk may not have a fine full head of read hair but the feel of this story strongly reminds of The Red-Headed League. There is not the same sense of fun or mystery about this story, and yet, it is a solid story that is filled with comfort - starting with the usual exchange between Holmes and Watson, Holmes exposing his method to Watson, and both of them departing on an adventure shortly after.


While the story is not brilliant, the comfort factor is the same as having a little ritual to look forward to at the end of the working week. And just as I have mine featuring the Holmes stories, I can see how ACD's readers of the original Strand articles might have felt that same way - looking forward to the publication of the next story, maybe reading the story on the commute back home or once they get home, or after dinner. 

I have no idea why it is this story, not any of the previous ones, that makes me imagine a sense of community with ACD's original readers. Maybe it is because I had to think whether it matters that ACD re-used a previous idea (with a different twist...), and how the serialisation of the stories in a magazine could have affected ACD's choice of story - or length of story.  


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review 2018-01-10 07:25
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski

2018:  I re-read this book as part of the Flat Book Society's group read.  I don't want to review it twice, so I'm re-posting my original review.  My feelings about this book stand, and moreover, it holds up on re-reading very well.  




2017:  A pretty excellent book for anyone who gets a bit giddy about science and the everyday ways that science is part of everyone's life.


Czerski has a very accessible voice and a very clear way of explaining what are at times complex topics, and she covers the gamut:  electromagnetism, water tension, viscosity, plate tectonics, and Newton's laws of motion (I'm old-school) among them.  I learned so much about so many things and those that I had a basic understanding of, she elucidated in ways that really brought the concepts to life in better detail.  I had no idea that an electromagnet was what held down the tray in my toaster - did y'all know that?  That's why the tray doesn't stay down when the toaster is unplugged.  


So much of this book got read out loud to MT, who is not a lover of science, but even he found the bits I shared fascinating (he was equally surprised about the toaster), and there were so many suggestions throughout the book that can easily be done at home; I plan to do several of them with my nieces when next they are here - including building our own trebuchet.  


Honestly, anyone interested in science but might feel intimidated by the often tedious or complex explanations, or anyone who just thinks the science involved in the every day fascinating will get a lot out of this book.  Czerski often gets auto-biographical with her narrative, but she is a physicist, so why wouldn't she use her own experiences to illustrate her points?  (For the record, MT and I both think she and her friends got totally screwed on the whole trebuchet debacle.)


Overall, a lot of fun.


PS:  oh, yes, the trebuchet will happen!

Source: www.sciencebuddies.org/blog/mini-trebuchet-science
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text 2018-01-09 23:25
Reading progress update: I've read 301 out of 301 pages.
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski

Oh, I really liked this book.

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