Supercool Sherlock and memories of books…

I’m not sure when or how I came to be introduced to Sherlock Holmes. All I remember is that I was ‘a lot younger’ (so this could mean anything between the ages of 13 and 23!) but I can remember sitting on my parents’ old bed with some snacks beside me – chocolate, if I was lucky – and being utterly absorbed by this huge book which had all the novels and stories of Sherlock Holmes within. I would read on and on, never even noticing that it had become dark outside…

Something really clicked with me the other day when I read that my friend (and fellow small press owner, Susan Last) wrote that she was a voracious reader as a child. I suddenly realized that those would be the exact words to describe myself as a child as well.

I can clearly remember the two heaving shelves of books in my bedroom. They were above my bed and I couldn’t help but worry sometimes that the shelves would collapse and all the books would break my bones! (They didn’t, of course.) I remember also the trips to our tiny local library. It was only ever myself and the librarian in there. Ah, the peace and quiet! (That’ll really mean something to mothers of young children!). The library in town was much bigger and noisier, but it had a greater selection of books – it was a good place to pick up new reads, and the periodic raids of my big sister’s book shelves always yielded interesting results (I mainly went by the look of the book covers then). I have memories too of going into the bookshop in town and treating myself to a new book (I would go straight for the Wordsworth Classics section back then because I knew I could buy a new book for a mere £1. They even sometimes had them reduced to 50p!). This was treasure indeed…

I wasn’t aware, at the time, of other people reading Sherlock Holmes. I kind of guessed that it wasn’t a ‘cool’ book, because, well, Sherlock Holmes went around wearing a deerstalker hat and it was all set a long time ago. The fact that I knew a few bits of trivia about Sherlock Holmes was helpful though – particularly in pub quizzes!

Sherlock book and Radio Times

Sherlock book and Radio Times

I couldn’t have guessed then that x number of years on Sherlock would be cool. Not just cool, but supercool, and no doubt a huge part of that is down to the casting, but I still think it’s worth mentioning that at the heart of this successful series is Conan Doyle’s masterful storytelling. After watching the latest episode I am inspired – again – by the power of story, and the rich possibilities therein.

Benedict Cumberbatch by Marija Smits

Benedict Cumberbatch by Marija Smits

P.S. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy drawing the above handsome face (oh those eyes!) but what I’m most pleased about is the fact that I managed to accomplish this at all. My drawing time seems to have diminished of late and I managed to do this in 20 minute bursts (once a week) while I sat beside the local swimming pool as my daughter splashed away, busy with her lesson. I’m very pleased to say that she can now swim a full 5 metres which makes me very proud!

On Inspiration

My family and I have been on our holidays, and as usual, I’ve been busy at home with work, household chores, and of course lots of play, which hasn’t left a lot of time for blog writing (although I have been busying writing poems and a short story in the dead of the night….!).

Holidays away from home with little children can be stressful… (And incidentally, a poem of mine called ‘We Don’t Travel Light’ on that theme recently appeared in the second edition of the great magazine Parent Tribe which you can read here.) Because the same mothering work goes on in holidays – listening, entertaining, being a diplomat in sibling disagreements, cleaning bottoms, washing clothes, cooking etc. – holidays away from the familiar surroundings aren’t exactly restful, but the change in location can be enough to give a person’s mind a well-needed break, and allow it to become open to new experiences, environments, and places. Previously, I have found holidays away from home to be rich with inspiration for writing, so while we took our short breaks this year, playing on the beach, buying ice creams and seeing old buildings, I was conscious of ‘storing things up for later’.

Sometimes I get impatient, and wonder when (or if) a spark of a story or poem will come from our time away, and then I have to discipline myself to think ‘hang on, don’t be so impatient!’ and that normally reminds me to slow for the moment, and simply enjoy the very process of being present in that moment.

Beach shot with poem

Beach shot with part of poem ‘The Ballad of the Beach’: I walked along a golden beach/Awash with stones and shells, by Marija Smits


So we ran around on the beach, scribbled words in the sand, (a part of my poem ‘The Ballad of the Beach’ of course!), my daughter dug a very big hole and sat herself in it (great fun!) and of course we beachcombed, clambered over rocks to search for treasure in rock pools and actually did some swimming too…

Later, (days, maybe weeks, I can’t remember now!) the words came and I began to jot down some of the ideas that had formed in my mind.

I am really looking forward to getting more of my words down on paper (or in a Word document) but I’m conscious too that the school holidays are flying past, and I simply want to slow and enjoy being with my family, because all too soon, autumn will be here…