April 05, 2005

Salty Liquorice

The second in our series of literary-themed articles was written by David W Young during a brief stint in Copenhagen last year:

The people I'm staying with were kind enough to fill the bookshelves of my bedroom with their eclectic collection of books in English. I'm not a big fan of Danish television. After I get home on my bicycle in the evenings, whether its from work or a hygge Danish cafe, I like to read - accompanied, of course, by salty Danish liqourice.

I started by reading Christopher Isherwood's 'Tales from Berlin', which form the basis of the musical Cabaret. Wasn't everybody so polite in the 1920s? It's really quite lovely. It's just a pity they had to live through the 1930s next.

I then read 'The Great Gatsby' - F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel based upon the premise that the American dream had been corrupted by the desire for materialism. This was educational: I wasn't aware the American dream ever had any other components other than a desire for materialism.

Next up were the Harry Potter books and a collected volume of 'Lord of the Rings'. (Mr Neil Falloon, a self-proclaimed "book snob", insists that I include the following: "The only thing worse than adults reading fantasy novels written for children is the same people reading fantasy novels written for grown-ups. The term 'book' is technically incorrect for this medium - the fact that Harry Potter stories have many pages and professional binding does not mean they are 'books' any more than dressing a monkey in a tuxedo means it is a man.")

Now I'm running out of choices on the bookshelf. There's one intriguing little self-help book called 'If Life is a Game, These are the Rules', which I've steered clear of.

So I'm reading a complete compendium of Sherlock Holmes short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sherlock really is a most annoying bugger.

Every bloody time he meets somebody, he immediately says something like: "I note that you came from the East in a buggy, and that you spent a lot of time typing today, although it is hard on your eyesight."

There is a pause, and then the person says, "why yes, you're exactly right, but however did you know that?"

And Sherlock explains how the three symmetrical dots of mud on the subject's trouser legs, the pinched nose and shiny shirt cuffs tell the whole story. (And when there's absolutely no human way he could know something, Sherlock resorts to: "As you know, Watson, I just wrote a paper on the shape of hats/the ashes of differentcigars/the paw prints of mongooses/the callouses on workmens' hands".)

I wish, just once, the person being examined would tell him to piss off. Sherlock is just a show off. He's a coke-addicted, closeted homosexual with one little party trick.

If Sherlock met me today, I have no doubt that he would say: "You come to Denmark from the Southern Hemisphere and you're getting used to riding a bike, although you're not excellent at it yet. You live in a house with a young child and three cats. You have poor lighting in your bedroom, your office chair does not meet OSH standards, and you do not find me amusing."

Watson, the dumb bugger, would say (despite having spent the majority of his post-soldier life tagging along with Sherlock): "Ho!" (He always says 'Ho.') "Ho! Holmes, what is your reasoning?"

And Sherlock would say: "Elementary, my dear Watson. You see it all before you, yet you do not understand." (He's an arrogant tosser, too). "Look at the big pores on his skin and his frizzy hair - he's obviously adapting to a new climate. I deduce that he therefore comes from the Southern Hemisphere. The wear on his jeans shows that he has started riding a bike recently, and the three mud splatters on his shoes shows that he hurtles through puddles - not something an established rider would do. His eyes show signs of tiredness - there must be a child where he dwells that wakes him each day at 5.30am (I have recently conducted a study on the bags under mens' eyes). And there are clearly three different types of cat-hair on his Robyn Matheson jersey."

"His eyes are reddened, so clearly he reads each night in poor light, and theway he stretches his neck shows that he spends a lot of time sitting in an uncomfortable seat."

And Watson will say: But how do you know he doesn't find you amusing?

"Coz he just punched me in the mouth."


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