London – Part 3: A Very Sherlock Birthday

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{All photos taken by Angie Fiedler Sutton.}

When I got the official word I would be going to London over the summer, it dawned on me that I’d be not only spending my birthday there, but a big one, too. I made several jokes about it definitely being a mid-life crisis, and the best way to spend turning 40 was in marking off one of the items on my bucket list.

I normally don’t make a big deal about my birthday – if it’s during the work week, I try to take it off, and typically just spend the day doing whatever I want as a birthday present to myself. So, after a quick chat with my husband in the morning, I decided to do just that – and therefore headed to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street.

Now, here’s where I admit that I’m more of a casual fan of the other Sherlock Holmes media. I remember watching the Jeremy Brett version growing up, I enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr. steampunk-esque style film (up until the end), I have a cousin who’s into the Rathbone pictures, and I’ve read one or two of the actual Doyle stories. However, my heart is fully into BBC Sherlock – and even that was a relatively recent segue from “That’s a neat show – I like it” to finding ‘unofficial’ ways to watch a livestream from the UK this past January because I could not wait to find out what happened next.

Yeah, I took this just so I could make the joke that I spent my birthday in the bedroom of John Watson.

But, as I said, I’ve always been fond of the various versions of Holmes & Watson. And I knew going in that it was more going to be about the Doyle version than anything else. You can see my photos of the museum here: a lot of displays of mannequins, and quite a few props from the era.

I understand why they want to focus on Doyle’s version, but felt there needed to be some acknowledgement of the other versions as well (especially when reading a segment about a version of the story that had them – GASP! – get into a vehicle, and how shocked everyone was by that concept). The only real acknowledgement of Sherlock was in the gift store, and there wasn’t even a hint at the Robert Downey Jr. movies, the Brett TV series, or the Rathbone movies. Even a small display of ‘Holmes through the years’ or ‘Holmes in media’ would have sufficed.

However, it was fun to go to, and I got myself a small memento. The most interesting part is that I had worn my Welcome to Night Vale two-headed deer t-shirt, and had it recognized – by a Brit. Proof to me how the Internet can bring people together as much as it tears them apart.

I walked back to the flat with a quick turn into Regent’s Park (but only for a little bit), and then uploaded my photos to Facebook … and that’s when things got fun.

Smexy, smexy props.

I had posted a link to the SoCal Sherlock fan club I belong to, and there’s a woman there who recommended me to a London version, as she’s in both. Then, she broke the news that they were doing a walking tour of Sherlock filming locations tomorrow.

The rest of my birthday was interesting, to say the least. I went to a local pub, the Marlborough Arms, for lunch and got fish & chips and a pint of London Pride. Then, later, I was asked to join the others for a drink (back at the Marlborough Arms) and to join them as they went out to a club for my birthday. I stayed with them until a little after 1 am, and am glad they invited me. However, while I’ve been okay with this realization for a while, it reconfirmed that I am not (and never will be) cool. The club scene is SO not my thing, but I did it for the experience and to try something out of my comfort zone.

On the following Monday, I walked over to Speedy’s Cafe (which is NOT next to Baker Street) to meet up with the group doing the tour. Speedy’s was closed, but that was okay. There ended up being around 20 to 30 total, mostly women, mostly younger than me: although there was one lady in particular I became friends with who was more my age, and that was actually why she had sought me out. There were a couple of people who came in cosplay.

Speedy’s!

We headed over to Baker Street via Tube – and I squeed a bit at my first time riding it. (Yes, I’m that much of a London fangirl.) We sat in the pub next to 221B, the Volunter, while some had lunch. I sat with my new friend and the mother of another fan, and we got to know each other.

The group then walked over to Eaton Square, where the exterior of Irene Adler’s house was. The ones in Sherlock cosplay had fun re-enacting the firing of the gun using a water pistol. After that, the group headed over to Picadilly Circus and Chinatown, and the group split up for lunch. Then, we headed to Yates for a pub quiz: and I actually ended up being one of the three winners. My prize was a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with intro by Mark Gatiss.

The last stop of the day was Bart’s Hospital, which of course was when the rain started sprinkling a bit. The telephone box there had all sorts of fan messages, and a signature that says Benedict Cumberbatch that looks remarkably like the signature I have, so it’s either legitimately his or someone is a very good forger. You can see those pictures here.

The two Sherlock Holmes-themed days were a fun way for me to celebrate something I love, and find some fellow fen to talk ‘shop’. It was also fascinating to see the various filming locations. I look forward to my Cardiff tour of Doctor Who locations, as well as the Harry Potter walking tour as well.

And let’s just say that the dirty old woman in me had no problem spending part of my birthday in the bedroom of Dr. Watson.