Elementary, my dear Watson

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February 8, 2018 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette January 25th 2018

Most people have their favourite actor for the role of the great consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and mine is, without a doubt, Basil Rathbone. That stunning profile, the pipe, the thoughtful stare, the irritated scowl at any act of incompetence, the warmth he shows to Nigel Bruce’s dithering yet loveable John Watson. So entertaining, so believable and a perfect pairing. Recently I have been happily revisiting the superb collection of 12 Universal digitally remastered, film noir versions. At the end of one, after Holmes has safely returned the stolen fortune to the heroine only to see her give it away, eliciting the comment from Watson that she may regret her generosity, prompts the following from Holmes, delivered in that delightful mid-Atlantic accent. ‘I don’t think so, Watson, there’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of grab and greed are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we owe the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time is coming, Watson, when we shan’t be able to fill our bellies in comfort while other folk go hungry, or sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold. And we shan’t be able to kneel and thank God for blessing us before our shining altars while men anywhere are kneeling, in either physical or spiritual subjection. And, God willing, we’ll live to see that day, Watson.’ Not so smart with that one, Mr Holmes, that was seventy years ago and we still haven’t moved very much in that admirable direction…

MY GARDEN bird feeders are paying off just in time for the RSPB’s annual bird count. The busy comings and goings of small birds, dunnocks, house sparrows, starlings, blue, great and long tailed tits, has attracted considerable interest from a visiting, beautiful yet deadly, sparrowhawk. The raptor and a song thrush, a bird that is now generally conspicuous by its absence, made my birding week.

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