Breakfasts are kind of a big thing in the Sherlock Holmes universe. One Holmes cookbook author called them "the preeminent Sherlockian meal." And while we foodies might like to get into the details of the hard-cooked cooked eggs from a new cook at Baker Street (Wait! There was a new cook? What happened to Mrs. Hudson?) or why a Scotch-woman might think curried chicken went with ham and eggs (Oh, wait, maybe that's what.) the subject that has most interested me lately (until I started on these parenthetical side issues that I'm now wondering about) is not the what was for breakfast, but the who was in for breakfast.
Lord, was there ever a worse introductory paragraph?
In any case, like most Sherlockians would probably agree, having breakfast at 221B Baker Street with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would be a treat most of us would give much for. More people get to eat breakfast with the boys than any other meal, but that doesn't mean they were just inviting anyone to breakfast. Let's take a look at who got their morning meal at Baker Street.
Well, speaking of the curried chicken with ham and eggs, served under fancy salvers, we have Mr. Percy "Tadpole" Phelps, an old school-fellow of Watson's and the only man ever to kiss Sherlock Holmes in the Canon. Sure, Holmes wants to prank Phelps at the breakfast, but given that Watson introduces us to Phelps by talking about how he used to play whacking pranks on the guy, it reveals what might be an ongoing friendly bit of fun between Percy and John. There's enough evidence of something there to elevate Percy Phelps to the level of Baker-Street-breakfast-worthy.
The Baker Street irregulars show up at breakfast time, but they don't get any of the ham and eggs, just the usual shillings, though I bet they'd have enjoyed sharing some of it. As it is, Watson just talks about giving the leftovers to Toby the dog. Poor lads.
Victor Hatherley, Watson's surprise patient in "Engineer's Thumb," gets a Baker Street breakfast, but as his invitation comes at a time when Watson is living out on his own, I have a feeling that Watson is using Hatherley to get himself a Baker Street breakfast again. Still, as I mentioned in this week's episode of The Watsonian Weekly, both John and Sherlock seem to get on very well with young Hatherley.
A second old friend of Watson's has breakfast with the pair, but the one time we know of, it's not at Baker Street but his own house. That friend would be Colonel Hayter, whom Watson took care of in his short time as an Army medico in Afghanistan. Watson has seen Hayter enough to get repeatedly invited down to Surrey, so might not one of those occasions involved a Baker Street breakfast as well? We don't know for certain, but I'd give it an increased likelihood.
Inspector Lestrade supper and a nap on the sofa, but surely he had to get at least one morning meal with his Baker Street boys, though I'm not remembering one at the moment. I sure hope he got one in. It's a wonder we Sherlockians and Watsonians don't do more breakfasts rather than dinners in celebration of all the times Holmes and Watson were together at that particular meal. And when someone else got to share it with them in the stories, we can only live vicariously through that lucky soul. Were there more than those above? Did Stamford ever get the "old friends" perk of breakfast at 221B?
It all makes me hungry just to think about it.