Thursday, 5 August 2010

Sherlock Holmes and the mysterious trail of Strongbow cans


I was first made aware of this most vexing case when Mr Holmes and myself went for a walk from the canal where we had moored our inland waterways cruising craft to visit the nearby Avoncroft Museum of Old Buildings.
As we walked along the country road I felt bound to comment on the unseemly level of litter in the verges - most of it metal cans that today's young people prefer to drink from. "Indeed, Watson," replied Holmes, "but have you not noticed a most singular peculiarity with this detritus?"
I had to admit that I hadn't but Holmes had already turned on his heel and briskly retraced his footsteps to the start of our journey. "Strongbow cans, my dear Watson - see how many there are compared with other roadside waste matter. I feel obliged to count them. Follow me, Watson."
And we strode off up the steep hill at a rapid pace, Holmes pointing with his stick and barking "ten, eleven, twelve" and so on as we passed each can.
By the time we reached the museum we had counted 32. The next most common can was 'Scrumpy Jack' with only six. "What do you make of it, Holmes?" I enquired.
"Hush, Watson, we must count those on the other side of the road on our return before coming to any conclusion. Now, let us enter the museum and view these fascinating reminders of our architecture heritage."
Some hours later, after Holmes had finished debating with the curator on the accuracy of dendochronological dating of timber and the changes in design of shouldered dovetail joints during the 16th century, we re-traced our path and counted more cans.
"Ah, as I suspected, a mere 21 on this side. I think we have our answer, don't you agree Watson?" "Er, that litter louts drink cider and prefer Strongbow?" I ventured.
"Quite so, quite so but what sort of person are we looking for?" he responded.
"I really don't know, Holmes, I'm sure."
"We're looking for a right handed youth, no more than 16, he lives at home with his parents in a village south of the canal, he has no job, suffers from frequent headaches and when you examine him will betray the early stages of liver failure. He buys - or more likely is bought - his cider in an off-licence on the outskirts of Bromsgrove and drinks a can or possibly two before he gets home."
How can you possibly tell all that from scattered cans Holmes? "Simple, most cans are in the nearside downhill verge. That tells me they have been thrown out by a passenger who must be right handed - a left hander would find the throwing angle awkward. They have clearly been thrown out from a moving car on a journey, suggesting they must be consumed before arriving at the destination (implying an under age drinker consuming alchohol before arriving home) and the numbers suggest a regular journey. The smaller number on the right hand verge were possibly thrown by the driver or hit by other traffic. Bromsgrove is at the top of the hill and a town with many small off-licences. The youth's medical condition is the inevitable result of this level of drinking - many of the cans are in good condition, indicating they have not been there long."
"Remarkable, Holmes, but you haven't explained why they are al Strongbow."
"Oh, Watson. The price, the price! Surely you are aware that Strongbow is extremely cheap. It is in short the drink of choice for many scrotes."
Now let us return to our inland waterways craft where I will smoke a pipe and reach for my violin.

2 comments:

David Sparkes. said...

Have you been watching the currently reincarnated Sherlock series?
If not, as you appreciate the style, you might enjoy them. Although in a thoroughly modern timeset, the programmes contain much to amuse, even if a lot is in the subtle facial expressions, eye glances, etc.
I watch via BBC iPlayer rather than 'direct'. If you are new I suggest going via http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t4pgh and viewing them in order as the first sets the general background, introduces Watson, etc. 6th August is between items 2 and 3, so catching up is managable.

martha, max and me said...

"ah Sherlock, your theory is most interesting but Surely the youth of today prefer their alcoholic refreshment in the form if something bottled and flourescent in colour" Sherlock drew in a sharp breath and turned "Watson you are quite astute, perhaps this is due to thoose scoundrels drinking on the way to the ale house or those disreputable canal boaters who are always scruffing up the place with their hippy ways! now let's here no more of it we've an escaped hound of Baskerville to trace"