Dialogue from Broken Holmes

(SHERLOCK HOLMES and DOCTOR WATSON are sitting in their rooms at Baker Street. WATSON is reading aloud from a notebook he has just been writing in.)

WATSON: All right, so it's: “An enormous coal-black hound, fire bursting from its open mouth, its eyes glowing with a smouldering glare” – nobody's going to believe this.

HOLMES: Not enough, is it? Can't you give him steam-powered robot legs, or something? No point skimping on the descriptions, Watson. This is a demonic spectral hound we're dealing with after all.

WATSON: It was a Yorkshire terrier.

HOLMES: Well, we can't call the book Yorkshire Terrier of the Baskervilles, can we?

WATSON: I'm uneasy about lying to my readership.

HOLMES: It's hardly lying. You are merely heightening the reality, pumping up the rhetoric here and there. How big did you say it was?


HOLMES: The dog. What size?

WATSON: Er... “as large as a small lioness.”

HOLMES: Perfectly true.

(WATSON looks incredulous, and holds his hands about a foot apart.)

HOLMES: You don't think that's small for a lioness?

WATSON: It's small for anything!

HOLMES: Shall we leave this bit for the time being?

WATSON: Gladly.

HOLMES: What have you put for the fight with the armed goons?

WATSON: (Flicking to another page) “I watched in dumbfounded astonishment as Holmes beat down all five of the cudgel-wielding goons –”

HOLMES: Five? An ugly number. Make it a square half-dozen.

WATSON: Really, Holmes, the public place faith in me. It is only courtesy that I should tell them the truth.

HOLMES: The truth, Watson, is that the only reason Johnny Public stretches his budget to your overwritten penny-dreadfuls is that he loves me. It is entirely consistent with my strong, adventurous character that I should overpower ten goons in the space of a half-paragraph. Poets through the ages have argued that life imitates art, that truth is beauty and beauty truth; if the story calls for six goons, then by thunder there were six.

WATSON: There were two.

HOLMES: Make it eight.

WATSON: There were two! Neither goonish, both cudgelless, one being wheeled along in a bath-chair, the other a septuagenarian nursemaid.

HOLMES: One hasn't the time to assess these details in the heat of combat, my dear Doctor. I overpowered them all the same, using my knowledge of the Oriental martial arts.

WATSON: You gave the nursemaid a Chinese burn and pushed the invalid in front of a coach-and-four. Poor creature got tangled up in the reins. Probably halfway to Canterbury by now.

HOLMES: They had it coming. They were impeding my investigation.

WATSON: They were minding their own business and enjoying a sticky bun. They chanced to be in your way as you went bolting shrieking down Piccadilly, scared out of your wits by the sight of a pillar-box, because you'd smoked so much opium you were convinced it was some kind of giant lobster.

HOLMES: I should like to see you remain calm in such a contingency, Watson.

WATSON: A contingency in which I am unlikely to find myself, seeing as how I do not make it a part of my lifestyle to spend half God's waking hours zonked off my tits on drugs.

HOLMES: Oh, here come the new-age health fads.

WATSON: I'm a qualified doctor!

HOLMES: What was it last week? No fire in the drawing-room? “Let's not overheat ourselves!” Had the both of us shivering all afternoon.

WATSON: There was a boy cleaning the chimney.

HOLMES: Who wouldn't have felt a thing if you'd let me give him the laudanum.

WATSON: My laudanum, for my patients. I've asked you a thousand times not to go raiding my medical bag.

HOLMES: Then you shouldn't keep leaving your medical bag on my side of the sitting-room.

WATSON: It's bad enough that every night I have to put up with the noise of your fiddling –

HOLMES: Tinkers and Irishmen fiddle. I play the violin.