|Ann Brauer Andriacco leads the discussion of "The Beryl Coronet"|
The world of in-person Sherlockian events is slowly stirring back into action wherever possible in accordance with local health restrictions. On Friday, The Tankerville Club of Cincinnati had its first such meeting since “the world went all awry” last year.
I’m grateful that the club, which I coordinate as “Most Scandalous Member,” was able to meet four times via Zoom over the past 12 months, and it was wonderful to have friends join those meetings from around the country. But I’d forgotten how much fun an in-person meeting can be – the bon mots, the spontaneous interaction, the hugs.
The meeting took place in the same casual restaurant where we assembled in March 2020, about a week before the state shut down restaurants. Members and guests came from Indianapolis, Columbus, Detroit, and Dallas (by way of Columbus). We had some enthusiastic new members as well as about a third of 31 attendees whose names appear on the 1981 membership list.
Activities of The Tankerville Club are fairly typical for a Baker Street Irregulars scion society: toasts, Sherlockian Show-and-Tell, reports from members who have had Sherlockian adventures elsewhere, a quiz, discussion of a story, an auction of books for the benefit of the club treasury, and a recitation of “221B” to end the evening.
The focus of Friday’s meeting was “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet.” One peculiarity of our group is that our toasts are not always to people. Carolyn Senter lifted her glass to what Holmes called “an old maxim of mine”:
The iconic quote which appears in tonight’s story, that is, “when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” and how it relates to tonight’s meeting is the focus of my toast. Specific reference is made to the three concepts contained therein, viz., impossibilities, improbabilities, and truth.
Impossibilities with respect to this evening are easy to eliminate. Unless we have the same magic as Hermione from the Harry Potter books, we cannot be in two places at the same time!
That takes us to improbabilities. Now, if we take a moment and ponder the myriad events, quirks of happenstance, and all the serendipitous incidents which led each one of us to being first aware of tonight’s meeting and, second, having the interest in the topic of tonight’s meeting, both are most improbable – especially considering that the focus is on an entity whose literary agent died nearly a century ago!! And yet, the truth is, we are here!
Let’s raise our glasses and toast all those impossibilities and improbabilities that led to the truth of our being together once again to celebrate scholarship, camaraderie, and friendship! Here! Here!
Barbara Herbert, the woman of the Tankerville Club, brought some beryls given to her by her late husband, Paul D. Herbert, founder and Official Secretary of the Tankerville Club. She toasted the titular crown in these words:
Let us join in homage to a renowned object of history. Bent and tattered, with three stones missing, this unique object weaves a wonderful mosaic for Holmes and Watson to unravel as we become acquainted with colorful and interesting characters, while immersing ourselves in another fascinating mystery from the pen of Dr. John H. Watson. Now let us raise our glasses to “one of the most precious possessions of the empire” – the beryl coronet.
Even more precious is the company of good friends.