Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Correction to the Mid 'Forties page (Books)

My good friend Donald K. Pollock has instructed me to add the word "formerly" to his (one-time) BSI investiture of "The Anthropological Journal," it being his firm position that he has formally resigned from the Baker Street Irregulars, and I have complied at


  1. Thanks for the correction -- and thus you restore the scrupulous accuracy for which your BSI history series is well known!

  2. The eminent Dr. Pollock has helped maintain the accuracy of the BSI history series. However, he both makes an important correction and raises an interesting point. Don, to my knowledge, is the first and only person to return a BSI investiture. Don clearly made a choice in this matter, as his contributions to the Sherlockian world are immense. However, has anyone else resigned from the BSI or declined an investiture? Has anyone ever been expelled from the BSI?

  3. The Bruce-Partington PlansAugust 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Our friend is a man of principles, and he acts upon them.

    I am old-fashioned, though, and I believe what Julian Wolff wrote to me some forty years ago about what an Irregular is.

    An Irregular is a person who keeps green the memory of Holmes and Watson. Some of those people attend the Annual Dinner and some do not.

    Being an Irregular has nothing to do with receiving a shilling, getting an investiture, attending the Annual Dinner, or even who is in the chair at any given moment.

    It's about one's love for the Sherlock Holmes stories and sharing that love with other people.

    For some Irregulars, large Sherlockian gatherings are perfect, and they ask nothing better than to be surrounded by dozens of kinsprits.

    For others, it is in smaller gatherings that the true spirit of Baker Street may be found.

    DKP is more Irregular than most in quality and length of service to Sherlockiana. Let us not question his preferences, but simply rejoice on those occasions that are graced by the pleasure of his company.

  4. The Bruce-Partington Plans offers a non sequitur. I simply indicated that I no longer have an investiture in the Baker Street Irregulars, which has nothing to do with Julian Wolff’s conception of an Irregular or its applicability to me. (Though B-P-P exhibits a charming lack of guile in taking Wolff’s brush-off seriously…)

    The Bruce-Partington Plans goes on to write:

    “For some Irregulars, large Sherlockian gatherings are perfect, and they ask nothing better than to be surrounded by dozens of kinsprits. For others, it is in smaller gatherings that the true spirit of Baker Street may be found.”

    Perfectly true, but perhaps not relevant to the significant number of Irregulars – and here I do mean those who hold an investiture in the BSI – who shun the BSI dinner each year out of a sense of disappointment with the way in which the event, and even the BSI itself, have evolved in recent years. Size matters for some, no doubt, but quality matters for many others.

  5. The Bruce-Partington PlansAugust 14, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    Even if Dr. Wolff were saying as gently as possible, "Go away, girlie, ya bother me," his view of what an Irregular is was practically incunabular. Hearken to his "We are about to award those Irregulars who have shown extraordinary devotion to the cause. We are about to give out the Irregular shillings. ..." on track 12, disc 2 of the new Voices from Baker Street.

    It's the same idea, though expressed to a group of gentleman rather than to one young woman. And that idea seems to have been around since the beginning of the movement. People were listed on the rolls of the parent organization long before investitures and shillings, and the members of the burgeoning scion societies seem to have been so regarded as well. But, of course, such matters were irregular then rather than important.Certainly this construction argues a wider interpretation of what an Irregular was and is.

    There has certainly been steady attrition in attendance at the annual dinner of the parent organization over the years, arising from a number of causes beyond the growth of the sodality or the (to some) unwelcome changes in the dinner program. People age, become ill or infirm, lose income, lose interest, etc. Twenty years ago a popular reason for staying home might be summed in the headline: "BSI Admits Women, Moscow."

    Some might well be tempted to sniff, "O temporae, O morons [sic]," but we all have differing ideas of the perfect Sherlockian evening. My own is actually breakfast, with a select circle of faces around the shining coffee pot.