The Golden Earwig of Rangapanga

With a respectful nod to the great Myles NaGopaleen (The Da)

Patrick Carabine

Watson sulked moodily as he flicked through the 1875 edition of Simpson’s Almanac of Churlish Revenge for ideas. He was still bristling from an incident earlier that day, when he had foolishly described to Holmes his attendance at his favourite niece’s school, where she was appearing in a nursery rhyme-themed Christmas pageant. He winced as the afternoon’s events once more paraded mockingly before his mind’s eye.

Holmes had been studying an application from Mr. A.G. Bell for the patenting of his long-distance speaking tube, when the distressed doctor burst in to their lodgings at 221b Baker Street, clearly upset. During his tearful companion’s relating of the story, the soot-belching cherrywood pipe waggled like the antennae of a praying mantis between the detective’s firm jaw, causing dark, foreboding cumulous clouds to gather ominously around his head. The cynical sleuth, (whose idea of a good Christmas was to lock himself indoors until it went away), idly poked the glowing fire as he tried, unconvincingly, to appear vaguely interested.

It transpired that the school governors had voted that Watson, because of his background in amateur dramatics, be put in charge of acquiring the props for the production, an appointment he was delighted to accept. But the forgetful doctor had catastrophically omitted a very important item from the first piece, Little Miss Muffet, in which Polly, his niece, played the lead. “Can you imagine my embarrassment Holmes?” pleaded Watson, “I mean, everything was going swimmingly, but as the offstage narrator recited the rhyme’s second stanza, poor little Polly glanced into her bowl and her face assumed the most heartbreaking expression. The dear girl appeared utterly mortified and burst into tears. The spider, played by a ten year old child who had just spent 3 hours in makeup, deflated like a balloon and had to be helped off. I was forced to leave via an emergency exit, in order to avoid the ire of all the angry parents!”

Holmes’ eyes, until now veiled in the grey patina of stultifying boredom, seemed to light up for a split second like mating fireflies. Removing his filthy pipe, he looked Watson straight in the eye and with a look of feigned surprise, detonated his deadly sarcasm bomb. “No whey” he intoned with all the sincerity of a snake-oil salesman. Watson, feeling a familiar twinge in his back, slackened his braces and tried desperately to remember the mantra given to him by the fraudulent yogi Vishuddhananda Ranjit Singh, during The Baffling Case of the Indian Rupee Trick.