Okay, now that the annual dinner is over, let's have a little honest talk about the Baker Street Irregulars.
I've had my ins and outs with the official part of the group, tending to say a few things that get the upper echelons a bit angry with me over the years. Haven't quit or gotten kicked out, but we have had our moments. My irritation with the men-only part carried on to irritation with later calls for ideal Sherlockians or Sherlockians useful to the organization, and I do have a tendency to make nerve-striking comments, as many of my past bosses will tell you. I'm kind of a social klutz, but in Sherlockiana, we have a full range of those, so I get by.
I've probably spent more time pondering America's oldest Sherlock Holmes group than anyone who wasn't running the thing (or Jon Lellenberg) and the conclusion I've finally come to is this: The Baker Street Irregulars is at its best when it's all about Sherlockians and Sherlockiana and not about the Baker Street Irregulars.
My biggest quibble with the group's traditions has alway been its membership process, which cloaked in tradition and mystery, has often been one guy deciding who gets to come to "his" party. (I have been specifically told "it's his party he gets to invite who he wants" by apologists of the tradition, so not really my words there.) You offend the one guy for whatever reason and you're out. Make nice with him and you're in. (Note the constant use of male pronouns here.) When a hobby has created its own "golden carrot" and handed that power to just one person, well, that's bound to happen.
Sherlockiana itself has always been a warm, welcoming place that likes its new folks (except maybe during odd moments with certain folk during Canon versus new TV show times). And I've always felt the flagship organization should reflect that. Whether it was allowing women in back in the 1990s, or investing members who couldn't come to New York in January, those moments of inclusion have always been its best moments.
The new members that the Baker Street Irregulars brought in this year were a breath of fresh air. The wonder that has been 221B Con was finally recognized in its leaders. The work of the great U of M collections was recognized in its curator. The Beacons, the Babes, and, God bless him, the Shaw commemorator, all represented. The Baker Street Irregulars reflecting our culture as a whole, and not just the Baker Street Irregulars, is as it was originally, and as it needs to be.
It's still a New York thing, which is probably why you won't ever see me in attendance ever again. You probably won't even see me in downtown Chicago, either. Never comfortable with those places and less so with age, let me tell you. But if the BSI ever move the dinner to a town with real parking lots, you can count me in.
I'm probably gonna tweet during the dinner though. Because, c'mon! It's 2022!