Sherlock Holmes


A twinned pair of black boots, leather and shiny. Almost like a wet look, slicked back and smooth. But greasy to the touch, fatty and slippery.

Rubbed up in grease, chip fat. The plausibility of chip fat being used to grease the boots of the candidate for eloquence is fairly questionable, but the castle was built in the 15th century, Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder in 1946 and we are currently in 2019 so really it is totally possible.

Oil or fat,  a medium that solidifies when the temperature drops.

Perhaps it was lard, which is animal fat - I guess there would have been no question about the man being a vegetarian or vegan. And anyway they would be rubbing animal fat into the boots which were probably made from cowhide. With the purpose of committing what seems to be an accidental murder but nonetheless a series of events tinged with a very deadly edge. (I'm not advocating for veganism here, just making observations).

As you begin to travel up the stone steps towards the top of the castle you can look down through glassless window like slits.

The gardens sit right below.

There's what appears to be a set of tiny palm trees, now I wonder if it's an illusion because you are so far away.

The climb is 100 steps up, although other sources say its 125 steps. It really depends upon the height of the steps to determine how far you would climb - you could have 125 five centimeter steps and not gain much more than a couple of meters in height, but the stairs could also each be a meter tall and then you'd be gaining up to 125 meters in height. I guess that's pretty obvious really.

Looking down towards the gardens there appears a group of tiny palm trees. Wide stretching leaves, arms reaching out from side to side. Flopped down at the tips, a precise arch, leaning over with an upward and a downward trajectory. I'm not really one to analyse nature but it's quite an entertaining idea to think about the plants having humanistic limbs. As I keep looking down at  the tiny palm trees I realise that they are in fact ferns, giant ferns and not tiny palm trees. Of course, for we are just outside County Cork and not in Kew Gardens (just to note here, I've never actually visited Kew Gardens, I've just seen lots of pictures on Instagram and it looks like the kind of place that would have many many palm trees).

They are the 'Poison Gardens', all of the plants are dangerous to touch, smell and taste.  They can only be safely taken in through your eyes.

I loudly jump in here and call up the echoey staircase (this is really much unlike myself to interrupt strangers and tell them that they are wrong but at the time it seemed ever so important to do so).

Excuse me, I think I might be correct in saying that you would be safe in spending time with the plants through your ears. I know, it does seem like an odd way to absorb the information from the plants but it really turns out that it’s possible. Yes your eyes are capable of doing it far better but your ears can help along the way. And anyway if we absorb any sort of plant matter into our eyes or ears we are very much likely to get sick. And look, I'm right - see there are people down there all dressed in head to toe white suits. That must be to protect them from the plants, so there's no chance whatsoever of getting any plant matter anywhere near your body.

Someone interrupted from behind me, I had sort of forgotten I was speaking  out loud and was taken aback when I heard another voice.

It's a forensic team.

Why would there be a forensic team down there?

No I think they are bee keepers.

No no I agree it's to protect you from the plants.


No that's definitely forensic, someone must have fallen.

It's for the plants.

I kept looking down, trying to work out what those tiny blobs of people were doing, and what there uniform signified. Their bodies were moving hurriedly, pacing in small set paths. Observing these unknown people sort of reminded me of playing rollercoaster tycoon on PC when I was a child - I guess it's a game you can liken to the sims or something of the sort. But I was watching these bodies casting tracks across the ground, like their steps had been pre programmed into their current movement. Repetitive and a little monotonous, little ants creeping around the ground.

I'm just going to try and illustrate a little how it looked with an arrangements of full stops in font size of 80pt over the next few pieces of paper.




             .       .           .






Right so there we go, hopefully that cleared up what I can see from this stone window like opening.


There's a small sign attached to the wall stating that the wait time from this point is 30 minutes, I  had passed one a while back stating 60 minutes and then another a little further back stating 90. It was pretty accurate really, The sign was attached to the wall with four brassy looking screws, I wondered how they had attached this flat piece of metal to the stone work, as I imagined it was a pretty tough material to drill through. Fully charged batteries and wall plugs at the ready.


 On my slow vertical journey I had crossed paths with many other visitors, traveling both up and down.


The sign reminded me a lot of the ones you see in queues at theme parks - in line waiting to get on a highly anticipated and very popular rollercoaster. But in this queue there was no other way up to the top and no way you could even sneak into the fast track line. Good for keeping a lightweight conscious but not so good on preserving precious time. I really wanted to get up to the top quickly so that I could kiss the stone, receive the gift of eloquence, have my picture taken and then get down to the bottom and see what was going on in the gardens with the people in head to toe suits. You see it was becoming quite frustrating. 


I'm telling you it's a forensic team, something bad has happened, I think someone must have digested a plant (side note here, what's the difference between digested and ingested? - I think ingest comes first and digest becomes second, one happens in the mouth and then the other happens in the stomach? perhaps)


You mean those small blobs milling around down there are there because someone has died?


Yeah, they are probably part of an investigation, maybe they were poisoned.


That's a bit shit, going on holiday and eating a plant and then dying, I wonder if they will leave a bad review.


The queue continued to move pretty slowly, up the stairs. And the rumors continued to spread about who the people were at the bottom on the castle.


Looking at the flowers.

Killed by the plants.

Collecting plants to make a poison.

A uniformed tour group.

A group gardeners.

They were filming for a movie.


Low budget.

Costume drama on BBC.

Costume drama on ITV.

Costume drama on Channel 4.

Costume drama straight to DVD.

Sherlock Holmes.

A radio recording.

Someone had jumped from the castle.

Someone had fallen.

Someone had been pushed.

Someone had slipped.

They kissed the stone and it gave them bad luck.


The next sign on the wall had a 10 minute wait time.


That was good, we were making progress. As we continued to move up and up the stairs, a flood of people came down. Red faced, flushed, looking a little upset.


I caught the last of their words as they moved down below me and through the stone spiral to the bottom of the castle.


               ...this doesn't usually happen


               ...slippery boots


               ...greased up with fat


I looked down at my shoes, I noted that flip flops were probably not the most suitable footwear to be wearing when climbing 100-125 stone steps, up a spiral staircase. It was all getting pretty close near as we were nearing the top. I could hear the breath of my neighbor behind me. In and out,

grizzly breaths, misty and warm.


Closely confined in a spiraling tube, confined and squeezed in tightly. Brushing against each other, becoming as we all rose up and up. The sun had moved behind a cloud and the light which was streaming through a stone window, leaving grey darkness. The railings had become smoothed by the frequent touch of hand and the middle of each steps were dipped, concave and smooth, it shined even in the lack of sunlight.


The stone ceiling opened up onto a sky, flocked with grey clouds that mimicked the stone beneath. A line of people, snaking around the top layer of the castle. An iced cake, studded with glace cherries, lined up around the edge.


Things definitely look smaller from up here. This whole height thing makes a big difference. The tiny palm trees/ huge ferns look like ornaments from a model village. Or very very small house plants, but like really small, small enough that they'd fit in a dolls house kind of small. I think if things are that small they make time go faster and sound would be higher pitched. Or perhaps lower. In actual fact I don't actually know. There wasn't any sound at the top of the castle, it was a very quiet place. No echoing voices like inside the stairwell. It was almost peaceful, apart from the overwhelming feel that something was wrong.


The line of people were being whizzed along, like a factory style conveyor belt. I could see at the very front of the line the strange movement of bodies. They would slowly shuffle forward, ushered by a man sat on the edge of the battlement, legs draped over the edge, toes pointing down towards the tiny people milling the ground below.


The person at the front of the line would stop, their knees would bend, a slow swooping motion until their knee makes contact with the ground, then their body would twist in an awkward motion, like the wringing out of a piece of soaked fabric. Starting from the top, the shoulders and head would twist, followed by the torso, a half twist. Then the legs, aligning the entire body in a horizontal line across the ground. There was a layer of cushioning fabric that sat squished between the person and the ground, with a layer of plastic to protect it from the outside world. The body would then slide across the ground, scooting towards the edge of the castle.


But they would not push their body back enough, and the man who was overseeing the process would tell them to move back further. Pushing their body to an uncomfortable position, with about a third of their mass hanging over nothing. Their arms leave the sides of their body, reaching up and over their head and grabbing on to the dual set of railings attached to the far side of the stone wall. Then an arching body, much like in the way of the arching leaves of the ferns. A concave arch, back lifting and head tilting back, a stretch, opening up of the lungs, a squashed breath exhaled in a flock of nervousness. As their head dropped, their neck stretched, they closed their eyes, puckered their lips and blindly reached towards a worn stone. Lips touching the Blarney Stone. A snap of a camera and a  cheer from a family member. Rhythmicly their body withdrew and reversed every action, drawing back upwards in a way that seemed so familiar it had been done a thousand times.


And that was it, the sequence repeated. Again and again. A loop, between person to person, a small few variations depending upon a few factors such as the confidence or flexibility of the person in question.


As it neared my turn I could hear a chatter of people talking about the greased boots again.


He fell to his death trying to kiss the Blarney Stone. Trying to gain the gift of eloquence, but his boots had been greased and the attendants palms had no grip, the boots slip and he fell over the edge.


A death easily covered up under the guise of the Blarney Stone.


I looked down and my flip flopped feet, toes separated by a thong of material, slipped right between my index toe and my big toe. Flip flops and not boots, that was good. I had sort of expected when I looked down to see that they had transformed into boots but thankfully not.