Holmes on “How to Live” VS. Watson on “How to Live with Holmes”

“Mr. Holmes, at age 167, what basic life advice can you offer?”

1) Your brain has only so much space. Be on guard against unnecessary information. I refuse to know about the solar system, for instance.  

2) Romantic relationships only drain your energy for better things. I mean it. Don’t even pretend to indulge such a thing unless you are disguised and or it’s necessary to solve a crime. If you have to convince yourself of this, you are lost already.  It goes without saying that you can and should love your queen—from a safe distance.

3) Dogs are more likely to be reliable. Rent one if you need one.

4) Never draw easy conclusions. Don’t assume. Check it out. The so-called “obvious truth” or “what people say” is nonsense. You must gather the facts yourself. Until you have assembled those facts you are only gathering data. Leave it at that, unless you want to be as inept as Scotland Yard.

5) Live alone, unless you can’t afford it. If you must “share rooms,” choose an easy-going person unlike yourself, one who is likely to be useful to you.

6) As an afterthought to #2. If your logical brain goes wonky and insists on a relationship with a soon-to-be-married opera diva from New Jersey, limit yourself to witnessing her wedding–in disguise.  Afterward, you may allow yourself to retain a photograph of the woman. Do not buy, steal, or purchase the photograph.  As the lady had a last maidenly fling (or a dance, anyway) with a king too ashamed of her to marry her, that gentleman has a photo he will let you have if you ask politely.

“And you, Doctor Watson?”

1) If you share rooms with a stranger who takes dangerous drugs when he’s bored, adores the queen, and sets up toxic chemistry experiments in the one common room you share, adapt as best you can.

2) If that same fellow claims to be the one and only consulting detective in London (population 6.7 million in 1896), humor him.

3) Agree to help your detective on his cases and write them up. You will share in his success. Some of his glory will be mistaken for yours and you will find yourself meeting attractive, grateful women.

4) If you find yourself marrying any of these women, be sure it’s well known what happened to each of them before you marry again. Otherwise, history–and millions of Sherlockians–will wonder. These people pay exaggerated attention, so be specific to avoid confusion. Ditto for your vague, wandering war wounds.

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural home, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

ebook/print link:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

or print link:

https://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Remaining-Improbable-Susanne/dp/1678075310/ref=sr_1_3

Susanne M. Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

“Can’t Believe How Fast I Finished it Up! $17.95, Please.”

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

Writers and Word Counts (Just my thoughts)

For me, the question is more about pace than numbers. “Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable”– and its research–took three years, but I did write and publish two other long short stories, as well as poems, in that time. I have been a member of three excellent writers’ groups, The Muse Center in Norfolk, Virginia, Charlotte Writers in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Kelly Writers House at U Penn in Philadelphia. Writers talk about word counts, of course. My way is to find the pace that suits you, rather like letting your horse adapt the right pace for that horse’s health, the rider, and the particular journey. Experiment. If my horse has a steep hill to climb, slower is only right. Are fast dances better than slow dances? Are sculptures in soft materials better than those in slow, hard-to-work stone? The danger in either too fast or too slow is that the pace might defeat the story and the writer. If I were to write only a couple paragraphs a day, I’d lose any sense of my characters and their challenges. It might be like stringing out a message to a friend, a few phrases a day.

I can’t imagine wearing a button saying either, “This novel took me ten years. It must be worth at least $17.95, paperback,” or “I’m amazed how quickly I finished this up! $17.95, please.” 

Links Below!

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1678075310/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_J3EJWBA5ASJJ2KCJCYR3?fbclid=IwAR3cmhWfllK0UaaT4WHbjZGXnBuhTvnyJ74clHMcAu3_d5voz9mGCU2hLYw

221B Baker Street: Holmes’ Phantom Address

… and the museum vs. the bank.

In London in the Nineteenth Century, author Jerry White refers to John Fisher Murray’s 1844 designations for “old London neighborhoods.* Baker Street is categorized as neither exclusive, ultra-fashionable nor fashionable, but “genteel.” Madame Tussaud’s Wax Works was housed there, in addition to shops, pubs, restaurants and “mansion blocks,” i.e. apartment buildings.

However, when Holmes and Watson took rooms at 221B Baker Street in 1881, the numbered addresses went no higher than 84.

As soon as this fact came to light, questions were raised. Was Watson protecting Holmes from risk by disguising the address? Did they actually live in York Place? According to David Sinclair’s Sherlock Holmes’s London, York Place was a residential end of what has more recently become a part of Baker Street. Another theory was that the doctor and detective lived in the Regent’s Park end of present day Baker Street, known as Upper Baker Street. (Note! A reader has informed me that in preliminary notes to Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, he did refer to a 221B Upper Baker Street.) The number system was still unsatisfactory, according to Sinclair, as as the highest was 54.

Life caught up with art a few years after the publication of the last Holmes story in 1930. Baker Street was extended across Marylebone Road and renumbered. An entire city block took on the address 219 to 229, and became the headquarters of Abbey Road Building Society and then, in July 1989, Abbey National, a bank.

Google Maps

That settled nothing, especially when heaps of mail seeking Holmes’ aid began to arrive and the building society-morphing-to-a-bank proudly designated itself as employer of the posthumous secretary to Sherlock Holmes for seventy years.

Then, in 1990, the bank had competition. The Sherlock Holmes Museum set up just down the street at a much more appropriate-looking address, not 221B, but 239 Baker Street.

239 Baker Street Google Maps

To settle the matter the museum actually tried to get its address changed from 239 to 221, a permission refused in 1994. It was able to register as a business legally called 221B Limited, however, and posted that name over the entrance.

Google Maps: 219 to 229 Baker Street today

Abbey National Bank finally retired from the conflict in 2002 when it moved away from Baker Street entirely. By way of a graceful farewell, the bank installed the fine statue of Sherlock Holmes that surveys nearby Baker Street Tube Station.

Gift to Baker Street from Abbey National Bank

*Old London was a very different city, as the population count, as well as the square miles, skyrocketed in the 19th Century. In 1801, the first official census names just over 1 million. By 1900 it is 6.2 Million. Square miles in 1851 totaled 122; in the Holmes’ era, c.1896, that number is 693.

Thank you for reading! Please follow my blog, inside221B.com. It’s generally twice a week and will simply show up in your mail.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable, by Susanne Dutton, coming soon from Propertius Press.

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Holmes, One in 4.7 Million

https://youtu.be/MJeNG1R7FzM

1780 – London Population 750,000

1801 – London Population 1.1 M

1881 – London Population 4.7 Million when Holmes and Watson take 221b

1896 – London Population 6.7 Million during The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, wherein secret submarine blueprints are found in a murdered engineer’s pocket.

1920 – London Population is 7.4 Million when Holmes is 66 and The Dangerous Drugs Act is enacted… Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable takes place.

from The Strand Magazine, January 1891

In 1860, when the six year old Holmes was still home in Yorkshire (about 322 km and or 200 miles away) London was already one quarter larger than the world’s second largest city, Beijing; two thirds larger than the Paris; five times as big as NYC. By 1881, Holmes had moved to London. Rents were high. The population was young, a little more female than male. He was on the lookout for a fellow to share the rent.

The Criminal Investigation Department had recently been created, naming 250 detectives, including Lestrade, in a police department that numbered 10,000.

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“Diggings” in Baker Street, Watson smokes, too–and the landlady’s mourning jewelry brings back a macabre memory

“By Jove! If he really wants someone to share the rooms and expense, I am the very man for him.” J. Watson, M.D.

In 1881, Holmes and Watson move in to 221b. Holmes is 27; Watson 29 years old.

“Holmes was delighted. ‘I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,‘ he said. … You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?’

‘I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,”Watson answered.

‘That’s good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally, do experiments. Would that annoy you? … Let me see, what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days.’

That very evening Watson moved his things from the hotel in the Strand where he had been living a comfortless and meaningless existence.” Excerpted from: Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, by William S. Baring Gould, WING BOOKS.

When they met Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, Holmes saw immediately a mourning pin at her collar, not more than half an inch long, set with a zigzag design of what was surely human hair.

Had she lost a child? Was she a widow? He did not mention it, initially, though he was personally familiar with the tradition of bereavement jewelry. His mother, Violet Sherrinford Holmes, b. 1824, treasured a ring crafted in the more macabre style of the Georgian era, a tiny skull and cross bones set in a circle of pearls.

“Diggings” in Baker Street, Watson smokes, too–and the landlady’s mourning jewelry brings back a macabre memory

“By Jove! If he really wants someone to share the rooms and expense, I am the very man for him.” J. Watson, M.D.

In 1881, Holmes and Watson move in to 221b. Holmes is 27; Watson 29 years old.

“Holmes was delighted. ‘I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,‘ he said. … You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?’

‘I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,”Watson answered.

‘That’s good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally, do experiments. Would that annoy you? … Let me see, what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days.’

That very evening Watson moved his things from the hotel in the Strand where he had been living a comfortless and meaningless existence.” Excerpted from: Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, by William S. Baring Gould, WING BOOKS.

When they met Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, Holmes saw immediately a mourning pin at her collar, not more than half an inch long, set with a zigzag design of what was surely human hair.

Had she lost a child? Was she a widow? He did not mention it, initially, though he was personally familiar with the tradition of bereavement jewelry. His mother, Violet Sherrinford Holmes, b. 1824, treasured a ring crafted in the more macabre style of the Georgian era, a tiny skull and cross bones set in a circle of pearls.