My Dear Holmes! (pastiche 1927)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

My Dear Holmes! is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche written anonymously but signed Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame, published in the Daily Express on 25 june 1927.

My Dear Holmes!

Daily Express (25 june 1927, p. 8)

By DR. WATSON, of Sherlock Holmes Fame.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, announced a day or two ago that he has definitely decided to "kill" his world-famous detective. The "Daily Express" has received the following amusing article, purporting to be written by Dr. Watson, Holmes' associate in so many of his cases:—

I have the greatest pleasure in jotting down in my old age one special recollection of my association with Sherlock Holmes. It may surprise Holmes' many admirers to learn that I entertained always a violent antipathy to railway journeys.

You may remember that the majority of Holmes' adventures were prefaced by a reference to Bradshaw. Railway time-tables, by the way, are banned from my hall and study, and my grand-daughter who keeps house for me is careful never to refer to them in conversation.

Holmes' invariable utterance, after consulting his time-table, was: "There is a train from Euston (or Liverpool-street or King's Cross), my dear Watson, in half an hour. We shall just catch it."

It is with the greatest effort that I can bring myself even now to reproduce his words. The agony of mind which they induced still persists. The horror and tedium of those seemingly endless journeys —generally made in the autumn — are vivid yet. We always started off in a four-wheeler, and of all methods of locomotion devised by man that, I think, is the most satanic.

Holmes was not poor; neither was I. We might easily have kept a well-sprung, brougham continually in attendance. We might even have run to a private hansom. But no — it was always the four-wheeler, and "Would you summon one?"

I recall one particularly awful journey whose object has been described in the case of "The Chinese Ambassador and the Murmuring Egg." A four-wheeler took us to Euston on a raw November afternoon. Holmes had previously ascertained front our index file that we should have to make straight for a poultry farm conducted by a retired Scottish clergyman in Cromarty. I had provided myself with some egg sandwiches, and these Holmes absent-mindedly consumed.

He had run out of shag tobacco, and smoked all my cigars. In fact, all that was left to me when we began our usual programme of catching connections at obscure country stations was my pad and writing paper, my bottle of ink, and my pen.

We changed to the Lanark and Argyle railway, to the Argyle and Inverness, and from the Argyle and Inverness to the Ross and Cromarty. Here we made a mistake and found themselves in Sutherland. We returned by a milk train.

Eventually we reached our destination, and looked for the inevitable fly to take us to the remote poultry farm which was situated in the neighbourhood of Ullapool. There was no fly. So we set out to walk.

I remember that, before the journey's end, Holmes' deerstalker cap had got so on my nerves that for thought seriously of bribing one of the wandering Highlanders, whom we encountered every five miles or so, to snatch it from his head.

We arrived eventually at 3.30 a.m. to find that the clergyman, who was otherwise extremely hospitable, had neglected to replenish his stock of whisky. There was barely enough for two glasses. I did not have any.

I would protest, finally, against the assumption that I possess no sense of humour. I always appreciated a jolly riddle and a good pun. I do still.