A piece of history

Living on the edge (source)

When I was a kid, I had this big cardboard box. It was my favourite possession; I practically lived in it. Come for a little walk, I’ll tell you about it.

It had been packaging for a television set. This was back when TVs were almost cubical, and heavy too, so the box needed to be big and strong. When it was delivered, I wasn’t interested in television, I just wanted the box. My mother asked the delivery men if we could keep it. Could we? They were overjoyed to have one less piece of rubbish to dispose of. …

Shylock Homes has a premonition

Who are you looking at? (sauce)

“Your eggs have gone cold,” I said as Shylock Homes appeared at the breakfast table. However, a mere glance at his appearance told me that he was not about to eat. His eyes were wild, his hair dishevelled, and he was still clad in his pyjamas. He was muttering something, over and over, that sounded to me like selphy. Sell Fee?

He snatched our copy of The Times from my hands and leafed through it in agitation. “Notebook, Watsup,” he instructed, waving at me. “Dream.”

At once I abandoned my own breakfast and reached for the notebook and pencil that…

Making a hash of things

No sauce (sauce)

“Will there be some meat in it?” Sasha looked hopeful, eager.

I had hoped she would be eager to try my vegetarian fare, but no. “No,” I said, fixing the same grin on my face that I thought I could see on hers, “that’s the point.”

All of my family were out for the day; Sasha and I were alone in the house. She was, in a hesitant fashion on both sides, my girlfriend. That was how I thought of her: in italics, not in quotes. Today I was thinking of where my culinary expertise might lead us. …

How did it come to this?


James looked at the egg. The egg, it seemed to James, looked back at him. Of a sudden, James was not hungry.

How did it come to this? he wondered. There had been a time when he was always ready to eat. In his youth he had been regarded as a trencherman, able to complete any number of courses, any size of serving. Now? He felt outfaced by a single soft-boiled egg. He picked up the slice of thinly-buttered bread from his plate and nibbled a corner. I’ll have this first. Maybe then I’ll feel better.

But he did not…

But I think she knows

A picture of my subject would be intrusive, not to say creepy, so instead here’s a recent production from the same studio

She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and — No. She’s better than that.

She walks like God took a Barbie doll, boosted it up to human size and down to human proportions, checked its articulation and saw that it was good, breathed His most precious life into it, then turned the job over to some minor angels to dress. The upper-half angel did a good job, adding nothing to spoil her harmony. The unmemorable sweaters or coats always match the weather. No make-up distracts from the infectious warmth of her permanent smile. …

Homes and Watsup reach an understanding

Smaller than it looks (source)

The Affair Of The Arsenical Abbot?” asked Shylock Homes. “I give in.”

“The murder committed by Reverend Green,” I reminded him. “It took place in his parishioner’s own conservatory. He used an obscure poison known only to the highest adepts of a little-known Eastern martial art, who fortuitously include yourself. I used arsenical for the sake of simplicity, and for the alliteration. My readers like alliteration.” I located the matching invoice and replaced the index-card in the file box. “It’s very good of you to help me put my affairs in order.” I took out the next card. “Oh, not…

An open and shut case


Many years ago, when I had a job selling such things, I was struck by a manufacturer’s claim about their latest toaster. Struck? Perhaps I should say intrigued. Or seduced. The toaster’s unique selling point was that it included a humidity sensor. No more burned toast! No more putting the bread back in to get properly brown! To hear the makers tell it, this was a game-changer, a new paradigm, the best thing since, er, sliced bread.

[I was reminded of this last week, when toasting slices from an unfamiliar branded loaf produced a shrinking effect akin to magic. I…

Casting the spell


“Who was that?” asked Jenna as he replaced the handset with noisy emphasis. She did not look up from her own mobile screen. Aliens landing on the lawn outside might — might — distract her eyes, but her grandfather becoming irritated with a landline had no chance.

“Just a crank,” he said, wondering how much force it would take to prize the device from her hand.

“A prank? What kind of a prank?”

Crank,” he said again, “C-R-A-N-K, Cuh-rank.”

“I’m sure you said prank,” she insisted.

“I said crank,” he repeated. “Someone who calls to waste your time.” If you…

Lord Foolish recalls an ancestorette

For security reasons we are unable to show the actual feather described below. This one is from thefeatherfactory.co.uk.

My maternal step-grandmother on my father’s side was a Frenchwoman of good stock, whose family had fallen on hard times during the Great Depression. After her father’s suicide and the possibly-related disappearance of her mother (the case was never solved), the estate in Apignon that should have been her inheritance was sold to cover his debts. To fund an approximation of her former lifestyle, and being blessed with the looks and talent that would allow her to do so, the dispossessed Maîtresse hied herself to Paris and became an exotic dancer at an establishment in the Place Pigalle.

In the…

Homes and Watsup in sartorial mode

Right knot, wrong man (source)

Gentleman strangled with own tie in failed robbery,” I read from a freshly-ironed copy of The Times. “The things some people will do!” I read a little further. “Fellow called Henry Bobnail. An engineer, it says.”

Shylock Homes snatched the paper from me and took in the story at a glance. “I’ll warrant, Watsup,” he said, “that not one word of that headline is correct.” He flung down the paper and began to dress for the outdoors. “Come along, let us repair to Kensington before LeStrange makes a bigger fool of himself.”

We arrived shortly at the late Henry’s mansion-cum-factory…

Stuart James

The story speaks for itself. Remember to be a good person. Links and index at https://sjhtma.medium.com/a-suggestion-6e92a330f746

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