Victorians Mess with 21C Expectations

Punch Magazine‘s 1905 intuitive fantasy includes earbuds

Caption: “Dance when and where you like. Choose your own time and tune.” (Note EARBUDS on dancers’ heads and “boom boxes” conveniently strapped to backs in October 1905 Punch Magazine.) In the same year, tiny chalk dancers lead to violence and murder when Hilton Cubitt asks Holmes to decipher their meaning in The Adventure of the Dancing Men.

As The Naval Treaty, concerning Watson’s friend, Tadpole Phelps and his fiancée, is published in 1893, this poem pokes fun at wedding customs in The Star Newspaper of Guernsey, an UK island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. The poem was anonymous, but also front page.

When a man and maiden marry, hearts of lead their friends all carry.

Custom as they know demands, costly presents at their hands;

Ostentation, too, coerces, so they empty out their purses–

Fearful lest their names be missed from that always published list.

But in private, in a passion they denounce the sordid fashion

Crying in most bitter strain, “Only fancy, fleeced again.”

Bah, ’tis an event to dread, when a man and maiden wed.

Punch Magazine 1905

In Punch Magazine 1905, a man discovers that both his wife and mother-in-law have acquired bicycles (including all the gear) and are ready to accompany him on his ride. He is not overcome with “unmixed delight,” as Oscar Wilde would put it. In the Adventure of the Priory School, Holmes reveals that he has made a study of 42 types of bicycle treads. His knowledge of Dunlop and Palmer tires provides clues.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable coming soon from Propertius Press* and Susanne Dutton

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at the rundown Le Dieppe Clinic and Sanatorium on the Normandy coast. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the detective’s scribbled response churns desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.