Monday, June 24, 2019

Sherlock Holmes on Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds

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The controversy over Carry Symonds, Boris Johnson and their neighbours put me in mind of the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

In it, the great detective explains to Watson why he does not find rural scenes restful:
"The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. 
"But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser."
I mentioned this passage to Stephen Booth, the 'rural noir' crime author, when he came to speak to Leicester Writers' Club. He knew it well.

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