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Watson Cam
Dr Watson reviews his tab at the Hound and Ferret

Dr Watson reviews his tab at the Hound and Ferret

The Lost Diaries

The Hound of the Baskervilles – the Cleft Tor Tour

This week I’ve been re-enacting one of Holmes’ most famous cases – The Hound of the Baskervilles – with my friends from Titchfield Festival Theatre.¬†The production¬†answers many of the questions you’ve all been asking such as:

Who is the mysterious Cecile Stapleton and why does she have a beard?

What is the difference between mist, fog and pipe smoke?

What causes a man to have beef cheeks?


What the hell is a cleft Tor?

Hound of the Baskervilles


Secrets of Belgium (or ‘How I lost my stethoscope’)

Watson - half man, half moustache - all doctorI am not speaking to Mrs Hudson.¬† In fact I haven’t uttered a word to her for four days. I can assure you that this isn’t an act of pure childishness [yes it is – Mrs H]¬†but rather an act of justified revenge.

On Saturday night we were enjoying our regular game of bridge along with some very regular top-ups of port when I made an informed remark about the situation in Belgium. At this point Mrs Hudson burst into a paroxysm of laughter and wheezing (which reminded me too readily of the Garroted Parson Adventure.)  I immediately brought her to her senses by throwing the remainder of her port in her face (mine was just out of reach) and asked her what was so funny.

It turns out that ‘We’ll always have Belgium’ was some sort of code for hilarity between Holmes and Mrs Hudson.¬† When I enquired more she began asking me about an old case – the Adventure of the Five Bristles.¬† Of course this was one of my favourites as I played a leading role in tracking down a rare broom in a two-week escapade across Europe. Mrs Hudson could no longer contain herself.¬† Picking the glass out of her face she claimed that there was never any such case and that Holmes had sent me away on a fool‚Äôs errand so he could work on one of his experiments in peace.

I was about to protest and dismiss the idea as a prank when I recalled returning to Baker Street after the event to discover the aftermath of an explosion and the smell of pickles.

Miss Dempsey Makepeace and her maid, Phyllis, moments before their treasured broom was stolen. The handle was recovered two years later. Unlike poor Phyllis who still weeps at the sight of dust.

Miss Dempsey Makepeace and her maid, Phyllis, moments before their treasured broom was stolen. The handle was recovered two years later. Unlike poor Phyllis who still weeps at the sight of dust.

I was suddenly enraged ‚Äď for I remembered that the incident¬†had claimed a rather fetching dressing gown with silk tassels – and in a temper I kicked our bridge game fully across the room.¬† This seemed to entertain Mrs Hudson further so I began kicking all manner of inanimate objects in a blind fury.¬† Unfortunately one of them was my half-open medical case and I watched in horror as my stethoscope flew out of the open window and landed on top of a brougham cab heading for Covent Garden.¬† I haven’t the mind or heart to advertise its loss and I have taken to miming it ever since in my surgeries in the hope that nobody notices.

Alas, what tangled webs we weave, to be deceived by those so close.  Now here’s someone knocking at the door.  I hope it’s Mrs H with a groveling apology but I suspect it might be a flower-girl wishing to sell my stethoscope back to me!!

Footnote Рit has caused me to question some disturbing elements of the old Five Bristles case Рnotably, who was the mysterious Dr Llewellyn, are their really three more bristles still unaccounted for Рand what if the man in the old theatre was not a hired assassin but the blind piano tuner he claimed to be?!  And more importantly, did anyone see me shoot him in the foot?


The Truth is Out There (But I’d rather Stay In)

Some might say I have underplayed my involvement in many of Holmes’s cases for artistic and dramatic purposes. They would be wrong.

Although it is true that I may have diminished my role in such tales as The Trolley of Fear (where I appear in print only briefly to request a spare pair of wellingtons) there are many occasions where in hindsight I may have overstated my contribution and I would like to put the record straight.

On re-reading my narrative for The Voluptuous Client I realise I may have exaggerated my part in the spectacular brawl at the Micklegate Public House.¬†I cringe now when I read that I ‘flung myself into the fray with wild abandon to protect Holmes from being overcome’ when in truth I was partly responsible for the affray by claiming I had been cheated out of the meat raffle.

I also regret my over-egging of the undercover role I had during the Curious Case of the Three Mables where I report that ‘I was a model of grim persistence, hiding in the stables for several weeks as part of an elaborate stake-out’.¬†I’m ashamed to say that the whole case only took 48 hours to tie up but I’d formed a sentimental attachment to a pony called Princess Beatrice (my name for her) and I refused to leave for a further ten days while I combed her mane and fed her a secret stash of Mrs Hudson’s cooking apples.

Princess Beatrice - lust for life

Princess Beatrice – lust for life

Alas, one day I went to the stable to find Beatrice was gone, whereupon I sank into a black despair which lasted for the whole of 1896 [and without any apple pie, serves him right – Mrs H].

Ah, such painful memories. And now you Holmes have deserted me too. Perhaps you will one day reappear just like Princess Beatrice. Although unlikely that you too will be running in the 3.30 at Kempton.


The Lost Diaries – The Bygraves Ritual

I was rummaging through an old tea chest in search of the emergency currant bun I’d stashed away when I came across a selection of loose papers. The pages contained a great many cases which I’d failed to write up in full – indeed some were just a few words scrawled on backs of envelopes [and one of my napkins which I was keeping for nice – Mrs H].

For instance I have absolutely no recollection of the circumstances behind The Veiled Old Codger or one which simply reads Holmes Encounters a Puffin. However I did manage to find an extended paragraph on the mysterious adventure of The Bygraves Ritual – I have included edited extracts for you here.

A telegram arrives from a Lord and Lady Birkbeck urging Holmes to come immediately to Bristol. Unfortunately Holmes is already in Bristol on another case and I resolve to telegram him immediately with the news. Sadly I get distracted by a large moth which terrorises me for several hours and by the time I remember the message Holmes has arrived back at Baker Street and resolves to tell me the whole story of his case over a five-pipe marathon. When I awake in the morning I finally remember the message when Holmes reads an article in the newspaper that both Birkbecks have died in mysterious circumstances involving a casserole dish and some lemon wedges. In shock I finally forward the telegram to Bristol forgetting that Holmes is sat with me in the living room.

The Telegram Lad - the future of communication (not actual size)

The Telegram Lad – the future of communication (not actual size)

Three days later I receive another telegram from a sinister group calling themselves the Bygraves clan who confess in full to having committed the murders. Unfortunately I manage to mix up my papers and use the confession to wrap up my emergency currant bun condemning the story forever to a sticky doughy grave. Oh, how our lives are dictated by the fates…

Case status: unsolved.


The Lost Diaries – Deaf on the Moor

I’ve been struggling with an ear infection recently, most likely caused by Mrs Hudson’s attempts to retrieve a sequin with one of her knitting needles [well he will wear my frocks! – Mrs H]. ¬†This has prevented me from enjoying some of my usual pleasures such as attending a Brahms recital or listening to the tinker’s wife opposite accuse him of tinkering with the flower lady. ¬†Therefore I have returned to some of my old notes and scrapbooks and came across this apt tale from my adventures with Holmes down on the moors.

Holmes had uncovered a rotten blackmail plot amongst the Farquhars of  Bodmin and things had turned nasty resulting in a pistol stand-off outside of a local public house [splendid ale pie!]

The villain was about to do for Holmes with a well-aimed shot but I was on him in a flash. The bullet whistled past my ear, ricocheted off the pub sign, bounced off a fencepost and landed next to the same ear. Temporarily deafened I staggered to my feet to find that Holmes had the fellow on the ground and had subdued him with his hat and some spare sock garters.

The next day my hearing had mostly returned  Рalthough I did manage to walk through a local pheasant-shoot and set up a picnic  Рbut my ordeal was far from over.  In honour of our efforts  the regional mayor organised a celebration party on the village green and invited a photographer. Holmes was happily posing for a photograph when I stepped a little too near the magnesium flash and deafened myself in the other ear.  There then followed two weeks of near-silence Рa time of wretchedness and frustration  Рbut possibly my fondest memories of my third marriage.

Flash Git

Flash Git



Piers, Mornings, Wife Stories

Yesterday was a beautiful May morning and after weeks of torrid weather it was with high spirits that I opened my front door and took the morning air.¬† After a few minutes soaking up the unique London atmosphere I promptly decided the air might be better taken somewhere else. And so I found myself in Southsea strolling along the promenade with only a brief pause for reflection and a slightly longer pause to chew on a fresh whelk or two. It was a moment to savour after such a busy time at my surgery [Where are you ‚Äď Anstruther] and took me back to a happier visit I made with Holmes.

 We had come to recuperate but ended up being involved in the Ballooning Wife Scandal and on the hunt for a murderer whom Holmes had identified by way of some teeth marks in an unfinished pork sandwich.

The chase lead directly to the newly-built South Parade Pier where several young American ladies were showing off the new fad of roller-skating. Our target was way ahead of us and making for a getaway boat bound for France (via Shanklin) and it was then that I had the idea to borrow the roller skates from one of the young American ladies.  She was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, even in socks, and with the loan of her skates I was able to catch up with our villain.


Mrs Watson's Wonky Leg Skates

Sample roller-skates worn by the first Mrs Watson. Note that these boots were custom made for the poor girl and her opposable legs.

Sadly, just as I was about to tackle the fellow to the ground I clipped a rogue rivet on the decking and was diverted into the heart of a ballroom dancing contest and was not allowed to leave until I had been tapped out.  Holmes always believed in a higher justice however and on this occasion he was proved right. So relieved to have escaped my clutches, our antagonist waved us confidently goodbye from his getaway boat only to realise he’d joined the round-harbour cruise instead.  As such we took pleasure in arresting him on the hour every hour until 5 o clock.  Oh Holmes, nowadays I can’t even so much as look at a whelk without a tear coming to my eye.




A Case of a Badly Blocked Nose

Poorly doctor...

Poorly doctor…

Feeling pretty low and in need of a seriously hot toddy. I’m reminded of the time when my poor constitution almost got Holmes killed. He was involved in a stand-off with one of Grubby Barclay’s men at Kew Gardens and found himself staring down the barrel of an edging trowel. The whole incident had been carefully stage-managed by Holmes – on a secret gesture I was to leap out from behind some foliage and disable the villain with a sack of compost.

Unfortunately, to combat a nasty head cold I had taken one too many drops of my aubergine linctus and passed out in a geranium. Holmes had apparently been using the secret gesture for a full thirty minutes while I lay in a stupor and I hate to think what might have happened had it not been for a touch of good fortune.

Holmes’ arm-waving had attracted a small swarm of wasps to the scene, stinging our adversary and causing his trowel hand to swell to the size of a small balloon. ¬†Thereafter, Holmes kept the heroic insect mounted in an old pipe bowl as a reminder of my folly. ¬†In fact I’m looking at it right now as I write these notes. ¬†Oh, if only I could stop sneezing…


The Lost Diaries – Mystery, Mis-doings and Miss Spellings

The ‘documentary makers’ are very splendid company indeed and we enjoyed going through my notebooks and choosing the cases to immortalise on film. ¬†They have already shown considerable interest in old favourites such as The Boscombe Valley Mystery and A Scandal in Bohemia but are so far less keen on the lesser known Shove-Ha’penny¬†Legacy¬†and the ¬†Affair of the Scarcely Moved Draught Excluder –¬†the latter of which resulted in a terrifying (if rapid) chase through a larder.


The Lost Diaries ‚Äď The Mystery of the Speckled Gardener 2

Sgt Baker - policeman, family man, doberman

Sgt Baker - responsible for criminal beards

On arrival at the scene we found the prostrate body of Lord Bassett face down in his [illegible] with a trowelling fork embedded in his border hedge. ¬†Holmes was initially cautious, ¬†happy to accept the official verdict of accidental death as proposed by Sergeant Baker of Scotland Yard. ¬†However¬†after a closer examination ¬†of the deceased’s teacups Holmes decided there had definitely been foul play and informed Baker to [illegible] which he did at once. ¬†My own examination of the unfinished breakfast determined that Lord Bassett was prone to constipation and that his cook was in the wrong job. ¬†There were two clear suspects for the crime; the deceased’s blind mother who had been confined to her bed for the last fifteen years and the gardener Mr Harrison known locally as Hatchet Harrison, a quiet man by all accounts who kept himself to himself¬†and who had an unusual birthmark just above his [illegible].


The Lost Diaries – The Mystery of the Speckled Gardener 1

Yet more treats from my lost diaries although I must apologise in advance that this particular case is missing some details.  We have had several leaks in the roof above my study recently and this particular batch of papers is somewhat worse the wear for water damage.  Nonetheless the key facts are all present and, in some cases, even correct.  Dr.W. 

It was a wispish sun that drifted in through the windows of 221B Baker Street and dallied on the morning paper. ¬†Holmes [illegible] in the back room while I enjoyed a strong coffee and perused the latest society pages. ¬†Imagine my shock when I read that renowned horse-breeder and former 100 yard sprint champion, Lord Erwin Bassett, had been found dead in his azaleas the previous morning. ¬†Before I had a chance to [illegible] Holmes was in the room and urging me to accompany him on an investigation into the man’s death. ¬†We then [illegible] by way of [illegible] and [illegible] the 9.15 from Paddington.