Saturday, May 11, 2019

Some questions remain unanswered


I'm listening to an audio book while traversing a goodly distance, and the hero of said book has had a long day. He's gone from key event to key event, is completely exhausted and longing for sleep, and he gets locked in the back of a police care for an hour and a half. Sleep is an important bodily function, so one can sympathize with our hero being deprived of it.

But, having been in a car for several hours, that's not exactly the bodily function I am most concerned about. And I wonder about that guy who was locked in a police car for an hour and a half after not having the time for anything else for most of a day. And then I wonder about Holmes and Watson.

That classic Sidney Paget drawing of Sherlock and John sitting in a train car together . . . they took some long trips together. They also did things like night-time vigils in bank vaults or a step-daughter's bedroom. And for all the time and energy spent by Sherlockians documenting the dates things happened, the layout of 221B Baker Street, etc., all those things that make Sherlock Holmes all the more real to us, has anyone ever answered this basic question:

"What's the longest Sherlock Holmes ever went without hitting the bathroom?"

Of course, it was the Victorian era, so Holmes wasn't picking up a large Diet Coke at McDonalds before getting on the train. And he did do that three-day "absolute fast" to trap Culverton Smith in "The Dying Detective," so we wouldn't be surprised if Sherlock Holmes could endure near-superhuman lengths of time without doing what any of us would need. But John Watson? The guy whose military time ruined his health for years?

"Excuse me, Holmes, but I require the use of a chamber pot."

"Of course, Watson. I have observed your maximum bladder retention as ninety-eight minutes after your morning coffee, so I had the stableboy equip this vantage point with an empty wine cask."

As we learned from O Xango de Baker Street, adding certain bodily functions to a Sherlock Holmes story does change the tone a bit. (Of course, certain other bodily functions have driven a goodly chunk of fan fiction . . . but that's a whole 'nother change of tone.)  But calculating the length of time he wasn't doing certain things in the original tales? The tone is already locked in, so it's probably safe to answer such questions at this point.

Well, if anyone is that bored and looking for research options, of course. I suspect we won't be seeing any in-depth papers on it anytime soon, but you just never know in this hobby.

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