To be on the inside looking out at an outsider looking in . . . well, that's pretty much the experience of a Sherlockian reading a newspaper article covering any gathering of the faithful. This weekend's piece in The New York Times was an interesting example of the genre, as the reporter spoke to a number of key folks about the annual Sherlock Holmes birthday weekend in NYC.
The most important facts of the story this time out, would seem to have been the ages of those involved, diligently recorded along with the quotes. 37, 79, 85, 71 . . . a few lucky souls like Burt Wolder escape having their ages specifically given away, but it's hard to miss the subtext: The young and female are moving into an old and male world. By the time a pair of Adventuresses get age-outed as 70, the article is nearly over, and still has a 34-year-old female in reserve before concluding.
All of the names mentioned were familiar ones, but until today I was always just going "older than me," "younger than me," and "waaaaaaay younger than me." (Which is, pretty much 221B Con.)
A lot of Sherlockiana's quirks get directly called out. It's kind of amusing how the reporter writes of the Baker Street Irregulars, "Membership has long been shrouded in mystery," followed by the line, "Mr. Whelan, a retired executive from Indianapolis who has held the post for 21 yeas, called the decision about selecting new members entirely his." Mystery solved, without Sherlock Holmes-level intellect needing to be called in.
Overall, the article does a good job giving an overview of the current New York Sherlockian scene, though a Sherlockian would prefer more on-the-ground reportage, something that we never get enough of. The unofficial breakfasts and lunches, the "hey, we're going to this bar, come along" organic meet-ups, the hot books getting picked up at The Mysterious Bookshop or the Saturday dealers room . . . all that free-flowing Sherlockian interaction is hard to capture, and those attending are usually far too busy to keep diaries of their little adventures (or the annual weight gain from all those meals, both organized and in between).
Hopefully, the Times article at least got the quotes right, which I hope has improved since recording devices became more prevalent, and reporters aren't dependent upon shorthand so much any more. In any case, I would be curious what a reader outside of our little bubble would come away with after reading the piece. From the inside, it was a lot of the familiar . . . and ages.