Annotated BBC Sherlock

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19 notes

"Then there’s your brother. Your phone. It’s expensive - email enabled, MP3 player. If you’re looking for a flat share you wouldn’t waste money on this. It’s a gift, then. Scratches: Not one, many over time. It’s been in the same pocket as keys and coins. A man sitting next to me doesn’t treat his one luxury item like this. So, it’s had a previous owner. Next bit’s easy. You know it already."

"The engraving."

"Harry Watson. Clearly a family member who’s given you his old phone. Not your father. This is a young man’s gadget. Could be a cousin, but you’re a war hero who can’t find a place to live. Unlikely you’ve got an extended family, certainly not one you’re close to. So, brother it is."

"Now Clara. Who’s Clara? Three kisses says it’s a romantic attachment. Expense of the phone says wife, not girlfriend. She must have given it to him recently; this model’s only six months old. Marriage in trouble then. Six months on and he’s just giving it away? If she’d left him, he would have kept it. People do. Sentiment. No, he wanted rid of it. He left her."

"He gave the phone to you. That says he wants you to stay in touch. You’re looking for cheap accommodation and you’re not going to your bother for help. That says you’ve got problems with him. Maybe you liked his wife. Maybe you don’t like his drinking."

"How can you possibly know about the drinking?"

"Shot in the dark. Good one, though. Power connection. Tiny little scuff marks around the edge of it. Every night he goes to plug it in to charge but his hands are shaking. You never see those marks on a sober man’s phone, never see a drunk’s without them."

- A Study in Pink

"I have heard you say that it is difficult for a man to have any object in daily use without leaving the impress of his individuality upon it in such a way that a trained observer might read it.  Now, I have here a watch which has recently come into my possession.  Would you have the kindness to let me have an opinion upon the character or habits of the late owner?"

I handed him over the watch with some slight feeling of amusement in my heart, for the test was, as I thought, an impossible one, and I intended it as a lesson against the somewhat dogmatic tone which he occasionally assumed.  He balanced the watch in his hand, gazed hard at the dial, opened the back, and examined the works, first with his naked eyes and then with a powerful convex lens.  I could hardly keep from smiling at his crestfallen face when he finally snapped the case to and handed it back.

"There are hardly any data," he remarked.  "The watch has been recently cleaned, which robs me of my most suggestive facts.""You are right," I answered.  "It was cleaned before being sent to me." In my heart I accused my companion of putting forward a most lame and impotent excuse to cover his failure.  What data could he expect from an uncleaned watch?

"Though unsatisfactory, my research has not been entirely barren," he observed, staring up at the ceiling with dreamy, lack-lustre eyes. "Subject to your correction, I should judge that the watch belonged to your elder brother, who inherited it from your father."

"That you gather, no doubt, from the H. W. upon the back?"

"Quite so.  The W. suggests your own name.  The date of the watch is nearly fifty years back, and the initials are as old as the watch:  so it was made for the last generation.  Jewelry usually descends to the eldest son, and he is most likely to have the same name as the father. Your father has, if I remember right, been dead many years.  It has, therefore, been in the hands of your eldest brother."

"Right, so far," said I.  "Anything else?"

"He was a man of untidy habits,—very untidy and careless.  He was left with good prospects, but he threw away his chances, lived for some time in poverty with occasional short intervals of prosperity, and finally, taking to drink, he died.  That is all I can gather."

I sprang from my chair and limped impatiently about the room with considerable bitterness in my heart.

"This is unworthy of you, Holmes," I said.  "I could not have believed that you would have descended to this.  You have made inquires into the history of my unhappy brother, and you now pretend to deduce this knowledge in some fanciful way.  You cannot expect me to believe that you have read all this from his old watch!  It is unkind, and, to speak plainly, has a touch of charlatanism in it."

"My dear doctor," said he, kindly, "pray accept my apologies. Viewing the matter as an abstract problem, I had forgotten how personal and painful a thing it might be to you.  I assure you, however, that I never even knew that you had a brother until you handed me the watch."

"Then how in the name of all that is wonderful did you get these facts? They are absolutely correct in every particular."

"Ah, that is good luck.  I could only say what was the balance of probability.  I did not at all expect to be so accurate."

"But it was not mere guess-work?"

"No, no:  I never guess.  It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty.  What seems strange to you is only so because you do not follow my train of thought or observe the small facts upon which large inferences may depend.  For example, I began by stating that your brother was careless.  When you observe the lower part of that watch-case you notice that it is not only dinted in two places, but it is cut and marked all over from the habit of keeping other hard objects, such as coins or keys, in the same pocket.  Surely it is no great feat to assume that a man who treats a fifty-guinea watch so cavalierly must be a careless man.  Neither is it a very far-fetched inference that a man who inherits one article of such value is pretty well provided for in other respects."

I nodded, to show that I followed his reasoning.

"It is very customary for pawnbrokers in England, when they take a watch, to scratch the number of the ticket with a pin-point upon the inside of the case.  It is more handy than a label, as there is no risk of the number being lost or transposed.  There are no less than four such numbers visible to my lens on the inside of this case. Inference,—that your brother was often at low water.  Secondary inference,—that he had occasional bursts of prosperity, or he could not have redeemed the pledge. Finally, I ask you to look at the inner plate, which contains the key-hole.  Look at the thousands of scratches all round the hole,—marks where the key has slipped.  What sober man’s key could have scored those grooves?  But you will never see a drunkard’s watch without them.  He winds it at night, and he leaves these traces of his unsteady hand.  Where is the mystery in all this?"

- The Sign of Four, Chapter 2

Filed under sherlock studyinpink signoffour

43 notes


"When I met you for the first time yesterday, I said Afghanistan or Iraq. You looked surprised."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"I didn’t know. I saw."
"Your haircut, the way you hold yourself says millitary. Your conversation as you entered the room said ‘Trained at Bart’s’. So - army doctor. Obvious. Your face is tanned but no tan above the wrists. You’ve been abroad but not sunbathing. Your limp’s really bad when you walk but you don’t ask for a chair when you stand, like you’ve forgotten about it. So it’s at least partly psychosomatic. That says the original circumstances of the injury were traumatic. Wounded in action, then. Wounded in action, suntan - Afghanistan or Iraq"
"You said I had a therapist."
"With a psychosomatic limp, of course you’ve got a therapist."
- A Study in Pink
"You appeared to be surprised when I told you, on our first meeting, that you had come from Afghanistan."
"You were told, no doubt."
"Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind, that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, ‘Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.’ The whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished.”
- A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 2

"When I met you for the first time yesterday, I said Afghanistan or Iraq. You looked surprised."

"Yes, how did you know?"

"I didn’t know. I saw."

"Your haircut, the way you hold yourself says millitary. Your conversation as you entered the room said ‘Trained at Bart’s’. So - army doctor. Obvious. Your face is tanned but no tan above the wrists. You’ve been abroad but not sunbathing. Your limp’s really bad when you walk but you don’t ask for a chair when you stand, like you’ve forgotten about it. So it’s at least partly psychosomatic. That says the original circumstances of the injury were traumatic. Wounded in action, then. Wounded in action, suntan - Afghanistan or Iraq"

"You said I had a therapist."

"With a psychosomatic limp, of course you’ve got a therapist."

- A Study in Pink

"You appeared to be surprised when I told you, on our first meeting, that you had come from Afghanistan."

"You were told, no doubt."

"Nothing of the sort. I knew you came from Afghanistan. From long habit the train of thoughts ran so swiftly through my mind, that I arrived at the conclusion without being conscious of intermediate steps. There were such steps, however. The train of reasoning ran, ‘Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen much hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan.’ The whole train of thought did not occupy a second. I then remarked that you came from Afghanistan, and you were astonished.”

- A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 2

Filed under sherlock studyinpink studyinscarlet

8 notes

"You did get shot, though."
"I’m sorry?"
"In Afghanistan. There was an actual wound."
"Oh. Yeah, shoulder."
"Shoulder. I thought so."
- A Study in Pink
"There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery."
- A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 1

"You did get shot, though."

"I’m sorry?"

"In Afghanistan. There was an actual wound."

"Oh. Yeah, shoulder."

"Shoulder. I thought so."

- A Study in Pink

"There I was struck on the shoulder by a Jezail bullet, which shattered the bone and grazed the subclavian artery."

- A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 1

Filed under sherlock studyinscarlet studyinpink

11 notes

"How do you feel about the violin?
"I’m sorry, what?"
"I play the violin when I’m thinking. Sometimes I don’t talk for days on end. Would that bother you? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other."
- A Study in Pink
"Let me see — what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I’ll soon be right. What have you to confess now? It’s just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together."
I laughed at this cross-examination. “I keep a bull pup,” I said, “and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices when I’m well, but those are the principal ones at present.”
"Do you include violin playing in your category of rows?" he asked, anxiously.


- A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 1

"How do you feel about the violin?

"I’m sorry, what?"

"I play the violin when I’m thinking. Sometimes I don’t talk for days on end. Would that bother you? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other."

- A Study in Pink

"Let me see — what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I’ll soon be right. What have you to confess now? It’s just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together."

I laughed at this cross-examination. “I keep a bull pup,” I said, “and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices when I’m well, but those are the principal ones at present.”

"Do you include violin playing in your category of rows?" he asked, anxiously.

- A Study in Scarlet, Chapter 1

Filed under sherlock studyinpink studyinscarlet

28 notes

"I don’t eat while I’m working. Digestion slows me down."
- The Blind Banker
“Because the faculties become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider.”’
- The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

"I don’t eat while I’m working. Digestion slows me down."

The Blind Banker

“Because the faculties become refined when you starve them. Why, surely, as a doctor, my dear Watson, you must admit that what your digestion gains in the way of blood supply is so much lost to the brain. I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix. Therefore, it is the brain I must consider.”’

- The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

Filed under mazarinstone sherlock theblindbanker

6 notes


"So the numbers are references."

"To books."

"To specific pages, and specific words on those pages."

"Right, so.. 15 and 1, that  means..?"

"Turn to page 15 and it’s the first word you read."

"OK, so what’s the message?"

"Depends on the book.  That’s the cunning of book code. It has to be one that they both own. "

"A book that everybody would own…" 

"John! John! I’ve got it! The cipher, the book! It’s the London A to Zed that they used…"

The Blind Banker

Sherlock Holmes had pushed away his untasted breakfast and lit the unsavoury pipe which was the companion of his deepest meditations. “I wonder!” said he, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. “Perhaps there are points which have escaped your Machiavellian intellect. Let us consider the problem in the light of pure reason. This man’s reference is to a book. That is our point of departure.”

"A somewhat vague one."

"Let us see then if we can narrow it down. As I focus my mind upon it, it seems rather less impenetrable. What indications have we as to this book?"

"None."

"Well, well, it is surely not quite so bad as that. The cipher message begins with a large 534, does it not? We may take it as a working hypothesis that 534 is the particular page to which the cipher refers. So our book has already become a LARGE book, which is surely something gained. What other indications have we as to the nature of this large book? The next sign is C2. What do you make of that, Watson?"

"Chapter the second, no doubt."

"Hardly that, Watson. You will, I am sure, agree with me that if the page be given, the number of the chapter is immaterial. Also that if page 534 finds us only in the second chapter, the length of the first one must have been really intolerable."

"Column!" I cried.

"Brilliant, Watson. You are scintillating this morning. If it is not column, then I am very much deceived. So now, you see, we begin to visualize a large book printed in double columns which are each of a considerable length, since one of the words is numbered in the document as the two hundred and ninety-third. Have we reached the limits of what reason can supply?"

"I fear that we have."

"Surely you do yourself an injustice. One more coruscation, my dear Watson—yet another brain-wave! Had the volume been an unusual one, he would have sent it to me. Instead of that, he had intended, before his plans were nipped, to send me the clue in this envelope. He says so in his note. This would seem to indicate that the book is one which he thought I would have no difficulty in finding for myself. He had it—and he imagined that I would have it, too. In short, Watson, it is a very common book."

"What you say certainly sounds plausible."

"So we have contracted our field of search to a large book, printed in double columns and in common use."

"The Bible!" I cried triumphantly.

"Good, Watson, good! But not, if I may say so, quite good enough! Even if I accepted the compliment for myself I could hardly name any volume which would be less likely to lie at the elbow of one of Moriarty’s associates. Besides, the editions of Holy Writ are so numerous that he could hardly suppose that two copies would have the same pagination. This is clearly a book which is standardized. He knows for certain that his page 534 will exactly agree with my page 534."

"But very few books would correspond with that."

"Exactly. Therein lies our salvation. Our search is narrowed down to standardized books which anyone may be supposed to possess."

"Bradshaw!"

"There are difficulties, Watson. The vocabulary of Bradshaw is nervous and terse, but limited. The selection of words would hardly lend itself to the sending of general messages. We will eliminate Bradshaw. The dictionary is, I fear, inadmissible for the same reason. What then is left?"

"An almanac!"

- The Valley of Fear

Filed under theblindbanker valleyoffear sherlock

99 notes

“You’ve never been the most luminous of people, but as a conductor of light, you are unbeatable. Some people who aren’t geniuses have the most amazing ability to stimulate it in others.”
- The Hounds of Baskerville

"Really, Watson, you excel yourself," said Holmes, pushing back his chair and lighting a cigarette. "I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt."
- Hound of the Baskervilles

You’ve never been the most luminous of people, but as a conductor of light, you are unbeatable. Some people who aren’t geniuses have the most amazing ability to stimulate it in others.”

- The Hounds of Baskerville


"Really, Watson, you excel yourself," said Holmes, pushing back his chair and lighting a cigarette. "I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt."

- Hound of the Baskervilles


Filed under houndsofbaskerville sherlock houndofthebaskervilles

7 notes

"I have a website."
"In which you enumerate two hundred and forty different types of tobacco ash. Nobody is reading your website."
- A Scandal in Belgravia
"Oh, didn’t you know?" he cried, laughing. "Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for example, is one ‘Upon the Distinction between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccoes.’ In it I enumerate a hundred and forty forms of cigar-, cigarette-, and pipe-tobacco, with colored plates illustrating the difference in the ash."
- The Sign of Four

"I have a website."

"In which you enumerate two hundred and forty different types of tobacco ash. Nobody is reading your website."

- A Scandal in Belgravia

"Oh, didn’t you know?" he cried, laughing. "Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs. They are all upon technical subjects. Here, for example, is one ‘Upon the Distinction between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccoes.’ In it I enumerate a hundred and forty forms of cigar-, cigarette-, and pipe-tobacco, with colored plates illustrating the difference in the ash."

- The Sign of Four

Filed under scandalinbelgravia sherlock signoffour