Holmesian Speculation: John *Heron* Watson?

(Originally posted on my rarely updated Holmesian blog)

At the Royal Society of Medicine there is small collection of items from the Royal College of Surgeons’s exhibition on ‘The Real Sherlock Holmes‘. It’s a fascinating collection, great to read more about ACD as a medical student and take a look at the people who inspired him.

An interesting thing I discovered whilst there was that the president of RCS from 1878 called Sir Patrick Heron Watson (1832 – 1907); his surgical career carries a certain resemblance to Watson’s. I tried finding an online resource, and all I could really find was this article (PDF) titled ‘An Edinburgh surgeon of the Crimean war–Patrick Heron Watson (1832-1907)’ by WB Watson, published in the Medical History journal v.10 (2) in April 1966.

Basically, after his training and whatnot, Sir Patrick Heron Watson decided to become an army surgeon and headed out to help in the Crimean War. Initially he was posted to Koolalee Hospital in Turkey, where he caught typhus and after a short convalescence was posted to the Crimea with the Royal Artillery – where unfortunately he contracted dysentery. He was put back on a boat going to Scutari (ships doctor said he wouldn’t last the night) and spent the next four weeks in the hospital there, where he became ill with mercury poisoning before finally being sent back to England and spent further recovery in a hotel in London.

Given that ACD used so much from his own experiences and life as influence for Holmes, it wouldn’t surprise me if Sir Patrick Heron Watson’s early army career was inspiration for John Watson’s career and that the ‘H’ is for Heron.


As with all things Holmesian, there are more resources out there talking about Sir Patrick Heron Watson being the source for both Watson’s middle name and surname.

An article in the Baker Street Journal titled ‘Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Bea (sic)‘ (PDF) by S. E. Dahlinger reveals that in 1949 Jay Finley Christ wrote an article called “John H. Watson Never Went to China” which challenged John Dickson Carr’s belief that John Watson was based on ACDs friend James Watson, as ACD didn’t met him until after he wrote STUD. The case was then followed up in the 1980s by Jon L. Lellenberg and W. O. G. Lofts who published “John H(eron) Watson, M.D.” in vol. 30, No.2 of the Baker Street Journal (pages 83 – 85 if you want to look it up).

Learning the truth behind “there may be some discomfort”

I’m back from spending four days being cared for by the lovely staff at University College London Hospital. Every step of the way the staff have been professional, caring and just plain lovely. Even though I don’t have a definite answer to what happened, they have an idea and I’m in a position where I can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

So what happened?

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Dates with Harry Potter

31st December, 1997.

This is the day I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

You might be wondering how I can be so specific. Easily. At midnight on 31st December, 1997 the final Morse Code message was sent to British ships (Happy New Year). I was standing on board the bridge of an RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) ship in Portsmouth Harbour having spent the day in ‘my’ cabin reading.

My brother (who is 4yrs younger than me), had been given the book as a Christmas present but for whatever reason it had ended up in my cabin. I was bored and started reading. I finished it one sitting and promptly forced it everyone else in my family. From that point, Harry Potter became important in my life, not quite as important as Sherlock Holmes but up there.

On 20th July, 2007 I waited in line at Waterstone’s Covent Garden for the midnight release of the final book. I pre-ordered the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play text and JK Rowling confirmed that, that’s the end of Harry Potter.

The first book came out when I was 11yrs old. I’m 30yr now 0_0

Operation Get Off My Fat Arse Monthly Report #3

The weather has improved and my knee is feeling stronger, so I recently got back onto the Thames Path. I’m cycling to Greenwich, then catching the Thames Clipper to Embankment. It’s awesome. I highly, highly recommend commuting by boat. I had a week off work, I wasn’t hugely lazy but I wasn’t that active during my week off.


Total Distance Cycled: 159.46km
That’s 140km more than last report. Loving being back on the Thames Path.

Total Steps: 270,070
I have stopped walking from Barnehurst for the moment as I’ve increased my time on the bike, I’m using my non-bike days as recovery and to do all the little jobs I need to do on the way home…like buy food.

No swimming or gym. Will definitely get back on that ASAP! Badminton is going well and I’m giving serious consideration to booking myself a squash court. I’ve always wanted to play squash but finding someone to play with and more importantly, find the time to play is difficult so I’m thinking about having a solo session.

Keeping Safe on my Bike

I go out of my way to make myself highly visible to cars, especially at night. I only ride with my funky jersey on during sunny/bright days, then to go home I switch to my bright yellow high-vis jersey and reflective gillet. My rucksack has a high-vis cover and I’ve added a red light to it.

Where possible, I stick to the bike lanes. Sometimes this isn’t possible (road conditions, obstructions on the bike lane, that sort of thing), or when the cycle lane is a shared footpath with pedestrians and I’m cycling at 30mph (speed limit on that stretch of road) – I don’t think it’s hugely safe to be flying down a shared pavement (incidentally, this doesn’t happen very often).

My rear & front lights are very bright LEDs, I put them on flash mode during wet weather but otherwise they’re static. I also have some ‘brainy bike lights‘ but currently don’t have space to put them on my road bike so they’re living on my mountain bike for now.

I want to get some lights on my forks and wheels to add to my visibility as I deal with a lot of small roundabouts at night but I’m already highly visible.

As a defence, I also ride with a Garmin VIRB camera on my helmet. I know something will happen to me, cycling in London it’s inevitable. Whatever happens to me, whether it’s my fault or not I want a record. Luckily so far, I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a few squeaky bum moments, like this one

but nothing horrific. Recently, I’ve had a few close moments with drivers making risky moves.

The driver in this clip was ridiculously close to my back wheel and as a result I’ve bough a Cycliq Fly6 rear light & camera combo – if I’d have touched my brakes, or if I reacted to someone stepping out in front of me then this guy wouldn’t have had time to react he was that close. That said, I think the oncoming driver in the red car had a much closer encounter than I did!

This one was a definite squeaky bum moment. The road is wet, the visibility isn’t fantastic so I’m around 23/24mph (on a 30mph road), going down hill (I can easily get up 30mph on the down hill but when the road is wet I don’t risk it). The first car is fine, plenty of space at the traffic island, the second one however…!

All the second driver needed to do was wait a moment for me to clear the island and they had plenty of space. The roads are wide enough there that I’m safely away from the curb and parked cars without having to take primary position, although I think in the future I’m going to have to when it’s wet.

Operation Get Off My Fat Arse Monthly Report #2

Right, monthly report 2! April hasn’t been a fantastic month for doing exercise. I had two weeks off being healthy because it was my 30th birthday, my mum was visiting and there was Easter. I ate an awful lot of cake! (I bought a cake, mum bought me a cake and friends bought me a cake!) I intend to make up for it though, don’t worry 😉


Total Distance Cycled: 19.3km
Not fantastic. The two weeks off my bike put a dent in my momentum. I’m determined to fix it, I cycled today (Mon 26th April) and I intend to finish off my week cycling (I can only cycle Mon, Tues & Wed this week).

Total Distance Walked: 33.5km
Total Steps: 245, 624
I decided that all the days I didn’t cycle, I was going to walk home from Barnehurst. It’s just over 3km, walking it’s around forty minutes. It’s actually quite a nice walk, straight line and you go past some very lovely houses. Incidentally, loving my Garmin Vivofit! I’m thinking of saving up for the newer one which counts stairs, partially because I’m really curious to see how many stairs I walk up and down at work during the week 😛

No gym, swimming or Superhero Workout. My phone camera is too poor to really cope with Superhero Workout, it makes it a little frustrating to get through the missions and find that it’s only counting half of what I do. I’m going to make some time this week to do work through a couple more missions but I might have to hold until I get a better phone.

I have started going to a drop-in badminton club. I used to play badminton before I moved to London and as with fencing, it’s been difficult to find a drop in social session which meets on a day I can actually go. My local leisure centre does have social badminton sessions but they’re during the week at 10am, which is not always a great time for me.


BuddyBox – a Hug in a Box

The BuddyBox is the ‘brainchild’ of Blurt, a mental health charity which is working towards increasing awareness and understanding of depression so this is a little different to the subscription boxes I’ve dabbled in before.

The products are picked with self-care in mind, so that could be a colouring book (colouring is relaxing…I love my colouring books), something to help you de-stress or simply just something to make you smile.

I haven’t really discussed my mental health here, not because I’m ashamed of any sort of stigma (my colleagues know and I’m fortunate to work in an industry that’s very understanding) but there’s not much I can say other than my mental health is usually fair to middling with bursts of energetic enthusiasm. I do have a diagnosis but that is something I’m keeping to myself ;).

Given the current stress I’m having over potentially failing my creative writing module which puts my degree in jeopardy (but that’s for another post), my BuddyBox has arrived at the right time.

So anyway, the BuddyBox. What’s in it?


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