I like Sherlockians. I really do. I enjoyed the heck out of spending six hours with some great Sherlockian folk on Zoom earlier this month, so much I did another six hours the next day. Sherlockians are cool.
So why don't I want them in my local Sherlock Holmes library discussion group?
This question came up tonight when a (I have to suppose) well-meaning sort decided to post the details of our Peoria discussion group on one of the oldest internet forums, having called some head librarian and asked if anyone anywhere could join the Zoom. The fact that I might have strongly suggested earlier that this person not do that thing did not really seem to enter their head.
Our local group only went to Zoom due to the necessities of the pandemic, and unlike some scion societies, we didn't start trying to attract folks from all over to grow participation. Like I said, Zoom was just a band-aid until we got back to being at the library. Temporary.
Our meetings are only usually an hour, and that is about enough time for eight to ten people to all get their opinions out on a short story. Just introducing all the people on some of those growing Zoom scion meetings takes a half hour. But it's more than that.
I've written about our local group quite a few times in this blog, because they always inspire me to new ideas and new points of view on Watson's writings . . . and this is the important part . . . because they are usually coming to the stories fresh. They haven't read them a dozen times, don't have heads full of the old tropes, and aren't anywhere close to the Sherlockian takes I've heard in the past. I feel like I've discovered the stories anew in some ways after meeting with the local group. And now, after someone decided to post about our little local discussion group, it feels a lot like someone put a sign beside the highway directing folks to that pristine secret spring that only you knew about. And I'm finding myself getting all the Gollum feelings. "MY PRECIOUS! MINE!"
But, hey, public library. What are you gonna do? They like being public. And Zoom makes it very public.
One day, I hope, we'll return to our meeting room and get rid of the Zoom issues. It's not like we're eating in a restaurant, we can still wear our masks. Honestly, our little library group discusses the Holmes stories way more than our original local scion society did, where the rituals and banquets and other fun often were just a welcome social evening more than an appreciation of the Canon. Everything has its place.
And our own passion for our hobby can take us to darker, selfish places sometimes, as came along in my Gollum moment this evening. We can be jealous, hold grudges, and have all sorts of non-warm-and-welcome reactions in our little hobby, as in any fandom. But we try to move on, maybe forgive if we can, maybe not be our worst selves around our best hobby ALL the time. After forty years in this silly business of Sherlockian pleasure, I have definitely learned that.
"We can but try." Especially when times are trying us, as is pretty much the case with most of life right now.