sandwitch: (Infinite hope.)
Orla W. ([personal profile] sandwitch) wrote2012-02-06 10:02 pm

How Arthur Conan Doyle robbed me of my inheritance.

Before we start, I’d like to stress that this story comes from my grandfather. He is an artist whose pastimes include drinking, doing crosswords, making puns and winning at Scrabble, usually by cheating spectacularly. I don’t mean ‘dictionary under the table’ spectacular or ‘making up new words’ spectacular, I mean ‘excusing himself to the bathroom and actually going up to his studio to forge new Scrabble letters’ spectacular. To this day, we find illegal letters in the box.

In short, were I to call him a reliable source, he would quite possibly take it as an insult.

It may also be worth noting that this is a story about my grandmother’s family and not his; he’s simply more inclined towards telling yarns than she is. This is a grandiose, romantic sort of anecdote set amongst the rich and famous with just a hint of the supernatural, whereas his family anecdotes usually begin with, “Have you ever played catch with a brick?”

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand: Arthur Conan Doyle and the ruin of my direct ancestor, and by association, me.

The direct ancestor I’m referring to is my greatxn where n denotes the number of drinks the storyteller has recently imbibed grandfather, who was something of a mogul, owning most notably an enormous factory in Belfast. His first name was never told to me, but his surname was Berrington. Based on this fact- and based on this entire story, come to that - there is roughly a 95% chance that his first name was Walter. He seems like that kind of gent. You’ll see.

As you may well know, Arthur Conan Doyle’s later life with marked by Spiritualism, a belief system largely characterised by belief in and contact with the dead, most often through séances.

Enter Probably-Walter Berrington.

My ancestor was just as eager to receive messages from beyond as Conan Doyle was, though for slightly more mercenary reasons. He wanted business advice. Considering what happens next, he could have done with it- but preferably from a living source. Why he thought the dead would be particularly knowledgeable on the subject beats me entirely.

Not that this was his fault. We’re blaming Conan Doyle for this entirely, mainly because ‘Arthur Conan Doyle ruined my family’ is one of those statements which can always be counted upon to quieten down a room and make people frown for a moment, trying to work it out for themselves, before they give in and go, “What?”

Well: here’s what.

In the course of the séance, Conan Doyle explained that the spirits had informed him of a business plan for Probably-Walter’s company. He was to buy as many motor cars as possible, and give them to the higher-ups in his company. In fact, he was to give them to all the employees he possibly could.

Showing all the common sense which has been passed down to me, Probably-Walter’s response was (I assume), “That’s brilliant!”
And he did it. He actually did it. In one glorious blaze of reckless, intrepid entrepreneurship and idealism, Probably-Walter Berrington bought as many motor cars as he could for the people whom he employed. It was bizarre and it was stupid and, I like to think, it was a little bit wonderful.

Naturally, he was bankrupt within a month.

So, there you have it; Arthur Conan Doyle, working hand-in-hand with a few spirits who wouldn’t get far on the Apprentice, is the reason I am not currently an heiress.

It’s amazing I can stand the man, honestly.
yrbirdcanscene: blonde in a coat from a dior ad (dior coat)

[personal profile] yrbirdcanscene 2012-02-07 10:21 am (UTC)(link)
This story is absolutely fantastic. Even just :V'ing on Dreamwidth, you're a brilliant writer.