Written by Becky Simpson
Today I attended my first meeting of the Scandalous Bohemians. I had heard about the group through the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and was a little nervous about attending as it would be my first ever “proper” Sherlockian meeting. In the past I have only ever attended casual gatherings and meet ups for fans of BBC Sherlock which are numerous and lots of fun, but normally involve a slightly younger contingent of squealing Cumberbatch fans. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that and the magical ways in which the new BBC adaptation is drawing legions of new fans to pick up copies of Complete Sherlock Holmes is an entirely different but fascinating discussion for another day. I was however, very keen to meet up with some traditionalist Holmes scholars with a more in depth knowledge of the canon. Thus I found myself spending a most singular afternoon (hm, knew I’d get that word in somewhere), in a side room at the aptly named Victoria pub in Leeds City Centre with a bunch of interesting, friendly, slightly crazy Sherlockians whiling away our Saturday talking about the great detective.
The group was led by the some might say legendary David Stuart Davies and his wife Kathryn White, a dedicated team who had obviously structured the day wonderfully despite their jovial denial that they did anything of the sort. After an informal meet and greet whilst everyone got the drinks in we all sat down and were treated to our first talk, delivered wonderfully by Kathryn on the subject of Holmes and Women. It’s always been one of my favourite topics and one I’ve thought about quite often – the debate over whether Holmes is entirely asexual and devoid of any kind of ability to feel attraction towards women, or whether he perhaps slightly overdoes his “inhuman” traits for effect to hide the fact that he is indeed quite an emotional chap after all. The most obvious candidate for discussion was of course Ms Irene Adler (aka The Woman), the prime example being Holmes’ decision to keep the photograph (“she’s his pin up”). Although no conclusions were drawn there were interesting points raised on both sides. The second talk delivered by David followed on rather nicely from the first, and was on the topic of Holmes’ emotions in general, not only in his relationships with women but also in how he deals with the Good Doctor, my favourite example being the Three Garridebs when Watson is shot at and Holmes gets a trembling lip. Awww, he’s so sweet!
Before breaking for lunch we had the first part of the quiz, kindly and cleverly devised by Teresa (who asked me to save her in my phone as Mrs Brett). The first round was called A Case Of Identity. We were given some of Watson’s descriptions of various clients and criminals, and asked to identify them. It seemed like a pretty hard task at first but most of them were relatively simple once you read through them properly. And I think everyone knows who the “napoleon of crime” is. It was a fun little task complete with pictures and definitely got our minds warmed up for the next part of the quiz which we completed at our own leisure during lunch break.
Round Two was Sherlock Holmes & Music with questions involving the scores of various adaptations as well as music featured in the canon. Round Three was the illustrated round where we had to name the story by looking at the original drawing that went along side it. And finally Round Four, titled “the One With” – ‘from the following brief and slightly odd descriptions can you name the related SH story?’ – an example being ‘The One With the Dodgy Curry’. The quiz was fun, challenging and entertaining. I was pretty pleased to get 28 out of 35 because to be honest I was worried about failing badly, although I’m definitely going to do some more swotting up for next time!
Our final talk of the day was from Matthew Booth who was discussing the Abbey Grange story, sadly one that I’ve not read yet so I didn’t really appreciate this particular talk as much as I could have done. It did however, sound like a really amazing story, and definitely one I’ll be reading very soon. To round off the afternoon nicely, our “leaders” David and Kathryn performed a hilarious and well written pastiche entitled ‘The Musgrave Ritual in Five Minutes’ which had the entire meeting in stitches, a perfect way to finish, leaving us all wanting more.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day with the Scandalous Bohemians. It wasn’t as scary and daunting as I expected it to be and I honestly felt quite at home with the group, like I’d made a whole new bunch of Sherlockian friends to play the game with. I’m already looking forward to the next meeting on 6th October and crazily volunteered myself to write something…watch this space…