'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Well done, Holmes.

This cold spell has been going on for a bit too long. If it was January, I could understand it, but I’ve checked the calendar and it hasn’t been January for weeks now. The plants and animals don’t have a calendar, so they must be really confused. I hope they are. I don’t like the idea of being less able to understand these things than a plant.

My cousin Jane once put on her uncle’s hat, which was just like the one Sherlock Holmes used to wear, and she said to her brother, “Where were you on the night of the twenty-fifth after Lord Ascot’s ball?” He said, “I didn’t mean to break the garden gnome.” But she was too caught up in the whole Sherlock Holmes thing to notice what he said. She said, “Now, my dear Watson, bring me my… shotgun. I have some… inquiries to make.” Tommy didn’t know how to go about bringing her a shotgun, so he just sat there, but she didn’t seem to notice his inactivity. She went out to the back garden, probably to make inquiries. It was then that she noticed the garden gnome with the broken hat. He was still smiling, but he wouldn’t be smiling when it rains and he fills up with rain water. Jane had a feeling that she should know something about this, and she wondered if this was the way Sherlock Holmes solved his cases. He’d see the crime scene and straightaway he’d have an intuition about the case, and he’d work from there. She was fairly sure she had an intuition about something, but that didn’t tell her where to go next. She kept the Sherlock Holmes hat on her head as she thought about the crime. Three hours later, when she was standing in a field with her friend, Claudia, and her brother, she was still thinking about it and she was still wearing the hat, but she eventually took it off because of the heat, and it wasn’t helping very much anyway. Tommy had just found an old bike in the shed. Claudia sat on the bike and started rolling down the slope in the field, and when she tried to use the brakes she was sorry she hadn’t tried to use the brakes before she set off. They had no effect at all, although she wasn’t going too fast because of the grass. Jane ran after her, but she couldn’t catch up. She told Claudia to fall off the bike, but she wouldn’t. Jane insisted that she’d have a soft landing on the grass, but still Claudia went on and on, so Jane put on the Sherlock Holmes hat and said, “Fall off the bike.” Claudia fell off then, and she did have a soft landing, but she said to Jane, “If I had turned to the side, I would have stopped.” “Well maybe that’s why you’re not Sherlock Holmes.” “You’re not Sherlock Holmes either if you didn’t think of that.” “I’m not the one who set off down a hill on a bike with no brakes. That would make you Watson and me Sherlock Holmes.” “Well if you’re Sherlock Holmes, why haven’t you figured out who broke the garden gnome?” “I have a fair idea. Obviously Moriarty was involved in some way.” “And who’s Moriarty?” “That’s what I have to figure out.” “In other words you don’t have a clue.” “I have an intuition about who it is. I have a clue alright, but it would go way over your head, Watson.” Jane didn’t notice her brother backing away when Moriarty was mentioned. He thought that his sister would surely remember his confession if she kept thinking about it, so he decided the best thing to do would be to buy another garden gnome and hope she forgets about it. He went to a garden centre where they sold the gnomes, but when he got there he saw a garden gnome with a Sherlock Holmes hat on his head and a pipe in his mouth, and he couldn’t resist getting it. Jane and Claudia spent the rest of the afternoon arguing about Holmes and Watson. Jane said things like, “Don’t walk into that wall, Watson.” They played tennis and every time Claudia hit a ball out or into the net, Jane would say, “My poor Watson.” When Jane was eating crisps she offered some to Claudia, but Claudia said that Sherlock Holmes would never eat crisps, and they spent an hour arguing about whether or not he would. When they went back to the garden and saw the garden gnome with the pipe and the hat, Claudia said, “He looks much more like Sherlock Holmes than you do. And he looks as if he’s solved the crime.” Jane pointed to a gnome with a fishing rod held over the grass and said, “Yeah, well that’s the real Watson. You’re not intelligent enough to be him and he’s fishing in the grass.” Claudia said, “I suppose that one’s Moriarty.” She pointed to a gnome with a patch over his eye. Tommy had added the eye patch because he thought it made the gnome look menacing. “Well everything seems to be sorted out then,” Jane said, and Claudia said, “Are you saying that this garden gnome broke the hat on the other one?” “Of course not, my poor Watson.” “Then how was the hat broken?” Just as Jane was trying to think of what to say, the dog ran over to the Sherlock Holmes garden gnome and tried to bite his hat off. Jane just pointed to it and said, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Claudia had a feeling that there was something significant about the fact that the dog was trying to bite the head off Sherlock Holmes, but she couldn’t quite comprehend it. She knew that if she admitted her inability to understand the situation, Jane would say, “My poor Watson,” so she just said, “Well done, Holmes.”

The moose’s head over the fireplace looks very happy now, but he didn’t look like that in a photo of myself and some of the relatives standing in front of the fireplace. He was in the background and he deliberately tried to look sad while the photo was being taken. He looked so sad that the wife’s mother asked me what I’d done to him to make him sad. I don’t know how best to answer a question like that. I told the mother-in-law that he’d probably been drinking but I know that’s not the best answer. She looked angry and the moose’s head looked over the moon.