NOTE: I have been advised by my publisher that perhaps I should not blog about my case assignments - even though I change all the names to protect the innocent when we 'go to press.'The archive blog entries below cover two months and is typical of how my cases develop - timewise, that is. Start from the bottom with the April 1, 2004 entry. Let me know what you think.
UPDATE: My new blog is here :-)
by William Pène Du Bois
The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame, Illustrated by Michael Hague
Lizards: A Natural History of Some Uncommon Creatures --Extraordinary Chameleons, Iguanas, Geckos, and More
By David P. Badger and John Netherton
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
By Mark Twain
Monday, May 31, 20--
Posted 12:00 Noon GMT
Case review today. Sure the answer is right 'under our noses' as the saying goes. But I think it's going to be a long weekend.
Posted 10:10 AM GMT
Venkat and I spent the better part of the last three days completely stumped.
Posted 11:26 PM GMT
Spent the weekend at Houndsworth Hall (at Lord Henry's request) and I brought Venkat down with me for support. Uncle Henry didn't have much time for grilling us though: he was drafted as a last minute replacement judge in the Devon flower festival.
When I returned to my rooms at Claridge's this evening, I found another Dali postcard just inside the door. I knew the title of this one and the message was crystal clear: "The Hallucinogenic Torreador" is me! I called Venkat right away and he's now certain we're being misled. We just can't figure out why or by whom. I e-mailed Uncle Henry that we will postpone our announcement as a prudent course of action.
Posted 10:43 PM GMT
To say that our prime suspect is 'above reproach' would be an understatement. Lord Henry's letter this morning was a polite reminder to tread carefully:
You are, I am sure, aware that there will be serious repercussions for ranking members of our national government when the information you possess and the conclusions your investigation has drawn are made public. Whilst our friend in Cambridge has confirmed your findings, I urge you to reflect a little longer before releasing your final report to the Guildhall committee. Although I am 100% behind you, do not be surprised if your conclusions are met with considerable resistance. My politics are well-known and since you are my nephew, there may be some who question if you have a hidden agenda. Most sincerely - Uncle Henry
Meanwhile, Venkat is also urging that we wait, but for an entirely different reason: he's convinced we're being used and that there's something more sinister afoot.
Posted 1:16 PM GMT
Venkat called early to say he couldn't sleep at all last night, worrying that we might have overlooked something. He reminded me that the one thing that hasn't been clear from the beginning of this case is motive. Why would someone want to pull such an elaborate hoax in the halls of government? Venkat suggested that yesterday's painting might, in fact, be a taunt. It's going to be a long day...
Posted 9:02 AM GMT
Another cryptic warning: someone had gone to the trouble of reproducing this painting by Salvador Dali in postcard size and then slipped it under my door at the hotel. Nothing was written on the back. It was only later when Cordelia told me the title of the work that the intended message was delivered. It's called "The Endless Enigma" and, for some unexplained reason, the painting really upset Venkat.
Posted 5:45 PM GMT
Venkat's sister Asha and new brother-in-law, Sachin, arrived at Heathrow for an extended visit. Venkat decided to play tour guide and drove us over to the Tower of London. He knows the curator and we got an up-close-and-personal look at the crown jewels.
Posted 6:12 PM GMT
Slept in late only to be awakened by Cordelia, who showed up at the hotel, picnic basket in hand, insisting on Hampstead Heath for an afternoon's diversion. We also visited Kenwood House (left) and it's fine collection of eighteenth century works by Gainsborough and Reynolds.
Getting ready now for dinner and a night at the theatre. Cordelia has tickets to "Beautiful and Damned" the hot, new musical based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald (one of my favorite authors).
Posted 6:15 PM GMT
Left Cambridge mid-morning and got caught in a massive traffic delay on the M11 just outside London. A lorry on the way to the Reptile Pavillion - with live cargo - had somehow overturned. News at eight showed the slithering roadway and cars backed up for ten kilometers. Venkat and I had wisely decided to take the M25 exit and escape into Epping Forest for an afternoon hike. Glorious weather! And no snakes :-)
Posted 9:31 PM GMT
At Lord Henry's insistence - and with his letter of introduction - Venkat and I traveled to Cambridge to confer with a former chief inspector friend of uncle's. After reviewing our files, this retired high-ranking detective of some renown was in total agreement with our 'handling' of the case. I've just sent Uncle Henry the confirming second opinion via e-mail :-)
Being close to the college, I rang cousin Isabella as promised and invited her out for a Turkish in Bridge Street. To our surprise, she arrived at Anatolia with the six friends who were at Houndsworth Hall last month for her birthday weekend. The restaurant staff apparently knew Isabella's party as regulars and we were waited on most attentively. Afterward, the girls took us to Fez Club, a local spot that plays R&B/HipHop, where we all danced until well after midnight. First time I saw Venkat loosen up. He was quite amused when Cousin Isabella finally pursuaded me to teach them all the Basil-boogie!
Posted 1:32 AM GMT
Venkat is back and seemed a bit too delighted when I told him what the mysterious stranger reported on Friday in Kensington Gardens. Could be cultural - some unresolved anti-colonialist prejudices perhaps. Or it could just be that he - like the rest of us - enjoys it when the high and mighty get their comeuppance. Needless to say, Uncle Henry was flabbergasted at the suggestion that someone in the peerage might be the guilty party.
Posted 4:12 PM GMT
Received a call this morning from a stranger claiming to have information vital to my current case. Skipped breakfast and took a taxi over to Kensington Gardens and met with the mysterious informant on a bench near the Queen's Temple. The sunny weather was in direct contrast to the cloud now over the investigation: what he told me, if true, reaches right to the top.
Posted 5:42 PM GMT
Question of the day: Is the painting at left worth $104,000,000? Apparently so. The 1905 painting by Pablo Picasso titled "Garcon a la pipe" ("Boy with a Pipe") sold for a record amount at Sotheby's auction house in New York yesterday. Sotheby’s called the work “one of the most beautiful of the artist’s Rose Period paintings and one of the most important early works by Pablo Picasso ever to appear on the market.” A 24-year-old Picasso painted “Boy with a Pipe” soon after settling in Montmartre, France. It depicts a young Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand and wearing a garland of flowers. The sale shattered the previous record for an auctioned painting. “Portrait of Doctor Gachet” (at right) painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1890 was sold to a Japanese billionaire in 1990 for $82.5 million at Christie’s auction house in New York. Sotheby’s did not say who bought Picasso's “Boy with a Pipe.”
Posted 7:59 AM GMT
Saw Anastasia at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden last night - Cordelia's treat! The ballet's dual storyline depicted the life of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, before and during the Russian Revolution, as well as the story of Anna Anderson, the woman who maintained she was Anastasia in exile. The minimalist set design was rendered in strikingly vivid tones and showcased the performers beautifully as they danced to the music of Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky.
Posted 8:30 AM GMT
After much celebrating over the weekend, 'the case' is proving a sobering start to the week. I've just learned that Venkat is off to Bombay to attend his sister's wedding - he insists he had mentioned his plans earlier - and I am alone just when I was depending upon him to help navigate the corridors of power. I don't like pulling strings, but I'll have to enlist Lord Henry. Working with relatives can be problematic - the Venice matter, a case in point - but perhap things will be different with Uncle Henry. Besides, I don't really have an alternative; 'access denied' is not an option at this stage of the investigation.
Posted 8:58 AM GMT
Today marks the sixth anniversary of www.basilbaker.com! Tempus fugit - and we're having a really good time :-)
I want to thank all the web surfers - over 40,000 from 73 countries last month - for visiting us. Your comments are always welcome.
Posted 9:18 AM GMT
Decided to take a day off. The light rain couldn't spoil the afternoon walk through Covent Garden with Cordelia. We shopped for a while and then had tea and raspberry scones at The White Rabbit. Later, surrendering to the ambience, I bought her flowers in the Market. The necklace she was eyeing earlier was out of the question :-)
Posted 8:32 PM GMT
Venkat dragged me to The National Archives where we spent eight hours digging around in the past of persons who shall go unnamed for the present. As someone back home might say, Methinks the Lords and Ladies ain't what they seem.
Posted 7:59 PM GMT
Took a three-day working weekend to Helsinki with Venkat. We met with the renowned laser electro-optics professor, Dr. Egil Lunde. His work with holographic projection is cutting-edge stuff. Reminded me a lot of that early scene in Star Wars with Princess Leia pleading for Jedi assistance. Pretty cool - even if Dr. Lunde's lab seemed modeled after some mad-scientist-meets-James-Bond movie set.
Posted 12:39 PM GMT
"Every once in a while, we get a chance to change things we don't like. And if we care enough, and work really hard, we can change them for the better. That's why it's important to actively support the protection of planet Earth. It's the only home we've got."
Posted 9:14 AM GMT
Morning meeting in Downing Street (no cameras allowed); this is getting very serious. Much confusion, however, with nothing resolved - notwithstanding Venkat's impressive PowerPoint of our progress to date.
Rained a fine drizzle off and on today but still enjoyed an afternoon walk through Hyde Park with Cordelia. New umbrella works just fine for two :-)
The Queen turned 78 today. Lord Henry is up from Devon for the festivities tonight at the palace. Unfortunately, I didn't make the guest list. However, Cousin Isabella has promised a full report in the morning.
Posted 8:01 PM GMT
Performed a long background survey today on the old buildings. As the guidebook says: "The Houses of Parliament, or Palace of Westminster as it is also known, was originally laid out for Edward the Confessor more than 1,000 years ago. In 1066 it became the home of William the Conqueror and his court and remained the principal residence of English kings for the next 400 years, until Henry VIII. After that time it remained the main administrative centre for the country up until the present time."
Posted 7:49 PM GMT
Interesting news from back home. I wonder who they're going to get to illustrate my story?
Posted 8:13 AM GMT
Wow! What a great movie! We watched it twice!
Klaatu, the alien who arrives by way of flying saucer, has come to save the world from its petty strifes and delivers a disturbing message: Earth is now a more dangerous planet because of the Atomic-bomb and its potential to threaten other planets in the galaxy. If we can't settle our differences on this planet, Klaatu's world has authorized robots - created to act as galactic policemen - to destroy those who can't live in peace. There's this great quote by Klaatu:
I wonder how far we have to go before we will be able to say such a thing?
Posted 10:45 AM GMT
I'm so excited about seeing the 1951 science fiction classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. The film was directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Andromeda Strain and the first Star Trek picture)and won a Golden Globe as the "best film promoting international understanding." As one reviewer put it: "The excellent cast and compelling story combine to make The Day the Earth Stood Still a Sci-Fi movie of the highest order, offering provocative social commentary under the guise of a peril from outer space."
I told Venkat and Cordelia to bring some take-out and I'll supply the DVD and the popcorn!
Posted 4:29 PM GMT
Saw the dress rehearsal for Hamlet with Cordelia last night at the Old Vic in the West End (Cordelia has the best connections). At first, our hero has some trouble making up his mind what to do after his father's ghost puts the bug in his ear, so to speak. But Hamlet finally gets his act together and everything ends as it should - albeit tragically. Terrific night at the theatre (and behind the scenes)! The production runs through July 31st.
Posted 9:35 AM GMT
Was in a quiet mood today after the long holiday weekend in the country and a few too many chocolate truffle Easter eggs. Cordelia Pembridge-Howl (a friend who helped out on a recent case) met me at the station and we spent the day museum hopping, starting with The National Gallery. The British Museum and The Tate Gallery took us past lunch and we ended the day at The Natural History Museum. For supper, Cordelia treated at - of all places - The Sherlock Holmes Pub in Northumberland Street! Formerly the Northumberland Hotel, it was here that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote many of the Sherlock Holmes novels. The Hound of the Baskervilles includes a meeting between Henry Baskerville and Sherlock Holmes in this very pub. I must admit the atmosphere energized me. I highly recommend the bread-and-butter pudding.
Posted 8:13 PM GMT
Called on some old friends today. They've been baffled by "The Hoax" (as it is now being called by the insiders) since its first appearance six weeks ago. I had a look at the case file and it's pretty slim. Their resident expert on the occult has a theory that's raising a lot of eyebrows and seems far-fetched to me, too. Venkat concurs.
Posted 4:42 PM GMT
Besides being the official London residence of The Queen, Buckingham Palace is also administrative headquarters of the monarchy. Venkat and I were let in this morning through a side gate; but I later caught this scene out front with the cell phone. Given my fondness for period dress, I walked Savile Row all afternoon but couldn't find a single shop offering the furry headgear. Guardsmen call it the Bear - of all things - and I've even looked on eBay! The guard at right was completely mum on the subject.
Posted 7:22 PM GMT
Something cryptic: Back in my rooms at Claridge's (kindly arranged by Uncle Henry), I surfed for a couple of hours and as I was leaving to meet Venkat for afternoon tea downstairs, I noticed an envelope had been left on the floor by the door. It was addressed to me; the handwritten card inside said simply:
The problem with Pandora's Box is that someone always insists on opening it.
I think this might be the earliest I've ever been warned off of a case.
On a less serious note, took this shot with the new cell phone (upgrading lots of gear for this case) and it's just about postcard perfect.
Posted 6:52 PM GMT
The return train to London has a WiFi 'hotspot' connection! Posting this while passing through the lovely green of Dartmoor. The sun's just peaking through the rain clouds, sending these brilliant shafts of yellow light all over the countryside. Beautiful! Wish you were here :-)
Posted 9:48 AM GMT
Long night last night. I arrived at Houndsworth Hall yesterday afternoon to find cousin Isabella with six friends down from university for the weekend. At Lord Henry's insistence, her party had taken over the north wing. I had forgotten it was her birthday. But she was sweet about it and I promised to make it up to her on my next pass through Cambridge. Her classmates were quite lively at supper. Afterwards they played Beatles records until two in the morning and had everyone dancing and making very merry.
Woke late and spent Sunday afternoon at Torquay. The seaside was lovely. Perfect weather brought the sailboats out into the bay and I thought of Carmel-by-the-Sea and home.
Returning to London, and my case, on the morning train.
Posted 6:52 PM GMT
Wow, this wireless broadband connection works great! I'm posting from the train station at Oxfordshire. Just back from Teddy Bears of Witney - a must stop on the way to Devon.
Posted 11:19 AM GMT
Another interminable meeting in the City this morning - three hours! I see how bureaucracy gets such bad press. Besides, sleuthing rarely involves large groups sitting around long tables...I hope this doesn't turn tedious.
One positive outcome was meeting Venkat, an engineer from East London by way of Bombay and on loan to yours truly for the duration. We had a nice chat over an afternoon curry at Raj Tandoori in Cowcross Street. He seems to knows his stuff - most of which is way over my head, technically speaking. He'll be a great resource, though, as I focus on a peculiar hoax being perpetrated by villains unknown.
Over the jet lag now and definitely looking forward to the weekend. I'm taking the morning train down to Devon, ancestral home of all things Baker. Eager to put the new wireless broadband connection to the test, too. I'll keep you posted :-)
Posted 5:36 PM GMT
Didn't plan this as an April Fool's - just happens that today is my blog's inaugural. A teddy bear's perspective is always welcome - that's what they tell me, anyway - so, here we go.
It is a bit unusual that my first posts would be from London, where I'm on case assignment. My employers shall remain anonymous - that much I've promised - although they were a little nervous when they heard about my new weblog. I have assured them that I am the soul of discretion and that I have never submitted a case I've solved to my publisher without first changing the names to protect the innocent. That seemed to placate the 'grey suits' at this morning's meeting in Guildhall. But I'll keep you posted - just read between the lines :-)
Off now to Harrod's to purchase some sweets and a new umbrella.
Posted 11:45 AM GMT
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