Watson tells us that he was “. . . standing at the Criterion bar” when he met Stamford, “. . . who had been a dresser under me at Bart’s.”
The Criterion was then, and is even today, an upscale establishment. How could Dr Watson afford the price of a pre-lunch drink (or perhaps even two) at the undoubtedly pricey Criterion given the state of his finances which, in his own words, was hardly sound: “So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living . . . .”
Did the long-shot mare he had bet on over the Christmas racing season come in a whopping twenty to one and permit Watson the luxury of a celebration at the Criterion?
Kumar provides us with a number of avenues for research: 1) the Christmas racing season and plausible long-shot horses; 2) the evidence for Stamford picking up the tab; 3) the potential of Dr Watson having a tab at the Criterion; 4) or perhaps the simple explanation: he wished to do so without regard to his finances.
Please comment if you have an idea on this question you wish to share. And “Thank You” to Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie” for his always interesting and thoughtful contributions.
5 Replies to “Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” from Dubai Sends a Very Interesting Question for Your Responses”
Using Mr Utechin’s monograph, “Coin of the Canonical Realm,” we see that Dr Watson received about $74.00 a day from his wound pension. If we allot 20% for sustenance per day, or about $15.00, it is conceivable that Dr Watson may have had enough to spend the equivalent of $2.50 on a drink at the Criterion Bar with enough of the $15.00 left over to cover his three meals.
The weekly amount would have been $518.00 or $2,072 a month, and $24,864 a year. That amount surely would have allowed one drink as a recompense for his service and for his comfort having arrived in the “great cesspool” alone and without friends.
Doyle created fully-dimensional characters and like real human beings act in sometimes irrational or illogical ways.
In playing the Game: Some chronologists have suggested that the day Holmes and Watson met was January 1, 1881. This was the same day that Watson had decided to do something about his “comfortless, meaningless existence”, spending money more freely than he should and “make a complete alteration in [his] style of living”. Watson had made a New Year’s resolution and what is more natural than to go out and celebrate his new found frugality in high style? Belt-tightening starts tomorrow! “Good, Watson! You always keep us flat-footed on the ground.”
‘Pippin’s theory; “Belt-tightening starts tomorrow” is a very plausible one! So is ‘Cooper’s “Happy Hour Special”
Bottom line is, Watson meets Stamford at the Criterion, gets introduced to Holmes,
Lets drink to that!
As always, well done, Pippin! I share your observations about Watson’s all too human (and personally familiar) approach to belt-tightening.
Watson was an extremely social person, having been well-known on three continents. Given the proposed date would he not have joined in the festivities that focus on the holiday? Would not a well-known establishment have publisized specials to celebrate the New Year, perhaps enticing the general public with what is now known as “Happy Hour Specials”? A man, alone in a large city, facing a crossroads, making a decision and a resolution, perhaps at wits-end, needs to be among others in noise and revelry. Who has not been there and done that, in however a small way and self-indulgence (perhaps in chocolate)?
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