Written by Cal Wilson

Arts

Ideal Holmes Show

From monsters in greatcoats to Sir Arthur Conan Doilies, the possible contents of a new Sherlock exhibition have Cal Wilson’s deerstalker in a spin.

Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch in Belstaff coat, photographed by Colin Hutton © Hartswood Films.

The Museum of London has whipped up a very intriguing Sherlock Holmes exhibition called The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die. Tragically I won’t get to see it because I live in Australia and the Metropolitan line doesn’t go that far.

It’s killing me that I can’t get there, because I love Sherlock Holmes. When I say “Sherlock Holmes” I mean Sherlock, the BBC TV series. When I say “Sherlock, the BBC TV series,” I mean I have a crush on Benedict Cumberbatch’s hair and all of Martin Freeman (although I do like the rest of it too).

The exhibition’s got me curious, though: just how do you commemorate someone who doesn’t exist? I imagine it will contain some first editions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, some coats and deerstalkers that Holmes might have worn (had he existed), some pipes he might have smoked (were he not fictional), recreations of the flat he didn’t live in, at the address it wasn’t at. Given the confusion that always surrounds his legend, it might also be wise to employ a guide to discreetly whisper, “he’s not real” to tourists.

If they wanted to make it really authentically Sherlocky, they should just leave a few clues on the steps of the museum. Then you’d have to work out where the exhibition actually is, using only three strands of hair, cigarette ash and half a pigeon.

But why stop there? Since Holmes didn’t actually exist, they could really go to town with this exhibition, and have him doing any number of excellent things. Genre mashups, say. I’m thinking “Arthur Conan the Barbarian Doyle”. He’s brilliant at deduction but, unable to articulate anything, he can only communicate through grunts and sword fighting. He sorts it all out but there’s a lot of collateral damage. Tagline: “He cracks cases and skulls.”

Or how about “Cherlock Holmes?” Cher solves crimes through the medium of power ballads. (“…if I could turn back time/I’d have prevented the burglars from entering the house…”)

Or “Sherlock Valentine.” A middle-aged Holmes visits Greece and rediscovers his joie de vivre in the arms of a hirsute pub owner, while simultaneously finding a way to return the Elgin Marbles.

Then, perhaps the most heartrending variation: “The Sherloch Ness Monster.” Lonely, hunted, and unable to find a stylish greatcoat large enough to fit him, the Monster turns his mighty brain to the question of whether he actually exists. Using his incredible powers of deduction, he proves conclusively that the ecosystem of the loch couldn’t sustain a creature of his size and immediately ceases to be, leaving nothing but an enormous deerstalker and some confused souvenir sellers.

If they wanted to make it really authentically Sherlocky, they should just leave a few clues on the steps of the museum. Then you’d have to work out where the exhibition actually is, using only three strands of hair, cigarette ash and half a pigeon.

Painful though it is, I accept that it is unlikely the organisers will have gone with these genius ideas. But surely they’ll have renamed the museum cafe Alimentary, My Dear Watson? Who after all could resist a menu boasting such treats as Eggs Benedict, Cucumberbatch sandwiches and Moriartichokes?

In addition, I’ve whipped up some irresistible merchandising ideas for the gift shop, which the Museum of London can have FOR FREE in exchange for letting me pat Martin Freeman a couple of times, and feed him out of my hand.

How about this? Hound of the Baskervilles Dog Food. Frighteningly large tins full of something mysterious, for the hellhound in your life.
Or class up your afternoon tea by plonking your macarons on some Sir Arthur Conan Doilies. And let’s not forget the Sherlock Sturdy Luggage range: “For your Holmes away from home. Our cases can’t be cracked!”

Finally, my most inarguably glorious merchandise idea: Sherlock Gnomes. Amusing likenesses of Sherlock and his cohorts, made of concrete. Perfect for your garden, or whacking someone over the head when they won’t stop making Sherlock-based puns.
Even Holmes himself wouldn’t find the murder weapon. Brilliant.

The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die: The Museum of London, 17 October – 12 April

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Written by Cal Wilson

Cal Wilson is a Kiwi who calls Australia home. Comedian, Writer, amateur Cat Lady.