As human beings, we crave a certain amount of excitement and novelty. We get restless and go on trips, change jobs, or move house. Today I watched a kid who has about 10 zillion Legos get unbelievably excited as he unwrapped another box of them–even though I know he could have easily built the truck on the package with the bricks in his room. I don’t have room to talk, however…it’s not like I read the same 3 books over and over again. Even someone as boredom-prone as Sherlock Holmes had certain habits, so obvious that his best friend once took note of them, a trifle bitterly:
The relations between us in those latter days were peculiar. He was a man of habits, narrow and concentrated habits, and I had become one of them. As an institution, I was like the violin, the shag tobacco, the old black pipe, the index books, and other perhaps less excusable. When it was a case of active work and a comrade was needed upon whose nerve he could place some reliance, my role was obvious. But apart from this, I had uses. I was a whetstone for his mind. I stimulated him. He liked to think aloud in my presence. His remarks could hardly be said to be made to me–many of them would have been as appropriately addressed to his bedstead–but none the less, having formed the habit, it had become in some way helpful that I should register and interject. If I irritate him by a certain methodical slowness in my mentality, that irritation only served to make his own flame-like intuitions and impressions flash up the more vividly and swiftly. Such was my humble role in our alliance. (CREE)
He really does seem upset by this, doesn’t he? Poor Watson! He hasn’t yet realized how wonderful it is to be so needed, so integral to another’s life. We often point at Holmes as being socially inept, but he is able to sustain the same relationships throughout his life; Watson flits about more, and one suspects that occasionally, at least, he has a wandering eye when it comes to women. Hmmmm….
But now we’re getting off topic. Or are we? Because one of the best things about the Sherlockian Canon and community is its ability to stimulate ideas–and those ideas need expression, which leads to one of our own traditions: The Baker Street Journal.
The BSJ has been around since 1946, and for the entirety of its 70 (nearly 71!) years, it’s been a place where our community can share works ranging from the scholarly to the whimsical. It both serves as a conductor of our traditions, and a record (occasionally even a harbinger) of change. In 2016, I was excited to have my first article published in its Summer issue, and I plan to try my hand at another in the coming year.
It’s become a tradition for the 12th Night Giveaway to offer two BSJ subscriptions as a prize, and I usually emphasize the reading aspect of it. This time, whether you win a subscription or not, I’d like you to consider writing and submitting a piece of your own. The thing Watson didn’t understand, up there in his almost-complaint, was that habits–or traditions–keep us grounded. The best ones remind us who we are, and give us the security we need to reach out a little further. As such, they are precious, preserved, and loved.
Today’s prize, therefore, is one year’s subscription to the Baker Street Journal, either new or a renewal, US or international. And, going with tradition, there will be two winners. To win, just tell me where Watson gets this reference, and in which story it appears:
There was something of Mr. Pickwick’s benevolence in his appearance, marred only by the insincerity of the fixed smile and by the hard glitter of those restless and penetrating eyes.
As always, send in your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM or Twitter DM! And whichever holiday traditions you celebrate, I hope they are wonderful!
WE HAVE A WINNER!