Although the actual conference wasn’t starting till Friday morning, they were running several activities on the Thursday that people with conference passes could get free or cheaper access to.

The first of these I attended was the Wellcome Library talk at 10:30am. It was billed as a ‘tour’, but seeing as we didn’t go anywhere except this one small room and didn’t actually get to see any of the library itself, I’m kind of loathe to call it a tour. It was, never the less, still an interesting hour. After being given a brief history of the library itself, which is, by the way, situated on Euston Road just opposite North Gower Street, nearest tube Euston Square, we were then treated to some delights that had been plucked from the library annals and related to Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes.

The Wellcome is essentially a medical library, which was perfect for Conan Doyle who was himself a doctor. They housed an interesting and unusual collection of some of his personal letters, as well as a rare story called Burger’s Secret. One of the old Edinburgh Medical Journals contained a patient diagnosis from Dr Joseph Bell, during which he demonstrated his suspiciously Sherlockian techniques. There was also a fascinating book called The Game’s A Head during which Madeleine B Stern examined and analysed the phrenology of Conan Doyle and Holmes.

After the talk I was very kindly taken for lunch by an American friend of mine and fellow Sherlockian (and writer) Bonnie MacBird. We went to the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street, which was where she was staying, and had a tasty meal along with a very special cocktail called the Absolute Sherlock – vodka and pink champagne. It was amazing!

We then headed over to St Barts by tube, where we met up with another group of Sherlockians for a tour of the inside of the hospital, something I’ve never had the pleasure of doing before. We saw some incredible artwork done by Hogart of a load of different sick people who all had various ailments and apparently they used to take medical students in there to try and deduce their illnesses by looking at them. Then the inside of this massive dining hall where they still hold various functions on a regular basis. The walls were adorned with hundreds of plaques from all the hospital’s benefactors over the years, along with the amount of their donation. Some of them were quite well known, such as James Bradshaw, of Railway Guide fame – a Sherlockian connection there, of course.

The final part of the tour was in the Museum, where one can see the famous plaque commemorating the meeting of Holmes and Watson (thank you Stamford – best matchmaker ever!)

After St Barts, I found myself at the Sherlock Holmes pub for a couple of quick drinks with Bonnie, then we went our separate ways and I travelled back towards Euston to see a play that Conference members received free tickets for, a production calledĀ Broken HolmesĀ that had recently come back from Edinburgh. It was a truly hilarious piece of theatre, completely not serious and not expecting the audience to take it too seriously either, but contained some brilliant performances and unique storyline quirks – such as the fact that Holmes had arranged for the murder of Mary, by poisonous snake no less! By far the funniest part was when Holmes got bit in the groin area by said snake then demanded that Watson suck out the poison! My friend and I enjoyed it so much we stuck around afterwards to meet the actors and writer and chat to them about Holmes.

That night, I caught the 11:30pm bus back to Manchester, arriving at 3:30am, just enough time to nip back to my wonderfully handy city centre flat, get a change of clothing, curl my hair for a Sherlock cosplay, grab my case that I’d pre-prepared the night before then head off out again to catch the 4:40am bus back to London. By the time I arrived I felt like I’d been on a bus all night, and you know why…because I had!

More on the actual conference itself coming in my next blog post.