Several weeks ago, as the summer drew to a close, my department was having some office reshuffles as people moved into new roles for the 2018-19 session.
My good pal, who shall be known here as Dr Beard, was moving into an office which had, once upon a time, belonged to me. This was also the room in which, for max security, I was storing in a locked filing cabinet an original set of Strand Magazines from the 1890s featuring a complete run of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with illustrations by Sidney Paget.
With Dr Beard moving in I figured it was probably time to find a new home for Sherlock and so I went, key in hand, to retrieve the Strand mags.
Alas, dear reader, what greeted me was a reminder of just how thoroughly fate sometimes likes to shove it in and break it off:
It wasn’t that the filing cabinet had been emptied; there was no filing cabinet at all.
Well shit, thinks I.
Actually, it took a while for abject, gut-churning panic to set in. At first a little bit of investigation and a phone call to Facilities Management revealed that a request had been put in several weeks earlier to have the filing cabinet removed. ‘That’s OK….That’s OK’ I consoled myself, envisioning a merry chase, a ‘great game’ if you will, in which Dr Beard and I would follow the trail of the missing filing cabinet around campus, track the bastard down, and retrieve missing Strand mags and we’d all laugh about it later.
Nae such luck. A follow-up email from FM arrived shortly thereafter to confirm my worst fears: Cabinet skipped. Skip since emptied. Very sorry. Books destroyed.
You know that horrible feeling when you open an old book and some soul-less, destined-for-the-lowest-circle-of-hell cretin has underlined or highlighted it? Now imagine that multiplied by 10,000 and turned inwards.
We’re talking the ‘stepping on Lego’ end of the book-lovers pain scale.
Suffice to say the rest of that day did not progress well.
And all of this was made worse by the prospect of having to go home and find a way to tell Husband (also a Victorianist) that I had killed Sherlock. Home I went, prepared to fall on my own sword.
Husband, though, looked strangely unperturbed and perhaps a little guilty and gently broke it to me that all was well and Sherlock was, in fact, completely safe. Husband had, he explained, brought the Strand mags home several months before in a fit of helpfulness and sequestered them away in corner of the study, safe from the perils of being underlined/highlighted by cretins or skipped and incinerated by well-meaning FM services.
This news should have been marvellous. I should have felt instantly elated but, like the firm, determined character that I am, I immediately took to my huffy chair with blanket and book and hot chocolate. Because I was not traumatized. Not at all. Good day to you, sir. GOOD DAY!