The Sherlock Holmes Society of London

The Sherlock Holmes Anniversary Meetup 2012

11 February 2012

We believe in Sherlock Holmes

The weekend of January 28/29 is a special date for Holmesians. Although some say that the actual date of Holmes and Watson's first meeting was a bit closer to New Year's Day, January 28 has been celebrated for generations as the anniversary of literature's greatest friendship. The recent franchises by Warner Brothers and the BBC respectively have breathed new life into the time-honoured characters of Holmes and Watson and consequently attracted a large number of new devotees to the cult of Sherlock Holmes.

Last year, the fan community of the BBC franchise organised a very successful meetup in London. I was volunteered for the task of organising this year's gathering, as last year's organisers were unfortunately otherwise engaged.

The weekend followed closely upon the finale of the BBC franchise's second series, a modern twist on The Final Problem. Shortly after the broadcast, the internet fan community had started the "Believe in Sherlock" campaign, which emulates the Victorian Holmesians' mourning.

And so it was that we, a group of over sixty people, found ourselves gathered in North Gower Street outside Speedy's café on the morning of January 28, 2012, to pay our respects to the greatest man who never lived.

After showing our support, we decided to stop inflicting our presence on the local residents, or at least take it somewhere more civilised. The nearby Bree Louise pub, which had proved excellent last year, was able to accommodate all of us. Many of us had talked to each other online but not met up in person, so this was a great opportunity to put faces to usernames and get to know people better.

With everyone's needs for food and drink catered for, the group split up. The majority of us went to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons while a slightly smaller group paid a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street.

The Hunterian is a very specialised museum and probably one of London's best-kept secrets. Apart from a large collection of anatomical specimens, it also possesses galleries with surgical instruments and an exhibit on the history of battlefield surgery. If you want to get a flavour of the kinds of injuries that Doctor Watson would have dealt with as a field medic, whether in Victorian times or in the 21st-century BBC universe, this is the place to go.

The other part of the group fetched up at the 221B museum after a slight Tube misadventure,. According to Curly, they enjoyed the museum thoroughly, spent too much money in the gift shop, and added "I believe in Sherlock Holmes" post-its to a noticeboard that was already overflowing with similar messages.

At six in the evening, we reconvened for the Sherlock Holmes saves The Nation Walk. Guided by the fabulous Richard Burnip of the London Walks Company, we followed the footsteps of Holmes' more illustrious clients. The walk took us around the gaslit back-alleys of Westminster, past candidates for the Diogenes Club and Mycroft's lodgings, the London Library, and several filming locations for the Granada show and some of the 1970s Holmes films.

We really enjoyed the walk and Richard's in-depth knowledge of the Canon. He also deserves a special thanks for dealing with our very large group when, by his own testimony, he was only expecting a dozen of us.

We said goodbye to Richard on the steps of Carlton Place, by the little side door to the German embassy, and went to dine at an Italian in the Strand-less glamorous than Holmes and Watson's dinners at Simpson's, but a cut above Sherlock and John's Chinese take-away meals.

Many people from further away had to leave on the Saturday night, but a smaller group of around 20 people met again on Sunday on the South Bank. Morbid as we are after the apparent suicide of BBC's Sherlock Holmes, we had a look at unusual coffins in the South Bank Centre.

Seeing the fan community coming together like this, celebrating and sharing our passion for Holmes and Watson in all their forms, was an amazing experience. It was truly a special weekend that I will remember for years to come, and I would like to give heartfelt thanks to everyone who made it what it was.

Now, who's organising SHAM 2013?

Review kindly provided by Ardy of the Baker Street Babes

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