January 6, 1895
It seems a bit magical that we would end up here, in the “memorable” year Watson declared “I have never known my friend to be in better form, both mental and physical, than in the year ’95.” Of course, on this, his 41st birthday, Sherlock Holmes had no idea of what awaited him. Perhaps he was even on a case, and the day went wholly unnoticed. But I like to imagine him in the sitting room of 221B, looking out on a cold winter’s night (the weather report for that day shows 30 degrees and yellow fog), warm and glad to be back for his first full year in London since 1890. Perhaps there was sherry. Perhaps Mrs. Hudson had made a Victoria sponge to celebrate to occasion. Maybe Watson treated him to a birthday dinner at Simpson’s, and Mycroft popped ’round for cake and chess.
Hopefully, it was happy.
It seems fitting, then, in a year that is a calendar twin to that remarkable anno 1895, to close out this year’s Giveaway and open a New Year of blogging with a poem that takes us up to the lamplit window of 221B, and lets us stand in the glow of goodness it cast over the darkest corners of London, and of our hearts.
Here dwell together two men of note
Who never lived and so can never die:
How very near they seem, yet how remote
That age before the world went all awry.
But still the game’s afoot for those with ears
Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo;
England is England yet, for all our fears–
Only those things the heart believes are true.
A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
As night descends upon this fabled street;
A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.
And, of course, as it is The Birthday, it’s time for the Grand Prize. Remember, everyone is allowed to participate, even if they’ve won twice this time around. As for the question? Since I’m feeling reflective at the moment, how about…
What case do you think was Sherlock Holmes’s favorite? Why? You can choose from one written in the Canon, or one of the “unsolved” cases with which Watson delights in teasing us.
Send in your answer via blog post or FB message. If your name is chosen in the drawing, you’ll receive…
You know you need this on your wall, right next to your portrait of General Gordon. I haven’t torn open the matte, but while the photo seems like a high-quality print, while the autograph is genuine, from well-known and reputable dealers Markus Brandes. I will include the COA (certificate of authentication) with the autograph. The winner will be drawn on Monday evening, after 9:00 pm EST (which is when I get off work). Best wishes for a wonderful Birthday!
Congratulations to Claudia, who won the Birthday Eve Book Club prize! The answer was, of course, Hatherly from “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb.”