As a Sherlockian of limited travel budget (and, as career whimsies would have it, limited opportunity this year), I find it interesting to see what events really cause me to have great regrets at not being able to attend.
There are the old favorites of course. Minneapolis in August of this year, for example, is going to be a killer to miss. The local group and the university collections combine to make something that is without peer every few years. There are events especially full of old friends. (Most of whom probably think I've deserted them these days.) And then there are the occasional first-time moments in history that are kind of like missing Ronald Knox's original delivery of his paper "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes" or Christopher Morley's first gathering of puzzle winners.
The "Daintiest Thing Under a Bonnet" charity ball may be just one more event in a crowded New York weekend full of events to some. Sherlock Holmes's birthday has been well-celebrated in New York City for decades. But this one is something special, for a lot of reasons.
1.) It's a ball. I can't remember the last time Sherlockians had a ball. (Yes, they "have a ball" in the colloquial sense every time they gather. But not a "ball" ball. The dance kind. And I hope there's dancing. Sherlockians have always needed to dance more.)
2.) It's a charity thing with all the proceeds going to something that is in no way self-serving, the Wounded Warrior Project. It has Watsonian connotations, yes, but unlike the many libraries, educational programs, or travel fundage charities Sherlockian functions usually support, this is pure, unquestionably selfless charity, with no thought to benefitting our fandom long-term.
3.) The Baker Street Babes, who have only been in existence since May of 2011, are making a huge, very visible move into the B.S.I. weekend. Less than two years after they first formed. Think about that one for a minute, those of you who might like to discount them as mere fangirls of the wisp. We had swollen ranks of new fans back in Jeremy Brett's prime, but did they manage any sort of organized presence at the Big Weekend in NYC? Not even close.
The Baker Street Babes continue to impress. I only hope they don't let the momentum of their irresistible force be absorbed by the unmovable object that is the historically existing Sherlockian establishment when they collide this January. The new ideas, events, and cookies they have added to the culture of Sherlock Holmes fandom has only just begun, and I am very excited to see what they're going to come up with next.
It just may be from a distance for a little while . . . .