Weekly Forum: October 21, 2014

Did Doctor Watson rejoin the British Army as a physician during World War I? What is the evidence and what are your surmises from knowing the life of the man?

Our Dr Bob Katz “Willow” wrote, in a BSJ article in 1992, that Watson spent World War I serving in the army performing pre-induction physicals. He would have been quite expert at identifying malingerers who were attempting to evade military service, as he had firsthand experience learning about malingering from Holmes, one of the first students of the subject (DYIN).

Weekly Forum: October 14 2014

Mrs Watson (No, the Other One)

Mrs. J. Watson and son John (ca 1854)
Mrs. J. Watson and son John (ca 1854)

Very little has been written about Mrs Watson, John Watson’s mother. There is no Canonical evidence, but from the abundant evidence about her son, what can we say about Doctor Watson’s mom?

Significant Comment on September 30 Weekly Forum

Melissa Anderson “Faith” has posted a significant comment on the Weekly Forum of September 30 concerning Doctor Watson and his military service. It is concise, well-stated, thoughtful and goes to the core of the Canon.  Well worth reading. Thank you, “Faith.”

Weekly Forum: October 7, 2014

“A Case of Identity”

There is something “jewel-box-like” about IDEN and it may be one of Watson’s great triumphs of writing. It is almost wholly personal.

It has four distinct parts: 1) the philosophical discussion between Watson and Holmes; 2) the client’s characterization and statement of the case; 3) the interview with the miscreant, Windibank; and 4) the solution.

In the philosophical discussion in the first few pages, prior to the arrival of Mary Sutherland, Holmes and Watson have what Buttons interprets as one of their most interesting and revealing talks about their personal positions and beliefs.

In the middle sections, the “crime” is not actionable and James Windibank and his wife– Mary’s mother– who is an equally guilty partner in the deception, exit stage left with impunity.

But, in the end, what of Mary Sutherland who exits the case unconsidered, unfulfilled, and apparently unloved by anyone?  How does the philosophical discussion of Holmes and Watson–setting up the story–pertain to Mary?  Is Mary Sutherland already a sadder, but wiser, independent woman for her experience, or is she to be forever a woman wronged and dependent upon the kindness of others?

This is fertile ground, essentially unplowed by Watsonians and Sherlockians, and ready for a provocative and fascinating joint-article for The Watsonian.  Will you contribute?  We welcome your participation.

Weekly Forum: September 30, 2014

Doctor Watson joined the Army after medical school, and he is said to have re-joined the Army late in his career.  Why do you believe Watson chose to join the military as a physician? What objective (textual) and subjective (speculative) reasons exist?

Weekly Forum: 16 September 2014

A Final Comment

This Forum has produced a very interesting conversation which we will consider for a paper in the April 2015 issue of The Watsonian.

WE ARE REQUESTING all who have commented and others who wish to comment to post their final thoughts, conclusions, rebuttal, agreement, or alternative thoughts before we close out the Weekly Forum.  We will select a Lead Writer for the paper and wish to assure everyone who wishes to have their comments included has that opportunity.  Thank you ALL for a most fascinating discussion.


This week’s Weekly Forum asks the question: “Did Holmes invent Moriarty?”

Weekly Forum: 9 September 2014

Now for Something Entirely Different

This week we will let you decide what the Weekly Forum topic will be. Please comment on the topic of your choice and let’s see if others respond. Any Canonical topic is acceptable.  Be creative and have fun.

Weekly Forum: 2 September 2014

The Diurnal/Nocturnal Holmes and Watson

Have we ever thought empirically about the division of the Canonical adventures as per the time of day? Does the case activity take place primarily in the day or in the night? Is there a pattern to the Canon? Is Holmes more or less diurnal or nocturnal than Watson; does Watson run on a similar or different internal clock to Holmes?

If we add to the equation body type (somatotype), we can think in terms of Holmes as the ectomorph and Watson as the mesomorph or possibly endomorph. What does that portend for their diurnal/nocturnal characteristics, if anything?

Weekly Forum: 26 August 2014 & Napa CA Earthquake

The Earthquake

We have heard from The Chair and our Editor, the good Drs Yates and they are okay. No damage at their home north of Napa at St Helena. Apparently other members in Napa and American Canyon (the epicenter) are–we hope– also okay; there has been no grapevine bad news as yet.  The Society has about 15 Members in the immediate earthquake area and we have had a number of emails from other Members asking if everyone is okay.We also heard from Vamberry at 221B Cellars in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley. He said one bottle of wine broke and two glasses, but the barrels came through completely undamaged.  Whew! That’s a relief!

The Weekly Forum

Our “Chips,” Ron Lies, writes in Chips’ Tid Bits this week expressing his heartfelt affection for the two friends and colleagues, Doctor Watson and Sherlock Holmes. For “Chips” their friendship has been a life-long joy and inspiration for him.  And, as he always does, “Chips” has expressed his appreciation of the many hours of pleasure he has found from the friends in a way that makes us think and reflect.Where does the “Magic Moment” in the friendship of these two occur for you? For Buttons it has to be the only time the mask is stripped away and Holmes is revealed as having affection and emotion:  when Watson is accidently shot.But the Canon is full of subtleties between the two. Perhaps you have observed those subtleties and have thoughts about their relationship, both the surface one and the one that exists much deeper.

Weekly Forum: 19 August 2014

Undeveloped Characters in the Canon

The Undeveloped Characters

Like Mrs Turner, there exist other undeveloped and often completely unexplained characters in the Canon. 

One of these is Mercer, a member of Holmes’s agency, described as his    “. . . general utility man who looks up routine business . . . .”  And, there is the other Mercer, the second mate of Gloria Scott, who is also named as Mereer in some editions. 

Mercer would seem to have had a significant function in the agency activities (and apparently in the creative mind of Doctor Watson), but we have little or nothing of him to give further clarification.  Perhaps you have thoughts on this character (or other characters) that exist only in the Canonical shadows.

Weekly Forum: 12 August 2014

The Income of the Firm

The Firm, with its headquarters at 221B Baker Street, was–in today’s terminology–a closely-held, limited liability corporation, or LLC; otherwise it would likely not have been called “The Firm” by Holmes.

What was the attitude toward income, profit and wealth-building (the primary, if not only, objectives of a corporation)? We perhaps think of Holmes as above such things, but in fact was he?  Do we find either direct comments or written, narrative by Doctor Watson regarding Holmes’ income motives? Does Holmes provide clues as to his opinions of money and wealth?

Then, contrast the income, profit and wealth-building attitudes of the other professional in the household: Doctor Watson. What evidence do we have that he either was concerned or not concerned with his practice’s income?  How do they reconcile their individual views about money and wealth? 

Weekly Forum: 6 August 2014

Buttons is a bit late; sorry, busy you know.

This week’s Forum concerns the Canonical novels:  How do the American settings of VALL and STUD influence your opinion of the novels?  Contrast your feelings about those two novels to your feelings about HOUN and SIGN.

We encourage all to join in the discussion. The recent Weekly Forums have been exceptionally well-received and have created the greatest level of Member participation of any activity.  Thank you!

Weekly Forum: 29 July 2014

Doctor Who:

This week’s Forum delves into the various screen and television portrayals of Doctor Watson. If we begin with the earliest Watson’s, including Roland Young and others, move through the Nigel Bruce period, then to the David Burke and Edward Hardwicke portrayals with Jeremy Brett, on to Jude Law, Martin Freeman, and Lucy Liu, can we contrast the Watsons and what each of them add to or take away from our own ideal version of John Watson?

Our own Society Members, Kieran McMullen “Raleigh” and Molly Carr “Brenda,” have written excellent books on the Dr Watson subject (The Many Watsons by Kieran McMullen and In Search of Doctor Watson by Molly Carr).  Both are highly recommended to all who are interested in the Watson history. They are available on Amazon.

The key to this discussion is what you think and how you wish your Doctor Watson to be and remain. Please join in the discussion. We are most interested in your thoughts.

The Weekly Forum

Doctor Watson speaks of Mary Morstan with a great deal of love in SIGN. In fact, one could posit that Doctor Watson was struck by ‘love at first sight.’ Was his love (or her’s) enduring? Was he successful as a husband? Like so many other matters, we have no definitive answers for these questions. But we have evidence, a great deal of implied and sketchy evidence.

There are many threads concerning Dr Watson’s marriage(s). Some propose multiple marriages, but little in the way of their histories.  Is it possible for us to cooperatively take up the threads and find a supportable chronology of the good Doctors marital status and indicated lodgings and offer an overarching theory for his marital history? 

And, as a second bit of theorizing, perhaps we could catalog the evidence and from it formulate the positive and negative aspects of his personality in order to answer the question: “What would it have been like to be married to Doctor John Watson?”

Weekly Forum: Mrs Turner

The Mrs Turner Question

Weekly Forum 2014: 15 July 2014

Below is all of the textual evidence concerning Mrs Turner who is mentioned only once in the Canon and then disappears forever into question. 

From the text, a number of explanations can be developed from the following snippets: “Mrs Turner;” “brought in the tray;”  “our landlady had provided.”

You may wish to put forth explanations as to Mrs Turner’s antecedents that seem most promising to you and perhaps others will do the same.

The text:

[Watson] “But what is it you wish?”

[Holmes] “When Mrs Turner has brought in the tray I will make it clear to you. Now,” he said, as he turned hungrily on the simple fare that our landlady had provided, “I must discuss it while I eat, for I have not much time. It is nearly five now. In two hours we must be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame, rather, returns from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her.”

Words . . .

This morning, the tree nursery is coming to plant a Chinese Fringe Tree in our yard (Google image it if you haven’t seen one).

Those three words led me to ask myself if I could cite the use of each word in the Canon. Rather than do the research, I decided to let our intrepid Canonical Concordance Commandos attack the question.  Where are the words Chinese, fringe and tree in the Canon?  How many appearances for each?

Weekly Forum:  “Families”

Weekly Forum

Topic: The Primary “Families” of the Canon

Two primary groups of close-knit characters exist in the Canon. These act almost as “families.”

The “Holmes Family” consisting of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Doctor John Watson and Mrs Hudson often contest against the “Moriarty Family” consisting of Professor James Moriarty, his brothers, Colonel James Moriarty and the “station-master,” and Colonel Sebastian Moran.

How are these two “families” utilized in the Canon as both parallels and antitheses? Are there other “families” in the Canon? Are there echoes of Shakespeare, the eternal struggle between ‘good and evil,’ the Greek literary forms, or other literary antecedents?  

Feel free to comment and join in. The more the merrier!


From the Hall Stool: Weekly Forum

One of the most interesting things about Buttons’ job for the Good Doctor is sitting on the hall stool and observing the comings and goings.

Recently, we have had a lively discussion on the literary merits of Mr Mycroft. What Buttons observed was a number of very well-formed positions with ample textual evidence for an enjoyable and beneficial Forum. Just listening (with an aside or two), I learned a great deal about the Doctor’s intentions and the importance of Mr Holmes’ brother (who I think is involved more than we know).

Anyway, just sitting here day after day, it occurs to me that we could use the Doctor’s waiting room for a Weekly Forum.  There are no patients on Tuesday (the Doctor goes to the races on Tuesday) and we can arrange the chairs and have a group of people in to discuss various things about the Doctor’s stories, all done gracious-like and polite.  I spoke with the gov’nor and he said, “Go ahead. It might sell more books,” so Dr W has no objections; in fact, he said he would leave a note on his desk on Monday night with his suggestion for the Forum topic.  I’ll pin it up on the door and when you arrive you’ll be ready to join in on the discussion.

A Forum format rather than a debate allows us all the positive aspects of dialogue without the necessity of “winning” as in a debate format. The ancient Forum assured the integrity of intellectual honesty, the graciousness of polite discourse, the respect  for rhetorical arts, and the celebration of shared discoveries. 

If you are interested in being a part of the Weekly Forum, stop by on Tuesday at two o’clock in the afternoon, Eastern time.  If you wish to bring a pint and a pie, feel free to do so. You might want to bring an extra in case someone here might be hungry or thirsty.