There's an oft repeated bit of Sherlockian folk wisdom handed down from John Bennett Shaw that states all you need for a Sherlock Holmes society is two Sherlockians, a copy of the Canon, and a bottle. And in a pinch you can do without one of the Sherlockians.
It's a gag as ancient as "Take my wife . . . please," and one can almost hear Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons going, "HA-HA! Sherlockians are drunks!" But when it got cited in reference to this weekend's Minneapolis symposium on Sherlock Holmes, I found it to be a little bittersweet.
A work conflict (that later failed to materialize) took this latest gathering in Minnesota off my calendar, and unlike the big SherlockeDCC party in San Diego, which seemed too far off and magical to even be real, I was very aware of what I was missing. Two of my favorite Sherlockians, Don Hobbs and Bill Mason, were actually the better part of the Saturday morning program. And I only single those two out because of their back-to-back presentations. I could go down a long, long list of Sherlockians in Minneapolis this weekend whom I've had great dinner conversations with, who have inspired great creative moments, and who have been kind and generous folk to everyone who knows them for decades.
Dispense with any of those folk and just have a bottle in their stead? Man, I love Sherlock Holmes, but I'm liable to just watch Breaking Bad before holding a one-man Sherlockian society meeting. Or, better still, go hang out with non-Sherlockian friends whom I dearly love, and can have great dinner conversations and little adventures that don't have to do with Sherlock Holmes.
I don't know if I'm just coming to appreciate my fellow folk more with age or what, but the concept of Sherlockian society to me is more about the bonds between friends than the sort of society with a name and newsletter these days. But many of those friendships started in societies of name and newsletter once upon a time, so I can't find fault in them whatsoever. But the idea of sitting alone with a bottle and calling it "Sherlockian society?"
This weekend, I can't quite do that. I just couldn't dispense with that other Sherlockian. (And this turned out to be a really great weekend!)
Now I just have to talk to some folks and figure out when the next Hansom meeting is happening in Peoria.