Monday, June 14, 2021

The April 3, 1894 rebirth

 Coming back from my first vacation in a great while, I couldn't help but think of Sherlock Holmes on April 3, 1894. Yes, Mycroft kept his rooms intact for the three years since he left. And, yes, Watson is on board to get back into the detective business with him. But Sherlock Holmes was on a three year vacation. Restarting any job after a two or three week vacation is hard enough. After three years?

Well, Sherlock Holmes isn't exactly anxious to return to the old status quo. As Lestrade arrests Colonel Moran, intent on charging him with the attempted murder of Sherlock Holmes, the returning vacationer tells him, "I do not propose to appear in the matter at all. To you, and you only, belongs the credit of the remarkable arrest which you have effected."

Having brought down Moriarty's mafia a few years before, Holmes probably isn't anxious to stir up any vendettas, but beyond that -- Sherlock Holmes definitely can see the advantage to being able to shock any criminals with his return from the dead for a while. But what of his other plans?

A guy doesn't come back from a three-year vacation and return to his old job without a few new ideas, or at least a fresh perspective and maybe some objectivity that wouldn't have been there otherwise. In "Norwood Builder," Watson pretty clearly explains the new status quo.

Watson has sold his practice and come back to 221B at Holmes's request, a move Holmes pushed along by getting a Verner cousin to buy Watson out with money Holmes provided. Watson gets to take notes, but Holmes has strictly forbade the doctor from any more publishing until Holmes allows it. (Which pretty much doesn't happen until Holmes retires from London.) Holmes really wants to stay off the grid, but the Strand Magazine damage is done and not everybody seems to have heard about "The Final Problem," as is evidenced by John Hector McFarlane crashing into Baker Street just ahead of the cops to beg Holmes to clear his name.

Yes, time away always provides us with fresh ideas, hopes, and plans, but as with 221B's invasion by McFarlane, we can never escape all that came before and the expectations our clients have for us. ("Clients" being whoever our job functions to do things for.) It is very hard to get out of being you once you slip back into the old routine.

Keeping Mrs. Hudson's rooms intact at 221B was perhaps Sherlock Holmes's greatest mistake if he wanted a fresh start. Surely Mycroft could have boxed up his brother's stuff and moved it to a new place. Yet a part of Sherlock Holmes apparently wanted that address that was so well known, and with it, a local clientele like Peterson the commissionaire. He probably missed some of those familiar faces, even while thinking of all the benefits a fresh start would bring.

Curiously, while we often think of him as the brandy-pouring doctor, "change" is the cure-all that Watson seems to prescribe as much as anything else. Getting away for a time is the best medicine Watson knows. And if one is going to cure death itself, as Holmes did, a three year "change" certainly did the trick.

Other changes after that? Well, that's a Sherlockian study for another day.

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