Playing The Game

For a hundred years or so, devotees of Sherlock Holmes have been playing the game. It is, amongst the faithful, an accepted behaviour and part of the “romance” of being a Sherlockian or Holmesian, depending on which side of the pond you call home. More recently the readers of Mary Russell’s memoirs have joined in the great game by discussing her books and how she lives her life with earnest enthusiasm and infinite care to detail. Last Sunday this game playing was taken to new heights at a (virtual) party at the Sussex cottage that is home to Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.

It was promoted as a Twitter party for the followers of @mary_russell, and as a way to celebrate the pending publication of her tenth memoir – The God of the Hive. This past Sunday a virtual gathering of approximately 60 people “arrived” at the cottage and started mingling, making new friends and greeting old acquaintances. Virtual food and drink was provided and as the party progressed the guests became more and more invested in the proceedings and started exhibiting signs of inebriation (whether from the good company or the honey wine). Virtual signs to be sure, but still…

During the more than two hours of the party guests mingled, and some gathered behind a large aspidistra (there was one in the Baker Street sitting room, so perhaps it was moved to Sussex and flourished), a plant that seemed to get out of hand (at least one person was reported missing and presumed consumed by the plant). A pet bunny, according to one guest, accompanied her to the cottage and promptly slipped away to hop from one guest to another, finally ending up under a sofa with Mrs. Hudson’s cat.

Miss Russell’s literary agent “flew in” from Lisbon and had a congenial exchange with her hostess, although their conversation later became chilled when the term “tale” was used to describe Miss Russell’s true-life memoirs. Dr. Watson arrived and promptly started flirting with the female attendees and Lestrade showed up late, and then went about asking for a cigarette from the gentleman present. By the party’s end most of the participants were begging rides from those sober enough to drive, or calling taxis. Dr. Watson, who, at party’s end, had seemed filled with the bonhomie of the event, wisely chose to stay over in the guest room. At least it was a responsible group, no (virtual) drinking and driving.

As virtual parties go, this was a smashing success. In fact the only thing that didn’t happen at the party was the smashing of furniture or fisticuffs breaking out. The much-mentioned aspidistra even seemed to survive unscathed. But virtual plants are known to be remarkably hardy.  As a group these partygoers were exceedingly polite and seemed to relish in playing the game.

If you missed the party, you can still “look through the cottage window” and follow all the action with the transcript here. It is a jolly good read.

Oh, and April Fools! Instead of opening Mutterings and finding a blog by Laurie, today you have read one by me, Alice “…the girl with the strawberry curls.” When Laurie asked if I would write something about the party and post it while she is off doing research for the next Russell book I was thrilled, then I saw the date. Joke or not, it is an honor to be asked, and I certainly had a good time attending the twitter party, as did, it seemed, all the participants.

To prepare for the party I donned my God of the Hive tee and when other party guests called for a toast to our hosts, Mr. Holmes and Miss Russell, I poured a glass of bubbly and joined in the fun.

Did you do anything special for the party – dress up, have honey wine, a brandy, sherry, a cup of tea? If you have a picture send it to and a Twitter Party Page will be set up to commemorate the event. I’m hoping we get a picture of that bunny and perhaps the aspidistra.

Many thanks to my friend and editor extraordinaire, Merrily, who took the time to offer comments and corrections to this piece.


  1. Merrily on April 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

    And a very sprightly summary of a sprightly party, I must say! Alas I cannot provide a picture of myself while at the party, because my cats have yet to learn to operate the camera. And being cats, they wouldn’t have come into the room to take the picture, anyway.
    Seriously, this event was great fun and amazingly like being at a “real” party!

  2. jtb1951 on April 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

    And I’m not sure if I should provide pictorial evidence of all the champagne I was pouring; I wasn’t checking ID’s for anyone underage (although, come to think of it, I don’t know what the legal drinking age in England is!)


  3. DinkleToes on April 7, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I honestly think it was better than a ‘real’ party. At real parties, I’m usually the one stammering nonsensically and hiding behind plants, but this time around I could really get into the conversation! Normally I would rather hide behind a book than socialize with a great amount of people, so this was the perfect combination — book party! Woo!

    Oh, and I did send along a picture of my rabbit. I do hope she didn’t cause too much trouble for Mrs. Hudson 😉

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