If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you might want to skip this installment. Much as I hate to do it again, I just have to discuss the Baker Street Irregulars, a topic that doesn't interest everybody, and for that, I apologize. But back to the Irregulars . . . you know, the invitation-only dinner society that most of you probably won't see the inside of, for two reasons: a.) There's too many of you. b.) The eldest members of the society are often loathe to give up reliving their memories of the past by changing too much, and respecting one's elders, as the B.S.I. kindly do, is a two-sided coin . . . I can already see the need for a disclaimer.
When I'm critical of the Baker Street Irregulars as an organization, I hope no one thinks I don't sympathize with the fellow who has to run that institution. I do. No matter who has held that post, they've had to deal with some horrible flack, no matter what they do, from some of the crankiest bastards you'd care to meet (present company not excepted). And it's certainly a "don't hate the player, hate the game" situation if ever there was one. When I write critically of certain B.S.I. traditions, it's definitely hating the game, and even at that, I don't really care to go on and on about it.
But one person in particular, Mr. Paul Herbert, B.S.I., has insisted that I give specifics on my suggestion that the Irregulars open up their membership to all. Where would such a dinner be held? What would the entertainment be? What would I do when all of the Investitured Irregulars fled the scene because they would have no part of such an open event?
Well, Paul is not going to like my answers, which is why I was hesitant to answer him at first, because they involve one thing: change. Big change.
I've constantly heard that finding a venue for an open B.S.I. dinner is an impossible task. Now, I don't know New Yawk City that well, so maybe it is impossible there. Here in simple old Peoria we can serve a thousand people in the nice new banquet room in our Civic Center. But then, our hotel rooms also tend to be a little larger than those in NYC, so maybe their space is just that limited. Am I suggesting that the B.S.I. dinner be moved to Peoria? Of course not. I would rather move it to Las Vegas. If that town was good enough for Jack Tracy, Sherlockian publisher, writer of The Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana, and suspected murderer, it should be good enough for a very wide variety of Sherlockian personality types.
What would such a huge dinner have for entertainment? I'd have to call the Baker Street Babes to consult on that one. Their event-staging abilities get greater all the time, and they never fail to please. (Nobody said I couldn't delegate.)
And lastly, what would I do when all of the Investitured Irregulars fled the scene? Well, I strongly suspect all of them wouldn't. That's the thing about a tradition, some people will continue it, no matter how times change. They implemented assigned seating at the B.S.I. dinner, people kept coming. Tuxedos became common at the B.S.I. dinner, people kept coming. They let women into the B.S.I., people kept coming. It's the spirit of the thing, not the specific practice, which is what sticklers for the same-old, same-old often forget. If New York got nuked during this year's Birthday Weekend and Manhattan became an irradiated wasteland that could not be visited for centuries, there might be a few changes to the thing, but I have no doubt that it would go on. (But man, I hope it would go on somewhere other than Chicago . . . sorry, downstate Illinois prejudice coming through.)
As in every part of our world, we will always have the full spectrum of radicals, liberals, conservatives, and reactionaries in the Sherlockian set, each playing a part in the exchange of ideas that keep us growing as a culture. Some would like to take the B.S.I dinner back to what it was in the 1940s, a few others would like to take it to what it will eventually be in the 2040s. And a great many are happy to just enjoy whatever comes each year. That last batch are definitely the happiest, and will continue to be, no matter how the wind blows.
Though they might have an even better time in Las Vegas. Just sayin'.