Left to Right; Mycroft holding Sherlock, Maria, 6th January 1976
A hospital bed. Mycroft is sitting on it, but he is clearly not the patient the bed is intended for. On his head he has a gauze dressing and on the dressing is some sort of sticker. In one hand the Mycroft holds a toy music box with a turning handle, and on his lap there is a mass of blankets, with a tiny, wrinkly red hand poking out. Beside Mycroft there is a young woman with bouncy, shoulder-length brown hair, a roman nose and the wide, crooked smile that both Sherlock and Mycroft have inherited.
Sherlock, 3 and a Half Months, Bath at Granny's
A long, thin baby lying on his back in a bath with a few centimetres of water. Said baby is naked (but his nether regions are covered with a flannel), and he is clasping a sponge to his bosom. He is sucking on said sponge whilst twisting his feet together. He is looking at the camera almost furtively.
Sherlock and Mycroft, 1978
Two boys on a beach, facing the sea with their backs to the camera. They are holding hands. One is about nine and wearing shorts and sandals. The younger, a toddler, is wearing nothing at all. The toddler is thin, as toddlers go, and has a mop of curly blonde hair that reaches almost to his shoulders. If it weren't for the caption identifying said toddler as Sherlock I would have automatically assumed it was a girl. Mycroft is clearly identifiable, thanks to the previous picture.
Mycroft Holmes and Madeline Cane, date unspecified (but early primary school-age in looks)
A small, fat, boy-Mycroft aged five, with piercing blue eyes and moppish brown hair, is smiling, chin-up, at the camera. Beside him is a beautiful little girl about the same age, laughing with her mouth wide open, into the camera. She has dark, medium-long, wavy hair, a round, impish face, pronounced freckles, a button-nose and sparkling, light eyes. She wears a light, floral-patterned summer frock, white socks that come up to just below her knees, and red buckle shoes. There is a hair-ribbon in her hair which has caught the wind. Mycroft is holding her hand. They are standing on a small, flat, neatly cut lawn, outlined by hedges, with a Summer house in the background.
First Violin, 1980
A three year old Sherlock is standing in the living room, in front of a bookcase, in the foreground of the shot, with a miniature violin under his chin. He is hunched over, because he is not using any hands to support the violin. His eyebrows are down, his lips are pouting and he has an intense look of concentration on his face. His gaze is dropped – looking at the bridge of the violin, which accentuates his much-too-long eyelashes. The hair is even wilder, longer and curlier than in the previous photo – and falls all round his shoulders.
A Bath with Big Brother, 1980
In this picture, Mycroft and Sherlock are sitting either end of a bath, which is piled with bubbles. Mycroft, who is about eleven, has a pile of bubbles sitting on his head, and another one like a white beard covering his chin. Sherlock is doubled forward, one starfish-like hand gripping the side of the bath. He is laughing fit to burst.
First Day of School, August 1981
A very solemn Sherlock is standing on the stone doorstep of a house, looking right at the camera. He is wearing a white shirt and dark trousers, with black, plastic sandals. His right leg is jinked at the knee, so that although it does not actually cross his left, his weight is shifted, and only the toe of his right foot rests on the ground. He has a brown leather satchel over his right shoulder, which he is holding in place with that hand. The left hand holds a shiny grey tin lunch box.
There is clearly a significant time lapse between the previous picture and the last picture. Sherlock is now about six years old. The hair has darkened somewhat, but is still curly and untidy, and still comes down to some point past his ears. The face is once again solemn, but there is a twinkle in the eyes this time. He is baring his teeth at the camera. The bottom right lateral incisor is missing. Sherlock is holding it up for the camera, between his thumb and forefinger.
Anthony and Cleopatra, 1982
This one is a photograph of Mycroft, aged about twelve. He is doing a silly smile, but his face is ridiculously distorted by the fish bowl through which he is peering. There are two fancy goldfish in it.
Tree House, 1982
Mycroft and Sherlock are sitting on the ledge of what looks like a three-walled wooden Wendy house, which has been lodged between two big branches of an oak tree. Their legs are dangling over the edge of the floor. Mycroft is doing a cheesy grin at the camera. He has his right arm around Sherlock, pulling him sideways across his body, and he appears to be vigorously rubbing the top of Sherlock's head with the knuckles of his fisted left hand. Sherlock, oddly enough, is trying to smile in this picture – perhaps hoping it will make the ordeal last for a shorter time…
EEG at the hospital 1982
This is the first indication of Sherlock's past troubles, not just health-wise but family-wise as well. However, in this picture, Sherlock looks perfectly happy. He is sitting up in a hospital bed, propped up by pillows, with the table pulled across. On the table there is a plate with chips, strawberries and a chicken drumstick on. Sherlock is holding a strawberry by the green top, between the fingers of his left hand. Said hand is bandaged, with the stopcock valve of a cannula visible. He is tilting a baby beaker of apple juice upwards to his mouth with his other hand.
Bouncing on the Bed, 1984
This picture is slightly blurred. Sherlock and Mycroft – now a teen, are both bouncing on a double bed with a flowery quilt. Both boys are wearing pyjamas. They appear to be having a competition to see who can bounce the highest. Mycroft's eyes are squeezed tight shut with effort, his arms are stretched upward, and his pyjama top has flown up with the momentum of his bounce. Sherlock too is bouncing hard, but his effort takes a different form. His lips are tightly pursed and his eyes narrowed, in an expression he carried through to adulthood too when concentrating. He is looking down at the bed as he jumps, rather than at Mycroft, as if evaluating his own effort as much as trying to win. His fists are clenched and his elbows bent upwards, perhaps in an effort to streamline and balance himself better. His knees are tucked up to his chest. This is the first photo in which I have seen a real indication of the person he was to become.
Donkey Riding, 1984
Another unsmilingly simple photograph. Sherlock is perched on top of a donkey. He is sitting on a cloth saddle, legs almost, but not quite, long enough to reach the leather stirrups. He is clutching the pommel of the saddle, and the reins of the bridle, but his contact is non-existent and as a result the donkey is falling asleep. He is wearing what appears to be a cycle helmet.
Metal Detector, 1986
Sherlock and Mycroft are in a large, flat field. Sherlock, although still primary school age, has grown several inches since the last photograph, and his arms and legs have become skinnier. Mycroft appears to be in his mid-teens now. His cheekbones and eyebrows have become more prominent, and his nose has lengthened and narrowed. He holds himself differently too – in the manner of one whose carefree childhood has been tarnished, and who has begun to take on the challenges of growing into the adult world. He is much taller, and has put on quite a lot of weight. The field is covered in tuffets and tussocks of grass, with the odd lichen-covered rock. Each boy is holding a metal detector and posing for the camera. Mycroft looks like he is actively trying to make a happy
family picture. Sherlock looks as if all he wants to do is get back to metal detecting.
Fish Fingers for Tea, 1989
Sherlock, now early secondary school age, is hunched over a book. I can't see exactly what it is, but I see a picture of a toadstool, and I have my suspicions. One hand is holding the book flat, and the page open. The other hand is holding a fork, idly piercing a fish finger on a plate beside him.
Playing Monopoly, January 1993
Sherlock and Mycroft are seated opposite each other, with the game board on a coffee table in the middle. Sherlock looks thoroughly bored, and has very little game money in front of him. Mycroft looks as if he is thoroughly enjoying himself, and has a large pile of money, and several property cards, in front of him.
First Microscope, 6th January 1993
This is the first photo that I really thought – "That is Sherlock" about. He looks about eighteen, and is seated at a wooden desk in a single bedroom. On the wall I can glimpse a target board, and on the bedside table a chemistry experiment in glass tubes – it appears to be a distillation of sorts. In the foreground, Sherlock is hunched over, long fingers adjusting the focus on a home microscope, whilst he peers into the eyepiece intently. His face is lit by the miniature light shining up from beneath the microscope slide and cover slip.
University Residence (chemistry undergraduate), September 1996
A young adult Sherlock is leaning against a fridge-freezer, with his arms folded. His mouth is twisted into a crooked, half-restrained smile, and he is looking at the camera with an almost smug expression. He is wearing a leather jacket.
The Holmes Family, 1995
Maria Holmes is standing in the middle, dwarfed on either side by Sherlock and Mycroft. They are standing in front of a wooden gate in the countryside, which leads into a field that looks very like the one in the picture of Sherlock and Mycroft metal detecting. Maria's curly brown hair is swept slightly over her face, and she leaning against the gate and smiling happily into the camera. She wears a flowery dress. Although she looks wholly content and happy in this photo, there are care lines around her eyes, eyebrows and mouth. She also has a few grey hairs. On her right, Mycroft looks much the same as he does now, but with thicker hair. He wears a high quality suit, has his arm around his mother and is smiling as if this is an obligatory press photo shoot, part and parcel of the job. Not as though he is resentful or enduring an ordeal – just as though it is what he has been asked to do. Sherlock also looks very similar to how he always did when I knew him, although he does not appear to have adopted the robotic quality of his mask to quite the extent he had by the time we met. He too wears a suit. His eyes are piercing, and he is looking straight at the camera. Again, his mouth is pursed as though he disapproves of the whole charade. Maria Holmes definitely looks more like Mycroft.
Newspaper Clipping, Sussex Telegraph, 10th June 1977: GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE "STILL MISSING"
After two months, the whereabouts of British Government auditor Calathil Holmes remains unknown. Authorities admit they 'may never find out what happened". The 39 year old was last seen on CCTV in St James's Park subway station, at 5.30pm on April 10th 1977. He is believed to have boarded a Southbound District Line train. The disappearance is being treated as suspicious, given his promotion to senior secretary only a week before. In an uncanny twist of fate, it is the second such tragedy to hit the Holmes family. Holmes's father, Reginald Murray Holmes, went missing thirty two years previously. He too held a minor position in the British government, and disappeared one week after his promotion.
Holmes's wife, Maria Holmes nee Shirley of Chanley, made an emotional plea to the British Public this afternoon. "Cal is a wonderful man, who would never desert his family voluntarily. We depend upon him, but more importantly, we miss him desperately – there is a huge gap in our family without him. The boys need their father. I need my husband. If you are listening and have information – anything – come forward. If anybody is holding him against his will, please take a look into your hearts and see that what you are doing is hurting many, many people. If you have Cal, just send him back. And Cal, if you can hear us, we love you."
If you or someone you know has any information, please call the missing persons line.