Monday, September 23, 2019

The secret reason that Adlock is the arch-enemy of Johnlock

Adlockers . . . those prehistoric shippers who grabbed the words "To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman." Their ship started in 1891, and still exists today, thanks to the heteronormative urge to find Sherlock the perfect traditional match.

Johnlockers . . . the shippers whose population exploded with BBC Sherlock, and the hopes of where that show might go, but never did. While not in the mainstream of 1900s Sherlockiana, there are those who say they must surely go back to . . . 1887? Who knows. (Yes, Doctor Who knows. Ask him.)

Two groups who seem destined to be forever at odds, with the former holding close the revered documents of their elders, and the latter freely floating amid the clouds of internet fic where the sky is the limit. But what lies at the true core of this discord? What secret might burn at the heart of these two seemingly opposing ideas?

And what idea might make them both absolutely right, and both a wee bit wrong?

Picture the scene you know so well from "A Scandal in Bohemia."

We had reached Baker Street, and had stopped at the door. He was searching his pockets for the key when someone passing said:

     "Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes."
     There were several people on the pavement at the time, but the greeting appeared to come from a slim youth in an ulster who had hurried by.
    "I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, staring down at the dimly lit street. "Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have been.
    I slept at Baker Street that night . . .

There's a substantial gap in the narrative there. One that might make an elder Johnlocker go "Oo-la-la!" as we did back in the days when you had to be French to be truly romantic. But I think that gap holds much more than even the promise of some "not-sleeping sleeping" at Baker Street.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe that a momentary encounter with a stranger can inspire a love that lasts a lifetime? And do you believe that sometimes, one member of a long-term couple might think of someone new while being with someone old?

And do you think it's possible, however improbable, that John H. Watson was observant enough to say the words: "Just who were you thinking about just now? I know it wasn't me!"

What if the love of Sherlock Holmes's life was a slim young man in an ulster, whom he saw and heard on the street one night, a young man so teasingly familiar and yet unknown . . . a young man whose mostly-hidden looks could fire his amazing mind to recreate every detail of, envisioning every aspect of, and fall madly in love with . . . before he ever learned that young man did not exist at all.

Oh, yes, even if John H. Watson was Holmes's partner throughout his life, there had to be reasons they weren't always together, and their initials did not have to always be M.M. Sometimes, what kept them apart might have simply been a fantasy that the other wasn't tolerating as competition. And even the writing up of the inciting incident could not avoid airing that grievance: "To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman." One can hear Sherlock Holmes, in an idle moment of disappointment, sighing "the woman," as the very naming of his love-at-first-sight's true gender brought all his crash-and-burned dreams of that night back to him.

Was Johnlock the real relationship and Adlock the pin that pricked that balloon and haunted it ever after?  And why can't you ever let people just be happy, "worst person in our hobby?" Why!?!

Because the truth is out there. And it's never quite so pretty as we'd like it to be.

(Plus, I'm just a stinker. So was Sherlock Holmes.)


  1. Hi Brad, Long time no, at age 70 I am trying to recover some articles I did for Wheel Wrightings, the journal of The Hansoms of john Clayton, Illinois, long ago in 1985, to be specific, WWS 7, No 3, Jan 85 pp. 5-9 but also several others dealing with the Holmes Surrey cases, linked to the Surrey railway journeys made by you have access to these at all? If your journal does still exist , I would also be very happy to submit articles for this dear old journal (WWS) .. sorry I have lost touch......Hope you are well and, like me, just still alive....!Best Sherlockian regards, Kelvin I Jones

    1. Goodness gracious me, this is a delight! Glad to hear you're still out there writing away -- your prolific Sherlockian work always inspired me to write just a little more, since you were getting so much. While Wheelwrightings is no longer being published, long even before Bob Burr passed, I do have all those and can get you images of your article pages in whatever way works best for you. Let me know. bkeefauver at gmail will reach me. Good to hear from you!