Path of the day -- still A Study in Scarlet: Part 1, Chapter 1: Mr. Sherlock Holmes
The marvelous thing about a mind palace built from the Holmes Canon is the immediate access to a quality drinking establishment like the Criterion Bar . . . well, if you're into that sort of thing. One never knows what beverages a particular person's mind palace is apt to serve up, especially mine. This Criterion might have butterbeer here. You never know.
The long bar, running the length of the establishment, is a classic. A familiar place in a way, no matter where you are. Something about a great big back bar that looks like the building was practically built around it . . . solid and secure.
The Criterion Bar, located right in Piccadilly Circus, however, is probably not the sort of place "where everybody knows your name." Hardly the little local bar where the drinks are cheap, either. Having a drink in the Criterion, it's easy to see how John H. Watson was a.) a lonely soul in a crowded metropolis, and b.) needing to go on a budget. He was living like a tourist.
And why not? I hate to bring this up, but given his lack of "kith and kin" in England and his familiarity with Australian gold-fields, John Watson was probably not from this country. And where else would he be drawn to then but the heart of London? Sure, he'd been here for studies, etc., but London wasn't home.
The real thing had all kinds of other parts, dining rooms, a ballroom, a theater, etc., but here in the Mind Palace of Sherlockitude, the Criterion's long bar is all that exists. And why not? It's only here for John H. Watson and one other patron . . . the one guy who does know his name.
Stamford. "A friendly face in the great wilderness of London." A guy that is so happy to see you that you immediately invite him to lunch. Immediately. This is the person you want to meet in a bar, be Stamford a he, a she, or another pronoun of choice.
Of course, Watson's immediate hansom for the Holborn Restaurant upon seeing Stamford, even if he describes him as "not a particular crony of mine," tells us something . . . these two had been at the Holborn together before. Whether it was nostalgia or simply picking the first place he knew Stamford would enjoy, there was no need to waste time discussing where they were dining. The Holborn was the obvious choice. Lunch buffet or grilled steaks? No idea. But there would be wine with it.
So on, off in our virtual hansom to the Holborn dining room of the Mind Palace of Sherlockitude, to listen to Watson and Stamford talk of lodgings, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and "other channels" of conversation.
To the deep-reading Sherlockian, the phrase "the conversation drifted away into other channels" is as alluring as a tin dispatch-box full of Watsonian manuscript. Watson has already given Stamford a run-through of his adventures since they last saw each other back in the cab. Watson doesn't have anyone in England to talk about. Shared former associates at Bart's? Something to do with the fact Holborn was a casino in addition to having a restaurant? Stamford's love life? Whatever the channel, they had the better part of the meal to converse there.
Lunch at the Holborn, and after that . . . the return of John H. Watson to St. Bartholomew's Hospital. They say the past is prologue, and that saying is never so fitting as in Watson's time with young Stamford.