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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The Adventures...

... of Sherlock Holmes. Favourite Christmas stories abound, but mine is undoubtedly 'The Blue Carbuncle' , a classic in the canon. How can one resist:

 'I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, with the intention of wishing him the compliments of the season. He was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, near at hand. Beside the couch was a wooden chair, and on the angle of the back hung a very seedy and disreputable hard felt hat, much the worse for wear, and cracked in several places ...'

First published in The Strand Magazine in January 1892, the story is full of late Victorian London Christmas characters, including a marvellous ill-tempered goose seller - Breckinridge - at Covent Garden market, who exclaims at one point, 'I don't care if you are the King of Proosia!'. It also includes a down at heel academic/antiquarian - Henry Baker - who drinks too heavily. Baker drank at the 'Alpha Inn', Museum Street, and many years after I first read the story as a boy, I came to drink in the same pub, which is, in reality, The Museum Tavern. Baker is the innocent of the story, but at one point he is offered the remains of a goose he had bought and lost; he replies, 'I can hardly see what use the disjecta membra of my late acquaintance are going to be to me...'. What a term - 'disjecta membra' ! First found in Horace's Satires, and, later, according to my Oxford edition of Sherlock Holmes (published in 1993), mistranslated by that other Victorian great (wargamer), Robert Louis Stevenson, disjecta membra seems to be appropriate to so much in life; for example:

What you see above, on the top of my wargames' cabinet, are the disjecta membra of my 2012 projects. I wonder how many will be revived in 2013, and how many will languish for another year?

But, for the moment, my attention is focused on this Christmas present:

Another of 4Ground's marvellous North American series. 


  1. Super looking building and interesting to see what part of your Smaug-like wargaming hoard looks like.
    I too am starting to look towards 2013 and see what it holds in the way of hobby plans-probably too many irons in the fire...

    1. Yes, you are quite right - 'part of' my Smaug-like hoard. From the top of the cabinet the boxes often graduate to the dark cave of the loft - to join the real hoard.

  2. A fine tottering pile on the cupboard, does it ever come crashing down? I always felt rather sorry for Baker and his termagant wife who has neglected to brush his hat (and thus ceased to love him)....imagine that. Suffering from lack of sleep at the moment, when one child goes to sleep, the other wakes up and makes a racket.

    1. No, but there is every chance that the whole thing will come crashing down as the floor dips alarmingly - a rotten joist end apparently...

      Yes, I feel sorry for Baker - especially that he is forced to sell his books for his grog. O me miserum!

      I was rather amused by your predicament - it was the idea of a boy 'racket' that I liked. Perhaps the Xmas excitement might abate over the next few days.

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