On musing over the hundreds of experiences I’ve had in my waking life, I can think of accounts that are thrilling, few shocking, a large number amusing, some merely strange, but none commonplace. But, of all these varied cases, however, I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than that which was associated with the adventures I had on the Baker Street. The events in question occurred on the bright sunny morning of September 12, 2015, when I landed in London while enroute to Dublin. I could have placed the account upon record much earlier, but a wave of overwhelming awe of the events that transpired, and an overpowering lethargy (to record the events) took over me. Perhaps now the facts should come to light, for the rumuors of my experience need dispelling.
A series of events (which form an interesting story by itself but have no relevance here and hence shall be omitted) have led me to spend 36 hours in London before heading over to Dublin for business.
And when you’ve got very little time in a diverse & exciting city, what do you do? Of course, your instinct is at once to rush to do the thing which you value the most. Same was mine, and I was Sherlocked a long long time ago.
Armed with a map of London, the Oyster card, and a list of places which found mention in Doyle’s stories and Gatiss’ & Moffat’s TV series, I set upon a journey of recreating the (imaginary) life & times of Sherlock Holmes. Here’s what I covered :
- Criterion Restaurant at Piccadilly Circus, the very place where Holmes & Watson first met. I’d have loved to go inside had it not permanently closed down.
- The Diogenes Club, the fictional gentleman’s club co-founded by Mycroft Holmes where gentlemen go to have a really silent time in the books and TV series. This one’s actually the British Academy on the Regent Street and no, you won’t be excluded from the club for talking (i.e, if you get the membership of course)!
- The Sherlock Holmes Restaurant & Pub at Northumerland Avenue, while in no way connected to the books or the TV series in any direct fashion, this traditional English pub is Sherlock themed with great collection of antiques and wide selection of ale. Watson’s Wallop or Sherlock Holmes Ale, anyone?
- Charing Cross Hostel, where most of the cases have occurred in Doyle’s stories. Here is where, across the street, they would send off urgent telegrams!
- Trafalgar Square, the quintessential London location which can be seen in many shots of BBC Sherlock. Oh, and an interesting one here (not a Sherlock Fact) - Did you know that the sculptor of the four lions at the Trafalgar Square had never even seen a lion when he cast the statues? So how then did he sculpt a lion? Well, he used his dog and a cat as the models, which explains why the Lions have their tongues sticking out, much like dogs!
- 221B, Baker Street, the world’s famous address which still receives mail from old and young across the world who refuse to believe Sherlock was just a figment of somebody’s imagination. The museum of three floors is an overwhelming delight for a Shelock fan; nothing in the display cannot be traced back to a story and the setting itself is so real that it’s hard to believe Sherlock & Watson won’t walk in any moment. The fireplace cozy and warm, the large rooms filled with SH memorabilia from the tobacco pouches to microscopes, to toast holders and Dundee jelly jars, the coat rack by the window, Persian rugs on the floor, Sherlock’s violin in it’s duly assigned corner of the room etc., evoked awe and admiration towards the efforts in maintaining the attention to detail, by the museum personnel. My favorite was the neatly laminated, huge book with collection of letters from all around the world. While most of these letters were fan mail - some amusing, some touching, some really crazy, a decent number of letters were from people genuinely asking for Sherlock to help them with a problem they were facing. My goosebump moment however, was when I sat in his cane chair, with the deer-stalker cap on, holding his pipe and refusing to believe this was a fictional character and realizing, Arthur Conan Doyle was truly a terrific writer to have created a believable, lovable high-functioning sociopath.
- The Souvenir Shop, right next to 221B is the largest shop in the world specialising in Holmesian items such as walking sticks, deerstalker hats, pipes, chess sets, T-shirts, shot glasses and hundreds of other collectibles (at steep prices). Well, you can always pick Sherlock’s Visiting cards for free, if it makes you happy. I sure did!
I left London a few hours later, with a great sense of satisfaction and a strange feeling of accomplishment.
To those who feel the need to ask if they should go on a Sherlock chase around London, well, if you’re Sherlocked then it’s elementary, dear Watson!