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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

Mrs Hudson’s New Year Blessings

Happy New Year my darlings.  No resolutions from me this year, but instead I would like to offer you my handy hangover cure.
  1. Mix three lemons in a bowl.
  2. Add an egg white and stir until light and frothy.
  3. Add a double-measure of vodka.
  4. Repeat until you no longer notice your hangover and/or feel your legs.
Happy New Year everyone!
Four more happy punters who made it to Step 4.

Four more happy punters who made it to Step 4.

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His Last Sprout – A Look Back at Christmas 1914

Christmas at 221B is always a time of highs and lows. While there is fun and laughter (the appearance of my Christmas socks) it is always tinged with melancholy  (Sherlock still missing) followed by mood swings (burning my Christmas socks).  Here is my Christmas 1914 at a glance.

 

Highs

– Winning charades enacting The Red Headed League (despite Mrs H’s complaints that I had used her cats as a prop)

– Forming a choir with the Baker Street Irregulars

– Mulled Wine

– Un-mulled wine

– Finding missing evidence from the Valley of Beards within Mrs H’s home-made crackers.

– Making a snowman with Lestrade.

– Using Holmes’ chemistry set to explode sprouts

 

 

Lows

– Mrs H’s Christmas Roast: Bird within a Bird within a Pork Chop

– Losing pictionary attempting The Science of Deduction (Lestrade guessed ‘a pineapple’)

– Opening my present from Mrs Hudson to find my own service revolver.

– Lestrade and Gregson coming to blows over pronouncing the word ‘nougat.’

– Leaving our Christmas hats on to make an arrest.

– The second helping of Mrs H’s Christmas Cake

 

 

A slice of Mrs Hudson's Christmas Cake is lowered into position.

A slice of Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Cake is lowered into position.

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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’s 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 – 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 – it has caused me to question some disturbing elements of the old Five Bristles case – notably, who was the mysterious Dr Llewellyn, are their really three more bristles still unaccounted for – and 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?

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My Top 5 Extraordinarily Beautiful Women – No.2

No list of extraordinarily beautiful women would be complete without the enchanting Audrey Delacroix, known the world over as the Darling of the Trapeze (although there is an on-going trade mark challenge from Britain’s very own Marge Drooping.) Everywhere she went she brought with her that enigmatic Parisian smile, an air of understated class, and a 120-strong caravan of circus performers.

I first glimpsed her from afar when I volunteered to be a human plank in a routine involving some gymnasts and a fire-eater.

I was lying face up on the floor of the arena and there she was – high in the awnings of the tent, waiting to fly majestically across the arena. I sat up and gazed at her enchanting visage and at that moment I knew two things – one, that she must be mine, and two, that a gymnast was on fire next to me.

Audrey Delacroix - Darling of the Trapeze

Audrey Delacroix relaxes at home

I spoke with her on a number of occasions, using the excuse that Holmes was keen to interview her for a line of enquiry but after several visits to Baker Street with just me for company (dressed in my army uniform) she became suspicious – as did her strongman boyfriend, Serge DuPont, who professed a keen interest in the medical profession and talked with me at length about the implications of falling onto a railway line.

One morning I finally resolved to visit her at the circus and pour out my feelings but on arrival at the site the entire caravan had gone – and with it my hopes of capturing the extraordinarily beautiful Audrey Delacroix.

[As a footnote some readers will remember the later arrest of Serge DuPont over unpaid licence fees for his barbells following an anonymous tip-off.]

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Decorating Baker Street – Painting my Study in Scarlet

Since Holmes and I parted ways Mrs Hudson tells me that I am far too fond of wallowing in the past [and my aprons! – Mrs H]. As a result I have decided to spruce up the 221B apartments with a spot of decorating.  For starters I have filled in the bullet holes by packing them with more bullets and covering with Mrs H’s lemon curd.  Secondly, I have replaced the rug that was getting very worn at the centre due to clients either fainting, resisting arrest or dying  (In the case of Colonel Bagshaw he managed all three although I forget in which order) and I have now turned my attention to a spot of architectural design.

I created a lovely archway which I thought would open up the space but it is a little smaller than I intended and failed to attach it to anything useful like the ceiling so we spend a lot of time walking around it and it has become impossible to see visitors if they are sat in the other armchair.  I have also chosen to remove a window by falling through it trying to navigate the accursed archway – although fortunately the pavement slowed my descent considerably. Oh well, it looks like Anstruther will have to look after my practice for a while unless the surgeon can re-set my arm-bones in a permanent prescription-writing position.

Fraser Armitage - a study in nonchalence 1894 (Nonchalence became what we now know as Prague in 1904)

Dr Watson’s friend and fellow decorating enthusiast, Mr Fraser Armitage. Following a smoking accident he had his left-leg permanently set to a nonchalant position and meant he had to carry this plinth with him at all times.

 

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My Top 5 Extraordinarily Beautiful Women – No.3


Miss Mary Tiro  – An Enigma wrapped in a Mystery, folded neatly with Controversy  

In the long, dark days between Mrs Watsons 2 and 3 (hereafter known as ‘The Good times’) I began a correspondence with a charming girl via the columns of The Times.  At first we appeared to be perfectly matched due to our shared love of long country walks, the 3rd edition of the Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, and sitting down again after long country walks.  I wrote to her constantly for six months and I learnt all there was to know about this wonderful creature including where she went to school, her passion for backwards cycling, and why her Aunt Tilly wouldn’t come out of the broom cupboard.

In return she asked me all sorts of questions about my work with Holmes and I was very much flattered by her enthusiasm for our current case-load. It was only when we arranged to meet that things began to unravel.  She made several excuses (sick relatives, stuck in her corset etc etc) and Holmes began to suspect that she might not be everything she seemed.  He accused her of being the incarnate of our arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty and pointed out that her name was indeed an anagram of the same.  Of course I did not believe it (I could only make Air My Rot) and put it down to jealousy on his behalf – I had yet to see him walk out with a woman who could cycle backwards!

The alleged Miss Mary Tiro (second left) about to compete in the Backwards-Cycling event . It is not recorded who came first (last).

The alleged Miss Mary Tiro (second left) about to compete in the Backwards-Cycling event. It is not recorded who came first (last) or indeed who claimed the wooden spoon by coming last (first).

But in the end tragedy struck when I received a letter from Mary’s Aunt Tilly saying that the poor girl had succumbed to women’s hysteria and had swooned into an open fireplace.  She promised to send me a lock of hair as proof and I intended to cherish it forever by turning it into a bow-tie. Sadly when it arrived it was somewhat powdery from the blaze and I fear I may have mixed it up with my chewing tobacco.  Poor Mary, always my angel.

 

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Mrs Hudson offers an Analysis

Psychoanalysis appears to be all the rage these days (my butcher uses his cheese counter to double as a couch) so I thought I’d save the good doctor some pennies and offer my own analysis of his recurring nightmare.

 

Recently I have been having a recurrent dream where I am on the Centre Court of the All England Club at Wimbledon. 

This may be linked to the night that you went for a quiet drink with your nephew and ended up breaking into the Club to have a rally with some mutton pies.  Lestrade tells me that when you were apprehended you claimed that you were the President of the Association.  When that didn’t wash you decided to lie on the grass and pretend you were invisible.

 

 I look around at the spectators who appear to all be holding opera glasses until it dawns on me that they are all using periscopes and bear a passing resemblance to King Edward.

You once told Mr Holmes that you found opera oppressive although we always assumed that was because you were jilted by that awful woman playing Brunhilde.  [Actually I wasn’t jilted, I was assaulted, then married, then jilted – Watson]

 

Lost love - Brunhilde as played by Miss Connie Eckhart.  Miss Eckhart appears courtesy of a legal error.

Lost love – Brunhilde as played by Miss Connie Eckhart. Miss Eckhart appears courtesy of a legal oversight.

 

The periscopes reference may have something to do with the Bruce Partington plans affair – that web of international intrigue and espionage – or it may be connected to your being caught peeking through the side of the bathing machines. [I keep telling you – I thought I’d left my gloves]. You have such a man-crush on King Edward and are forever quoting him to the boys in buttons.  I even saw you pretend to knight one of them with the gas lighter.

 

All England Tennis Club circa 1888 - Mr R J Pinkerton (top left) had a terrific forearm while Miss A Abrams (bottom centre) had an amazing forehead

All England Tennis Club circa 1888 – Mr R J Pinkerton (top left) had a terrific forearm while Miss A Abrams (bottom centre) had an amazing forehead

 

 I look back to the court and over at my opponent.  He is a tall, lean man, athletic without being overburdened with muscle and I’d imagine quite handsome although it is hard to tell as he wears a large bee-keeper’s hood over his head.

I have no idea on this one except to say you are very fond of honey.  And equally fond of unusual head furniture.  Do you remember that you spent all of 1879 wearing a pith helmet?  [I was in Afghanistan!]

 

There is something in his stance that triggers a memory – a small nugget of recognition.  That walk, those arms, those hundreds of bees.  Of course it must be – Holmes! I am about to wave and shout ‘Aloa’ when my opponent smashes a perfect ace down the Centre Line and in to my face, fracturing my nose.  This is most shocking, especially as we had agreed to only serve underarm.

Hmmm I did once fracture your nose with a coal scuttle. Or was it a turnip?  Could it be related?

 

I wake instantly and reach for my bedside brandy.  What could this all mean?

It means you are an alcoholic. Love, Mrs H.

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I Dream of Tennis

Recently I have been having a recurrent dream where I am on the Centre Court of the All England Club at Wimbledon.  I look around at the spectators who appear to all be holding opera glasses until it dawns on me that they are all using periscopes and bear a passing resemblance to King Edward.

I look back to the court and over at my opponent.  He is a tall, lean man, athletic without being overburdened with muscle and I’d imagine quite handsome although it is hard to tell as he wears a large bee-keeper’s hood over his head.

There is something in his stance that triggers a memory – a small nugget of recognition.  That walk, those arms, those hundreds of bees.  Of course it must be – Holmes! I am about to wave and shout ‘Aloa’ when my opponent smashes a perfect ace down the Centre Line and in to my face, fracturing my nose.  This is most shocking, especially as we had agreed to only serve underarm.

I wake instantly and reach for my bedside brandy.  What could this all mean?

King Edward - took his name from the humble potato

King Edward – took his name from the humble potato

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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.

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Bath Time

I enjoyed a lovely day in Bath Spa recently where I was finally persuaded by Mrs Watson to take the waters. [A fine alternative to him taking the alcohol – Mrs H]

I was mid-paddle when the thought occurred to me I had been here once before with Holmes. Indeed many readers will recognise the case I later immortalised in print as the Adventure of the Bleached Cobbler.

Holmes was always non-committal about the artistic licence of my titles and showed it in this instance by instructing Mrs Hudson to braise and confit my favourite fountain pen and serve it to the Bath Rugby XI. Such happy memories – I wept for almost an hour at which point the bath attendants cordoned me off with a modesty screen and re-routed a public tour.

It should be said that they were also concerned my tobacco might be contaminating the waters. To wit I replied that bathing, tobacco and dignity were the holy trinity of a gentleman. I am not allowed back.

My Life in Bath

Dr Watson demonstrates the infamous bath-pipe combo. The original of this photograph can be found hanging in the National Gallery (first floor toilets)

 

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