Picture the scene…
A thick fog descends over a lonely cul-de-sac on the outskirts of London Town. The sound of steel rimmed wheels and hooves on cobbles grows louder as a carriage pulls up sharply outside its destination, a well appointed Gothic dwelling of indeterminate age (but possibly from the seventies). Tonight this damp blanketed building is the location of the monthly gathering of the Committee, as they are known.
A slight figure jumps down from the cab and hurries to the door. The front door bell clangs dully, its pitiful sound adding to that of the howling November wind.
The door is opened by the portly figure of Mrs Hudson, the resident’s down to earth, no-nonsense, long suffering but good hearted house keeper and cook.
She ushers the caller in and he scurries to the study where he bursts unceremoniously through the oak panelled doors.
‘Ah ha! Young Simon. I thought I recognised your distinctive hand at the door.” Reg says to the newcomer.
” Turner, my man,” He continues “are you familiar with my monograph on the ninety-seven unique identifying features of the average door bell? No? I’ll find you a copy. It’s compulsive reading at Scotland Yard I believe. Isn’t that right Lodge?” Without lifting his gaze from his pocket book the taciturn editor in chief nods imperceptibly before returning to his notes.
Simon, is hopping up and down excitedly. He’s one of the OVFM Irregulars, a loyal band of scruffy ragamuffins ever eager to do the Club’s bidding. Though not book schooled Simon is an amiable enough youngster, with an eager disposition and the cheeky wit of a mudlark or barrow boy.
“Ere Mr Lancaster Sir.” He utters coarsely in Cockney parlance.
“Yes my boy?”
“I got a ‘gram for you, urgent it is too.” The skinny lad passes the folded telegram to Reg. “And please sir, can I ‘ave a shilling to pay the cabby? He’s waiting.” Reg takes a couple of coins from the pocket of his smoking jacket and passes them to the lad.
“And here’s a sixpence for yourself.”
“Ta mister.” Says Simon doffing his cap gratefully before swiftly nipping out to the cab.
“Now let me see. What do we have here?” Reg says turning the thin waxy paper in his hand and examining it minutely.
“An Orpington GPO mark. It’s dated earlier this evening. The message is a short one. What can we deduce from that Watson?”
“Erm…I don’t know, that the sender doesn’t have much to say perhaps?” Andy replies hesitantly.
“Tut tut my dear Watson surely it’s elementary! A short message like this is conclusive proof that the sender is of a careful disposition in the realm of finance. With telegram costs at sixpence a word a man who is particular with his spending would do his utmost to keep the message short. If we take a glance at the name of the sender all becomes clear. The telegram is from the Treasury, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir David Laker. A man famous for his fiscal propriety. Now let’s see what he has to say.”
Reg clears his throat, glances around the room and reads the message aloud to the assembled party.
“URGENT…STOP…DRAMA…SHORTAGE…OVFM…STOP…SEND…HELP…STOP” Reg looks up thoughtfully.
“Well, well, well.” Reg muses “What are we to make of that?”
“I have come across this OVFM before.” Turner pipes up “A plucky band of innovators, if my memory serves, in the new fangled field of moving picture entertainment.”
“Their extravaganzas are quite the thing in Kent.” Countess Brenda Wheatley adds languidly, before reclining back in the velvet luxury of the chez longe
“Be a good chap Coulson, make a long arm and let us see what Johnson has to say on the matter.” Reg says to Chris, pointing the serpentine stem of his pipe at the groaning bookshelf. It’s heaving with numerous leather bound reference volumes. Chris pulls down the dictionary and quickly finds the appropriate reference. He reads.
“Drama.” He begins “Noun…to be in deficit of the sufficient quantity of chocolate coated comestibles”
“No, no, no!” Reg tuts impatiently “Surely there is another meaning.” He snatches the large leather bound volume from Chris’s hand angrily. Though the two long standing rivals and one time enemies are now reconciled the slightest incident is prone to peel back the thin veneer of civility and result in friction.
“Ah yes! Here it is.” Reg begins, in better mood. “Drama. Noun, play for acting on screen, etc…”
“Ha!” Interjects the practically minded Lodge “It is nothing but frippery and tom foolery!”
“Nay, Peter my good man, it is the highest form of art available to civilized man.” Turner corrects kindly, his blue eyes twinkle with good natured bonhomie.
“Indeed drama is a powerful tool for revolution, communication and equality.” Announces Freddy Beard, who until now had been silently pawing over her latest treatise on female suffrage and the overhaul of the patriocentric political system, she was hoping to distribute it in pamphlet form but couldn’t decide on quarto or semi-quarto size or indeed on one or two columns. She would consult Peter she determined, he would know.
“Drama is the purest expression of independence and must be defended heartily!” She adds, proclaiming the statement resolutely, as was her way.
A flicker of a smile crosses Reg’s face. Although he didn’t support the ungainly methods of this equality movement he did respect their cause and he had a deepfelt admiration for Freddy’s determination and strength of character, after all it was these very attributes that had first drawn him to Annabelle. The only woman he’d ever encountered who’d been his intellectual equal and had stirred in him a passion he’d not imagined he possessed. They were now a formidable team and he silently rejoiced that he no longer had cause to resort to the oblivion of the cursed opiate.
“But how to be of assistance to these poor lost souls of OVFM?” Annabelle asked, the soft ray from the flickering gas lamp casting a light that danced transiently over her comely face. Her goodness was plain to see, but there was also a steeliness in her eyes, after all this was a woman with wit, grit, intelligence and charity.
“Indeed my dear. I believe this is a three pipe problem. Kindly pass me my slipper Watson.” Reg says, reaching for the exotically coloured silk Persian slipper in which it was his eccentric way to keep his tobacco.
“And ask Mrs Hudson to lay out a cold meat buffet, I anticipate a long and arduous night ahead and we must fortify ourselves.”
“Let us encourage them with a rally. I will chain myself to the railings outside St Pauls.” Freddy states, her chin out and a far away look in her eyes.
“Let us hope it will not come to that. And in any case there is not space for man nor beast outside St. Pauls since the disaffected youths have taken up residence there. I have had to find another route to my Club to avoid their unseemly jostling. Most inconvenient.” Turner counters, shaking his head sadly.
“We will procure a drama for them…by fair means or foul.” Interrupts Chris with a wicked laugh and a wink “I hear that such a place as Spring Park do a passable drama. We will make it ours with a little cunning.”
“I’ll not countenance talk of such illegality in my earshot, or I will be forced to discharge my duty forthwith.” Peter states authoritatively, adding with insight “Is a handsome reward not a suitable incentive?”
“Hear, hear.” Brenda says, clapping her hands delightedly.
“Yes, I concur, we will offer monetary assistance to any budding Spielbergs who are worthy. That should help. But I fear it might not be sufficient
incentive. Have you any suggestions dearest?” Reg asks turning to Annabelle.
A serious look crosses her face and she considers the question for a moment. Reg’s lean aquiline features soften a little as he casts an affectionate eye over her.
“We must campaign tirelessly with OVFM and spread the message amongst them. Young and old, new or experienced they must be made to seize the baton of dramatic expression and run with it, run like the wind. ” As Annabelle finishes, a loud cheer goes up in the room. Freddy embraces her and there is applause all round.
“A capital suggestion my dear. We are indebted to you.” Turner says
“Yes indeed!” Agree the others, united in their support.
And so it was, a decree was passed to encourage, cultivate, facilitate and generally motivate the members of that august organisation OVFM to make more drama films. Only time will tell if they were successful.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a tanner burning an ‘ole in me pocket, so I’ll bid you fine sirs and madams a good day and be on me way.
Reg Lancaster as Sherlock Holmes
Chris Coulson as Moriarty
Mike Turner as Mycroft
Annabelle Lancaster as That Woman
Andy Watson as…yes you’ve guessed it Dr Watson
Freddy Beard as Emily Hawkhurst
Peter Lodge as Inspector Lestrade
Brenda Wheatley as The Countess
David Laker as The Chancellor
Mrs Hudson as Herself
and Simon as the Cheerful Little Cockney lad
with apologies to Conan Doyle and the members of The Committee