Odd little story from the Times. Well the story itself is a familiar one, but the background is odd.
A man called John Aidinantz and his mother, Grace, have been involved in family feud with John’s half siblings Jennifer Decoteau and Stephen and Linda Riley. It’s the old, sordid story about a vicious dispute over money. Not much news there, you’d think, and I’d agree with you. It’s the source of the money that’s interesting.
Mr Aidinantz and his mother set up a museum in 1990, in what had previously been a branch of the Abbey National Building Society. You may now be going ho hum. But wait. What if I tell you that the formerly Abbey National was housed in 221B Baker Street, London NW1? Yes no lesser a personage than Sherlock Holmes lived there.
Except he didn’t, not least because 221B didn’t exist until the 1930s There’s the additional complication that Sherlock Holmes wasn’t real. He was fictional. A figment of Conan Doyle’s imagination. Despite this, Abbey National used to employ a full time secretary to respond to post sent to Sherlock Holmes, right up until 1990. By that point Holmes would have been 146 years old, having been born in 1854. Yes I did have to look that bit up.
There’s an awful lot of delusional people out there, isn’t there? Writing to somebody who isn’t real isn’t very healthy, is it? All very well if you’re a child writing to Santa, unless you’re asking for an iPhone; that’s not all very well. But grown adults writing to somebody they know full well never existed except in their heads?
Mind you, thousands of people still write to Juliet Capulet knowing full well that a/ she dies in the play, and b/ if she hadn’t she’d be in excess of 430 years old, since Romeo and Juliet was written in about 1595. Yes, I had to look that up too.
I can just about understand the idea of mad people writing to a fictional character. But a museum to one? What does it contain? His famous Meerschaum pipe can’t be there. Nor is his Stradivarius. His stash of opium won’t appear either. Nor his deerstalker. They might have some things that look the part, but can’t be.
I just discovered to my horror that visitors are met and gret by a Doctor Watson lookalike. That’s clever since we don’t have any idea what he looked like either.
I never liked the books, so I wouldn’t go to the museum anyway, and if I did end up at its hallowed portals the rather stiff 15 quid entrance fee would have me heading home or to the pub. Speaking of which there’s a Sherlock Holmes pub on the corner of Northumberland St and the Embankment. That’s overpriced too.