Sunday, January 2, 2022

Why the Montague Street Incorrigibles?

 Since 1985 on our calendars (and 1895 on Canonical calendars) there has been that small number of Sherlockians who found themselves members of a group called "the Montague Street Incorrigibles." But few outside of that number, and even many within, were ever sure just what that membership meant. As attendees of the Dangling Prussian pub night on January 14th will be offered the chance to undergo mysterious and previously unseen induction ritual to become members of that group, it is perhaps a good thing to explain just what the Incorrigibles are about.

As you might have noticed "Montague Street Incorrigibles" looks a lot like a parody, pastiche, or just plain dollar-store-knock-off of the hallowed "Baker Street Irregulars." Montague Street being the address that Sherlock Holmes lived before Baker Street, with a different "I" word attached as the third word? It's surely a ridiculous effort by some novice to the community! Maybe so, but now it has the gravitas of existing for thirty-five years (or a hundred and twenty-five on Canonical calendars), so let's dig a little deeper.

While the Irregulars were the trusted hirelings of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the one Incorrigible in the Canon is on the payroll of Dr. Watson, a supposedly inept servant girl, whom his un-named wife was trying to remove from their household. But here's the thing -- that Incorrigible, like Wiggins, had a name. 

"As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible," Watson told Sherlock Holmes, "and my wife has given her notice."

The definition of "incorrigible" is "not able to be corrected, improved, or reformed." It isn't to say that the person being spoken of is wrong in their obstinacy. And having no room for improvement is sometimes a measure of excellence. Some older, more puritanical definitions of "incorrigible" define it with "incurably depraved." Doctor Watson finding Mary Jane "incorrigible" has always sounded to me like he might have fancied her a bit -- one more reason for Mrs. No-First-Name Watson to want to give her notice.

So what is a "Montague Street Incorrigible?" 

Well, Sherlock Holmes surely had an early version of his "Baker Street irregulars" while on Montague Street? Was the incorrigible Mary Jane among them, an agent so trusted that Holmes would later plant her in the Watson household to keep a close eye on his friend, now living with a wife "not entirely to be trusted?" It might have been. The Montague Street incorrigibles are a hazy unknown,  Canonical cryptids, beings that lurk among the known quantities of the Canon working their unknown ways for unknown purposes.

And that is the society that is holding a rare semi-public induction ceremony on the evening January 14th, at the Dangling Prussian pub night. Dare you raise your hand and become one of them?


Here again is the registration link, if you have yet to sign up: 

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