My Valentine’s night of passion with Sherlock Holmes

Huw Fullerton goes on a date with the detective at the Museum of London - but it's not quite what he expected...

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As I walked through the swishing automatic doors of the Museum of London for my date I was nervous. Was I dressed ok? Was the shirt too much, or my jacket too poncey? Would the type of soil on my shoes betray the fact that I had spent last weekend staging a series of daring jewel heists for which I framed an innocent second footman?

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Such are the worries of spending Valentine’s Day with Sherlock Holmes.

Well, really it was Valentine’s night; a prospect even more ripe for scandal and intrigue within the dimly-lit walls of the Museum of London, which had opened its doors to those keen to spend the night (and £175 per ticket) with their favourite super-sleuth at dedicated exhibition “The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die”.

But as I walked through the display spaces there was no sign of my intended Valentine. There were traces of him, yes – a whole exhibit devoted to his exploits through history in fact, plus a few discarded Belstaff coats and deerstalkers on dummies, that sort of thing – but not the man himself. 

Next thing I knew, our planned romantic dinner was ruined as I was forced to spend two hours eating food and making conversation with “other guests” at the museum, people who’d almost certainly never swished around their front rooms in a Belstaff coat and yelled “The Game is On!”… Actually, they had all probably done that at some point. They were spending their Valentine’s night looking at a Sherlock Holmes exhibition, after all.

Sure, our Sherlock pub quiz name was the best (Holmes under the hammer, thanks for asking) and we had the most hilarious themed jokes (“You Sherlock good tonight”), but I was beginning to feel that Holmes’ legendary standoffishness was becoming a little too real. Where was he?

Then it hit me – a huge magnifying glass swung by somebody who was excited to have won it in the raffle, that is. But as I applied ice to my head, the truth also struck – to impress my Valentine, I would have to solve the mystery of his absence for myself. And also drink some more wine. The Game was afoot!

I ponder the mystery

A fitfully amusing improvised Sherlock-themed comedy group was a welcome distraction as I made my plans, with the fingerprints seminar that followed a clear indication of how intensely I was willing to apply myself in the quest to find my man (although the tips on how to remove DNA and fingerprint evidence with bleach were jotted down a little too enthusiastically by the person sitting next to me).

Soon I was stalking the shadowy corridors of the Museum of London to find Holmes, only stopping in my endless quest for love to buy more drinks and chocolate, learn about the history and fashions of London (FINALLY I can join in all the conversations about kitten heels) and drop in on a Sherlock movie marathon. Ok, I got a little distracted. The Museum of London has a LOT of cool stuff going on.

In fact, I failed. As I curled up on my bed mat next to the exhibit for War, Plague and Fire (less popular than the similarly named 70s disco-soul-funk outfit), I gave up on the mystery. Surely by now I would have seen Sherlock if he was here to be found? Why had I come if not for my night of passion with Baker Street’s finest?

One day my Prince will come

It was almost as if my whole purpose had in fact been to write a disingenuous colour piece by way of reviewing a fun museum “lates” night – which was a good experience overall but possibly a little overpriced, especially considering not everything (eg alcohol) was included and that the amount of activities on offer (including a blood spatter analysis class and a ghost stories event) varied in quality.

But then that would be absurd. I wasn’t here to wander round a museum at three in the morning (though that was a lot of fun) – I was here to drink wine and get it on with a detective. And I had long ago finished my wine (the bar closed quite early).

Oh well – maybe it wasn’t the Valentine’s evening I had expected in the bony arms of the great sleuth, but it was still a pretty good night, and one that many Holmes fans could do worse than repeating at the second event on 28th March. For my part, I can safely say that there are worse ways to spend your Valentine’s night than at your very own Sherlock-in.

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The Museum of London’s second overnight Sleeping with Sherlock event will be held on 28th March, and you can find more information and buy tickets here