All posts by Sarah

The Case of the Missing IQs

Sherlock Holmes. The great detective in the funny hat. Since first appearing in 1887, fans all over the world have been devouring the stories. There have been spin-offs, movies, TV series, merchandise and more.

But what a lot of people forget is that this is a fictional fucking character. Almost every day I get off at Baker Street tube station and see a long line of twats queued up outside 221B Baker Street, now known as ‘the Sherlock Holmes Museum’. It’s mostly tourists, but I’ve seen large groups of people out there as early as 8.30am, ready to shell out 15 quid to see the famous detective’s house and purchase some awful souvenirs.

It baffles me, it really does, that while these people are in line (mostly staring at their smartphones) they can’t put two seconds of thought into what they are about to experience. It took me about 2 minutes on Wikipedia to find out that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose this address for his books because in 1887 it didn’t exist. At the time of publication, Baker Street extended to 221 – this actual building wasn’t created until 1932 and was then occupied by the Abbey National Building Society.

Despite my ravings I am a fan of the series and have read all the books. But by reading all the books, I know that Sherlock’s greatest asset is his mind. Unless people walk in and see a giant brain, this whole place is useless. Sir Arthur’s daughter also publicly said that she was against the idea of the museum because it suggested that her father’s character was a real person.

The facts so far:

1. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character.
2. 221B didn’t exist until 1932.
3. Sir Arthur’s daughter is against the museum.
4. Sherlock Holmes’s most valuable tool is his brain (and sometimes Watson).

So with all of this in mind, the only sane conclusion is that these fools haven’t even read the books, which makes it even worse that they are going to waste their time and money. Shortly after my disappointment in this lot was initiated, I walked by the Museum of London where they were having an exhibition that “delves into the mind of the genius sleuth”. There were people queued for this too, probably straight from Baker Street. It would be a different situation if they had props and sets from the movies and TV shows, but this gave you “a chance to look beyond the familiar deerstalker, pipe and cape and discover the complex character beneath”.

We are in dire times, folks, if people are celebrating a character known for his intellect when they can’t even think for themselves. If Sherlock Holmes was written in this day and age, he’d have to solve his greatest mystery yet – The Case of the Missing IQs. The game is afoot!

Folktronica shoegaze

I had the pleasure of going to see Caribou recently. The man and his supporting band were perfect. Heavy bass, high vocals and sharp beats; I expected nothing less.

But the crowd was beyond sub-par. Before they even came on the stage, there was a fellow almost blackout drunk behind me and as the show went on I noticed all around how sloppy people were. I was stuck in the middle of a giant vortex of debauchery. During “Sun”, in-between being elbowed multiple times in the head and having a whole pint spilled on my feet, the thought occurred to me: “Why would you pay a lot of money for an experience you’re not even going to remember?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for drinking and having fun, but if you paid for a ticket to the show, then I think it’s OK to assume that you are a fan of Caribou and if you’re a fan, wouldn’t you want to at least enjoy the music? These guys came all the way from Canada to put on this show. No matter how big they are, or how much they’re getting paid, you should fucking respect that.

This is not the first time I’ve dealt with this either. I was fourth row at an Interpol show, and there was a man in front of me blitzed out of his mind blabbering on about some battle gear startup he had invested in. He got so out of hand that security was called to remove him. Mind you, these were not the cheapest of seats.

There’s a time and place for everything. Clubs exist for a reason; pubs exist for a reason. Don’t show up to a folktronica shoegaze concert and drunkenly try to start a mosh pit. Apparently I was one of the squarest people there for sipping on two whole pints throughout the night and dancing without causing bodily harm to others and myself. Afterwards on the way to the cloakroom, I saw a girl fall into the wall multiple times trying to wait in line. I’m pretty certain she wasn’t even sure where she was, let alone which city. I cannot exaggerate enough that at least 70% of the crowd was wasted. I’ve seen more sober people leave The Nest at 3am.

I hate being a judgmental person, so if paying copious amounts of money for an experience you could have replicated for significantly less at some spot in Shoreditch is your thing, than be my guest, but don’t include me in your downward spiral. That’s where I cross the line.The best part of the drunk guy behind me (we’ll call him Man-bun for the purposes of this story because of his stupid hairdo) was that his friends were trying to calm him down – not only was Man-bun ruining my night, but his mates’ as well.

After his 5th or 6th drink, he started calling all of the women around him “cunts”, fell down, and leaned on strangers for support. I wish Man-bun’s story could have ended there, but I had the pleasure of witnessing him vomit outside all of the beer he had managed to ingest and not spill on me. You’re a real champ, Man-bun. I hope you drop £83 on the Field Day weekend tickets and don’t remember a single thing.

Not very American

It’s a known fact that the majority of the world looks down on America. Maybe some regions more than others, but we’re pretty much on everyone’s shit list. I was never fully able to understand why until I left America and moved to London.

Now I know what you’re thinking, and no this isn’t going to turn into some pro-America piece where we’re all chanting “USA! USA!” by the end and shoving oversized food into our mouths. America is the #1 producer of media in the world, and as such people have a lot of exposure to us. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that there is a lot of quality programming. We have a channel very similar to the BBC called PBS that’s funded by the government and shows historical, educational, and nature shows. And yet somehow the majority of the quality programming seems to get filtered out when it crosses the sea. Somewhere over the Atlantic the signals for the award-winning documentaries about African refugees drift off and instead you’re left with the lowest intellectually possible productions out there, i.e. Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Pawn Stars, etc.

Some people might say that there are a number of factors that could contribute to this, but not me. I place sole responsibility on one person and one person alone: Rupert Murdoch, the Australian devil and owner of Fox News. From a business perspective, I congratulate Mr. Murdoch on finding a niche in broadcast news. But from a cultural perspective, I want to punch him in the throat and laugh.

I recently befriended an Eastern European man who loves to show me horrible American news clips. People looking for leprechauns, car chases, entire segments about puppies, etc. This is what he knows about American culture, the crazy crackheads that Fox News decided to put a camera in front of and ask for their opinion.

As soon as Fox News paved the way for this mediocre bullshit, many other more reputable news sources followed suit and now YouTube is filled to the brim with all these wonderful clips of below average intelligence Americans, whose families have probably been breeding amongst themselves for the past 100 years, trying to give commentary on US foreign policy. Most of these people look like they’ve never left their home town let alone their home state, and are supposed to be contributing meaningful statements about the crisis in Ukraine.

Normally I wouldn’t be too fussed. I don’t even live in the country anymore, so it’s not my problem anymore, right? Wrong. It has followed me on my 5,000-mile journey. People actually expect this behavior from me, and are disappointed when I don’t deliver, stating that I’m “not very American”.

Granted, these clips and shows are what they have to go on as far culture, but you’d think they’d actually be pleased that I don’t have my head shoved so far up my ass that I don’t know the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Wrong again. I feel like the first couple of weeks of meeting anyone new here they’re watching my every move and word, waiting for me to trip up and do something stupid so they can point and laugh like I’m some monkey performing tricks for coins.

I’ve unwillingly become an ambassador for America. The very thought sends shivers down my spine. I’m sure you’ve encountered plenty of Americans in your day-to-day lives and didn’t even realize it, because most of us are normal people who keep to ourselves.

But there’s always the few halfwits that ruin the fun. On a recent trip to the National Gallery, I was in the security line behind this horrible older American couple. Everyone else in front of them managed to open their bag, and move along, but these two just didn’t seem to get the memo. Instead they proceeded to harass the security officer with very specific questions about where to find certain art pieces and make as much noise as possible. The security officer didn’t know of course, and they departed in a huff, leaving me to face the man who would probably not greet me with the same kind smile as before. Without even thinking about it, the phrase “You all right?” spurted from my mouth in a thick British accent. Gauging from his expression, I had gotten away with it, so with no other choice, I finished the transaction with “Cheers.”

I usually follow the saying “When in Rome…”, but goddammit is it hard being an American in Europe. My friends at uni have gotten used to it and hardly bring it up anymore, but every time I encounter a stranger, it’s a stark reminder of the world we live in. Perhaps one day I’ll get over myself, but until that day, all I have to say is: fuck you Rupert Murdoch.