'I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, with the intention of wishing him the compliments of the season. He was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing-gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, near at hand. Beside the couch was a wooden chair, and on the angle of the back hung a very seedy and disreputable hard-felt hat, much the worse for wear, and cracked in several places. A lens and a forceps lying upon the seat of the chair suggested that the hat had been suspended in this manner for the purpose of examination.'
and of course we have the wonderful illustration by Sidney Paget to go with it.
And although it is a wonderful scene, and I to do like it, it, alas, is not my favorite.
My favorite comes a little further into the story as Holmes and Watson start tracking the path of the wayward geese.
Now, being a bit of a beer snob, and loving the atmosphere of old pubs, may favorite scene covers both of these passions,
'It was a bitter night, so we drew on our ulsters and wrapped cravats about our throats. Outside, the stars were shining coldly in a cloudless sky, and the breath of the passers-by blew out into smoke like so many pistol shots. Our footfalls rang out crisply and loudly as we swung through the doctors' quarter, Wimpole Street, Harley Street, and so through Wigmore Street into Oxford Street. In a quarter of an hour we were in Bloomsbury at the Alpha Inn, which is a small public-house at the corner of one of the streets which runs down into Holborn. Holmes pushed open the door of the private bar and ordered two glasses of beer from the ruddy-faced, white-aproned landlord.'
I just love the though of these two gentlemen, who have known each other for a fairly long time, walking together in what must have still been a holiday atmosphere. Then walking into the pub and sharing a pint.
I realize the way the story is written that it does not seem likely that Holmes and Watson stayed long enough to finish the pints. I also imagine that Watson was a little peeved at that. But when I replay that scene in my mind, I have Holmes and Watson staying a little longer and maybe even having a second pint, or at least another half.
We are however left with only our imagination to picture the scene and the interior of the Alpha Inn.
The Museum Tavern in London is often suggested as the location of the Alpha Inn of BLUE fame.
And while we did lunch there when once in London, I do not recall a private bar inside. I could have just not been looking, it may never have existed, or it may have been remodeled. It doesn't really matter.
Following is as good a description of a private bar or 'snug' that I could find.
'The Irish Snug. is named for a quaint ritual in Ireland in the 1800's. A "snug" was nothing more than a a small private room in a PUB or "public house" (bar) that was in some way connected to the bar so that patrons in the snug could order and enjoy their drinks without being seen by the rest of the patrons of that particular establishment. Women, who wanted a drink but didn't want the rumors that often followed a visit to a Pub would use the snug. Other people that might take advantage of the privacy that the "snug" might a policemen stopping in for a quick brandy, or perhaps the local priest who didn't want his business known around town. Also, wealthier clients that just wanted some simple privacey would pay a little bit more for the discretion that came along with use of the "snug".' source
They were not limited to Ireland, as is made clear by BLUE. Some would have been more private than others. Some would just have been a small partition, others full rooms.
What's your favorite scene from BLUE?