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Quarantine

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Right, so even though the PM still hasn’t closed more than pubs and parties, every doctor I know is suggesting everyone shelter in place the way they’re doing in Italy and the US. COVID-19 is going to spread no matter what, but it would be nice to not be in the first wave to catch it. Mrs. H is old enough to be higher-risk, and I’m honestly not sure about Sherlock with his, ahem, “interesting” history. He’s not smoking anymore (much) but who knows what risk factors he might have. Wouldn’t put it past him to have caught some exotic flesh-eating parasite during his time being “dead” and not tell me about it.

Anyway, as of today, 221 Baker Street is essentially on home quarantine. Talked Mrs H out of her usual bridge club tomorrow - Sherlock offered to help her set up Skype but she says she’s too old for all that. He’s surprisingly calm about this whole thing, actually - he’s sprawled on the couch right now in an anatomically improbable position ordering a grocery delivery on his laptop. I didn’t realize he knew that groceries *come* from somewhere and don’t just appear magically on the shelves, so this is a good sign.

Hopefully.

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Everyone who had “John’s optimism is misplaced” on their bingo card (shut your mouth, Harry) gets a point. Things Sherlock ordered yesterday:

- 30 tins of beans, none of which are the brand we actually like
- 4 loaves of bread “for beans on toast” (not sure he knows how to work the toaster)
- Almond milk - we’ve never used almond milk before but he might not know the difference
- Two tins of his brand of tea and none of mine
- Ditto for coffee
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter
- Castor oil
- Avocado oil
- Mango butter(!)
- One bottle of each liquid soap Sainsburys carried
- 20 kilos of sodium hydroxide rushed overnight delivery
- 6 GIANT boxes of the poshest loo roll I have ever seen. Seriously, he got it in three different colors and I think it’s scented. 90% sure he didn’t acquire this legally, but you never know with Sherlock. I would get onto him about hoarding things we don’t have space for except I’m sure nobody else is buying the stuff. Nobody not in the royal family, anyway.

Right now he’s in the kitchen making a giant mess as he attempts to make his own hand soap that’s somehow more effective (according to his self-defined criteria) than the other brands on offer. He’s in a proper snit, too, because half the brands he wanted were sold out and/or never actually existed in the first place. Could have told him that - you wait to shop until everyone is holed up at home and this is what happens...

Anyway, Mrs. H has been kind enough to bring up tea and biscuits, and now I’m online putting together an order for both of us. She wants a number of odd things, too, but most of them will make their culinary way up to 221B once she’s baked them into combinations we recognize so I don’t mind the extra work to track them all down.

All in all, a reasonably successful second day. Sherlock’s experiments are actually making the flat smell nicer, for once. Fingers crossed the whole time goes like this.

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Today has actually been one of the nicest Mondays I’ve experienced in a long time. Due to the lack of essential oils in the flat--the smelling-good kind, not the strange combination of oils he ordered yesterday--Sherlock made all his hand soaps tea-scented. A few different varieties. The flat smells amazing. He says the results of his experiment are all up on The Science of Deduction should anyone care to educate themselves with something more worthwhile than my blog. (Those of you who know him can picture the exact intonation he used when he said that, I’m sure.)

The part that made today excellent, though, is that Sherlock cleaned. Quite a bit! All it took was me suggesting he needed to test his soaps on various surfaces and he was up until the wee hours of the morning cleaning everything in the kitchen and the loo. I know this because I wandered downstairs for a snack around 2 AM and he was scrubbing the toaster. (Turns out he DOES know where it is!) I was relieved to discover that the oil was, indeed, intended for soap-making, and not for some nefarious other purpose. I wouldn’t put it past him to brew his own homemade chemical weapons. Or lube. (Note to self: try not to think about it.)

Other than that, I’ve been poking about online and reading a novel I’ve been intending to get to ever since Christmas. Made him beans on toast for lunch, which he didn’t eat. Nice quiet day.

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Looks like the UK finally caught up with the rest of the world - official “shelter in place for the next three weeks” notice. I’m still on call for the clinic for “telemedicine” but I doubt they’re going to need me. Sarah knows how bad I am with technology.

In other news, Sherlock rarely reads this blog but apparently he did yesterday because now he’s sulking about having accidentally cleaned the flat. Still less cleaning than I do in a typical week, because SOMEONE has to be responsible for food debris and random viscera not attracting insects, but I have performed the unforgivable sin of putting one over on him and now must be punished by… being huffed at and ignored, mostly. He came out into the sitting room earlier to huff at and ignore me in person, then went back into his bedroom when I wasn’t giving him the reaction he wanted.

Finished my book without Sherlock spoiling the ending. It was nice.

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Harry, I say this in all sincerity--I owe you one. Without your suggestion I never would have thought to introduce Sherlock to Reddit’s AITA. It has been, without a doubt, the funniest thing to happen in 221B in years.

For those of you who don’t know, Reddit is a website with a whole bunch of different places where people can argue about things. As in, everything. In particular, one “sub-Reddit” is called “AITA” which stands for “am I the arsehole”--people post the strangest situations and arguments, usually between them and their significant other, and ask the internet to pass judgement on them. It’s like when Sherlock yells at the telly, but in real life, and the people he’s “yelling” at can hear him when they read the comments. He’s in whatever his irreligious little heart must consider heaven. So far he’s “deduced” three impending murders, half a dozen cheating partners, and a long list of behaviours he considers illogical and/or stupid and thus can vent about to me. I’m laughing my arse off over here. When he gets like this he has no concept of “inside voice” and the oddest things throw him completely for a loop. We’ve actually had some really good conversations about ethics and human behavior over the last few hours. He’s making noises about turning this into some sort of observational study and writing it up for The Science of Deduction but honestly I think he’s just enjoying the absurdity like the rest of us. (Although I’ve got to admit, https://twitter.com/AITA_reddit/status/1221936316776054785 sounds 100% like an impending murder to me too… If I were a woman I wouldn’t want to date men either, after reading so many of these. How are so many of us so bad at this?)

Mrs. H brought us up sandwiches at teatime again and commented on how nice the kitchen looked. Sherlock tried to glower at her but he’d literally fallen off his chair laughing not five minutes earlier so it wasn’t particularly convincing. I promised her I’d explain what was going on, but later.

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Did you know that there are 280 different underground systems and Sherlock can now identify >180 of them solely from interior shots of the cars? I didn’t, until Sherlock told me this morning, after having been up all night on Reddit (again). Apparently he lost interest in AITA and moved onto other, more esoteric sub-Reddits. All day has been things like this:

Him: There’s an entire forum for bread stapled to trees, John.

Me: Okay?

or

Him: Humans are idiots.

Me: Is this a surprise?

Him: One hundred seventy nine thousand people subscribed to a place they can argue that giraffes don’t exist.

Me: Ah.

Him: Not all of them are being facetious.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that he’d forget to sleep when faced with THE ENTIRE INTERNET to absorb. Even the monologue about different cities’ underground systems only happened because he discovered a Reddit called “birds taking the train.” Apparently avians on other modes of transportation were acceptable too, which made him dig through all the pictures to see how many of the heavy rail systems he’d personally ridden on (73), which led him to deciding at arse o’clock in the morning that he simply HAD to remedy the massive gap in his knowledge which was “not being able to identify every underground solely by car design.” That info will solve thousands of cases, I’m sure. I texted this to Lestrade--the Yard DI we work with most frequently--and he called me back so I could hear him literally laugh out loud.

I’m finishing this update and then headed down to Mrs. H’s flat to watch some telly with her while Sherlock tracks down and memorizes pictures of the other hundred or so underground systems. Can’t wait to see what he’ll have come up with by tomorrow.

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Not much exciting to say today. Slept in, came downstairs to find Sherlock’s laptop upside-down on the couch with the battery removed and Sherlock snoring loud enough probably even Mrs. H could hear him. He does that sometimes, after staying awake for days on a case, although he’d never admit that he snores. Or sleeps diagonally on his bed with his feet sticking out from under the sheet and his face smashed into the pillow. I sent a picture to Lestrade to prove that my flatmate does, indeed, sleep.

Mid-evening he got back up and broke out the violin. He’s serenading me now, which is nice--he’s amazingly good when he does deign to play correctly, which is rarely. He told me he’s catalogued my favorites based on my reactions when he’s played in the past, which is flattering and honestly more thoughtful than I would have expected. Not that Sherlock can’t be a good and loyal friend--he absolutely is--but usually he’s pants at the social niceties part. So now I’m kicked back in my comfortable chair with a post-supper beer and a personal concert from my world-class violinist flatmate who just happens to know my favorites.

It’s times like this that make the surprises in the fridge worth it :-) Have I made you jealous yet?

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It occurs to me that, somehow, this blog has been more about Sherlock than about 221B as a whole. I’d like to say that’s incorrect, but in fact today has centered almost entirely around Sherlock. Who, despite the calm before the storm yesterday, is not coping with self-isolation well. He’s still in his dressing gown--as he’s been pretty much since this whole quarantine thing started--but today was punctuated by an exciting half-hour in which Himself stood at the window armed with a box of posh loo roll and threw them at passers-by. There aren’t as many people out as usual, but he has decent aim. Most of the paper projectiles were accompanied by “GO HOME!” and embarrassing deductions delivered at peak volume. The way one bloke’s dog held its tail apparently meant the bloke’s girlfriend was planning to leave him as soon as she could get her own flat. Another woman was cheating on her diet while out--Sherlock didn’t say how he knew that one--and “this is why your husband thinks you’re too fat and doesn’t want sex as often anymore.” Mrs. H came upstairs after that one, telling him to knock it off. Well, she said she wanted him to stop, but I noticed she did stay and chat with me for a while longer. Incidentally, the acoustics of Baker Street are better in our sitting room when we have the window open than they are in hers.

Sherlock did finally stop once he’d run through the whole box. I guess I’m glad now that he over-bought, if this is the rate at which we’ll go through necessities. I hope his creepy brother was spying on us and got some good footage from his security cameras because it’s patently unfair that Lestrade missed this. M--, if you’re reading this (or one of your minions are), please send him the tape? No need to bother with an explanation; he’ll get a kick out of it either way.

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Today I learned that there is a big difference between SnapChat and ChatRoulette. I have always considered myself too old and/or technologically backward for both of them, but I vaguely recall Lestrade talking about his kids being obsessed with SnapChat filters(?). Sherlock tends to know about these kinds of things, but I assumed it was… I'm not sure how I assumed he knew, actually, only that I never thought he’d actually use them.

ChatRoulette is, in short, a program in which you can use your webcam to see a random bloke’s willy from anywhere else in the world. You can see my confusion about Lestrade’s teenage daughter wanting filters for that sort of thing. Sherlock condescendingly explained to me that SnapChat is for cutesie photos of your dog wearing a digital party hat, and ChatRoulette is a platform for instant conversations with total strangers - an ideal hunting ground for new deductions, in other words. He then signed on and was confronted with about a dozen willies in varying states of tumescence, attached to men who took one look at Sherlock and pressed the “next” button on their chat windows. I tried to get him to deduce things about them but he just glowered at me with that look he does sometimes. I honestly don’t know what his past experience with that kind of thing is, or whether he’s gay/bisexual/asexual/who the hell knows, but presumably that’s not what he was looking for. I’m proud to say I didn’t laugh until I got safely back to my bedroom where he couldn’t hear me.

Ultimately he did find another, similar site - something starting with an O, I think - that allowed actual video chat and also didn’t have quite the same ratio of genitalia to actual users in want of conversation. Normally Sherlock despises strangers, so I thought it was odd he’d go searching for them, but it turns out he wanted to practice his American accent. It’s actually quite good, considering. I don’t know that I could tell as well as an American could, but to my ear he sounded no different than the American soldiers I served alongside in Afghanistan. His Australian is a bit affected, but ten minutes of chatting with an Kiwi bloke reminded me what an impressive mimic he is. He’s working on convincing some woman he’s South African now.

I helped Mrs. H re-install the light fixture over her kitchen sink this morning, and she thanked me with a homemade traybake. Not sure what’s in it but it was delicious. I’m giving Sherlock another half hour to eat. If he doesn’t, I’m finishing up his portion too.

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Bit of a shock this morning. I puttered in my room for a while before coming downstairs, only to find Sherlock still in his armchair on his chat program… but in a dress. A beautiful floral sundress with little purple bows on the shoulders. He had on makeup and did something with his hair to pull it back and tuck it under a headband. Other than the fact that he’s still bloody tall, he’d have made a very convincing woman. I think he even shaved his legs.

Naturally, this caused me to trip over my own two feet and fall down the rest of the stairs into the sitting room, at which point he looked up at me with this utterly bland expression and asked, “Problem?”

No, you berk, no problem with you casually wearing full drag at nine in the morning on a Monday while some people were still awaiting their daily dose of caffeine to finish waking up the rest of the way. I proceeded to pretend I didn’t notice anything different at all and he went back to pretending to be a Frenchwoman online. I have been informed that he’s had 45% more success in eliciting conversation when his chat partners think he’s female. He’s got a believable falsetto, surprisingly enough considering his normal vocal register. Sounds like a woman who’s a two-packs-a-day smoker, but plausible. I wonder how much time he’s devoted to perfecting this over the years. I now have a mental picture of him as a four-year-old in a frilly pink dress and with little butterfly barrettes in his curls and he would have been absolutely bloody adorable.

Ended up doing a ten-hour telemedicine shift after all - Sherlock helped me set up my laptop for it a few days ago just in case - and I’m exhausted. If he’s graduated to a clown suit tomorrow I’m going to have to sit him down for a talk...

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Not much to say today. Did another work shift this morning, then took some time to transcribe my notes from our case from the week before last - the one that ended up being our final “out and about” case, actually. I’ve been trying to get Sherlock to check his email and at least look at some of the requests we’ve received, but he’s declared the entire world “boring” and is off in his mind palace for some spring cleaning. Of course he leaves the ACTUAL cleaning to me. Hopefully the mind palace thing means he’ll stay put long enough for me to organize all the paperwork we have sitting around. Most of it is his and either useless or no longer relevant, but unfortunately both of us are bad about opening mail. We’ve occasionally had cheques sit around for a month because neither of us knew we’d received them. It will surprise approximately none of you that despite his bespoke suits and public school airs, my brilliant flatmate tends to forget that money is required for things like the electric bill. Luckily he’s got enough good qualities to make up for the less-than-helpful ones.

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I wouldn’t consider myself a prankster, per se, but I do try to stay aware of the date so I don’t make an idiot of myself. Mrs. H’s idea of an April Fools’ Day joke is to bake us something with jam hidden inside. That’s the kind of “prank” I can appreciate (and did, this afternoon. The jam was strawberry and the muffins were delicious.)

I thought about doing something, to amuse myself if nothing else, but I’m not going to be mean to someone as lovely and earnest as Mrs. H and Sherlock almost certainly doesn’t know what day it is. I don’t think I mentioned on here back when it happened—did I tell about how he accidentally took me on a date for Valentine's Day last year? There’s an Italian place we eat at sometimes with amazing food, and the owner is a friend of Sherlock’s so he always stops by the table if he can. I wasn’t even thinking about it being February 14th but we got there and we’re halfway through our regular appetizers when I realized there was a rose on every table and a violinist going around serenading everyone. Sherlock noticed the three fellow diners in the room who were planning to propose, but somehow didn’t put two and two together…

End result, his friend the owner dragged the poor violinist over and made him give us a 20-minute “concert” while we sat there trying to look politely enraptured. He then ushered the bloke off to give me and Sherlock time for a “special moment” (his words). I think he was genuinely surprised when Sherlock didn’t get down on one knee to ask me to marry him. As if a public proposal with a flower or a poem would be Sherlock’s style. For months after that, every time we ate there I got the impression Sherlock’s friend was blaming himself for having bolloxed everything up. I’ve never managed to convince the man we’re not a couple anyway, though, literally not since the day Sherlock and I first met, so the candle on the table “because it’s more romantic” isn’t new.

That’s all a very long way of saying 221B has been nicely quiet today and nothing interesting happened.

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I finally got entirely caught up on correspondence, paperwork, bills, and all the other crap that’s been littering our sitting room for ages. The desk is clear! Or I should say WAS clear, because while I was working this afternoon Sherlock took advantage of the situation and built a literal house of cards. The cleaning of the last few days turned up no fewer than four full decks and three partial ones. I suspect Sherlock wanted to be a magician once upon a time - he can still do the “pick a card” thing and make the card appear in your ear. Maybe the trick sometimes fails? That’s the only reason I can think of for one deck to be missing all the face cards, another missing all the aces, and the last one missing all the diamonds.

Doing that math, that gave Sherlock (4x52)+(52-12)+(52-4)+(52-13)= 335 playing cards to perform architecture with. I found him sound asleep with his head on the desk surrounded by something that looked like a cross between London Bridge and the Colosseum. I’m proud to report I did NOT make a loud noise right in his ear to see him jump and knock it all down. Instead I’m tiptoeing around the kitchen making supper and headed back up to my room to let him recharge in peace.

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Today felt like it was about a month long. I wasn’t needed at work (well, not AT work, but the telemedicine thing) today, so I had planned to potter around on the internet for a while and then go see if Mrs. H needed help with anything. Instead I woke up to find Sherlock’s face about six inches from my own. Here’s a fairly accurate transcript of what followed:

Sherlock: Ah, you’re finally awake!

Me: What the fuck are you doing in my room?

Sherlock: I got bored downstairs so I was watching you sleep.

Me: You don’t even know how creepy that sounds, do you?

Sherlock: Not like that. *insert exasperated sigh here* An observational study, John. Look, I’m taking notes.

And sure enough, he had a fancy leather-bound notebook full of the chicken-scratchings he calls shorthand. I think he does that on purpose - he’s capable of writing legibly when he bothers, but all his notes to himself are functionally in code. Best I could tell, he was timing my sleep cycles and REM episodes. The amount of writing on the page suggested he’d been sitting there watching me for hours.

Me: Bit not good, yeah? What did we say about you performing experiments on me without my knowledge and consent?

Sherlock, all righteously annoyed at being questioned: Observational. I didn’t touch you. I didn’t even peek under the covers, despite how you were thrashing around. And I considered going back downstairs before you woke up, but I stayed LIKE YOU WANTED so you’d know I’d been here.

I suppose I could have argued that the knowledge and consent both had to happen BEFORE the experiment took place, but the fact that he even realized I would care is a good step forward from where we were when we first got the flat together. Let’s just say there’s a reason he’s not allowed to put, leave, or hide anything in my bedroom. (No, it wasn’t a camera, but it’s not a story suitable for the entire world to know so I’m not posting it here. Sorry. If you know me in person and buy me a pint, I might be willing to tell you then.)

So after THAT auspicious start to the day, Sherlock trailed me around the flat like a particularly scientifically-minded lost puppy, scribbling things in his notebook and occasionally asking me odd questions like “What’s your pulse rate right now?” and “Does reading font that size give you noticeably more eye strain than it did two years ago?” Eventually I just started ignoring him. He’s still here, reading this over my shoulder (BACK OFF YOU BERK) and making little huffing noises when I’ve written something that annoyed him. Oh, now he’s chiming in to say that it’s my hunt-and-peck typing that’s driving him up the wall and please, if you have access to a nice interesting murder, send it to him at his website thescienceofdeduction.co.uk.

I’ll echo that - PLEASE send him something to do! If nothing else, I do need to shower at some point today…

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I mentioned the other day that I finally finished writing up my notes for our last case. It didn’t turn out to be as exciting as it seemed at first, but here’s what happened:

The Adventure of the Baron’s Cornet

We got a call from some familial friend of Sherlock’s parents--I’m not sure the actual connection--about a break-in that had already been, supposedly, solved. The man was a minor peer whose father had collected musical instruments and dedicated three rooms of his massive house to creating a personal museum. The prize piece was a cornet owned by Louis Armstrong the jazz icon, which was his primary instrument before he switched to trumpet and got famous. (Sherlock’s been listening to a lot of jazz recently.)
The man was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of the burglar alarm and rushed downstairs to find his teenaged son standing in the garden with the cornet, now dented beyond repair. Local police concluded that the boy had tried to steal it either on a dare or as a joke. The teen refused to say anything in his defense, so the authorities decided it was a family matter and left. Our client was convinced there was something more to it - in part, because his son was severely agoraphobic and would normally NEVER go outside after dark.

Sherlock took a day or two to poke around, as he usually does, and to insult/interview our client’s family and staff. It looked for a while like there had been a large heist planned and something exciting might happen, but in the end the truth was dull: our client’s PA attempted to steal the cornet and was surprised in her attempt by the man’s son. The teen chased her out into the yard, fought with her over it - damaging the instrument in the process, unfortunately - and then had a panic attack when she got away and he found himself in the middle of the massive garden in the dark. He wouldn’t talk because for one, he was furious that his father suspected him of burglary, and two, he was sweet on the PA and didn’t want her to get in trouble. He seemed like a good kid and I’m glad we were able to clear his name. So was his father.

In the end we got a nice three days in Devon out of it, Sherlock got to drown himself in jazz music and trivia for the next week, and it turned out to be a nice last case before we hunkered back down in London. I also get to hear Sherlock’s jazz violin improvisations on occasion now, when he’s in the mood. No surprise he excels at jazz just as he does at everything else.

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No violin today, jazz or otherwise. The quiet and the boredom has obviously gotten to Sherlock, because this morning he did what he does best: a pointless experiment that rendered the immediate vicinity barely-habitable. Not sure exactly what it was - he did it in his room, presumably so I wouldn’t see in time to complain and stop him - but the flat smells strongly of burning plastic. It’s possible he really was doing an experiment, but it’s also possible he decided to melt a handful of pens or toothbrushes or toy dinosaurs for no reason whatsoever and didn’t bother to even come up with an excuse.

Either way, I closed the door to my bedroom to minimize contamination as much as possible and then escaped down to Mrs. H’s kitchen to wait it out. We watched the Queen’s speech together, had tea, and I’d nearly stopped noticing the lingering smell until I came back upstairs. I ought to mention two things:

1) Sherlock likes to pretend he can turn off his sense of smell at will, usually when he’s done something putrid and I’m mad at him about it

2) He CLEARLY forgot that this was only pretend

If I hadn’t been down with Mrs. H, I’m sure he would have wandered off to ramble around London until the wee hours of the morning and expected me to have cleaned everything up in the meantime, “shelter in place” or no. We would have heard him leave, though, and I suspect his pride wouldn’t let him give in like that, so he was trapped upstairs in 221B. I wish I could have spied on him, to see how long he kept up the nonchalant “you’re overreacting” act before finally giving in. When I came back upstairs, all the windows in the flat were open and the sitting room smelled like the nicest of his tea-scented homemade soaps from the other week. There’s still a faint eau de plastique lingering in the air, but I don’t mind as much now that Sherlock put some effort into mitigating the worst of it. Knowing that he had to clean is adequate revenge.