Agatha’s Watson Wriggler – Torquay, 1916
It was the middle of World War I, Torquay hosted a large amount of hospitals and convalescent homes to house the mounting casualties coming in from the continent. The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was created with an aim for volunteers to attend wounded soldiers, aid the doctors and to boost morale, posts were quickly taken up by the residents of Torquay.
One day a young volunteer was attending the bedside of a young Belgian doctor Monsieur Popeau who had received injuries during the German occupation of Belgium. The injured doctor although severely injured refused to let go of his small doctors bag, shouting the words ‘nee! niet mijn geliefde Watson!’ (No!, Not my beloved Watson!) if anyone made an attempt to remove it. Obviously distressed the young volunteer sat beside the bed trying to calm the doctor down, his injuries would almost certainly lead to death the only thing she could do was stay with him for the final hours.
As darkness fell the young volunteer slowly nodded to sleep, the patient had been asleep for the last hour after finally calming down when he eventually realised that nobody was going to take his bag. In the early hours of the morning a light touch awoke the volunteer with a start; her patient had reached out to softly wake her and beckoned her closer. ‘alsjeblieft, voor hem’ (please, for him) he whispered and motioned to the bag as released his grip on the handle. Slowly he shut his eyes and drifted away to sleep for eternity.
She took the bag, lightly placed his hands on his chest and sobbed, she had seen it many times before but this dear little man she had known for such a short time seemed to have had a massive emotional impact. Her next thoughts were to contact the next of kin so she opened the bag looking for some kind contact details when from out of the gloom of the bag rose a stunning spectacle.
A well dressed, bowler hat wearing creature sporting a smart bushy moustache, the creature upon seeing the doctor exclaimed ‘Monsieur!’ and slithered out of the bag and onto the doctors chest. ‘Oh, Monsieur, Monsieur!’ it cried out. The volunteer rose and left the room sensing that the strange creature needed time alone. When she returned the creature was gone and the bag firmly closed.
Agatha, for that was our volunteer’s name, honoured Monsieur Popeau’s last wishes and took the bag home. Everyday she would place it in her study near the window over looking the sea and open the bag. At first nothing happened, then slowly over time the beloved Watson would emerge and stare out to sea for hours on end. Occasionally it would come and sit on the desk next to Agatha as she wrote, for Agatha was also an author.
In 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, a book featuring the Inspector Hercule Poirot was published, it was a beautifully written book full of red herrings and surprise plot twists all supplied by the Watson Wriggler who revealed to Agatha that it knew an awful lot about an awful lot of things. But that’s another story…