Thursday, October 15, 2015

On belonging to clubs, autumn 2015.

I think I have always wanted to belong to a club.

My mother will tell you of one point when I was very, very young and decided I was going to a meeting of my club, making several preparations, and having my paperwork ready, then becoming very frustrated when she would not take me to this club that no one knew existed. I've no memory of the event, nor idea what exactly the club even was, other that the remote possibility that it was some memory from the future passed backward in time from an older edition of myself.

Discovering Sherlockian societies was a wonderful thing back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I got to belong to several fabulous clubs, some near and some far. Peoria's own Hansoms of John Clayton was a great passenger train of a club, running with clockwork efficiency by the son of a railroad man, the inestimable Robert C. Burr. Every other month meetings would happen, rituals would be observed, Sherlock Holmes would be celebrated. And even when things ran far off-the-topic-of-Holmes, there was still that thread, binding us in clubbiness.

Fall always make me nostalgic for the Hansoms, as that's when our best meetings always took place. But it also brings along that bittersweet reminder that while I enjoy a good club, I am real crap at holding one together. Too easily distracted, too busy with work, too occupied with this fad or that. I'm great at putting energy into an existing society when my levels are up and time is free, but keeping one chugging along on its rails, month after month, year after year . . . well, there's a role I never quite adapted to. I could name at least three separate examples of some fun collectives of the faithful that bit the dust under my watch.

And yet, what is a club? Does it have to have religiously regular meeting schedule? A newsletter? A parade float?

"An association or organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity," is the first definition of "club" to come up with a Google search. And, boy, do I like those "or" parts that statement. Dump "organization" and "activity," and holding a club together becomes much less burdensome. "An association dedicated to a particular interest" . . . isn't that what a lot of friendships come from, associating with those who have similar likes to one's own?

Without all that pressure of organized activity, calling together a few Hansom friends for a November evening seems so much easier. T'were I a younger sort, setting a meet-up via social media would have been just another day at the park, I guess. (Do Sherlockians do "the park," tending toward the bookish side? Some, probably so.) In any case, the call has gone out, a November date has been picked.

And for an evening, I'll belong to a club yet again.


  1. I would dearly love to be a member of the Diogenes Club. That cosy setting and the company of others (who are yet not allowed to annoy you by speaking) sounds like an excellent idea.

  2. I'm the organizer of my own strange little Sherlock club here in Salt Lake City and it's endlessly frustrating to me the members like you. I need 100% commitment all the time and for everyone to be dedicated to its ideals and reason for being, even though I'm not quite sure myself what exactly that is. It's the first time in my life I've ever felt the need to do this type of thing, but I feel it so intensely now that I can't not do it. The problem is that the club consists essentially of just my friends and they don't truly get the Sherlockian thing, though they are making a decent effort. It's very sad -- my friends aren't true Sherlockians, and true Sherlockians aren't my friends. What to do?