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Sherlock Holmes mystery continues: is the story found in Scottish attic a lost Conan Doyle?

Posted 22/02/2015

A Sherlock Holmes story thought to be written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was recently discovered in an attic in Selkirk, Scotland. The story was 111 years old and has been sitting there for approximately the last 50 years.


The 80-year-old retired carpenter, Walter Elliot, could not believe what he would find under a pile of books when he decided to clean his attic in Selkirk, on the southeast of Scotland.

Bound with a rope he discovered an old collection of stories entitled Book o ‘the brig. The tome was edited by locals in order to raise money to replace the bridge over River Ettrick, swept away in 1902 during a flood.  

He opened it and, among its 48 pages, found nothing less than a lost story of detective Sherlock Holmes written (alledgedly) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A tale of around 1,300 words, lost for more than 100 years after its first publication in 1904, entitled “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, By Deduction, the Brig Bazaar.”

Back then, Conan Doyle was already a famous writer. Two years earlier he had published The Hound of the Baskervilles. But he may have accepted to publish this story, including contributions in poetry and prose from neighbours, in order to collaborate in a good cause for the town which he often visited.


In fact, his presence in the last day of the bazaar that will raise funds to build the bridge was announced on the last page.

The book, calculated Elliot, could have been around 50 years in his attic. "It's a charming little story," he told the Daily Mail. "I have no idea how many were published or how many were sold, but I've had the book for half a century now, and I do not remember even buying it."

Apparently Conan Doyle wrote the story shortly after resurrecting the legendary detective from his fatal fall in the Reichenbach Falls. At that time, the writer flirted with politics and intended to become a deputy of that region within the Liberal Unionist Party, a splinter of the Liberal Party.

"Normally, people used to throw these books or get rid of them," says Elliot. "But this has been with my family all the time." Now the document can be seen in the Selkirk Community Museum.

You can read the full text at The Telegraph, below you can find the first few paragraphs:

We’ve had enough of old romantics and the men of travel, said the Editor, as he blue-pencilled his copy, and made arrangements for the great Saturday edition of the Bazaar Book. ‘We want something up-to-date. Why not have a word from “Sherlock Holmes”?’

Editors have only to speak and it is done, at least, they think so. ‘Sherlock Holmes!’ As well talk of interviewing the Man in the Moon. But it does not do to tell Editors all that you think. I had no objections whatever, I assured the Editor, to buttonhole ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ but to do so I should have to go to London.

‘London!’ scornfully sniffed the Great Man. ‘And you profess to be a journalist? Have you never heard of the telegraph, the telephone, or the phonograh? Go to London! And are you not aware that all journalists are supposed to be qualified members of the Institute of Fiction, and to be qualified to make use of the Faculty of Imagination? By the use of the latter men have been interviewed, who were hundreds of miles away; some have been “interviewed” without either knowledge or consent. See that you have a topical article ready for the press for Saturday. Good day.’

I was dismissed and had to find copy by hook or by crook. Well, the Faculty of Imagination might be worth a trial…”

The story is unsigned and therefore unverified, but Doyle was known to enjoy visiting Selkirk. Thus here is where the mystery begins – the story might not actually have been written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Elliot, quoted in the Guardian, admits the story was not signed by him: “It’s unsigned, and I’m not a specialist, but the vocabulary seems pretty close to the way Conan Doyle wrote. I’m fairly sure it was written by him.”


Sir Arthur Conan DoyleSir Arthur Conan DoyleThat assumption is challenged by Holmes expert Mattias Boström. He claims that newspaper reports from the time prove that he could not have written it: "By using quotation marks around Sherlock Holmes the author of the story showed that this person was fictional; the detective's name was often written that way in the newspapers back then."

Boström considered: "Conan Doyle's host, the Selkirkshire historian Mr. Thomas Craig-Brown, made a long introduction to the recital –everything he said was reported in the weekly local newspaper The Southern Reporter – but he made no mention of a new Sherlock Holmes story by Conan Doyle soon being published in the local booklet."

"It would really have been worth mentioning since Conan Doyle had started publishing new Holmes stories in The Strand Magazine earlier that same autumn."

Thus, the mystery continues. However, the moral of the story is to make sure none of our relatives are unknowingly keeping treasures hidden away in their attics.




Valentine’s DayGuadalupe del OlmoGuadalupe del Olmo


Love is for life, not just for Valentine's Day

Posted 14/02/2015

By Guadalupe del Olmo

Love or dread the prospect, it is that time of year again, the days grow longer, the January blues are fading, and the first punctuation of the new year offers a welcome distraction from the daily winter grind. The traditional love letter may have been taken over by the text message, or a tweet, by it is still all about romance.

While the European folk traditions connected with Saint Valentine and St. Valentine's Day have become marginalized by the modern Anglo-American customs connecting the day with romantic love, there are some remaining associations connecting the saint with the advent of spring.
However, before we get to the historical origins of this festival, not unlike Christmas, which also has its roots in religious tradition, it has to be said, that Saint Valentine’s day has become no more than a commercial enterprise, which monopolises the emotions of lovers via their wallets. You may think this is a very cynical view, but again like Christmas, when we are obliged to be “kind” to each other on this particular day, but not necessarily the rest of the year, and Valentines seems to be fallen on the same meme.


Historical background


Valentine's Day has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love was traditionally March 12, the Saint Gregory's day, or February 22, Saint Vincent's Day.

St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies. Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30.

On a different but also historic note, the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre is the name given to the 1929 murder of six mob associates and a mechanic of the North Side Irish gang led by Bugs Moran during the Prohibition Era. It resulted from the struggle — between the Irish American gang and the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone — to take control of organized crime in Chicago. Former members of the Egan's Rats gang were also suspected of having played a significant role in the incident, assisting Capone.

But back to reality…


Cards, chocolates, flowers and dinners - just some of the buzzwords around Valentine's Day. But reminding people that working on relationships every day is just as important. A time of year when we focus on our relationships and make a special effort with our partners, but what if we made an effort every day.

For those considering making positive changes in their relationships, communication is the key factor.

Communication is vital for the success of any relationship, regardless of whether it is romantic or platonic, so don't take it for granted.

Keep talking to each other and express your fears, concerns, loves and desires. This helps you build trust. It will also strengthen the bond between you and keep you connected as your relationship evolves. To further strengthen relationships, people should give each other compliments, find activities that both people can enjoy and share and surprise one another.

It says demanding work schedules and fatigue from the daily grind can make this easy to forget - but that it is a key element in making relationships work.

Our lives are full of demands that fill our time and our headspace. Work, children or commitments to other family members put a drain on our personal resources. In turn, this causes us to neglect ourselves and then our relationship.

To further strengthen relationships, people should give each other compliments, find activities that both people can enjoy and share and surprise one another, every other day, not just on Saint Valentine’s day.

In the end, it boils down to one main thing: talk, talk, talk.


By Guadalupe del Olmo for EU Spectator





Vienna ball – spoiling the dancingAnna-Maria BakAnna-Maria Bak

Posted on 01/02/2015

By Anna-Maria Bak

A crowd of about 5,000 people gathered in central Vienna on Friday evening for a largely peaceful demonstration against a ball, which was organized by the right-wing Freedom Party (FPOe). Isolated scuffles broke out with police officers in riot gear using dogs to disperse demonstrators.

Police counted 5,000 protesters, while the left-wing organizers of the demonstration said there were 9,000. The protest ended with dozens of detainees and at least two people injured.

As lavish pairs waltzed under crystal chandeliers on Friday, thousands of raucous demonstrators outside their sumptuous palace ball demanded an end to the black-tie event, which they say draws the far-right fringe from across Europe.

The annual ball is controversial not only because it is attended by far-right sympathizers, but also because it is held in the former imperial palace on the Heldenplatz, a historically charged square that Adolf Hitler proclaimed the annexation of Austria.

"This is not a harmless dance event, but a meeting where Europe's extreme right comes to network," said Kaethe Lichtner, one of the left-wing activists who organized the protest.

Police spokesman Johann Golob said one officer was "wounded" by fireworks and at least one protester was also injured.




Golob said police would remain on the streets until all danger of unrest was dissipated. He also spoke of unspecified damage, the full cost of vandalism from protests last year exceeded 1 million euros but could not be fully assessed until days later.

Balls in Vienna have been a tradition for centuries, with the moneyed class waltzing through wars and recessions, blissfully ignoring the occasional firebomb-throwing anarchist opposed to the alleged decadence associated with such events. Left-wing groups criticize some of Vienna's more opulent balls as a showcase for the rich, but none draws as much opposition as the Academy Ball, which has been held under various names for 60 years.

The formal ball, which in past years has attracted such far-right luminaries as French National Front leader Marine le Pen, is now an annual flashpoint for clashes with leftist opponents of the event. Some held up signs saying "Nazis out".


This event, at the ornate downtown Hofburg palace, started drawing demonstrators decades ago as Austrians started embracing the view that their country — long portrayed as one of Nazi Germany's first victims through its 1938 annexation — was in fact one of Hitler's most loyal allies.


Hitler in Vienna in 1938Hitler in Vienna in 1938But the Viennese are not indifferent to this particular congregation, where the colonial-style décor of the Palace clashes with the male guests’ Romantic revivalism; young men in braided, velvet jackets and tights, some wearing knee-high boots and colourful, plumed berets.

Occasionally, fencing foils dangled at their sides, while the swords’ traces were inscribed in many a face. Scarification on cheek, head, or chest – the so-called Schmiss – is a classic initiation rite in some fraternities.

While most men are wearing black or white tie, nearly all lace their evening costumes with fraternity insignia: discreet, coloured ribbons or sashes, and the signature element of German fraternities – the flat cap with a short rim, the colours identifying the wearer’s “corporation”.


In popular belief, the caps and scars signal membership in a right-wing Burschenschaft. But the truth is more complex. Insiders refer to a spectrum of corporations ranging from “liberal” to “nationalist”. While Burschenschaften form the right-wing extreme, Corps, Sängerschaften (choirs), Landsmannschaften (countryman associations), or Turnvereine (athletic clubs) tend to be more tolerant and less political, emphasising their role as drinking clubs and professional networks. Collectively, Austrian corporations have about 4,000 members, according to Heribert Schiedel from the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW), an institute researching the Nazi period and current right-wing extremism.

The tension between liberalism and nationalism goes back to fraternities’ origins in the early 19th century, when membership was essential for university students’ later professional success. Fraternities were anti-monarchist, insisting on the freedom of assembly in the face of royal surveillance and censorship. To this day, corporations in Austria and Germany point to their academic and liberal roots to fend off accusations of Nazism.

Yet from the outset, liberal ideals mingled with Romantic notions of the organic unity of German-speaking peoples, breeding ideas of racial purity.

Even today, fraternity members have this pan-Germanic culture in mind when they speak of the nation, not the political constructions of Germany or Austria. Thus, hanging from a balcony next to the stage, an incongruous flag draped the Habsburg ball room: the black-red-and-gold standard of German unity.

Opposition to these particular celebrations peaked in 2012 with the Austrian committee reporting to UNESCO, the UN cultural organization, striking all Vienna balls from its list of Austria's noteworthy traditions because of the one ball, staged in part by duelling fraternities including far-right alumni who display scars on their cheeks as badges of honour.

Friday’s ball was sponsored by the Freedom Party, whose supporters range from those opposed to the EU to the far-right fringe. Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache denied that the ball drew right-wingers and criticized opponents as "jackbooted troops of the SA," using the acronym associated with Hitler's brown-shirted storm troops.

He made headlines with a reported description of himself and other ball-goers as the "new Jews" after some visitors were intimidated by protesters at the 2012 Akademikerball, which was held that year on International Holocaust Remembrance day.

He insisted that he meant "Socialist Antifascists," an occasionally violent far-left-anarchist group.

The opposition FPOe currently leads polls with about 28%, attracting potential voters with its eurosceptic, anti-establishment and anti-immigration stance.


According to the polls, FPOe is slightly ahead of the Social Democratic Party and the centre-right People's Party, which form the coalition government.


By Anna-Maria Bak for EU Spectator