With all the ways to keep a calendar these days, I still find I am horrible with birthdays.
So when The Sherlockian E-Times showed up last evening with a "Bob Burr Memorial Edition," I was quite happy to be reminded of my late friend's natal day. In my mind, his spirit still inhabits the house across the fence, so I hope the residents aren't too troubled by that ghost. He could be quite the insistent mischief-maker, as the Hounds of the Internet were often painfully aware.
And then tonight, Bob came up again, as he tends to when Sherlockians gather in Peoria, as he was the first to gather the faithful here, not a hundred yards from where I now sit. Author Philip Jose Farmer may have been the first to say Peoria should have a group and named it with the oft-needs-explaining soubriquet of "The Hansoms of John Clayton," but it was Bob, always Bob who actually got the meetings going and held the group together for so many years.
So as our Sherlock Holmes Story Society met again for the sixth month in a row at Peoria's North Branch Library to discuss "The Man With The Twisted Lip," those who remember him couldn't help but think of Bob. Especially as his Canonical title, both in the Hansoms and the Baker Street Irregulars was "the Rascally Lascar," which comes from that very tale. As the lascar rascal in the story ran a den of addicts, I don't think that any Sherlockian society chief ever had a more appropriate reference for his alias.
T'were I a better friend, perhaps I should have taken "a Dane, who acts as assistant there" from the story to have been a bit more dedicated to his efforts, but having more Canonical titles at this point than I have fingers on one hand with this society or that, I was never as steady a hand as Bob in Sherlockian nickname or scion society coordination. Like the song says, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," which is one of the great things about being a Sherlockian long enough: You get to have seen enough good things and good people to have a few regrets at not appreciating them all as fully as you might have.
Which is always something to think about as we interact with those present now. It may be fight-fight-fight on the internet some days, but in the little local gatherings, we shine. (And the big ones, too! Really missing 221B Con this week, after hearing reports of Sherlocked USA.)
Ah, well, enough nostalgia for one evening. Perhaps a few observations on "The Man with the Twisted Lip" will be coming soon. And you can thank Mr. Burr for that.