Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The affinity of great minds

"I've an idea; just struck me, and you're as welcome to it as if it were your own. P'r'aps that rascal Atkinson has ordered those things, and got them when they were sent home. Rather smart of me to think of that, eh?"

"Very smart," I answered, with great emphasis, while his valet grinned behind a coat. "The affinity of great minds is shown in the fact that the same idea struck me."

The McGovan Casebook: The Wrong Umbrella
William Crawford Honeyman, writing as James McGovan


The McGovan books, which first appeared in the 1870s, were supposed at the time to be the memoirs of a real-life Edinburgh detective. In the afterword to my edition of the casebook, Mary Anne Allburger argues the case for Honeyman as an influence on the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, himself a student in Edinburgh at the time:

The final confirmation may be deduced from Holmes's decision to retire to the South Downs and to keep bees, for thus the violin-playing sleuth becomes a "honey-man".


The affinity of great minds was no less in evidence over the Christmas period. My delight at finding as suitable a present for my brother as the anime DVD Sherlock Hound was rather tempered by the fact that he had bought the exact same present for me.


It was the end of the evening on Christmas Day and the party was petering out. All the alcohol was gone and both Peters in attendance had in fact retired to the front room to follow the Ashes on the radio. It was unquestionably time to hit the road.

"Let's make like a condom," I announced.

"And split?" asked Katelyn.

"You're very close," I said. "The correct answer is: and piss off."

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