Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hungry for Hungarian

Sherlock Holmes emlékiratai: Bünügyi
 -1974 -DW- C-3124.
I once bought a Hungarian Sherlock Holmes edition on eBay. It was a relatively new book, nothing out of the ordinary. The seller was prompt on delivery and accurate on the book's description. At the time, I owned about a dozen Hungarian titles. Not long after I bought the volume, the seller contacted me directly about another Hungarian tome he wanted to sell.  I have used eBay for nearly twenty years and I know there are rules against such direct contact between buyers and sellers, so I did the All-American thing - I bought the offered edition!

This was the beginning of a marvelous partnership with the seller resulting in more than fifty Hungarian titles being added to my collection.  

One of the areas of foreign language collecting is the volumes in a particular language with a specific story and its corresponding text in English. There are many such editions. I have Spanish and English, German and English, French and English and several other languages and English. One of the early ones I bought from Gergely, my Hungarian connection, is Hungarian and German! It  was one of a four-volume set. Over the course of time, I have added the other three  to my collection. I also have one that is Hungarian and English. Still, these are the only languages I have seen that English is not the second language.

Sherlock Holmes’ Krimminalfälle
1990 - Hungarian-German "YELL"
At first the items offered were mainly form the 1980's and 1990's. Soon they started getting older and much more interesting. One of the first ones to really catch my eye was from 1905. Egy család réme: Regény. Sherlock Holmes visszzatérte. A norfolki gyilkosság was published by M. Keresk. Közlöny, Globus'ny and includes HOUN, SIXN, and DANC.  It is listed in De Waal's - C3190. The cover is outstanding featuring a young lady with a floral motif around her oval portrait. Soon A sátán kutyája (HOUN) was offered. This 1918 publication is the most reptilian looking creature I have ever seen. Another cover from 1916 features Holmes wearing a Bowler hat but he looks exactly like Jeremy Brett. It is eerie. This book, Az üldözö "A Study in Scarlet," was published in 1916 by Milliók könyve.

Some of the books are illustrated by Irde Földes, a famous Hungarian illustrated from the early twentieth century. He started his career as a lithographer. He studied at the Iparrajziskola and in the Mintarajztanoda (major art schools in Pest at the time), later he visited München, Berlin and Paris. Besides being a leading figure in poster art, he was a painter and a graphic artist as well. He exhibited his artworks frequently in Budapest, he participated in the Nemzeti Szalon (National Salon) for instance. Starting from the 1910s, his posters overwhelmed the streets of Budapest. Between 1918 and 1919, he opened a design studio with Lipót Sátori, and they collaborated on many poster designs. During the First World Warhe created film, commercial and propaganda posters, and he made one work for the Hungarian Soviet Republic as well. After the war he designed political posters for several parties (most of them depicting Hungary's borders before the Treaty of Trianon). From the 1920s on he lived in Transylvania and his posters rarely appeared on the streets in Hungary.
A nábob kincse  -1916 
Cover illustrated by Irde Földes

Other editions came from Hungary's most famous Doylean collector, Mr. Ferenc Pap. He lived in a small town (but a long name) called Kiskundorozsma. He collected mostly pulp editions and he had a large Conan Doyle collection of early Hungarian ones. There have been more than one-hundred different Hungarian translations of the Canon. With Gergley's help, I am slowly adding almost all of them to my collection.

Egy család réme: Regény.
Sherlock Holmes
visszzatérte. A norfolki
The first Hungarian translation was published 1897 by Singer and Wolfner kiádasa. Az üldözö  (A Study in Scarlet) was published in Budapest and translated by Fái J. Béla. The next translation was not until 1902 by Lampel, Wodianer ny, a publishing house in Budapest. They published several titles in both hardcover and softcover. Many of the titles were the same, Doktor Holmes kalandjai: Detektivtörténetek (The Adventures of Dr. Holmes: Detective Series) but with each volume containing different stories. The hardcover edition features a bright red cloth-covered board while the softcover editions were small (3 1/2" x 5"). 
Az üldözö  1916

From the covers shown here, one can easily see why I am hungry for Hungarian translations of the Canon. These are just a small sampling of the ones that adorn my shelves. The latest one that is still in transit is a 1922 pulp edition of The Tragedy of Koosko. The reason I bought it was it also includes "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" and it has another very interesting cover. I can’t  wait but I guess I will have to wait.

Happy Blogging!
A sátán kutyája 1918

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Japanese Visit -March 17-24, 2015

More than a year ago Masamichi "Mitch" Higurashi invited me to speak at the Japanese Sherlock Holmes Club in Tokyo. I graciously accepted and began preparations. Other than a brief over night stay at Narita Airport, this is my first trip to Japan. 

The flight is 12 1/2 hours direct from Dallas to Tokyo and it was completely unremarkable - the way I like my flights. As I touched down, I had a moment of panic. Mitch had agreed to pick me up and had made all of my arrangements for the week, I realized that I was not privy to this information and wondered what I would do if for some reason Mich failed to appear. Not to worry, Mitch was waiting just outside of security. He was there with Kiyoshi Arai, who received his investiture in the BSI in January as Sho-in Near Nara. This was a pleasant bonus. Many happy greetings and gifts were exchanged, coffee drank and then the hour or so drive into Tokyo proper.

Masamichi (Mitch) Higurashi, me, and Kiyoshi Arai at Narita.

Tokyo is an amazing city. It covers a vast area but it is very clean and easily navigated. Mitch's GPS, in her cute little Japanese voice, guided us expertly to the parking garage of the Hotel Metropolitan Edmont. This would be my home the entire time I was in Tokyo. We did travel by bullet train the next day to Kyoto but returned to our Tokyo base the next night.

Kyoto, formerly the Imperial City of Japan is located on the island of Honshu. It is nicknamed the City of Ten-Thousand Shrines but we only visited nine-thousand and ninety-one. At the Tokyo Station, we were met by Takahiko Wakabayshi and his wife Harumi.We were also joined by Yumiko Shigaki. All were Sherlockians. The bullet train ride took just over an hour. We arrived and ate lunch before heading out to explore the city.
Don, Harumi, Takahiko, Mitch, Yumiko

Our first stop was Kinkaku, or the Golden Pavilion part of a large complex dating back to the fourteenth century. Another stop was the Zen temple Ryōan-ji, The Temple of the Dragon at Peace. It is considered one of the (if not the) finest surviving examples of Kare-sansui (dry landscape). The fifteen rocks placed inside a small rectangle of white pebbles, raked in between, offers infinite tranquility and possibilities to the observer. Not every stop fulfilled the spiritual realm some were simply for the spirit realm, as was the case when we visited the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. Here we were shown the complete process of making sake and given samples at the tour's end. We explored many more areas but late Friday night boarded the train back to Tokyo.

Saturday morning the conference began. 

For more than twenty years, I have traded books with Takahiko Endo but never met him. 
Takahiko Endo and Don
So at the beginning of the conference, six Japanese Sherlockians lined up in the front of all of the attendees and I was asked to pick out Takahiko. To the pleasure of all, I made the correct choice. The first presentation was by Hiroko Nakashima. She spoke on and showed photographs of 'The Alpine Adventure from Septermber 26-28, 2014'. It was sort of like a homecoming. I saw pictures of many Sherlockian friends like Michael Meer, Marcus Gassner, and Peter Blau. Of course, Hiroku spoke in Japanese, but her photographs were in "English". She has a wonderful eye for taking pictures and later she presented be with three booklets of her exquisite photographs.

I was seated next to Yaeko Amano and she served as my interpreter. She was a God-Sent . After lunch, it was my turn to present. I gave a Power Point titled '101 Damnation's' that featured slides of 101 different foreign covers of the Hound of the Baskervilles and commentary on each. I received laughs at all of the appropriate places and everyone seemed to enjoy the show. The Japanese are extremely polite and many asked permission to take photographs with me afterwards. They are also so very gracious. I was given many, many gifts. I was so honored to be there, I should have been giving all of the gifts.

(Clockwise) Don, Yaeko, Harumi. Takahiko Wakabayshi,
Unknown, Kiyoshi, Yuichi Hirayama, Eiichi Nakahara,
Takahiko Endo.
Many of my new best friends and plenty of my old best friends ventured out to a small traditional Japanese restaurant for dinner. I got to experience Japan like a local, not like a tourist. The beer and sake flowed freely until it was time to stagger back to our hotel. Sunday was the day of my main presentation and being hung-over was a great way to present.

My dear friends Joan Proubasta and his wife Rosa Diaz along with their daughter Marta, Rosa's brother Miguel Diaz, his wife Myriem Sampere and their daughter Adriana were all there on Sunday. Joan's talk began the 74th Japanese Sherlock Holmes Club's meeting. I did not have an interpreter seated with me on Sunday but Joan's presentation was in Spanish so I gathered in bits and pieces of it, better than I could of it had been in Japanese.
Joan Proubasta, Don Rosa Diaz
Once again, the Japanese treated me like royalty and showered me with presents. In total, I ended up with more than sixty new books for my collection. So many that I had to get Mitch to mail them to me at no-telling the cost.

As on Saturday, my talk was after lunch. Mitch made slides so the audience could follow along. 'The Collecting Mania' was my talk I gave the first paragraph in Japanese. I did apologize to the audience for butchering their language. They were gracious as usual and did not throw things at me. The final presentation was given by Kiyoshi Arai, BSI - "History of Immigration of the Canon to Japan Featuring the Centennial of The Valley of Fear Publication.'

There was dinner following the meeting on a top floor restaurant over looking Tokyo. It was a marvelous view but the festivities of the evening far exceeded the view out the window. Five long table seating nearly a dozen Sherlockian each makes for a wonderful night, especially once the sake started finding it's way to everyone.
Hiroko and Don

Keits Yamaguch and Don
More revelers
I found it very funny as the night wore on, everyone started giving the 'Peace Symbol" when their pictures were taken. People were sneaking into other people's pictures and really letting their hair down. The normally reserve Japanese can party as loud as anyone.

I was amazed walking into the restaurant because entering the room, everyone stood and cheered for me. It was like having rock star status. During the two days of the conferences, I received about a dozen new friend requests on Facebook and accepted them all. Now I spend a lot of time using the Facebook translation service.

My cheeks literally ached from laughing so much. That is the trouble with sake it goes down easy and makes me laugh.

Sherlock Holmes Pub
On my final day day, Monday, Mitch took me to the Sherlock Holmes Pub and then we came back to the section of Tokyo that sells used books. Believe it or not, I managed to buy a few items before heading back to our hotel. Mitch's wife Mayuko joined us for the day and for dinner, my new best friend Hiroko Nakashima also joined us. We had a very tradition Japanese meal where I ate raw horse meat for the fist time, and no, it did not taste like chicken.
Hiroko feeding me raw horse. Yum!

And in the blink of an eye, my week in Japan was over. I left on Tuesday morning but not before vowing to return. There is still plenty of unfinished business in Japan for me.

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pirate of a Pirate

There are all sorts of pirates. One that comes to mind is the late Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh kind of pirate. There is the Blackbeard, a.k.a. Edward Teach, the notorious English pirate who terrorized the West Indies in the early 1700’s. Then there is Captain Jack Sparrow, based partially on Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards, a much more lovable pirate. And there are literary pirates. These are books published without the benefit of royalties being paid to the authors. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was pirated as much as any other author.
Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol. 3 - HIS

As a collector of foreign translations of Sherlock Holmes, I have come across many pirated editions. The late Donald A. Redmond wrote Sherlock Holmes Among the Pirates: Copyright and Conan Doyle in America 1890-1930, published in 1990 by Greenwood. This books deals with the pirated editions of A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. These were just English editions and did not deal with foreign editions.

In China, there was a series called Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries that was published in the 1930’s. I have six volumes in the series and I not not sure how many there were in total. This is just one of the problems facing pirated editions and especially ones in foreign languages. I used to have a book-scout named Simon who lived in Beijing and for a period of time, he was hard on my bank account because he was able to find many early Chinese editions of the Canon. The six volumes of Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries were from Simon. I do not know what happened to Simon. I have not heard from him in several years. But for a short period of time he was very active in finding things for me.

Manchurian Pirate of a Pirate

Since I do not read Chinese, I depend on Yuichi Hirayama, BSI, to help me when I get Chinese editions. So when Simon sent me two separate editions of Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol. 03, I was curious because the  covers were similar but the Chinese characters inside the two books were different. Once of the edition’s cover matched the artwork on the covers of the other five volumes but the cover artwork on the other volume 03 looked like someone had drawn it, looking at the fist volume 03. I took scans of the covers and the inside information and emailed them to Yuichi.

Imagine my surprise when I got the answer back telling me that the second volume 03 was very rare, being published in Manchuria after the Japan invasion in 1931. As it turned out, the first volume 03 is a pirated edition published in 1936 by Qi Ming Press in Shanghai, China. The book is “His Last Bow” and was translated by Yang Qirui. The second volume 03 was published by Fentian Dashu Press, in Fentian, Manchuria, China in 1939. The translator was not given but the story is The Hound of the Baskervilles.” The text of this book is the exact text of Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol. 06 by Qi Ming Press, also translated by Yang Qirui of the Hound. This makes the second volume 03 a pirate of a pirate.
Sherlock Holmes New Mysteries vol.6 - HOUN

 The world of literary piracy is a strange bird indeed.

Happy Blogging!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mon Bonheur

One of the delightful things for a collector is sharing finds with other collectors. The late John Bennett Shaw once told me ‘if you have one of something, gloat; if you have more than one, share.’ This is the axiom I have tried to live by and it is also the one my friend and fellow Sherlockian collector Gabriele Mazzoni lives by. I can prove this by my recent Italian vacation. One evening, I had the pleasure of spending several hours with him and his collection near Empoli, Italy.  I am not too sure that ‘gloat’ is what Gabriele did but he did swell with a certain amount of pride when he showed me items of which  I was unfamiliar. However, ‘share’ is the exact word to use when he came across a duplicate item that I did not own. 
Mon Bonheur #7, 1907 Part 2 of 12
Le Chien de Baskerville
Gabriele studied in France and so his French section of Sherlockiana is nearly as extensive as his Italian section. One of the items he brought out was from 1907. It was a French magazine titled Mon Bonheur. Numbers seven through eighteen featured Le Chien des Baskerville. I am fairly familiar with French translations of the Canon because the Société Sherlock Holmes de France keeps a marvelous website that lists 1,171 different Canonical French translations. Mon Bonheur is not one of ones listed. Gabriele then reached up to another shelf and handed me issues eight, nine, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. With a twinkle in his eye he told me these were duplicates and handed them to me. For yet another time, I was speechless. He told me they were not that difficult to find and I found this to be true upon returning home.

Searching eBay, I found all but one of the issues I was missing with the HOUN in it. I found that one on ABE Books. The ones on eBay were less than $10 apiece while the ones from ABE Books were around $25 each. As I was searching, I also discovered that issues forty-eight, forty-nine, and fifty also from 1907 ran “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” and it was my turn to ‘gloat.’ I let Gabriele know of this discovery and I hope I can find more copies so I can ‘share.’
Mon Bonheur #49, 1907 Part 2 of 3
Le Mystrere de la vallee de Boscombe

Mon Bonheur means "My Happiness"in French and it was certainly a mon bonheur finding these lovely little treasures. The cover says "No. 10 - troisième année, 1907" which translates to "No.10 – third year in 1907." In my on-going  research I have only been able to find a few issues from 1905, 1906, and 1907, the first three years it was published. It was a weekly magazine. I have created a spreadsheet with three columns and fifty-two rows so I can keep track of those issues with Sherlock Holmes and those without. Each time I find a new issue I will fill in either –No SH or the four-letter Christ abbreviation. I have only found twenty issues of a possible one-hundred and fifty-six. I have yet to find any issue later than 1907, but I am still actively researching. I also let the French society know of this discovery. They responded that they were familiar with this publication but it had accidentally been left off of their website.They did shed more light on the history of Mon Bonheur, responding that issue twenty-four includes 'The Crime of the Brigadier' thus one more item to look for. I wonder if Cliff Goldfarb knows about this one. He is the premiere collector of Brigadier Girard. Hmmm, gloat or share; gloat or share. I'll call Cliff.

Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sherlocking in Florence, Italy

Joyce and I arrived in Bologna, Italy for a few days R and R before heading south to our main destination, Florence. This did not stop me from finding a few book stores and picking up some new Italy translations. One of the books I bought, Il Mastino dei Baskervilles, had the introduction by Enrico Solito, one of my good friends that lives in Florence. We departed Bologna on Sunday morning, boarding an express train to Florence. A quick twenty-five minutes later (300 kph or 184 mph) without any stops, we pulled into the Central Station in Florence. We hopped into a cab that took us to our little apartment, just around the corner from the Duomo.
Gabriele, Mario, and me
Soon after arriving, we met with Italian Sherlockian collector extraordinaire, Gabriele Mazzoni and his wife Donatella. We had a grand time reuniting and then heading to the small town of Fiesole that overlooks Florence. We visited a small Roman theatre and museum before motoring back into town. We chose a restaurant that looked promising and it was more that acceptable. The owner took us under his wing and made sure we did not leave in need of anything. Gabriele offered to drive us back to our apartment but we assured him we could find our way back there. As it turned out, our apartment was only a block and a half from the restaurant. We were inside before Gabriele could get to his car. We arranged to take the train to Empoli, where Gabriele lives, on Saturday and start round two of our reuniting.
Moi and Gianluca at his gallery.Add caption
The next day we called in on Gianluca Salvatore at his art gallery. Gianluca is a member of the Baker Street Irregular, so he is also like family. It was a short, impromptu visit and we made plans for lunch on Friday. I also called another friend and BSI member, Enrico Solito, mentioned above. We arranged to meet for dinner on Friday night. Our dance card is filling up on the Sherlockian Front. To fill the time, in between Sherlockian activities, I managed to locate more than a dozen bookshops and load up with a plethora of old and new Italian Sherlock Holmes books, all were new to my collection. I managed to find about thirty translations in total. This is the reason we always travel with an extra suitcase.
Vernet's "Waterfall and a Fisherman"

On Wednesday, Joyce and I headed to the Uffizi Gallery. This was the collection of the Medici's. They were collecting Roman antiquities since the Fourteenth century and branched into works of art as well. As we were going from room to room, our mouths were dropping further and further as we went along, we came across a painting my Claude-Joseph Vernet - "Waterfall and Fishermen." It is mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories that Holmes' maternal grandmother was a Vernet. This painting was by Holmes' great uncle. So, there is always a Sherlockian connection, you just have to dig deep enough to uncover it. Of course there were some other paintings in the Uffizi, such as Rembrandt's and Rubens but a Vernet, well what else is needed to be said.
Joyce, Don , and Gianluca at Five e cinque
Friday morning rolled in and we arrived at the gallery of Gianluca right on time. We strolled back across the Arno to a fun little Vegetarian restaurant, Five e cinque, where lunch was as many stars as one can imagine. Wine and pasta and great conversation made the two and a half hour lunch breeze past. Eventually, lunch ended and we parted ways, Joyce and I returned to our apartment before heading back out to meeting Enrico a few hours later.

We found Enrico waiting on us at Heaven’s Door in front of the Baptistery by the Duomo. We strolled through Florence, receiving a history lesson full of Dante references before heading to Ristarante Acqua Al 2, located near our apartment on Via della Vigna Vecchia. We were joined by Enrico’s wife Isa, short for Isabel. We enjoyed a five course sampler of different pasta, two bottles of wine and another five course sampler of desserts. A double espresso topped off the evening. We sauntered back to our apartment before bidding each other farewell. Another successful Florentine day in the books.
Isa, Enrico Solito; Joyce and I at Ristarante Acqua Al2

Saturday found us heading to Empoli where Gabriele met us at the train station. It was in the early afternoon so we headed across the Arno to Vinci, home of Leonardo. In Vinci, there is a library and museum dedicated the Leonardo. The library is only open to the public on random days and it was our random day because it was open. We attended a lecture by one of the resident Leonardo scholars that was in Italian. I did understand enough to get the gist about Bill Gates buying some of the manuscripts for $43,000.000. At the end of the lecture, we were able to thumb through all of the replica editions of the original manuscripts and journals.

The museum next door featured actual working models of Leonardo’s ideas for the bicycle, the helicopter, the battle tank, SCUBA gear and many others. From there it was a short drive up into the hills over looking Vinci to the house where Leonardo was born. The country side surrounding his birth place was some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. We watched a short film on Leonardo’s life before heading back to Empoli and a visit of Gabriele’s Sherlockian collection. This was my second time there and I was just as amazed as I was the first time. Gabriele is my brother in collection and although I am chronologically older, he is my big brother in collecting.
Inside Ali Baba's cave - or Gabriele's collection
He has the most spectacular way of finding so many one-of-a-kind items. His Italian and French sections are superb and nearly complete. He own some real gems and like most collectors, he more than happy to show it to you. His ‘warehouse’ is stocked with all things Sherlockian, not just books like my collection. Time seemed to stand still while there but I was reminded that we still needed to meet Donatella and have dinner. So I was drug away but by now I was floating on air. My Sherlockian head was spinning with thoughts of all of the new (old) items I had seen and now will be trying to find on my own.

The four of us had a marvelous dinner and like all good things, the evening came to a close way too soon. Joyce and I were driven back to Florence by Gabriele and Donatella and tearfully promised to get together again as soon as possible. And just like the dinner, our two weeks in Italy flew past and soon we were back on the big silver bird heading across the Atlantic. Italy is such a wonderful place and having great friend there makes it all the better.
Just some of my new additions.

Happy Blogging! !

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sherlocking in Scandinavia Part II

Part II of my Scandinavian adventure began on Friday morning when I departed from Hjørring. I checked out of my hotel and walked two blocks to the train station. Inside, there was a 7-Eleven store and this is where I purchased my ticket. I exited the train at the Linholm station, where I planned on catching a taxi to the Aalborg airport. I was approached by a small, white-hair lady who asked if I was going to the airport. When I answered yes, she kindly told me the bus would drop me right at the terminal and cost about a tenth of a taxi. She was also headed there, so we chatted for about fifteen minutes, waiting for the bus. Her name was Beatrice, she told me and she had worked two years in Los Angeles for a Danish opera singer. She was sweet and friendly. We bid each other farewell and went off different terminals.

My flight to Stockholm was uneventful, arriving about three in the afternoon. I like to think of myself as a sophisticated and seasoned traveler, pretty hip to what’s going on around me but even so, I can occasionally make boneheaded mistakes. I deplaned and walked down the concourse and found my hotel which was right there in the airport. I was booked for two nights and the next day, Saturday, was my visit to Bålsta where Mattias Boström lives. My concern was how I was going to get back in the hotel, thinking all along I was still in the security zone. I took my concerns to the front desk and she explained that I would be able to check-in twelve hours before departure. When I got back to my room, it hit me that I would have to check-in without bags, the go out through security the next morning with my bags and go back through the security lines. I went back to the front desk with my new concerns. After several minutes the girl at the desk realized my error and kindly told me I was outside security- problem resolved. Nearly as soon as I had deplaned, I had exited the secure area. It was not well defined as it is other places. Oh well, you live and you learn.
Holmes Road in Bålsta
I awoke on Saturday and had a leisurely morning. I ate breakfast, showered and then played on the computer. I needed to catch bus 579 from terminal 5. This bus travels between Aranda (the airport) and Bålsta. The entire trip is just under an hour. Mattias told me to take the 1:08 bus and when I arrived, he was there awaiting. He had invited his friend and fellow Swedish Sherlockian Morgan Malm. He lives in Uppsala and his bus arrive about four minutes prior to mine. The three of us piled into Mattias’ car (not a Volvo) and headed out. We made one little side-stop for a photo-op at Holmes Street. I was pleased to know I am not the only one that does these sorts of things.

Mattias lives on a quiet residential street in Bålsta. We were greeted at the door by his wife and small daughter. We removed our shoes as is the Swedish tradition and ushered in to a house full of books – my kind of place. Right off the bat, Mattias pulled out a large box that was full of duplicates. He told me I could have as many as I needed. I selected maybe a dozen, I had limited means of getting them back with me. It was my first time to meet Morgan, so the next hour was spent chatting over the many filled bookcases and exchanging Sherlockian battle stories with each other. Mattias drifted in and out of our conversations, sharing his time between cooking dinner, tending to fatherly/husbandly duties, and adding his own Sherlockian battle stories.
Chef Mattias

Mattias’ collection has many, many one of a kind Swedish treasures. Several things I simply drooled over, wishing they had sisters and brother in Texas. Of course there were plenty of things there that I did have copies of at home. Mattias works at a publishing company in Stockholm and Morgan teaches high-school literature. He held edited, proof-read and offered suggestions to Mattiäs’ books From Holmes to Sherlock. He also helped with Mattias’ other literary works. They told me about their upcoming trip to London and Leeds. We talked all things Sherlockian for another two hours when it was time for dinner. If Mattias ever decides to give up being a Sherlockian, he might want to become a chef. Morgan and I were served roast beef, done to perfection, potatoes, and sautéed red bell peppers, carrots, and snow peas. This was accompanied by a delicious Spanish red wine. Homemade apple pie and vanilla sauce finished the meal. All that remained was another ninety minutes of more Sherlockian conversation. One can never get enough of this fine thing. After a long final round of good-byes and photographs, Mattias drove us back to the train station, where once again our buses were four minutes apart.

During the course of the afternoon, I discovered that I was the first member of the BSI to have visited Mattias. He thanked me several times for coming but in reality, it was me that was honored. I am very thankful being a Sherlockian and having the ability to visit great people around the world. The world is such a large place and because of the world’s first consulting detective it makes nearly every place 221b Baker Street.
Three amigo, Mattias, moi and Morgan

Happy Blogging!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sherlocking in Scandinavia Part I

It is a rough life but someone has to do it and ‘it’ was what I found myself doing a couple of weeks ago. I was scheduled to work in the Jutland area of Denmark in the small town of Hjørring. I discovered, after a quick visit to an online map, that it was about the same distance and cost if I flew into Oslo, Norway, Stockholm, Sweden, or Copenhagen, Denmark. All three of these destinations had connecting flights to Aalborg, Denmark. From Aalborg, I still had another 50 kilometers to cover before reaching Hjørring. I have never been to any of these places so I chose Stockholm because, believe it or not, I know a Sherlockian living nearby. I quickly checked by friend Mattias Boström to see if he was available; he was and I set my plans in motion.

I have known Mattias for many years. He received his investiture into the Baker Street Irregulars a few years back. His talk followed mine in Minneapolis last year. He has bought many, many Swedish books on my behalf over the years. So I left Dallas and flew to London. From there I flew to Stockholm then to Aalborg. With delays and plane changes and other hiccups, I arrived in Aalborg, Denmark, more or less 24 hours after I departed Dallas. It is amazing how small favors can appear larger than life. I experienced this when I deplaned and Kurt Buus from Siemens Medical was there waiting for me. I was not aware that he was going to do this but I was more than relieved. At 9:30 in the evening at the Aalborg Airport, there is not a great deal going on. I did not see a single cab and I am sure if I had found one they would not be very happy at the prospect of driving me the 50 kilometers to Hjørring.
1914 Bank in City Center Hjørring

We were staying in the same hotel. I found this very ironic until I discovered later that the Phønix Hotel was the only hotel in Hjørring. I was still more than pleased. I checked in and immediately checked my email and found a message from Palle Schantz Lauridsen. He had seen I was in Copenhagen and suggested we have coffee, but it was just a layover. I messaged him back offering better planning on my behalf if and when I return to Copenhagen. Next message was from Jens Byskov Jensen. Jens lives about three hours south of Hjørring but without a car, it was impossible for us to get together. Then he offered plan B. He told me there was actually a Sherlockian living right there in Hjørring! He sent a message to Thessa Jensen (no relation) introducing us. She contacted me and we arranged to meet on Thursday after I finished work.

Thessa arrived right on time on Thursday and we headed back down to Aalborg. We had a lovely drive and by the time we arrived at Aalborg University, we were best friends for life. This is the way Sherlockians are, after one meeting, it is like you have always been friends. Thessa works as a researcher of Fandom - Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, and of course, Sherlock Holmes, just to mention a few. She took me to the 12th floor where hr office is located. A small banner sitting in the window caught my eye. The banner was for the Sherlockian society, The Cimbrian Friends of Sherlock Holmes, illustrated by Henry Lauritzen, my personal favorite Sherlockian illustrator.
Banner for The Cimbrian Friends of Sherlock Holmes

After telling Thessa he was my favorite, she offered, after dinner, to take me to where he lived. Dinner was a four-star feast at a restaurant setting along the fjord dissecting Aalborg. A perfect dinner with excellent wine pairings, including Sherlockian conversation. I was in Valhalla. Dinner began with a lobster bisque with a perfectly chilled Vouvray. This was followed by roast duck breast, varieties of mushrooms and an old vine, Californian Zinfandel, oh my Lodi. Next up was five different Danish cheeses and tawny Port, Finally we were served a selection of white chocolates with local apple ice cream with a Sauternes that was not too sweet but not too dry either. Then I was served my second dessert.

Thessa Jensen and moi, enjoying a great dinner.
No. 60 Vesterbro, Aalborg, Denmark
This was a short drive to No. 60 Vesterbro, where Henry Lauritzen, BSI lived until his death in 1991. My personal Sherlockian business card features a silhouette of Holmes drawn by Mr. Lauritzen. As we were outside taking photographs a young couple walked up and asked why we were there. They were there to meet a friend who lived in the building. Thessa embellished that I had flown in from Texas JUST  to visit this very place. Intrigued, the youngsters wanted to know more. Then we were joined by the residential friend, who was equally interested in which famous person had lived in his building, I suppose an obscure Sherlockian artist, dead for nearly a quarter of century, did not pique their interest too much. They just looked at each other and bid us good-evening, It was great for me and that's what matters. It was time to head back north to Hjørring and a perfect Scandinavian Sherlockian evening wound down. Thessa and I said our good-byes and promised to stay in touch, but being Sherlockians this was just a formality. All Sherlockian stay in touch and we are no different. It is now time for part II of my Scandinavian adventure - off to Sweden.

Happy blogging!!