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The View from the East End (18)

By Inspector Hopkins

July 31, 2005
 

The Scandalous Bohemians

Not all Scion Societies have their meetings in specific physical locations such as the restaurants, clubs, and church buildings that I have mentioned in this series.

Indeed, this group meets in a virtual location . . . because it is in a Chat Room!

Founded over ten years ago by Mary Frost-Pierson, this scion has been meeting every Sunday evening on America On Line (AOL) in the "Mystery Chat Room". It began as an offshoot of Mary’s on-line bookstore, but in the late 1990’s, AOL discontinued her bookstore and she turned the Chat Room over to the two most serious Sherlockians in attendance at the time, David Richardson and Paul Sparre. Paul eventually left, but David was later joined by formidable Sherlockian and quizmaster-extraordinaire, Regina Stinson, who also founded her very own scion in Detroit known as the "Ribston-Pippins".

This "Chat Room", as we know it today, has been refined, polished, and developed to the high degree that it has now, by these two extraordinary people. David and Regina have both been long-time Sherlockians, and have both contributed extensively to the literature. They have written and delivered papers at symposiums, maintain their own individual Sherlockian websites, are contributing members of the Hounds of the Internet, and have been acting as co-hosts of this Chat Room for the past six years, under their respective noms of Mr. Frankland and Violet Hunter.

Even though it only exists in cyber-space, it still qualifies and is recognized by the Baker Street Irregulars as an official Sherlockian Scion Society!

Each Sunday evening at 8pm Eastern time, we gather in the Chat Room to discuss a Canonical story or topic, alternating weekly between a particular story, or a topic or quiz written by one of the co-hosts. There are always some stimulating and challenging questions posed, and sometimes the Chat has had to be "called" because the next group of "Mystery" aficionados is waiting to take over the Room after the Sherlockian-allotted hour is up!

The group currently has some 40 members, but usually less than a dozen show up for any particular meeting, so there is plenty of room and opportunity for participation. There are no dues, or fees, or travel expenses such as tolls or gasoline. Bad roads or bad weather, heat or cold, ice or snow, pose no problems. There are no dress codes. No one can see you, so your appearance is unimportant. During the meeting, you can eat or drink whatever suits your fancy, without picking anything from any menu. You can leave to answer either a call of nature, or your cell phone, at any time. You can interact or not, depending on your particular feelings.

Most recently, David and Regina have done me the honour of asking me to join them as a third co-host of this Chat Room! I am pleased to report that I am happy to accept their invitation, starting the very day that you read these words. Our scion is growing, and the three of us look forward to many more pleasant Sunday evenings leading the discussions about our Canonical heroes and villains. I will be adding my own Sherlockian perspectives and challenges to theirs, and hope to "see" you there very soon.

Alas . . . there is one stumbling block to this scion, and that is you have to be an AOL subscriber to enter the Chat Room and become a member. If you do have AOL as your Internet Service Provider, and would like to try out our Sunday evening Chat, feel free to e-mail me, and I would be most happy to include you on our guest list:

InspectorHopkins@aol.com

For additional information about Regina’s own Scion Society and her website, see the following link:

http://members.aol.com/ribpip715/homepage.htm

And David Richardson can be found in his own version of Lafter Hall here:

http://members.aol.com/mfrankland/home.htm

It is my sincere hope that I have heartily encouraged newcomers to seek out and try a Sherlockian Scion Society close to where they live, based upon my humble reports in this column. Becoming a member of a scion is a very important "facet" of our engrossing and rewarding hobby!

Until next time, when we will explore yet another facet of Sherlockiana, and thanking you as always for your attention, I remain,Yours faithfully,

STANLEY HOPKINS