The Brettish Empire
Vol. II #6

April 27, 1996

Hello Everyone,

Are you enjoying Spring, also known in the Midwest as "Winter II"? We had snow fall on the day before Easter, and just the other day I had to scrape frost from the windshield of my car! Here's hoping for a warmer May.

Enough about the weather--on to more interesting matters...

LONDON - THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

A Portrait of Jeremy

Unbeknownst to the attendees, there was a mystery afoot at the March 16 tribute luncheon (appropriate for a Holmesian event!). Artist Karen Mullen told me a portrait of Jeremy she created was to be auctioned off at the luncheon to raise money for the Manic Depression Fellowship. However, the portrait was not displayed at the luncheon, and no mention was made of it.

When I told Karen this after I returned to the U.S., she set out to discover what had happened to her portrait. A phone call from David Stuart Davies cleared up "The Mystery of the Missing Portrait". David was away when the portrait was delivered, so the parcel service left it with one of his neighbors. The deliveryman wrote up a notice telling David the package was at 55 Greenhead, but when David went to collect it, it wasn't there. It took the parcel service more than 10 days to locate the package. David saw the signature on the delivery ledger and realized what had happened. The package had actually gone to 65 Greenhead. The recipient put the portrait behind her stairs and forgot about it until David came to collect it. So, unfortunately, Karen's portrait didn't make it to the luncheon. However, it will be auctioned off in June.

DSD also told Karen that 400 pounds was collected at the luncheon for the MDF, with 100 pounds coming from members of the Northern Musgrave Society. Karen says, "[David] was tickled by the turnout, and was real surprised by the number of Americans who came over just for the luncheon. I think the showing really touched his heart!"

Incidentally, David's heart was also touched by another event recently. In early April he married Kathryn White, co-president of the Northern Musgraves and co-hostess of the luncheon. Best wishes to them both!

The Adventure of the Obliging Usher--Le Sequel!

It seems amor was also in the air at Wyndham's Theatre. Here's le scoop from Debi (Trikywu) Rotmil:

"When I went to see [the play] Skylight later that evening, I ran into our friend The Usher. His name is Jean Pierre. We got to talking during intermission, and he asked me out!!! I felt horrible because I really couldn't accept. The funny thing is, I really come to life in London, but I had been out all day with with no rest, and my head was pounding. I was thoroughly enjoying the play, but I couldn't wait to go back to the hotel.

I may see Jean Pierre again this summer when I go back to London."

(Ah...could zere be romance in store for Mademoiselle Rotmil? Stay tuned!)

Debi also revealed a tidbit about the luncheon: "Jean Pierre mentioned that the manager of Wyndham's was good friends with Jeremy. His name is William Ingrey. In fact, the Usher speculated that Ingrey was probably at the luncheon because he was not at work that day. He did have to attend a JB 'memorial', so my guess is, he was with us! That's why there is a plaque in JB's honor--[Wyndham's] manager held high esteem for our Jeremy."

A Heaven for Holmes Fans

Another place of high Brettish/Holmesian interest is located on--you guessed it--Baker Street. No visit to London would be complete without a stop at the Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Company, located at No. 230. It's easily reached via the tube, and when one arrives at the Baker Street station, one is greeted by walls tiled with tiny profiles of the Great Detective.

Of course, Baker Street is no longer a cobblestone lane shrouded with fog and graced by hansom cabs and top-hatted gentlemen. Today, Baker Street is a busy, modern thoroughfare choked with cars, buses--and tourists. The Memorabilia Company is like a portal to the past, however, and when I walked inside on that sunny Monday morning, I felt instantly at home. All manner of Holmesian items filled the shelves, from audio tapes produced by the BBC to Zippo lighters engraved with the Sherlock Holmes logo. This is no mere "tourist trap" by any means--99% of the store's items are made in England by British craftsman. The quality shows.

To paraphrase Holmes, "The economy of London is sweeter for my presence." I spent about 80 pounds at the Memorabilia Company. Here's the memorabilia I purchased: two color stills from the Granada series; a Sherlock Holmes tea spoon to add to my souvenir spoon collection; #13 of the Sherlock Holmes Gazette (containing many fine tributes to Jeremy Brett); and #1674 in the limited edition of 5000 of the "Portrayals of Holmes" plate featuring Jeremy at the center surrounded by 19 other actors who portrayed Holmes. I was also tempted by books and videotapes--I noticed that some of the Granada tapes actually contained two episodes and had different packaging than the tapes sold in America--but, these will have to wait for another visit.

The staff of the Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Company couldn't be more friendly and helpful. I told one of the clerks that I had come to London to attend the tribute luncheon, and she replied that several other attendees had recently visited the store. I also got to chat with Debbie Nicholls, the manageress of the store. When I expressed concern about my plate reaching home in one piece, Debbie assured me that it would be wrapped in a sturdy cardboard sleeve, and if I carefully packed it in the center of my suitcase, it should weather the trip just fine. Sure enough, although my suitcase arrived in New York looking like it had been used for tackling practice, the plate was in perfect condition.

If you'd like to "visit" the Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Company without flying to London, their catalogue is available for three pounds from 230 Baker Street, London, England, NW1 5RT. Their phone number is 0171 486 1426. (FAX # is 0171 935 0522.) 

[LLO NOTE: The Sherlock Holmes Memorabilia Company closed in 2006.]

BTW, my efforts to find another Sherlockian shop, "Sherlock in the Arches", proved fruitless. I visited Villiers Street and "The Arches" shopping arcade three times, to no avail. Is this shop still in existence?

"Big Jeremy Brett Fans"

I also had trouble finding another Holmesian tourist stop, but I persevered. The advertisements said, "Located just off Trafalgar Square", but, actually, the Sherlock Holmes Pub is a ways up Northumberland Street and tucked into an intersection. If it hadn't been for the big golden letters spelling out "Sherlock Holmes", I might have missed it altogether.

The Sherlock Holmes is a typical pub: cozy, noisy, and filled with people. I arrived one afternoon as lunch was winding down. Inside, I saw a closed door marked with a sign that said, "RESTAURANT AND MEMORABILIA UPSTAIRS". At first, I wasn't sure I should open the door, so I asked a group of people in front of the door (who turned out to be Americans) if it was all right to go upstairs. "Sure, go on up", one of the men told me. So, I opened the door and walked up the creaking steps. When I got to the top, all I saw was a kitchen and a cordoned-off sit-down restaurant. I stood there a moment, wondering where the "memorabilia" was.

Just then, one of the American women came up the stairs behind me. I think she was the man's wife, because she said, "I just wanted to make sure it was really okay for you to come up here!"

A waitress appeared at the cordon and asked if she could help us. "We'd like to see the Sherlock Holmes memorabilia," I told her.

"It's downstairs now," she informed us.

The woman and I both wondered why the sign still said "Upstairs" then. We returned downstairs and got to talking. I told her why I was in London, and she said she and her companions were "big Jeremy Brett fans." One of the women added, "The world lost a great Sherlock Holmes when Jeremy Brett died."

The women and I walked around the pub, trying to locate the "memorabilia". As far as I could tell, it was scattered around the pub. A photo of Basil Rathbone here; a Paget illustration there. The only evidence of Jeremy Brett I saw was the "Portrayals of Holmes" plate and a yellowed newspaper article (with photo) up near the ceiling. As I said, the pub was crowded and noisy (and a little dark), so maybe I missed something, but I thought the Holmes memorabilia would be displayed in a more organized manner. I enjoyed viewing it, nevertheless.

BACK IN THE U.S.

"And I Suppose Your Best Friend is Named 'Watson'"

London wasn't the only place where a Sherlockian event occurred. Deb Rich wrote me about "The Speckled Band Event", which took place in Boston on February 29. The Speckled Band is "one of the oldest of scion societies" and they hosted an interesting event, as Deb now tells us:

"The dinner was fantastic, and we did, in fact, view a piece of the original manuscript of The Three Students. I met some wonderful people (one of whom got me into another scion society, the Bull Terriers) and even chatted with Mr. Sherlock Holmes!!! No lie, that's the man's real name. He told us about the time he got a call from Jeremy Brett. He said he picked up the receiver and the caller asked, 'Is this Mr. Sherlock Holmes?'

'Yes'

'My name is Jeremy Brett.' Upon hearing this, SH said he dropped a hot cup of tea, smashing it on the floor!"

(If your editor had ever been fortunate enough to receive a call from JB, I'm sure my Darjeeling would have hit the floor, too--quickly followed by your editor! ;->)

Roland on a River

Reading Christopher Roden's account of Jeremy Brett's memorial service back in November brought back a memory to Peter Blau:

"Christopher Roden, in a report on the November memorial service, mentioned Edward Hardwicke's recollection of Jeremy Brett's laughter, and that 'on their first day together, Jeremy commented that Watson needed hair--hence the toupee which Hardwicke wore throughout the series in which he appeared--a hairpiece which Jeremy christened 'Roland', after Roland Rat, the puppet character perhaps best known to British 'Hounds'.

"That rang a faint bell, and I've now recalled where I heard earlier about Roland Rat: there was a BBC seven-episode television miniseries in 1990 called Tales of the Rodent Sherlock Holmes, in which Kevin the Gerbil played Dr. Watson, and Barbara Windsor played Irene Wilson ('a glamorous star of the musical theatre who harbours a secret desire to be a serious dramatic actress.')

"Producer Steve Haggard said that 'Roland Rat is the latest in a long line of distinguished actors to pull on the cloak and deerstalker of the master detective,' adding that 'he's probably the first to wear sunglasses.' I've never seen the show, but perhaps it will turn up on videocassette."

Hmm...I wonder if Roland ever took a crack at that case involving a certain giant rodent from Sumatra? If anyone has further info on Roland, please let me (LLO) know.


Well, that just about wraps up another edition of TBE. BTW, I want to thank everyone who has written me lately with kind words for TBE--I really appreciate your comments. And, thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue.

In closing, here's something else Karen Mullen told me: "While talking to DSD, he said something very lovely. After the luncheon was over and most people had left, he stopped to talk with Jeremy Paul. David said Jeremy Paul made the statement that 'It all went so well,' and then whispered, 'I think Jeremy was HERE.' Isn't that a lovely thought?"

Yes, it is. In fact, there was an empty chair at the table where I sat, and a few of us pointed to it and said, "Jeremy's here!" Seriously, I think JB would have loved the luncheon.

Take care, everyone.

Until next time,

Lisa :-)


TBE Home Page

"The Brettish Empire"/"TBE" Copyright Lisa L. Oldham.