To the Master:From author A. C. Doyle, to Holmes' figurative Boswell John Watson, we have followed the Master once more to the Bar of Gold.
The Denizens are joined here in upper Swandam Lane to delight in the pleasures of the evening.
We have been conjoined by the beggar of Threadneedle who has little knowledge of us and our ways.
Unfortunately, there are many poor devils unable to join us tonight as we investigate (the story of the evening).
We owe much to the players who have found their way to 221B and as a result have enriched our lives by bringing us to these tables.
So, welcome Denizens as we lift out glasses to the Master, his supporting cast, and the "Grand Illusion".
To Hugh BooneAs we sit here tonight, we must feel some affinity with that fixture of Threadneedle Street, Hugh Boone, for here is a man who straddled two worlds. During the day he was the poorest of the poor. A disfigured and lame beggar living on the charity of London's bankers, he had no possessions beyond the few pence in his cap and the poor matches he pretended to sell. His address was a disreputable bar, an opium den no less, and the "vilest murder-trap on the whole riverside". Yet by night he was a respected businessman with an income of 700 pounds a year. He owned a large house in Kent, had a beautiful wife, and two lovely children.
We "other" denizens of the Bar of Gold are likewise ones who live in two worlds. When the night draws to a close and we leave the confines of this our Bar of Gold, we will become again men and women of twenty-first century America. We will again face its problems, hopes and fears. For tonight, however, we live in a different world. We are all, for this night, Londoners and "her Gracious Majesty" again occupies the throne.
So, let us lift up our glasses to our guiding light, the man who shows us, as much as any in the Canon, that one can live comfortably in two different worlds. I give you Hugh Boone.
A Toast to Jeremy Brett:
"It is not easy to express the inexpressible," said the man who introduced Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes.
Nor is it easy to pinpoint why the late, lamented Jeremy Brett set a standard for portrayals of Holmes.
But for us disciples of observation, inference, and deduction, there are clues:-The way he made a point, or dismissed an argument with a wave--nay, a flourish--of his nimble hand;
-The mercurial way he transformed himself, before our very eyes, from lanquid, melancholy victim of ennui into the keen, bustling investigator once the game was afoot;
-The economy with which his plastic face registered amusement, contempt, disappointment, irony, indignation and a dozen other reactions to the imperfection of the human condition;
-The glimpses he gave us of the passion that lurked within the ascetic intellectual.
-Just as a score and more of men played Sherlock Holmes on film before Jeremy Brett came along, there will be others. And we will watch them avidly, for our first allegiance is to Holmes. But even as we do, we will glimpse, out of the corners of our eyes, the ghost of the man who mastered the Master.
A Toast to the Woman
TO SHERLOCK HOLMES she is always the woman.I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer&endash;excellent for drawing the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.
Here's to Irene Adler, of Dubious fame
Who epitomized lovers who play the great game;
To our Sherlock she stands at the very apex:
In his eyes she eclipses the whole of her sex.
She's the daintiest thing 'neath a bonnet on earth
And a prima contralto who knows what she's worth;
At the Opera in Warsaw she was much admired,
Then she sang at La Scala and quietly retired.
In a villa called Briony Lodge she resides
With a coachman and servant in whom she confides;
There's a lock made by Chubb and a garden in back,
But the window locks even a moron could crack!
"In a neat little landau she goes for a drive
Every day for two hours beginning at five,"
Say the ostlers who gather in Serpentine Mews
To the drunk-looking groom with an ear for the news.
All the horsey men say there's a man in her life,
And they say he has plans for to make her his wife!
He's a dark, handsome, dashing young barrister man,
And he'll tame this adventuress if anyone can.
To the Church of St. Monica off they did flee
But in separate vehicles: one, two and three!
If one counted the grooms in the church, there were two:
There was one at the altar and one in the pew!
We all know the events that did shortly transpire:
Of the clergyman, smoke rocket, shouting of "Fire!"
How the lady revealed where the photo was hid,
And then went in disguise to undo what she did.
So the King was relieved and could marry at will,
And we all have a penchant for Sherlock, but still...
It's the woman who outsmarted Holmes we like most,
So to Irene Norton, nee Adler, we toast.
To the woman!
Denizens of the Bar of Gold,
Cambridge, Maryland, 18 October 2003
-Paul "Pablo" G. Churchill, Esq.
Let's Drink to IreneThe Canon is filled with woman galore
Denizens of the Bar of Gold,
Cambridge, Maryland, 24 October 2015
The Second Mrs. Watson
Here's to the second of John's many wives,
To whoever she is, in our mem'ry she thrives!
One of the problems that drives us all mad
Is the question of how many wives Watson had!
Some say that three women shared Watson's name
But it's all done in jest as we play the great game.
Was there a wife number one in the States,
In a play set in 'Frisco, as Baring-Gould states?
Did Mary Morstan come second in life
To the widower Watson who needed a wife?
Mary had not yet laid claim to his heart
When the Doctor and Sherlock were living apart.
Here was a man whose department was dames
But his wife had the gall to call poor hubby James!
Was it just selfish, or was it more bold-?
He deserted his friend for a wife so we we're told!
No one has named who that woman might be: Was it somebody else's or wife number three?
Who was the wife with whom Watson would dwell?
The chronologists twist all the data to hell!
Here's to the name in erasable ink
On a license well worn; she's whomever you think!!
First Presented at the Meeting of the Six Napoleons of Baltimore 21 April 2004, A.U.C 2757 -Paul "Pablo" G. Churchill, Esq.
Hugh Boone 2He was a man ahead of his times. With skill and creativity he managed a commercial career in the City of London, with only an essential deception cast on his willing audience. He consorted with the worst reprobates of his time, our Denizen forebears, yet none of the lawless way of life rubbed off on him.
Is his deception that much different from the double lives practiced by others? Jekyl and Hyde we know, and one thinks of P. G. Wodehouse writing to escape the confines of the Shanghi Bank. And there is thriller writer Geoffrey Household, declaring his independence by leaving his umbrella on the gate of his banking employer, his Homberg on top, and then running off to Spain. They both in their fashion ran away from what was expected of them.
But our hero was a Victorian gentleman. He had a family to support. And so he did not disappear. Neither did he disgrace his family through dissipation. He made a living through his wits, and he did astonishingly well at it. The coins that he daily accumulated were enough not only to support his family to the tune of 700 pounds a year, but also they were sufficient to keep an estate in fashionable Kent. What, one wonders, was cause for complaint in that?
Alas, Hugh Boone is no more. Found out by Sherlock Holmes, a new man, Neville St. Clair, daily commuted to London. As he slowly ascended the corporate ladder, did he regret the old days? Did he ever want to take a day off and retrace the steps of Hugh Boone?
Of course, he could never have done that. He promised not ever to do so. A Victorian gentleman kept his word. But in his imagination, let Nevile St. Clair once again join all true Denizens in a toast-to Hugh Boone!
Mrs. Neville St. Clair
She is our Victorian sister, and we do not even know her name. She raised her two children and maintained the estate in Kent, and greeted her husband as he returned every day from doing-what exactly?-in the City of London.
We imagine a lady of some distinction, and perhaps some family wealth. She was certainly sheltered from what passed for reality in Victorian England. No newspaper reading, one supposes. Her lifestyle was dictated by class and circumstances, in a time when running a household and supervising the children took more than 24 hours each day.
And business decisions, including pressing matters of family business, would naturally be left up to her husband, Neville St. Clair. He returned home faithfully each night, and was a good provider. One wonders what the couple found to talk about, given the fact that her husband's stated employment did not even exist. It was a comfortable bubble.
When that personal bubble burst, and the secret source of family income was revealed. Mrs. Neville St. Clair could do no other than insist that her husband in fact take up the career in the City of London that he had shunned in the first place. She was the very picture of Victorian rectitude, the upholder of the social facade, and she played the part to perfection.
We hope they lived happily ever after. She did her best with the material at hand, the common reference point of women before and after her time. She adored her husband, and was in her way Queen Victoria in her own small estate. If we have become more adventurous, we still recognize our Victorian sister.
A toast-to Mrs. Neville St. Clair!
Oct 23, 2005
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!
Folks, I am here tonight to raise a toast to Miss Kitty Winter, a key player in our story tonight, The Illustrious Client.
She was another unsung and wronged woman in the Canon, but was able to help Sherlock Holmes. Although she may not have had a sterling reputation, by her desire to spare other women the pain that she herself underwent at the hands of the evil Baron Gruner, she showed us that she indeed had a heart of gold.
Join with me now as we raise our glasses to Miss Kitty Winter, to her courage, to her convictions, and, most importantly, to her acidic sense of justice!
-Inspector Hopkins (Joseph Dierkes)
A Toast to Abe Slaney
by Paul G. Churchill, BSIHere's a toast to Abe Slaney, the dangerous crook;
He was tall, he was handsome, his nose like a hook,
In a grey flannel suit and a bristling black beard,
With a Panama hat, he was much to be feared!
In Chicago he'd learned all the tricks of his trade;
He had picked up the code that old Patrick had made.
To the gang leader's daughter he said he'd been pledged
(There's no proof of his claim; it is merely alleged),
But when Elsie escaped and to England did flee,
He was hot on her trail just as quick as could be.
Then he found out she'd married some jerk Norfolk squire,
Hilton Cubitt by name, and his heart burned with fire.
So he headed up northward with one single aim,
Off to Ridling Thorpe Manor to stake out his claim.
He would scribble some figures for Elsie with chalk,
In the hope that she'd see them while out for a walk.
But our dishonest Abe hadn't counted the fact
That the husband would find them, the code would be cracked
By a London detective called in on the case,
Who deciphered the men and to Norfolk would race.
In the meantime our villain had packed up his gun;
In a showdown his aim would be second to none.
He met Elsie, then Hilton; the room filled with lead;
In a moment the latter lay prostrate and dead.
So Abe fled in a hurry to Elrige's Farm
Where he thought that he'd probably come to no harm.
In the morning came Sherlock and Watson, too late,
To encounter the sadness of poor Elsie's fate.
It was now Sherlock's turn to employ the dread code
In an effort to settle the debt that was owed.
An unknowing Abe Slaney to Elsie did come;
He was captured by Holmes and was nearly struck dumb
When he heard that his sweetheart was laid up in bed;
She'd be charged with the murder, though shot through the head.
So our Abe simply broke down and poured out his soul;
He admitted his part and confessed his dire rôle.
Watson tells us that Slaney avoided the rope,
But he's dancing a new tune, a man without hope.
He is learning new steps in the school of hard knocks,
Where he digs in the mud pits and hammers on rocks.
Let us drink to the ill-fated crook of our tale,
To Abe Slaney who dances his waltzes in gaol!!!
First presented at the Denizens of the Bar of Gold, Cambridge Yacht Club, Cambridge, Maryland, 14 April 2007 INDEX