Sherlock & Me

by Mark on November 11, 2010

I am fortunate to have visited London dozens of times. The first stop on my initial visit to Britain’s capitol was not to Big Ben, the Tower of London, or Buckingham Palace. It was to visit an old friend, Sherlock Holmes.

The Circle Line of the London Underground drops me off about a five minute walk from 221b Baker Street, the world’s most famous address. A Victorian police ‘Bobby’ greets visitors at the entrance. As I climb two flights of a narrow stairway, boyhood memories of consuming all of the great detective’s stories rush down the steps. Risking the wrath of one of my elementary school nuns, I daydreamed of the wailing howls of the Hounds of Baskerville in the foggy bog.

A fireplace blazes in the hearth. Sherlock’s violin rests next to his easy chair. To the chagrin of loyal Dr. Watson, Holmes played it strings at all hours while contemplating solutions. Shelves are stuffed with books, medical instruments, and dozens of lab bottles that likely included some opium, the detective’s sole addiction. A skull with engraved partition squares rest on the desk next to copper calipers where he analyzed bullet holes. Of course there are pipes of all shapes and sizes distributed in every corner of the flat. A whiff of Turkish tobacco remains.

The fireplace bounces our shadows off the burgundy walls. I catch a glimpse of a lean figure with a hunter’s cap and magnifying glass bending over in a corner. A Korean tourist asks our guide, “Where is Mr. Holmes buried?” I turned to explain to that Sherlock and Professor Moriarty were battling in one final deathly duel when both fell from Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Their bodies were never recovered. The guide was too quick in his polite reply, “Sherlock Holmes came from the imagination of Arthur Conan Doyle. His spirit and presence lives on.” Oh!

Years later a major business partner established their headquarters a few blocks from Baker Street. Three or more times a year I passed 221b and the Bobby, but never went in. The images of the first visit remain vivid as I reread the tales of this old and dear friend.

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