If you know me well, you will know that I am not…organized. Like Holmes, I drove my (college) roommate mad with my inability to put things away…right away, and to create an entire office on my bed. I mean seriously, who needs a desk when you can just spread it all out–and keep it that way. This is not a trait that has changed in the last 30+ years, either. I have a desk/bookshelf area in the living room, and I love it, but I also have my side of the bed, with its nest of books and papers. And the occasional dog.
I will be the first to admit that disorganization can be a costly trait. Bills are forgotten, appointments are missed, permission slips go unsigned, oil doesn’t get changed, and you end up with about 30 pairs of scissors. I therefore make a valiant effort, with the help of my faithful bullet journal, to stay on top of things. One section of each month, for example, is devoted to menu planning. If I know what I am going to cook each week, I don’t end up at the store (or on the Instacart website) buying a bunch of “whatever-looks-good” at random. It takes a little effort, but it has probably saved me at least $50 per week, and we have a lot less waste (although the cucumbers still melt in the bottom of the refrigerator drawer on occasion).
It’s not likely that either Holmes or Watson did much meal planning. How nice for them.
But you can be sure that Mrs. Hudson was not the sort to run out to the shops or various markets without a strategy–and a list–in mind. Seriously, no matter which Mrs. Hudson is “your” Mrs. Hudson, I doubt that she wastes either time or money.
But not everyone is a natural planner, and even if it’s your forte, you need time and practice. That’s why Victorian housekeeping manuals often provided sample menus for the novice (or simply overwhelmed) housekeeper. In the 1880 version of Mrs. Beeton’s, for example, we have menus for picnics, menus for the servants, menus for large, formal dinners, for wedding breakfasts (we’ll be hearing more about that), menus based on household or income size, menus for specialty foods…the variety is marvelous. So I tried to imagine which Mrs. Hudson might have used for her lodgers in 1881. She would, of course, be more limited to seasonal foodstuffs than we are today. And she does seem to have indulged her boys a bit, so….perhaps something like this:
If, however, she were economising, she might have prepared meals like this:
Honestly, that’s a tremendous amount of food. I’m thinking she may have saved leftovers for the Holmes’s “Irregulars.”
Today’s prize also has its roots in the desire for efficiency and organization–and it’s one of the more fun and unusual prizes I’ve found.
This is a 3-volume set of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, written in Pitman’s Shorthand and published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons in 1915. You can read more about the Pitman editions here: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Sir_Isaac_Pitman_%26_Sons.
This set is in good condition, although the covers show some fading due to the light; there have been at least 2 owners other than myself, and they’ve left their names behind. Someone has also put light pencil checks in the corner of each page–to mark what they read? Whether you know shorthand or not, they are definitely a Sherlockian conversation piece, and I hope you enjoy them.
If you win, that is. To enter, you will need to answer the following question:
Give at least one example of shorthand being used in the Canon. Why do you think it might be the Pitman method?
As always, send your entry in via blog comment or FB message (either the Well-Read Sherlockian FB Page or my personal page.) Good luck! And may your last few days of 2019 be wonderful!