Friday, 10 November 2017

Sherlock, books, actors and other ramblings

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Sherlock Holmes Meiringen Reichenbach Falls Switzerland
Sherlock, Moriarty and me, across time, space, a Paget
drawing, and the fairy kingdom of romance (
Reichenbach
Falls, Switzerland).
Many years ago, I wrote an article for Fine Books and Collections called "Sherlock Holmes' near-death experience in Switzerland" that made it to Forbes Magazine's literary roundup for that week. "For any Sherlock Holmes follower, the serene Alps, with all its constant white glow and unwavering welcome, might only be a distraction from the need to keep an eye out for rocks being pushed deliberately and dark figures appearing out of nowhere. The Alps are a reminder of the famous detective’s ‘last days’ before the tragic encounter with his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty. The memorials erected in his name and the accessibility of stories in several languages have supported the popularity of Holmes for over one hundred and twenty years. As a devotee who spent years following the detective’s trail, first through the canon and whatever pastiche I could get hold of, then through travels, coming to Switzerland felt like the culmination, the highlight of my Holmesian adventure." Read my full article here.

I wanted to write about our most recent trip to the Alps (August 2017) and it's been in my saved
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Sherlock Holmes Meiringen Reichenbach Falls Switzerland
10 years of Meiringen
drafts for more than two months now. Not that I didn't know what to say, on the contrary, there are just so many things concerning Sherlock I could write about that it's often hard to choose. Moreover, I wanted to treat every Sherlock Holmes-related event in my life with utmost care, as they should be. The idea that books can shape one's destiny is very true in my case. I loved books, music, and films (mostly Hollywood) growing up. Memories of some films I saw and some actors I liked are now somehow coupled with horrible and frightening behind-the-scenes goings-on that just took away part of the magic of that childhood. There are old films I just love and it's like any day now I might hear a pronouncement of an actor that "during the filming of ___, so and so did this to me." This is when (fictional) books stand out. It's true that you would interpret a book differently in every phase of your life and when you have more experiences to compare it with. But, a fictional book is pure in such a way that, the events and characters are there, but you shape the settings and actors in your own mind. I try not to let the private life of an author ruin his fiction for me. I don't normally like fan fiction (Dame Jean Conan Doyle, Conan Doyle's daughter, wasn't a fan of pastiche) but with Sherlock, I just wanted more. I guess I was very secure in my reverence of him that I didn't mind how other authors added to the canon, but I personally think that the Holmes-Watson love angle is cliched. Point being is, I loved Sherlock from the books, and as a lover of anything Victorian, Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes appealed more to me because that series produced by Granada Television was true to the books. That said, the Sherlock Holmes of Conan Doyle's stories is, and will always be, the true Sherlock Holmes for me and no revelation about any actor who'd played him could ruin that.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Sherlock Holmes Meiringen Reichenbach Falls Switzerland
This old English church in Meiringen, Switzerland, houses 
the Sherlock Holmes Museum, including a faithful 

reconstruction of Holmes and Watson's living room at 221B 
Baker Street in London. It was carefully and authentically 
reconstructed according to clues that are to be found in the 
stories.
Only two months after flying into Scandinavia for a two-year graduate scholarship programme in 2005, I started working on my visas to visit the UK and Ireland. I had a Norwegian residence permit and could visit the Schengen territories but I was more interested to see Sherlock Holmes' London. Consider this, it was the first trip out of the island in the Philippines where I grew up and my first time to ride an aeroplane. If not for my scholarship, I would never have funds to travel. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd end up living in England, a dream I've had since childhood. I knew I would be back to my home country after my two years were up and I thought it was my only chance to visit England. Along with this mission were interconnected people and events in which the Sherlock Holmes books were the centre -- upon arriving in England, it was important that I also visit an English philatelist in Berkshire whom I've known (because of Sherlock Holmes stamps) since I was a teen and who generously sent me Sherlock-related memorabilia for almost a decade. He had promised to show me London but he wasn't well. So he sent his son to meet me at the hotel where I was staying, spent the day sightseeing in London and that night, the son and I drove to Berkshire together so I could meet my friend.

I hit it off with that son, Mike, and we now have two children :-) Mike became a catalyst for my Sherlock Holmes adventure and he took me all over England, to places that have something to do with Conan Doyle and the stories. Funny enough, it wasn't in England but in Meiringen, Switzerland, where I still dream of settling in someday, just to be close to Reichenbach Falls. Over the summer holidays, we took the kids to see Meiringen. It is undoubtedly one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's favourite towns as well. It didn't mean much to the kids, especially my younger one, but hopefully someday they'd appreciate how fun it was to "meet" Mr. Holmes away from London.

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