In the first days of January ‘17, the Arctic air frosted over London forcing even the most careless citizen of that metropolis to accept the mastery of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation. Holmes would not move from his fire, and was as moody as only he could be when he had no case to interest him.
‘Why,’ said I, glancing up at my companion, ‘that was surely the bell. Who could come tonight? Some friend of yours, perhaps?’
‘Except yourself I have none,’ he answered.
‘A client, then?’
‘If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is more likely to be some crony of the landlady’s.’
Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door.
The man who entered was the wrong side of middle age, some five and sixty at the outside, well groomed, and trimly clad in a 1000-guinea suit.
‘You have come up from Fitzrovia,’ said Holmes
I have,’ our guest replied plainly astonished.
‘The distinctive clay and sand mixture on your shoes can only be from the pavement repairs outside the Langham Place branch of Pizza Express,’ explained Holmes with a yawn.
‘And I see you work in broadcasting.’
‘I am Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC,’ the visitor exclaimed.’ Sir, how could you know?’
‘The lines from forced smiles around your mouth and the dark bags around your eyes tell me you are from a profession where one must make an outward show of passionate enthusiasm while concealing a wild despair. Your decision to wear a suit and shirt but no necktie merely confirmed the point for me.’
Our visitor could take no more. ‘I had hoped you could help me Mr Holmes.