Thursday, August 25, 2016

STUD Walk, Day One: Watson's best friend gets a treat.

Path of the day -- A Study in Scarlet: Part 1, Chapter 1: Mr. Sherlock Holmes

Upon entering the Mind Palace of Sherlockitude, the first thing I always see is the long hallway to the left, which leads to a single door. Upon that door is a fine brass plaque which reads:

"The Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D."
"The Second Afghan War"

I have known those who, if their mind palace contains a similar hallway with a similar door, have gone down it, opened it, and explored what lies beyond. If you are possessed of eyesight keen enough, you might observe that the carpet in this particular hallway has only been trod upon twice. One trip down the hallway to read what is on the door, and one trip back with curiosity satisfied.

I don't go down this hallway, or open that door. War and wounds, packhorses and Peshawar hospitals . . . none of what lies behind that door is anything I want to know is in there. Think me faint of heart if you will, but I prefer to save my sterner stuff for my own life's troubles. I will leave John Watson's to him, and give him all the more respect for having made it through them.

Better to visit him in that private hotel room in the Strand, where he lives without comfort or meaning to his life, budgeted to four pounds sixpence a week. And that's the true antechamber of this mind palace.

While four pounds sixpence a week is surely enough to survive on, John Watson's lifestyle in the greatest metropolis on Earth is plainly curtailed by it, and this room shows it. The two luxuries he allows himself, when he's not just idling about his hotel room or making some attempt at his never-to-be-finished "Reminiscences," seem to be a dog and the occasional trip to the Criterion Bar for a drink . . . though those are practically prescribed medications to a man whose nerves were shaken by his war experience.

While I am not the biggest fan of dogs in my daily routine, they are fabulous creatures to see in a mind palace, which can be as lonely a place at times as London for a returning serviceman without family or friends in the city. Like so many of the denizens of a mind palace, both animal and human, dogs neither defecate or smell like wet dog here, and can be excellent companions.

Watson's room in this private hotel is pretty plain, as you can see, and this lovely young bulldog is perhaps the most interesting thing in it . . . well, outside of that tin dispatch box which doesn't have the good stuff in it yet. We'll probably want to wait a few decades before trying to open that.

But here's the thing about walking through a world like that recorded in A Study in Scarlet when it's rebuilt in one's mind palace: You can have some fun with things that don't affect the narrative. 

So, you see this leash I brought with me? I'm taking Watson's dog. I'm naming her "Elsie," and she's going to accompany me on this stroll. I also brought this treat from PetSmart to encourage her complicity. And that's perfectly fine, because half of Sherlockians don't believe in Elsie and Watson himself never has anything to do with her once he's left for the Criterion Bar on the day he meets Sherlock Holmes.

SPOILER ALERT! John Watson is going to meet Sherlock Holmes. Duh!

Watson probably won't even recognize Elsie if we take her into the Criterion Bar to listen to him tell his troubles to Stamford. You know how unobservant he can be. Holmes wasn't lying.

Have you seen the Criterion Bar? 

1 comment:

  1. Your mind palace might need a kennel. There's going to be a few dogs along the way...