Note 6 Sherlock Strategy Guessing Game answers

In the 'Sherlock Strategy' section I described some clues which a cold reader might exploit using the 'Sherlock Strategy'. Here are some possible interpretations. Feel free to disagree!

1. Client plays the violin or viola, and has done for some time.

Years of holding the violin against the neck can result in a very distinctive patch of discolouration on the neck. Violinists may also have distinctive groove marks along the pads of their left fingertips caused by the violin strings. Note that whether a violinist is naturally left- or right-handed, they ALL play the same way (violin in left hand, bow in right).

2. Client has been buying cosmetics and testing different shades on the back of her hand.

If the marks are on her left hand she is right-handed, and viceversa. Foundation, concealer, eye-shadow and so on can all be tested in this way.

3. Client has recently visited a dress-maker, to have something made or altered.

In a dress-maker's or outfitter's shop, it is common practice to have the customer take off her shoes and stand on a small raised platform wearing the item to be altered. The dress-maker, while pinning the material to the correct length as required, may use a marking device which puffs a faint horizontal line of chalk on to the material.

4. Client works as a hairdresser, or some other trade which involves handling scissors or shears.

5. It is a relatively safe bet that the client has similar marks on her back.

An experienced cold reader might find it interesting that the birthmark has neither been concealed with cosmetics nor surgically removed. Perhaps the client is a very secure, well-balanced person lacking egotism or vanity. Or she may crave cosmetic surgery but be unable to afford it. It is very likely that someone with this kind of birthmark was instructed from an early age about dermatological care, and so she may be a little more medically aware than most people.

6. It could mean nothing at all - lots of people chew gum just because they like to.

Alternatively, it may indicate one of several possible traits. If she is a considerate smoker, she may use mints or gum to freshen her breath before meetings. The client may also use mints or gum if she is fond of very spicy food, or if she has ever been told (or suspects) she has a bad breath problem.

7. Client has been chalking the tip of a cue, as used to play pool, billiards or snooker.

This is hardly a sure-fire indication, and not a very likely one either. Not many people would schedule a psychic reading after a game of pool! Nonetheless, it may be worth bearing in mind, especially since pool is (at the time of writing) one of the fastest-growing recreations and one enjoyed by both men and women.

8. This clue gives rise to at least two interesting possibilities.

One is that the client reads a newspaper which, being printed using older types of web offset printing and inks, leaves ink smudges on the hands as it is being read. The paper can also leave marks on outer clothing as it is being carried or placed in one's coat pocket. In England, where I live, some daily papers are sufficiently 'wet' to make this quite a serious nuisance. Other daily papers use better printing, or better inks, and never give rise to this problem. This difference makes it possible to guess which newspaper the client reads. In class-ridden and class-obsessed England, this can provide clues as to the client's educational level, political leanings and inclination to peer at photos of semi-naked women over breakfast.

Another possibility is that the client works with the kinds of office printers or copiers that require toner cartridges to be changed once in a while. As many readers will know, toner is a magical substance with properties baffling to conventional science. Though in theory encased within a sealed plastic replacement unit, toner can find its way on to any clean surface or clothing within a five foot radius. It is also well-documented that toner may refuse to attach itself to paper (hence 57 attempts to print a simple letter) but will smear itself into a clean shirt or suit with startling rapidity.

9. Client has recently used a rowing exercise machine.

If you have ever used one of these machines, you will know that it is possible (depending on your anatomy) to lightly chafe the insides of your arms on the sides of your knees with every rowing stroke. This can leave a distinctive patch of reddish or roughened skin. If you think this is rather a useless 'Sherlock' clue, I agree with you. Not many people go for a psychic reading straight from their gym session.

This concludes the 'Sherlock Strategy' Guessing Game. You may think that some or all of these examples are silly and impractical. I would tend to agree, which is why I made it clear the quiz was only presented as a bit of fun. These kinds of clues can be fun to make up or quiz your friends about, but their practical application to skilled cold reading is perhaps more limited than some sources suggest.

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