Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A day to celebrate Sherlock Holmes

A fresh take on our ancient detective friend is one of my favorite things, which is why I enjoy The Final Podblem and Three Patch Podcast (when they tend towards Holmes and Watson -- ASMR on the last was apparently my personal bridge too far, but on to next time). For a newer Sherlockian, discovering some classic bit from the 1930s is pretty darned cool, but, eventually, having seeing those ideas circling for forty years definitely lowers their effectiveness. And where another person might let them settle into "honored tradition" mode, the dull sameness of such routine has never been my particular cuppa.

So when the FP boys, following the lead of a certain other iconoclast Sherlockian, brought up the arbitrariness of Sherlock Holmes's birthday on a recent episode, I found great joy in their question, "Why didn't they just pick 2/21 for Sherlock's birthday?"  It's a lovely question.

One might say, "Oh, that's just silly! Why would Sherlock Holmes's birthday would be the same as his street address?" Ah, but remember this fact: Sherlock Holmes chose that address, even though he couldn't afford it. He wanted that address badly enough to take on a room-mate and any issues that might come along with that. And why would Sherlock Holmes want to live at 221 Baker Street?

Consider the personality of Sherlock Holmes. He delights in putting important treaties in server platters for unveiling. He claps his hands when he's amused. There's an inner child in Sherlock Holmes that does not hide well at all.

And Sherlock Holmes wanting to live at the same number as his birthdate, if the rest of the set-up is pretty good? Makes as much sense as "Oh, it sure seemed like he had a hangover in that one story!" (And seeming secret intent of "It's really my brother's birthday, and he was a Sherlock Holmes fan!") But you can't fight city hall, nor the internet proliferation of the first thing it finds, so the many other options that various Sherlockians have proposed for Holmes's birthday do not readily appear in a Google search.

It's a curious development, the way Google seems to have decided things like Holmes and Watson meeting on January 1, 1881, a point Sherlockian chronologists would spend much time working out and arguing for their own pet theory in the snail mail age, and as time goes on such dates are apt to be accepted without argument . . . with a few exceptions. BBC Sherlock made it plain on John Watson's bog that January 31st was the date the modern incarnations met, which was quite kind of them. It also leaves fans of that show splitting off their meeting-day celebrations like a splinter sect of the same religion.

But I really like the idea of finding a place in our hearts for 2/21 for another reason. Freakin' Star Wars stole May the 4th from us. It should be the day reknowned for Holmes's greatest victory, at a cost of his friend's grief, to be sure, but a victory nonetheless. And how did Star Wars attain date dominance? A lousy pun. So if we gotta go simple to stick in the minds of regular folk, 2/21 has a 4/20 numeric charm to it. 

The thing about holidays, whenever they occur, is the celebrating of them. Pick a day, hold a party. Next year, hold a dinner. The next year, hold a conference. Do that enough years, get some others to carry it forward, and you've got yourself a holiday. Eventually, Google will even get on board.

Just make sure you get a really fun reason for picking the day, so when your star fades, those that come after will go, "Oh, that make perfect sense," even if they haven't been indoctrinated in tradition first.

No comments:

Post a Comment