Mothers don’t sacrifice themselves. Not even for Sherlock Holmes.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains a moan about a key plot point of Sherlock, Series 4, Episode 1. If you haven’t caught up on that yet, you might like to come back later. If you’ve seen it or don’t intend on seeing it, read on … you don’t need to watch it to understand my rant.

Right. So in this episode, Watson’s wife Mary, who has just had a baby, takes a bullet for Sherlock and dies. Sherlock is generally a show that I feel has pretty good writing and convincing plots. But this little twist, designed to give us all the feels, just rang false for me. I couldn’t get with the empathy.

After thinking about it for a bit, I realised why. Mary had just had a baby. And Sherlock, though a very close friend, was just this fairly annoying bloke who solves mysteries with her husband. I simply can’t fathom why a woman with a baby would make a decision to put her life at risk to save an arrogant man who was standing there DARING someone to shoot him. Call me a judgey mum if you like, but in my experience, mums don’t take their lives so lightly.

When you have a baby, especially in the early days, that baby is the centre of your universe. They become your reason for getting up in the morning. They might make you forget to eat, but they are also the reason you remember that you need to feed yourself. In the early days, caring for your baby is the rhythm of your existence, and your need to be with them is visceral.

I suffered through some dark times with my babies, including PND, and it was because of them that I didn’t give up on myself. I may have felt hopeless and at times that I was not bonding with my baby, but my thoughts were still all turned on the baby, and I battled through the bad feelings to survive and to make sure my babies were cared for.

I can forgive Mary for trying to “disappear” to get away from the bad guys that were hunting her. But when she sacrifices herself, she was already in the clear from the assassin-types. Then Sherlock was just standing there asking this lady to shoot without moving out of the way. Perhaps he already had a death wish. And she’s all like, “I could push him out of the way, or tackle the shooter, but nope, I’d rather jump in front of the bullet”.

I don’t know if the man who wrote that script is a dad or not, but I just don’t think parents are that slapdash with their lives. And that’s why the plotline is, in my opinion, totally unrealistic.

Perhaps my Sherlock outrage says more about me than anyone else, but it has got me thinking about how loving our children means loving ourselves. I think it’s wrong to unnecessarily expose oneself to danger when you have kids to look after. And that’s a lesson that I should apply to my daily life as well. Obviously I don’t have much opportunity to jump in front of bullets anyway, but there are more mundane things I could do (and maybe you, too, if you feel the same), to look after myself. I should do it just for myself, but looking after myself is good for my kids too!

So here are a few things, serious and less so, that I’m going to be careful about, so that I can look after my kids and myself.

Dangerous holiday destinations

I have a friend who enjoys visiting places that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office would prefer you avoid. More power to him and his sense of adventure. But for me, I have become a total travelling sissy since having kids. I’ve been travelling to utterly rural and random caravan parks in the hopes that no one wants to make a violent statement in those sorts of places. I obviously can’t avoid London, but I don’t see any reason to go somewhere doubtful if I don’t need to.

Health stuff

If I have the slightest doubt about my health, physical or mental, then I take myself off to the GP. There is no point waiting around and wondering if things will resolve on their own. Better to have peace of mind. And I’m extra mindful of how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS. I can get peace of mind without emptying my purse!

Looking after myself

I’m giving myself permission to spend time exercising and worrying about what I’m eating. These things take my attention away from my kids but ultimately make me fitter so that I can be around for them in the long term and, in the short term, be healthier to enjoy my time with them.

Doing stupid stuff

Should I try to jump off the back of the Routemaster bus before it has stopped? No I should not. Should I drink an entire bottle of vodka on a rare night out? No I should not. My kids stop me doing those fun things that I might have risked when it was only my arse on the line.

Don’t be a hero?

I often think about what I would do if I found myself in a crisis situation – a crash or a violent incident. While I would like to think of myself as someone who would help others where I can, I know that my biggest priority would be keeping myself safe. Not for me, but because I don’t want my kids to be without their mum.

Going out to meet my problems

I used to be a fatalist about just about everything. I used to think “Oh well. It’s no big deal. If I die, to die would be a great adventure (you know, like in Peter Pan).” Now, instead, I think how to solve my problems without risking my wellbeing. Not that many of my problems involve life and death. But I do think about these things…

And Mary should have too.

Two Tiny Hands
A Mum Track Mind
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You too can (at least try to) be Sherlock Holmes!

A review of immersive theatre production, The Game’s Afoot

You are a new recruit to Scotland Yard. As you stand on the streets of Victorian London, mist floating round your ankles, a police inspector begins issuing orders. There’s been a murder. Inspector Lestrade wants you to show Sherlock Holmes what Scotland Yard is really made of and solve the mystery first.

You grab your notebook and your list of suspects and you begin exploring the scene of the crime. You see a suspect standing nearby and head over to The door to 221B Baker Street, home to Sherlock Holmesinterview her, your mind racing as you try to figure out how to get her to talk.

And so, The Game’s Afoot.

This is the production currently taking place at Madame Tussaud’s, performed by the Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company. During this play, the audience doesn’t sit on plush seats behind “the fourth wall”. You are part of the action, and the experience you have is determined by you.

The show takes place in an intricately designed set, where you can wander through the streets of Holmesian London, visit Scotland Yard, interview the Coroner as she dissects the victim’s body, or wander down the docks to interview a suspect. And that is only a small example of the many areas you can explore.

Your job is to collect clues and try to solve the murder. You are expected to interview suspects, read reports, and look for evidence everywhere.

Now I’ve enjoyed immersive theatre before, for example Punchdrunk performances where you wander through huge warehouses, exploring the set and encountering the actors in non-linear ways as they perform their scenes, resulting in a highly individual experience. However, The Game’s Afoot takes this concept a step further, by forcing you to basically become one of the actors.

Now I would not describe myself as shy but I’m also not the most outgoing person in the world. So I have to say it took me a while to get into my stride when trying to interview the suspects. You have to be clever to get them to reveal anything. You have to pretend it’s real and talk to them in a way that tricks or flatters them into revealing details. The actors’ performances are flawless, not missing a beat no matter what sort of question you hurl at them.

This is a great night out if you want to challenge yourself, and you’re sure to have loads to discuss with your companions afterwards. I only wish that they gave you just a little longer to enjoy the realistic atmosphere and amazing sets. I’d just started to really get into my detective character by the time it was all over.

There are two stories on offer, “The Case of the Poisonous Poet” and “The Case of the Bloodthirsty Beast”. I attended the latter, and am very tempted indeed to buy tickets to the other one now that I’ve boned up on my sleuthing skills.