The mysterious case of Shanghai Baby.
I went to the Foreign Languages Bookshop after tea out of curiosity. I wasn’t planning on buying anything and, indeed, bought nothing, although I was disgusted by the price tag of ¥60 for some of the Wordsworth Classics such as a translation of Plato’s Apology and some of the dialogues. But much to my surprise, there were a couple of copies of Shanghai Baby, which I thought had been banned on the Mainland. Obviously the book is no longer proscribed. Or perhaps because YouTube is still off the menu, something had to be out back on, thus preserving the balance of the national yin and yang.
On the other hand, the nation has become unbalanced with the presence of the chunky Twilight and other volumes in Stephenie Meyer’s crypto-religious, wide-margin vampire romp. In one paragraph, his hands got to her shoulders – where they chastely stopped. All build up and no climax, methinks.
Speaking of all build up and no climax, a tale of an encounter between Sherlock Holmes and Dracula popped into my head a few weeks back. I’m sure that so many other people have thought of this one that I’m almost bound to win some sort of prize for unoriginal thought. (Indeed, Loren D. Estleman wrote Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula or The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count, which was published in 1978. In this book, Holmes was part of Stoker’s original tale, but his contribution was left on the cutting room floor. One of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories was The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, though it has nothing to do with actual vampires.)
In my story, Dracula has lost his false teeth and is now reduced to chewing impotently on the necks of the local virgins who merely end up giggling a lot. There’s only one man in Europe who can find the Count’s missing gnashers – Sherlock Holmes. It just so happens that Professor Moriarty is Dracula’s guest when Holmes and Watson arrive.
“What’s he doing here?” said Holmes regarding the Napoleon of crime with deep suspicion.“My dear Mr Holmes,” said Dracula soothingly, “since I know you think Professor Moriarty is the most evil man in Europe, his presence here makes me look good.”“He’s right, you know, Holmes,” I said, weighing Count Dracula against Moriarty in the scales of justice and finding the latter dragging his pan down.“To be Moriarty is bad enough,” said Holmes, “but to be Moriarty’s willing host…” He trailed off and suddenly got that steely look in his eye. “Count Dracula, if you want your teeth back, ecce homo!”Dracula frowned in puzzlement. “Look out for homosexuals?” He glanced nervously round the room.“Professor Moriarty is the culprit, hired by Abraham van Helsing to incapacitate you.”“You see, Mr Holmes” said the Count sounding vindicated by the great detective’s conclusion, “I’m really not such a bad person, am I?”