Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Tami,

In answer to your question, yes, I do vividly remember our recent little chat in which you implored me to stop taking roles in which my characters meet their mortal demise. When you wrote “Stop dying in any and all roles, including, but not limited to, plays, radio dramas, movies, short films, epic dramas, musicals, operas, made-for-t.v. movies, commercials, puppet shows, circus acts, traveling freak shows, pantomime street performances, music gigs, and dance-offs”, I really don’t believe you could have been any more specific. And while I appreciate your offer to fly to London to review any new scripts I am considering, I think your time would be better spent in the writing cave finishing that manuscript. Better yet, hand over the location of the writing cave and I’ll bring the scripts to you for your stamp of approval. Just sayin’.

As you may already know, I recently signed on to play Alan Turing, the British mathematician and cryptographer known for breaking the German Enigma Code and saving the Allies during WWII, in the biopic The Imitation Game. A highly intelligent man, Turing’s life ended at the very young age of 42 following two years of female hormone injections (also known as chemical castration), an option he chose over going to prison for having been prosecuted in 1952 for being a homosexual. (Yes, another role in which my character dies. In all fairness, this was in the works well before I received your request.) While I’m utterly horrified to think that the British government enforced this atrocious law and sanctioned the injections, I am hoping I will learn some new tactics for decoding messages that will enable me to locate the writing cave.

Speaking of messages, I was in the kasbah the other day (just popping in for a cup of tea and relishing the brief interlude before the filming of Sherlock begins) and came across some notes scribbled on a note pad. Thinking it was a note left for me with directions to the writing cave, I excitedly began to read it. I then quickly discovered it was a brief, yet unfinished Notes to Self list started by you. Unfortunately, by the time I realised what I was reading it was too late to… erm… not read it. Like you always say, you can’t un-ring a bell. As it turns out, you also can’t un-read what you’ve already read.

I know I’m taking a great risk of never getting another clue to the whereabouts of the writing cave, but I must confess I took the liberty of finishing your Notes to Self list. What’s more, I’m going to strongly suggest you share it with your readers. I know if you were left to your own devices you wouldn’t publish it, but you’re obviously the Commanding Editor and can hit the mighty delete button before publishing my letter. That said, I do hope you’ll leave them in.


Clandestine Notes to Self Discovered in the Kasbah

Note to Self: The image looking back at you in the mirror has been through everything you’ve been through. Give her the same grace and acceptance you’d give your friends, your sisters, your mother, your daughters. She deserves and needs it as much as they do.

Note to Self: Aging is inevitable. Self-respect and confidence are not and need to be cultivated and nurtured. Where is your energy better spent – in fighting the inevitable or in cultivating that which makes you a better version of current self?

Note to Self: Shame is only useful when it prevents you from doing something unkind or harmful. Otherwise, it should be kept under lock and key, released on a very limited basis only when needed, and then promptly returned to its hovel.

Note to Self: Self-loathing is incredibly self-indulgent and will leave you stuck in stagnant waters. Scrape off that barnacle of reproach, grab your oars, and move on.

Editor’s addition – Note to Self: Don’t leave unsupervised Notes to Self in the kasbah where certain classy British actors can find them.


May the coming week be both abundantly kind and full of intriguing adventures.

Surreptitiously yours,



*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and did not come from the actor himself. Obviously. This series is just my way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be taken or read as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.

12 thoughts on “Letters from Benedict: On Cryptography & Clandestine Notes

  1. What a great list! Especially, “Scrape off that barnacle of reproach, grab your oars, and move on.” I have put it in my “motivation” file. Please thank Ben for encouraging you to share.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      He must have been in a sea-faring mood when he added the ‘barnacle of reproach’ to my list. I will be sure to send Ben your thanks. 🙂

  2. Oh, gawd! A movie, now? Benedict, dear Benedict, I only just finally watched your pilot episode, A Study in Pink, this weekend. Yesterday, in fact. How’s a girl to keep up?
    While on the topic of said pilot episode, may I take this opportunity to say, I did think it rather rude of you to ignore my warning not to get in the cab.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      I don’t know if you could hear it all the way up there in Canada, but Tami was squeeing with delight when she heard you just watched A Study in Pink. In fact, I think she’s still making that noise so if you listen carefully, you might catch a note of it on the easterly winds headed your way. She hopes you’re inspired to see the remaining five episodes before the next series comes out. She also says to tell you if you’re wanting to watch more of my work, she would be happy to provide you with a list of titles and/or links. And no, I am not paying her to endorse me or my work in any way.

      Apologies about getting in the cab, but in all fairness I had to because that’s how the script was written. Also, Sherlock made me. He simply had to know how the cabbie did it. Besides, he/I knew John would rescue us just in the nick of time and Lestrade would be waiting with the shock blanket.

      • A ‘squeeing’ sound on the easterly winds, you say? Perhaps that is why the dogs are howling.

        • on ,
          Tami Clayton said:

          Sorry about that. Hopefully they quieted as soon as I stopped. 🙂

  3. on ,
    Marcia said:

    Tami, your “Notes to Self” are enlightening and vivid! You continue to amaze!

  4. Tami, keeping up with Benedict is a full-time job in itself. I don’t know how you do it, and maintain the rest of your life … especially your eloquent writing and insightful writing. Your notes to self are a perfect example. I find them all applicable to myself, but I particularly like the following: Aging is inevitable. Self-respect and confidence are not and need to be cultivated and nurtured. Because I FINALLY realized that what is most attractive about anybody is a humble sense of confidence. Thank you for the reminder!

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I totally agree about the attractiveness of a humble sense of confidence. Actually, it is downright sexy, if you ask me.

  5. Ah, Tami, thou art so clever and entertaining. Plus insightful, strong, and definitely full of grace. Never forget it. Add it to your notes to self.

    The Turing movie sounds fascinating and tragic. Perfect role for Ben!

    Changing the topic slightly — have you seen Enigma? It doesn’t feature Ben, as I’m sure you know, but it’s about the code breakers at Bletchley Park in England during WW2 and is way cool.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Aw, thanks, Ellen! Your comment made my day. 🙂

      I haven’t seen Enigma but the Turing movie is obviously about the same topic and focuses more on Turing’s life (or so I’ve read). I definitely want to see it since I don’t know much about the topic. Thanks for the suggestion!

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