Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Baker Street Irregulars

Tomorrow, January 6, is Twelfth Night, and for many people the unofficial end of the Christmas season. But for a certain group of readers January 6 has another significance: It marks the presumed birthday of the greatest fictional character of modern times, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the world’s foremost consulting detective. Seventy five years ago Christopher Morley—the most popular literary journalist of his time—established a small sodality of Sherlockian enthusiasts that soon came to be called the Baker Street Irregulars. Before long this group started to meet for regular sluicings and carousings and Sherlockian disputation on the Friday nearest to January 6. That tradition has never ceased, and on Wednesday I travel to New York for the diamond jubilee of the BSI.

From the WaPo. But what is "sodality"? And what is a "sluicing"? Is that, like, transitive or something?

7 comments:

Roberta X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roberta X said...

Tch. A "sodality" is a bunch of sods gathered to some special end -- the highfalutin' chalk it thus: "An association based on voluntary or involuntary membership. Sodalities are often religious societies limited to a single objective, e.g. the veneration of a saint's relics." Or, perhaps, the letters "ER" picked out on the wall in bullet holes or a Turkish slipper full of shagreen..

Sluicing, on the other hand.... One sluices the throat with, say, beer or ale. Or stout. Or porter. But not, I think, sherry.

Crucis said...

Turk, didn't know you were a member of BSI. I'm not, but there is a bit of family history that I think would be a good post.

Old Grouch said...

A ceremonial song:

"We've never heard from Aunt Clara
   Her picture is turned to the wall
Tho she lives on the French Riviera
   Mother says that she's dead to us all..."

A ceremonial toast:
"To the Adder that bit Adrian Conan Doyle. The best thing that ever happened to him."

The original BSI was quite a group: Vincent Starrett, both Ellery Queens, Morley, Nathan Bengis, Anthony Boucher, IIRC Isaac Asimov and Poul Anderson, Rex Stout... and the mysterious "Helene Yuhasova," poetess, author of A Lauriston Garden of Verses, and WWII spy (THEIR side!).

W.T. Rabe, when he was with the University of Detroit, published an "annual" Sherlockian "Who's Who and What's What," as well as a "monthly" "Commonplace Book" of reproduced Sherlockian newspaper clippings. (This was 40 years ago. Both ceased when he moved up to Lake Superior State College and founded the Unicorn Hunters.) He also produced a couple of LPs "Voices from Baker Street," which included the above, recorded at one of the BSI's annual meetings. (With enough advance notice, I'll attempt to dig some of these out of my archives.)

Some Sherlockiana. (Given his blog art, do you suppose we should advise Shermlock about item #37?)

Turk Turon said...

Roberta: It sounds like the Indy Blogmeets might be called a sodality for the purpose of sluicing. Maybe we could have a coat of arms made with some sort of sodding slogan.

Crucis: I saw your post about your grandfather. Very cool!

Old Grouch: is that tiny graphic by Will Elder?

Crucis said...

Turk, glad you liked the piece. It's all family lore and, of course, completely unverifiable. I heard the story from my grandfather, father and uncle and all swore to its authenticity.

Who knows?

WV: lindyng
No, I won't be lindyng you any ammo!

Old Grouch said...

Think so, back when he was drawing for Mad.