Baker Street Blues- a tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes


Baker Street Blues- a tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and to Sherlock Holmes


I confess. I’d never been to Baker Street in all my long years as a fan of Sherlock Holmes. I’d travelled along it in a bus, or in a taxi but never set foot there until this Sunday.

As I stood on the escalator coming up from the Tube, a tune began in my head. It was almost involuntary and a bit of a surprise to me. Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street is a total classic and has bitter-sweet significance to me, which is a story I shall keep secret for the moment. As I reached the station exit, the soaring guitar was being overtaken by the saxophone solo and as I stepped finally onto Baker Street, the lyrics began….

Winding your way down Baker Street, Light in your head and dead on your feet…”

Pretty much summed up how I was feeling. I’d had a thirteen and a half hour working day the day before and had the same that day, though in effect I was free to do what I felt like, while remaining on call. Tiredness notwithstanding, a massive grin spread across my face, the first spontaneous smile I have had for a long while, or so it feels. I joined the queue at the museum and continued to grin for the next hour.

 Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the most famous creation of the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but its easy to forget that Doyle was responsible for another fabulous creation too, Professor Challenger, the hero of the novel The Lost World, that has been made into many films since. Sir Arthur was a medical doctor, graduating from Edinburgh, and had a questing mind that took him to many places that were unusual for a man of his class. He did a tour as a ships’ doctor on a voyage to the West African coast, which probably opened the mind of the young Arthur greatly. His lack of success as a medical doctor gave him time to write; he had written as a medical student and his long hours waiting for patients when he first set up practise in Southsea gave rise to the first appearance of Holmes in A Study in Scarlet. Later, set up as an ophthalmologist and recorded he had not a single patient! In total, Doyle wrote four Holmes novels and 56 short stories. Many have been made into films and TV shows, and writers have produced endless tributes and pastiches to the great detective.

Visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker Street was for me akin to a tongue-in-cheek pilgrimage as I fell in love with the great detective when I was nine years old. I passed on this love to my daughter who had the stories read to her as bedtime stories. What makes me love him so?

 It’s hard to explain but there was such hope for me in the discovery of a truly clever hero to look up to and aspire to be like. Holmes is thought to be based on Professor Joseph Bell, Doyle’s old university professor, and the fact that while the man himself is fictional, there was a real person behind the stories, gave me a lot of hope that somewhere intelligence is valued above other attributes.

Holmes is a perennial favourite for film and TV and a recent BBC mini series Sherlock relaunched the iconic Holmes to a new public, updating the tales to be set in the present day with huge success. I can only hope that the next series is as excellent as the previous one.

Anyway, if you are not already a fan of Holmes, then what are you waiting for? It’s elementary, my dears!


12 thoughts on “Baker Street Blues- a tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes

  1. This takes me back to my first leather-bound book of childhood : THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. {All his books in one huge volume.}

    It had taken me all summer mowing the lawns of everyone I could to buy it. I put it on layaway in a small bookstore. Every week faithfully, I would plunk down whatever money I earned.

    I was so close near the end of the summer I could taste it. I walked in one week with only a meager amount. Grass was getting slow to grow during that drought.

    I remember mournfully putting my few dollars down on the counter. Smiling warmly, the old bookkeeper put the leather bound book in my hands. She smiled.

    “A tall old man with the strangest hat, long coat, and pipe came in here yesterday. He paid the rest of what you owe.”

    She didn’t fool me, but I felt my face beaming as I ran my fingers lovingly over the leather cover.

    She winked, “I would swear he spoke with an English accent, but he didn’t stay long enough for me to be sure.”

    She had my business until she retired a few years later. You sparked that memory with your post. Thanks, Roland


    • What a wonderful story, Roland. Thank you for sharing it. Memories are strange thing; they can bring both pleasure and pain. I am glad yours brought you pleasure.


  2. Thanks for sharing Viv…it was a lovely experience…seeing the place where Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes “lived.”

    Roland, thanks for sharing your story too…it seems funny how people who’ve never met, and who aren’t likely to meet either – have so much in common.



  3. Oh how wonderful. I love the VR spelled out in bullet holes. I had an enormous crush on Sherlock Holmes at the same time that I wanted to be him. I would re-imagine the stories with me in the main role, or sometimes as the client, sometimes as the criminal. I was just floored when he went over the Falls and jubilant when the stories continued. I loved his formidable intelligence but I also loved the setting of Victorian London. I’ve always been fascinated with the Victorians and I found their writing so sophisticated and exotic. It’s curious that you say the stories filled you with hope that somewhere intelligence was highly valued. I felt much the same way about British literature (and TV and film) in general. I remember watching Monty Python and feeling such happiness at the blend of silliness and sharp intelligence. Heavens, comedians from Oxford and Cambridge. What a change from Bob Hope.


    • “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition…our first weapon is fear. Fear and surprise….”
      Oh how I loved Python and the guys who made it. I love Terry Gilliam too; just seen The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and it was super, so don’t give up hope on your fellow countrymen yet!
      I love Victorian anything; I grew up in a Victorian house where my parents still live. There was something bold and unstoppable about them in terms of art and literature. I especially love the pre-Raphaelites.
      how is your Dad, Karen? I am praying for you all.


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  5. These images are lovely. You really got my attention with the secret story you won’t share. Was this a clever rhetoric device or is there really a secret you wont share? Well done, regardless…it worked on me. I want to know your secret!!!


  6. Thanks for sharing.
    I didnt know what/where Gerry was talking about.
    I won’t complain about the secret since I still havent shared the UFO story with you :).



    • I might come clean about my “secret” later today Mark. It isn’t much of a secret, just something I didn’t feel was right to clog that post up with.
      I have now more or less finished at work for the time being and have some time off to catch up with things so i hope to be writing more. I certainly haven’t got a lot else I will like doing- massive amounts of filing, housework and generally sorting to do, that I have put off for months.
      ps am still waiting…


    • Hi Amos,
      nice of you to visit and comment. The only thing is, try as I have and will continue to do, I can’t understand your comment. Maybe I am being a bit thick (tired, summer cold etc) but I can’t match the comment with anything in the text. The museum is open all year round, not just on special days and while I enjoyed my visit, I don’t think I made it sound like a party or anything.
      Please, enlighten me….pretty please?


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