Russellisms

Laurie selected two winning Russellisms out of many excellent submissions. The winners are Tammy Albee and Chris Sagar, whose respective submissions are:

“The two Holmes brothers were a bit like Greek gods: often generous and well-meaning towards mankind, but somehow also terribly frightening in their omniscience.”

”Sleep, Holmes? Do we DO that?”

Both Tammy and Chris have won advanced reading copies of The Language of Bees, and versions of their Russellisms will appear in future Russell novels! Congratulations to both of you!

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Below are all of the submissions for the Week Seven Russellism contest. Names have been redacted, and only original Russellisms have been included — Russell quotations belong in another game. Many thanks to all who contributed!

It might be letters that are streaming through the veins of a scholar, and words alimenting her ever hungry brain – however, sometimes the body yearns for more substantial nourishment.

Reading is an activity I find impossible to substract from my life – you might as well ask me to stop breathing, drinking and eating. This read, however, brought me close to changing the dietary habits of my scholarly existence.

Lightweight though the pages of a book may appear, I have a talent to get stuck between them even more desperately than in a bog on Dartmoor.

“It’s nice to have you resurface from time to time, husband. I was worrying that you had entirely turned legend now.”

“Where Holmes had his hands, I had words. Language to me was what his hands were to him – extensions of my mind I could use to explore the world.

“That ‘tome of mine” is not only significantly older than you, it’s also a good deal more companionable.”

“He annoys me because he exists, I annoy him because I will not cease to exist” — Holmes. (of Doyle)

Compliments disarm the unwary.

“Being Holmes’ associate requires a certain ability to step outside social norms. Being his wife requires leaving those norms behind forever.” — Russell.

“Sometimes, Mrs. Hudson, I find I understand Holmes less and appreciate him more.”

“Well, Holmes, how are the ladies and their lounging males this fine evening?”

Why was it a conversation with Holmes could be simultaneously exhilarating and exasperating?

“You know, Holmes, given your propensity for hieing off on a case, and going missing for long periods of time, I do despair for your bees.”

“Holmes, your perspicacity is exceeded only by your imagination.”

“Old friends and family members are much like the time you spend with your bees, Holmes. They can be relaxing, a comfort, but at any moment one might find oneself stung for no accountable reason.”

“Where is Holmes?” It is a question I have been asked, and have pondered any number of times. The answer is as varied and as fugacious as the man himself.

Life with a legend can be trying; behaviour that in another man would garner censure is excused as part of his brilliance, and forgiven as a matter of course.

Like his bees Holmes cannot survive alone. He needs the society of others — even if they do not fully understand him.

My work, although important, is not who I am. I work in Oxford, but I live in Sussex.

The harmony of the land and its people is what brings Holmes and I back to Sussex…back to our home.

Bees are more than an avocation for Holmes, they allow him a method of understanding much that has been outside his experience.

Why is it returning to one’s home after a journey is always so bittersweet? There is the joy of the familiar mingled with the acceptance that something unique is over.

“I do not believe there has ever been anyone less retired, or retiring, in their retirement than you, Holmes.”

Well, honey, you can’t worry about getting your feelings hurt if you’re going to live with a Russell. It will happen.

”Sleep, Holmes? Do we DO that?”

“My dear Holmes, I do believe she has a bee in her bonnet!” (Mary speaking to Holmes about a woman they have jointly ‘stung’ or by Mycroft to Holmes after Mary was ‘stung’ by Holmes or something else!)

Which would be more helpful, being right for the wrong reason or being wrong for the right reason?

My husband was brilliant. Male, to be sure, but brilliant nonetheless.

Uncle John’s heart was as great as the Sussex Downs. His mind, unfortunately, was sometimes as woolly as its sheep.

The Canis in question, Holmes, was a male of the breed. The bitch would have been much more sensible.

Holmes walked into the room, slim and elegant in his evening wear. Damn the man.

Much like in the hive, women, it seems, do all the work.

“A challenge,” he said, “is the best way to broaden the mind.”

Greatness is lost upon those who cannot grasp the mediocre.

How grating indeed is absolute perfection.

There is nothing to be mistrusted in Holmes so much as the appearance of innocence.

“No, Holmes. You seem to be under the impression that I enjoy being perpetually cold and clammy. If that were true, I would endeavour to become the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel. I assure you, that has never been my goal.”

“If I had wanted to become expert at the culinary arts, Holmes, I would have attended Le Cordon Bleu. Oxford may not have shown me the secrets of a successful brioche, but they did teach me to consider the question of G*d. And that, dear husband, is something that you did not address during my apprenticeship.”

“Stop laughing! I am not a flapper. One night of dancing the Black Bottom in San Francisco does not make me a flapper. I am a bluestocking from the tip of my bespectacled nose to the bottom of my sensibly clad feet. Flappers are shallow creatures. Give me credit for more profound thoughts than the color of my rouge or the bob of my hair.”

“While you can don a disguise that will fool most anyone, Holmes, you can never truly know what it is to be a woman. Just as I can play a boy, but I can never truly know what it feels like to think with the brain of a male. Perhaps there are some mysteries of human nature that are best left unsolved.”

“My mother used to make a family recipe of a sweet and sour cabbage soup. She would tell me that if you put in too much sour salt, the soup would be bitter. Too much sugar and the soup would be cloyingly sweet. With the right balance, the mixture was the most satisfying. Is that not how our partnership should continue to be, Husband?”

Holmes does not believe in the supernatural, but circumstances have conspired to make him accept the uncanny.

I do not care for clothes shopping, but every case with Holmes seems to find me doing it.

One thing you can say for Sherlock Holmes, he knows how to dress a wound, or how to ignore one.

It is a question as to which is a greater trial to Mrs. Hudson: Holmes safely at home, turning the sitting room into a maelstrom, or Holmes gone off to who-knows-where without a word as to when he will return.

The trouble with scholars is, they even think in footnotes.

Somehow the thought of Holmes cooing into a bassinet always made me shudder.

The two Holmes brothers were a bit like Greek gods: often generous and well-meaning towards mankind, but somehow also terribly frightening in their omniscience.

Upon seeing the remnants of the Bohemian in the Paris bolt hole, I felt a tickle of amusement picturing Holmes philosophizing in the cafes along the Siene.

After spending long hours disguised as a Geisha, wrapped in linen, covered in face paint, shadowing Holmes’ suspect, I felt fully justified slipping off to the local onsen.

Judging by the stack of telegrams and messages on the sideboard, my homecoming from the Bodleian was to followed a traipsing through the countryside. Ah, so it would be the Scotland HIghlands this time.

Really, Holmes. I hadn’t guessed that three feet of snow wasn’t your idea of a pleasant holiday.

My aunt aside, I had never met such an unpleasant individual in my life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have a corpse to tend to.

London was my husband’s first mistress, one I had no cause for jealousy. After all, I had Oxford.

“Holmes, only your descendant could be so profoundly irritating.” — Russell

“But those two — well, who can beat them for quirks and oddities.” — Mrs. Hudson

His gimlet eyes gave the lie to his mild statement.

Did the barber shorn you of your wits along with your hair?

What cared I for the ceaseless drizzle? I was inside. With a fire. And a fresh pot of piping hot tea. I ignored his ill-tempered outburst, “Pass the strainer, Holmes.”

Damn the man. Even in his absence his presence was unrelenting.

I judged I had a precious hour at my disposal, and walked towards the bookshop. The owner had rung earlier that week to let me know that a particular book I had been hoping to purchase had been delivered, and was available at my convenience. I pushed at the door, with its noisome bell, closed my eyes briefly appreciating the dusty aromas, and stepped into the dim shop. So far I had only managed to snatch sufficient time to browse the first three shelves in a wall of welcoming volumes. Instead, I encountered a tall, thin, detective, leaning easily on the wooden counter with one eyebrow raised.

“Like a red blood cell sheds it’s nucleus, so you have lost your soul to make room for your ego.”

Very few dogs do nothing in the night-time.

A strength can become a weakness in the wrong circumstance, or the right one- depending on where you stand.

Just because someone asks which direction North is, does not mean they wish to know how the compass works.

To defy a mystery is to take the first step into an adventure

Anyone who could meet the rapier of Holmes’ wit with a successful riposte would win his respect, his interest, and perhaps even his affection.

She was displaying the alarming symptoms of being an avid reader of Doyle’s stories.

My stylish bob was deceptively tedious to maintain.

He spoke with the air of one who has read a great deal yet studied very little.

“Holmes, you have not budged in two days.”

“Perhaps we should discuss what I perceive then?”

“Yes, I did. Fitfully I may add.”

“A bath would be more than welcome, therefore I shall bathe while you deduce.”

“Most people fail to notice my subtle observations.”

“If you would so kindly calm down…”

“Holmes, kill the dramatics.”

“Holmes, don’t be difficult.”

“An educated woman…I’m shocked.” Or “An educated woman, shocking isn’t it?”

“Holmes, at the rate you’re currently smoking, the village will have to declare our property a fire hazard [or a smoke hazard].”

“Some of us do value breathing clean air.”

“Holmes the meddler; Holmes, the busybody; Holmes, the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office. Yes, I’m afraid that man is my husband.”

Damn the man for looking so perfect under the current conditions.

“Flattered, I’m sure.”

Youth inspires such ignorance.

“Let me guess…it was the tobacco ash?”

“It would appear someone is rather snappish.”

“I thought the fairer sex was Uncle John’s department?”

“There are times when you are rather…forward.”

“Pray, don’t stroke my ego.” (this would be Holmes)

“A trifle? You call this a trifle?”

“Shall I whisper Norbury in your ear then?”

“I can but try.”

“We all must succumb to our emotions.”

“I would rather watch a fly buzz about a rotting corpse.”

“And Watson thought I was incapable of observing the beauty in things.”

“Holmes, I know that this idea does not readily express itself to you, but most people believe that they know other people, that their opinion and regard for an acquaintance cannot be wrong. ”

“I have been known to read upon occasion, you know.”

“It was foggy – not quite dense enough to be a ‘pea-souper,’ but certainly heavy enough to be a chowder.”

“If you are a ‘cold calculating machine,’ why haven’t you frozen yet?”

“We really must contact Doyle about this, someday.”

“Radical as it may seem to you, sleeping is the only thing that ought to be done at this hour.”

It was unfortunate that the man never allowed me to finish a full meal; all that food gone to waste because of a mystery! Bah!

In the end, truth wins out over tact.

Help is something that everyone needs now and then, but I think he just does it to drive me mad.

[...Holmes sat, a peculiar twist to the corner of his lips.] Reminders of my femininity always took him by surprise. However, I could not hold him to blame, for they took me by surprise as well.

“Holmes, you yourself didn’t think false engagements beneath detective work.”

“The quarry doth protest too much.”

The most successful plans are often those conceived at a full gallop because nobody, including yourself, has any time to argue with them.