Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring Meeting Report

The annual spring meeting of the Amateur Mendicant Society of Detroit was held May 23, 2010 amidst the bucolic surroundings of the private Grosse Pointe Hunt Club.

The society’s esteemed Gasogene John Kramb convened the Sunday lunch session of the society at 1:14 p.m. and welcomed the 52 members and guests.

Among the new attendees was John Sherwood, the dramatic agent for the famed Sherlock Holmes weekends at the Victorian Villa Inn, located in Union City, Mich.

The pre-meal miscellany included a display of AMS wearables (polo shirts and sweatshirts) available from Gloria Longueuil and news of the recuperation of member Cary Black, following his surgery. Get well soon, Cary!

During an excellent repast selected from a menu listing chicken and wild mushroom crepes, seared salmon or tender chicken piccata, Tidewaiter Walter Young arranged for the usual toasts – to The Woman (by Jim O’Keefe), Watson’s Second Wife (by Ray Mandziuk), Mrs. Hudson (Longueuil) and to Sherlock’s smarter brother, Mycroft Holmes (by Les Brudne).

The chair also recognized guest Sherwood, who offered up an additional poetic toast to Mary Morstan Watson, thereby underscoring his role as Holmes’ dramatic agent, at least when it comes to the Victorian Villa and other notable venues.

Following the gustatory portion of the meeting, Dr. David Mohan served up his investigation into one of the deeper mysteries of the assigned reading, “The Mazarin Stone,” one of the most troubling adventures in the Canon, in part because of its third-person narrative and its mash-up of previously-used Canonical gimmicks.

Nonetheless, the stalwart Dr. Mohan was able to use the clues in the story to identify the true yellow gemstone that was the real basis for the Mazarin – the actual Sancy Diamond.

This stone was first recorded in the possession of the French ambassador to Turkey in 1570 after which it wound its way through the hands of a couple of King Henrys, was pawned to raise money for at least one war, was swallowed by a faithful servant and recovered during a rather grisly autopsy, only to end up in the hands of William Waldorf Astor and the Louvre Museum.

Next, Commissionaire Chris Music administered a diabolical quiz on “The Mazarin Stone,” featuring 10 questions on major and extremely minor details in the story. After a tie-breaker question, Terri Roth earned the prize of an English crown refrigerator magnet and Patience Nauta scored the magnet emblazoned with the Union Jack.

Continuing the Mazarin theme, Phil Jones briefly illuminated the many pastiches that have been written, using characters and events from this meeting’s assigned reading.

The raffle prize, donated by Jones, was the book-length pastiche “Sherlock Holmes & the Veiled Detective,” penned by David Stuart Davies. This rare tome was taken home by Donna Garant.

As the meeting came to a close, the commissionaire reminded those in attendance that the next meeting of the Mendicants would be in October at a location to be determined soon.

Assisted by Dr. Mohan, Anne Musial then led the assembled multitude in the singing of the traditional “God Save the Queen” and Tantalus Robert Musial closed the ceremony with a dramatic reading of “A Long Evening with Holmes.”

Respectfully submitted,

R. Musial, AMS Tantalus