If you take a wander through my blog’s history, you’ll see a few similar themes.
Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, Greg Lestrade, Sebastian Moran, Jim Moriarty and a few other familiar faces, as well as some invented ones.
Some I invented on my own, others were made in collaboration with the wife, to whom I am greatly indebted.
The reason I write about a certain set of characters so much, is because, in my own feeble way, I want to pay homage to who they are, and what they’ve done for me.
A few years ago, while on holiday in the UK, I was bedridden due to various (and relatively uninteresting) health issues. I fell into a routine of drinking tea and eating a wide range of biscuits – chocolate-dipped digestives, jammy dodgers and ginger snaps – and reading.
I read Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the first Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway, Philosophy in the Bedroom by the Marquis de Sade, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Equivoque Principle by Darren Craske, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith —
and The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan-Doyle. Although, in the case of Mr. Doyle’s stories I think perhaps consumed might be a more apt word than read. So while everyone else went off on day trips along craggy coastlines, I curled up and waited for Mr. Holmes to light his pipe while it rained outside.
When I returned home, I procured two more collections of stories, and curled up in a little corner again. When I next looked up, it was dark, and the sun had set behind my head.
Much to my dismay – I read a great deal of the stories in such a short period of time I decided it was necessary to ration them out. It was a while before I saw the boys again. A few years later, closer to the present day.
I was struggling with something called anhedonia, a type of depression that rendered me virtually incapable of taking pleasure out of anything and leaving my life remarkably flat. It was, as yet, undiagnosed, and my days bled into each other, the same several shades of grey. But I found considerable comfort in watching TV shows. Short and sweet story constructions with enough colour and movement to distract me from my own life. Thus, I constructed a massive to-be-watched list.
And then a recent friend of mine recommended the Sherlock BBC series. I consumed the stories all over again. I nearly finished both series (there were only two, then) in the one sitting. I went back to my newly-made friend, and gave her my thoughts.
(And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how that very recent friend became my wife.)
I went to therapy. My mood greatly improved, and over a number of months, I eventually didn’t have to go back to therapy. I was healthy, I was happy – I am healthy, and happy.
But I haven’t forgotten what the detective and his good doctor did for me. And I don’t think I ever will.
So here’s my tip, go out and celebrate whatever franchise or fandom you’re interested in. Get a tattoo that reads all was well like the last line of the last book in the Harry Potter series. Memorise every line of every Star Wars film. Edit articles on Memory Alpha – the Star Trek wiki page. Read all the comics. Create perfect cosplays. Learn Japanese so you can watch anime without subtitles. Write fanfiction. Draw your favourite character so much recalling their facial features becomes a matter of muscle memory.
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not cool, or it’s not worth the time or the effort. Don’t let anyone roll their eyes at you. And certainly don’t let anyone else correct your costume, thereby correcting your self-expression.
If your favourite characters have helped you in the way that mine have in my life, then they’re worth every bit of your time and effort. Even if they are fictional.
Go forth! Be free as birds.
As for me, I’ll be looking into houses in Sussex Downs and bee-keeping starter kits.