Meet the Musicians at Holmes Fest 2017 – Hudson and Lestrade

Janet Ayers and Matt Parsons
Janet Ayers and Matt Parsons

About Hudson and Lestrade

Hudson and Lestrade AKA Janet Ayers & Matthew Parsons perform under many subtly crafted disguises. As Les Kazoos D’amour they have performed over the years at Tongues & Grooves, Lymington Library, Teapoet Collective, Open Word and the Front Room, plus guesting for book launches and community events in Portsmouth.

Matthew Parsons is an Artist http://mattparsons.org/ , Musician and Writer (Dark Cities 2016)
Janet Ayers is a community artist https://www.facebook.com/Southsea-Community-Choir-204761259929574/ Illustrator, Celebrant and Performer.

Get your tickets for Holmes Fest 2017 here
Wednesday 28th June, 6.30pm, The Square Tower, Portsmouth
Price: £7.50

 

Q: “What do you love about Victorian music hall songs?”

The songs are a window into a world that we no longer inhabit. Finding the true meaning of the slang words puts the songs in context and you find they do mock the upper classes, with all the various performers taking on different identities: women dressing as young men, posh ladies affecting a common accent, men dressing as tramps… Above all, we’ve picked the best tunes and melodies and catchy choruses for the audience to join in with.

“What’s the worst thing about them?”

Some of them go on for ever and ever and ever… and lots of stereotyping and sentimentality. Also, not all of them would have been recorded or notated so some are lost forever! Perhaps they were the better songs?!

“If you could be any Victorian, who would you be?”

Matt: Queen Victoria
Janet: Prince Albert

Community choir singing for all over the summer:

If anyone would like to sing over the summer, then please join Sing for Water Portsmouth from Tuesday 18th July for 8 weeks! More info from Janet on contact@janetayers.org or this link only £45 for 8 weeks includes song sheet and audio cd. Raise money and awareness for Water Aid. Performance on Sunday 10th September 2pm outdoors in Old Portsmouth!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1632043353687486/

Les Kazoos

A J Noon – my story for Holmes Fest 2017

A J Noon

The Case of the Shyster Watson – My Story For Holmesfest 2017

 

‘My story for Holmes Fest 2017 is set later in their careers and was inspired when reading through Arthur Conan Doyle’s original ideas for the stories. There is a name in there I hope the Sherlock fans will recognise, a name that ties the piece together. Trying to write a very short detective piece has proved interesting and hopefully I have managed to pull together enough for the audience to both recognise the characters and to tell an interesting story.’

About A J Noon

AJ Noon was and born bred in Portsmouth, and, after an extended absence, returned home three years ago. The history of the area has a firm grip on his interests and when not writing and performing in the area he can be found skulking on the decks of HMS Victory. He writes short stories and is putting the finishing touches to his first novel in conjunction with studying his MA at Portsmouth University.

Tickets for Holmes Fest 2017 available here
Wednesday 28th June, 6.30pm, The Square Tower, Portsmouth
Price: £7.50

Christine Lawrence – my story for Holmes Fest 2017

Christine Lawrence

Dear John – My Story For Holmesfest 2017

The fact that Conan Doyle spent time in Southsea and he created Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson whilst he was living here inspired me to write my story of sinister retribution, called Dear John. I used the twisted mind of a so-called madwoman to weave this dark story – and I have to add, it’s purely from my imagination. Relatives of Doyle should therefore not be disturbed or offended by its dark tone!

About Christine

After completing an MA in Creative Writing, Christine published her first novel, Caught in the Web. She is now about to finish her second novel, Payback which she plans to publish this year. She is passionate about writing, playwriting, acting and directing, runs the wardrobe at Titchfield Festival Theatre. She particularly enjoys performing her own writings and meeting people. She writes at www.southwickwriterwoman.blogspot.co.uk

Christine was one of the authors involved in the Portsmouth Bookfest 20 x 12, has short stories published in Portsmouth Fairy Tales for Grown-ups, and Day of the Dead. She has performed at events including the Victorious Festival, Portsmouth Plugged-in, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Day of the Dead, I,II and III at the Square Tower and several other locations in Portsmouth, including the Guildhall, The Kings Theatre and the New Theatre Royal. Recently Christine was one of the fourteen writers who took part in the Writing Edward King project at Portsmouth City Museum which received Arts Council Funding. She performed her writing for this project in several venues across the City.

Tickets for Holmes Fest 2017 available here
Wednesday 28th June, 6.30pm, The Square Tower, Portsmouth
Price: £7.50

Caught in the Web is available on Amazon as a paperback as well as an Ebook on Kindle. It is also stocked in Blackwells, Portsmouth, Waterstones in Portsmouth and Fareham, as well as at The Book Shop Lee-on-the-Solent.

St James’s Lunatic Asylum, where Christine’s story is set.

Christine’s Books

 



 

Arthur Conan Doyle and the vicar of St Jude’s, Southsea

Southsea – St Jude’s Church and Vicarage

In his book A Study In Southsea, Geoffrey Stavert traces Arthur Conan Doyle’s life in the seaside town, partially through Doyle’s fictionalised account of Southsea life in his novel The Stark Munro letters. His real-life surgery at No. 1 Bush Villas, was renamed “Oakley Villas”, while St Jude’s was newly Christened “St. Joseph’s”. Stavert writes:

At “Elmwood”, a pleasantly commodious Thomas Owen house situated just off Elm Grove between Grove Road South and the Woodpath (on part of the site now occupied by Telephone House), with lawns and hedges on three sides, lived the Reverend Charles Russell Tompkins, a curate of St Jude’s Church, Southsea. Not content with a wife and seven daughters to minister to his creature comforts, the Rev. Tompkins also maintained a cook, a housemaid and a nurse. It sounds as if St. Jude’s was a comfortable parish in 1883.

I suspect the Rev. Tompkins was the original of the un-named “High Church Curate of St. Joseph’s” whose encounter with the new tenant of Oakley Villas is described in The Stark Munro Letters. The curate had been one of the first to call after the new doctor had put up his plate, with high hopes of welcoming him to the flock, and had been considerably taken aback when he was firmly told that the doctor had no intention of becoming a regular attender at his church or any other…

Come and celebrate Conan Doyle’s life in Portsmouth at Holmes Fest on 28th June 2017 at The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth. Tickets are selling, so book your seat here before it’s too late. https://www.wegottickets.com/event/401304

June 1882: Arthur Conan Doyle Arrives In Portsmouth

Clarence Pier, Southsea, in the 1880s

One fine day towards the end of June 1882, a young man stepped ashore from a coastal steamer at Clarence Pier, at the western end of Southsea Common. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with plump cheeks, a well-developed moustache, and a pair of sharp, bold eyes which hinted that although it was only a month after his twenty third birthday, he had already been a round a bit and could look after himself nicely, thank you. He was dressed in comfortable tweeds, complete with waistcoat and stiff collar and tie, despite the time of year. With him he had all his worldly possessions: a tin box containing his top-hat (every Victorian gentleman with any pretensions to professional respectability had to have a top-hat, and consequently a box to carry it in) and a leather trunk.

It must have been a pretty heavy trunk, because not only did it contain his best suit, spare pair of boots (shoes were not commonly worn by men, being considered effeminate), linen and toilet things and a few essential books, but also a brass plate inscribed with his name and medical degree, and his photographic gear, comprising at least a large wooden box camera, separate lens, and a set of glass photographic plates. Young Doctor Conan Doyle had arrived to seek his fortune as a general practitioner in Portsmouth.

– From “A Study In Southsea”, by Geoffrey Stavert.

Celebrate the life and times of Arthur Conan Doyle in Portsmouth at The Square Tower on Wednesday 28th June 2017. Stories, songs, duelling, poison bottles – and a prize for the Best Dressed Victorian!

Light refreshments, good company and top hats. What more can you want?

Conan Doyle and the Mysterious World of Light – Introduction

Below is the opening chapter of my latest book, Conan Doyle and the Mysterious World of Light.

Introduction

“How could Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who invented the ultra-rationalist Sherlock Holmes, also believe in séances, mediums – and even fairies?”

That question had for some time been on my mind. Friends I spoke to about it expressed opinions such as “it’s totally schizophrenic” or “he must have lost his marbles when he got older.” With that second statement there often came a supplementary question: “Was he still writing Holmes stories when he believed in this stuff?”

They always looked surprised when I told them he was.

That was the starting point for my journey into the world of Light, a magazine I found in the Arthur Conan Doyle Archives Lancelyn Green Bequest held in Portsmouth Central Library.

Surveying the vast array of Conan Doyle documents they hold there, I wondered how to limit my investigations. Spiritualism is a massive subject, and I don’t pretend to be an expert. I wanted to understand Conan Doyle. I wanted to trace his thinking so that I could track his steps through the Spiritualist world he moved in. Who was he talking with? What was the mood of the time? It was this opportunity the magazine Light provided.

I also decided to read around the subject. As part of my research into the fascinating case of Conan Doyle’s beliefs, I read Daniel Stashower’s detailed Conan Doyle, Teller of Tales and Kevin I Jones’s excellent Conan Doyle And The Spirits. Considering them, I realised they represented the two classes of thinker who stand at either end of the Spiritualist argument: the rationalist and the mystic.

I’d previously read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, a large proportion of his horror tales and historical romances. I was deeply impressed by the sheer energy in Conan Doyle, his wide-ranging imagination and his mastery of language. I got that he had done much psychical research and I understood from Jones and Stashower some of the narrative of his deepening belief in ghosts and spirits.

But something was missing.

I decided to add to my reading by surveying Conan Doyle’s original Spiritualist works on the subject, The New Revelation, The Vital Message and The Case for Spirit Photography, among others.

They are fascinating as works that stand alone, but again they didn’t really answer how Conan Doyle came to be the leading Spiritualist of his age.

So, was Conan Doyle “schizophrenic”, as my friends had put it? I felt it was the wrong question. It revealed little about Conan Doyle and betrayed plenty about the materialist attitudes of my friends.

I wanted to understand the process and logic of Doyle’s beliefs. And I wanted to capture some of the voices of the time and explore the preoccupations of those involved in the vast field of spirit phenomena at the start of the 20th Century. I wanted those voices to speak to me, to tell me with a direct voice how their world and their beliefs had been built. And I wanted to hear from Conan Doyle, from his correspondents and critics directly how he fitted into that world.

As I read the magazine, I realised that is exactly what Light afforded.

I have attempted in this book to be guided by Conan Doyle’s voice and preoccupations as revealed in Light, and use the magazine to introduce me to the spirit of the times. The writings of Conan Doyle published in Light uncover some of the many currents of thinking about Spiritualism during and after The Great War. They trace how Conan Doyle came to be the de facto leader of a world movement into which he threw his extraordinary energies with the ardent fervour of the evangelist.

But Conan Doyle did not exist in isolation. I quote other voices from the world in which he moved. I’ve selected letters and articles in such a way as to paint a picture of the era and its people. The devout and passionate Rev. F. Fielding-Ould; the measured voice of the editor of Light, David Gow; the obdurate and piously narrow-minded voice of Father Bernard Vaughan; the fantastically intolerant Joseph McCabe – all combine to paint a picture of the period.

I am not entirely uncritical. At times, I criticise or analyse Conan Doyle’s thinking and I do comment on it as I try to piece together his thoughts. That said, I am not in any way making a case for or against Spiritualism, but tracing the development of Doyle’s attitudes to show that they made perfect sense to him as a human being at that time, even if there are times when I think he was mistaken.

What I’m saying is I hope I don’t get in the way.

I have learned so much from writing this book, and have come to a much clearer – and I have to say – more sympathetic view of the men and women who drove the massive movement of Spiritualism in the early years of the 20th Century.

I think I’ve done it while being entertaining.

I hope you agree and that you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Thanks!

Matt Wingett, Southsea, March 2015

%d bloggers like this: