Monday, 26 September 2011


Are they like gold dust? I have some lined up and am busy sharpening my quill pen

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Case of Belated Recognition?

The enormous Blogthon being oganised for November poses the question: 'What has done most for Holmes, that Film or that BBC Series? Well, the movie concentrates on  Holmes' physical rather than his mental agility. And while it is all there in the canon (Watson comments, in A Study in Scarlet, on  his new acquaintance's expertise with the singlestick, in the boxing ring and as a swordsman and Sherlock is sufficiently impressed by mathew's knocking out his left canine  in the waiting room at Charing Cross Station to record the fact in his common-place book under 'M')  I have heard Jude Law mentioned a great deal more than R. Downey, Jr. As for Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series, well he is an engaging young fellow, but the small screen absolutely shone whenever  Martin Freeman appeared. Does this mean Watson is at last getting the kudos he deserves?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Same Again

I hope you all liked the reprise of an earlier blog, but I hadn't actually visited Ross before I wrote the first one!

Doctor Watson and Ross-on-Wye

    I felt so encouraged by the news from MX Publishing today that I took time out to trace John H. Watson's movements when he was left behind in the hotel at Ross while Holmes and Lestrade went to Hereford Jail to interview young McCarthy in what the Doctor has called 'The Boscombe Valley Mystery.' There's quite a lot about this investigation in my latest book to be re-issued: "In Search of Doctor Watson" but, alas, not mch remains of what he saw in the  'pretty town' after crossing 'the broad gleaming Severn.' The Great Western Railway Locomotive Engine Shed is now a cafe 'which is part of a garden centre, but the Station and the 'Hereford Arms' have completely disappeared under an untidy Industrial Estate. The old weighbridge and the Coal Office is now a recycling centre, but it is still possible to see the remains of a viaduct at a junction called Five Ways in the centre of the Town; and in a garden nearby preserved examples of broad gauge (7ft.) and standard gauge (4 ft. 8 inches) track.
    'Yellow-backed' novels were sold at all railway bookstalls and Watson, after seeing his friend off and wandering for a while round the streets,  is left at the hotel reading one while he waits for Holmes to return from Hereford. "But the puny plot of the story was so thin, however, when compared with the deep mystery through which we were groping...that I at last flung it across the room." 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Doctor Watson's Railway Journeys (1)

   "Have you a couple of days to spare? Have just been wired for from the West of England in connection with Boscombe Valley tragedy. Shall be glad if you will come with me. Air and scenery perfect. Leave Paddington by the 11.15."
   Standing outside his house, complete with a hastily packed valise, one blast of the whistle carried in every gentleman's waistcoat pocket will bring Watson a four-wheeler, and two a hansom. In his first recorded railway journey with Holmes they are off to Hereford. Holmes will spend part of the journey reading newspapers, scattering them on the floor before rolling them into a ball and throwing it onto the luggage rack after the train has passed Reading. The date is between 1889 and 1894, and the train the 11.15 to Gloucester and from there to Ross-on-Wye. Watson doesn't mention changing trains anywhere along the route but one was probably necessary. The pair will make a lunch stop at Swindon. This was unavoidable before 1895 as the Great Western Railway had a contract with a catering firm which obliged it to stop its trains in Swindon for at least twenty minutes.
   After dealing with the newspapers Holmes gives Watson a run-down of the case but then retires behind his 'pocket Petrarch'. Was his companion bored? He says, "It was nearly four o'clock when we at last, after passing through the beautiful Stroud Valley and over the broad, gleaming Severn, found ourselves at the pretty little country town of Ross." Lestrade meets them at the station and takes the pair to 'The Hereford Arms'. Later, Holmes is reluctant to travel to the murder scene that evening. Instead he goes with the Inspector to Hereford jail to interview the prime suspect in 'The Boscombe Valley Mystery'.
   After seeing them off, Watson returns to the inn and tries to interest himself  in one of the 'yellow-backed ' novels sold at all station bookshoops. But "The puny plot of the story was so thin...when compared with the deep mystery  through which we were groping, and I found my attention wander so continually from the fiction to the fact, that I at last flung it across the room."