On Friday (November 21), Frazer and I set off across the city to the Museum of London for a night-time Sherlock event. Neither of us had ever been to something like this before but were tempted after a two for one offer on the Londonist site meant we’d get in for just £6 so, recognising a shared Sherlock interest – stories, TV series and films – we went along and it was a great evening.
We started off by exploring the memory maze installation, which demonstrated the science behind memory, which is obviously exploited much more by Sherlock Holmes than most of us lowly humans. It was interactive, as we could write down our recollections on three Sherlock or London related prompts and put them in an appropriate area of the brain, as constructed by a colour-coded test tube maze. I enjoyed being nosy and seeing what everyone else had put!
We then strolled past Paddington in Sherlock guise, some quirky drawing going on of a man in Sherlock-inspired dress being loomed over by a woman in a mask, and found the forensics corner, but it had a long queue so we went to be taught about mind palaces instead.
Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory (how grand!), taught a cosy group to memorise the first four Sherlock Holmes books and the 23 short stories contained within two of those books – in order of course, and all in the space of 20 minutes. He utilised his nook of the museum to demonstrate the technique and it seemed quite effective, as well as being very enjoyable.
We were then taught about Bartitsu, the gentleman’s art of self-defence, by James Garvey. This martial art was referenced by Conan Doyle (though misspelled) as the technique Sherlock Holmes used to escape certain death in The Reichenbach Falls, and Garvey explained that this reference is possibly the only reason it survives today as enthusiasts were intrigued by the mention and dug up information about it. The demonstrations were both awesome to watch and hilarious as one man was consistently victimised, but the techniques of using balance, canes and sneakiness were very clever.
Shoot From The Hip, a comedy improv quintet, entertained with sketches both inspired by Sherlock and completely unrelated and although it wasn’t all up there in the hilarity stakes, they had a very good hit rate. The freeze frame game was a personal favourite as was the first simple sketch of Sherlock and Holmes solving – badly – a murder.
We then checked out the museum’s current Sherlock Holmes exhibition, with goodies including the coat designed for Benedict Cumberbatch and lots of cool maps of London that would have shown the streets in Conan Doyle’s time and also some that had strings showing the journeys made by Holmes and Watson in particular stories.
Of course, we had to check out the gift shop on the way out and try on the famous hat, but the price of the cool Sherlock teddy bear made me wince. Overall, a great evening at the Museum of London!