Sherlock’s Watson — was he a bad doctor?

Found in The London Mystery Magazine of April/May 1951 this amusing Sherlockian poem casting doubt on Watson's medical credentials…The author 'Sagittarius' was a journalist named Olga Katzin* who wrote several humorous and satirical books, some in rhyme. A short life  is appended below. The London Mystery Magazine began in 1949 and went on into the mid 1950s. It gave its address as 221b Baker Street. Adrian Conan-Doyle (Arthur's son) 'not uncharacteristically' sued the magazine, but lost the case.

Illustrated by 'Figaro'


Holmes left one unsolved mystery,
The case of the strange M. D.;

Was he ever qualified?

Had he anything to hide?
And why was he always free?
Facts of his previous history
Researchers fail to trace,

But there’s something queer in his medical career,
For he never had a single case.

Nobody called Dr Watson
For medical advice;
If Sherlock in a hurry asked his company in Surrey,
Watson would be ready in a trice.
No one ever seemed to worry,
When he drove to Charing Cross,
Which strengthens the suspicion that as surgeon or physician
Watson was a total loss.

Was he sometimes slightly nettled
That he never had call?
What he did upon his "round" is a mystery profound,
Perhaps the deepest mystery of all.
Another question is not settled -
What secret linked the ill-assorted pair?
A tangle too involved to be completely solved
Surrounds the Watson-Holmes affair.

No one sent for Dr. Watson,
So doubts as to his competence persist;
Could he recognise narcosis, or neurosis or dipsosis,
Or was he a chiropodist?

Did Sherlock ever ask his diagnosis?
Could he undertake a simple case of flu?
If his knowledge of pathology was like his criminology
He never had the faintest clue.

Was he a public danger
Holmes wanted to restrain?
When they took a little stroll was he under close control
To keep him from the bed of pain?
Was he to the coroner no stranger?
Or with ugly customers in league?
And how did Holmes deduce he would be the slightest use
In tracing the most trifling intrigue?

Nobody called Dr. Watson,
Nobody but Holmes took up his time;
In putting Dr. Watson on to crime?
Was he really mentally defective?
Why did patients never ring his bell?
The Doctor's obfuscations have baffled generations -
Did Watson baffle Sherlock Holmes as well?


*Katzin was born in London on July 9, 1896, of Russian-Jewish parents. By the time she married English actor Hugh Miller in 1921, she was an established writer. She wrote "satirical socio-political verse", her obituary states, as "Fiddlestick" for Time and Tide; as "Mercutio" for the Daily Herald; and as "Sagittarius" for Kingsley Martin’s New Statesman, writing weekly verses regarding current topics for more than 20 years. She was "a strikingly handsome woman, elegant and charming, relaxed and well informed in con- versation, hospitable at home, and always quickly aware of social injustice wherever she saw it." Her publications included Troubadors, A Little Pilgrim’s Peeps at Parnassus, Sagittarius Rhyming, London Watches, Targets, Quiver’s Choice, Let Coward’s Flinch, Pips of Peace, Up the Poll, Strasbourg Geese and Other Verses, Unaida, and The Perpetual Pessimist. Katzin died in on January 6, 1987. [Obituary found at Yumpu - many thanks University of Minnesota]

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