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In "The Reichenbach Fall" (S2E3) of Sherlock, Mycroft meets with John in the Diogenes Club. In the course of their conversation, Mycroft says to John "we don't want a repeat of 1972.”

To what is he referring?

For context, here is the back-and-forth between the two:

Mycroft: Tradition, John, our traditions define us.

John: So total silence is traditional, is it? You can’t even say pass the sugar?

Mycroft: Three-quarters of the diplomatic service and half the government front bench all sharing one tea trolley, it’s for the best, believe me. We don’t want a repeat of 1972.

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I don't really remember this scene very well. But 1972 = Bloody Sunday which could be what he was referring to. – coleopterist Oct 15 '13 at 3:01
Hm, I like your suggestion but I don't see the relation between Bloody Sunday and what they're talking about. Also: ty for the edit! – stevvve Oct 15 '13 at 5:15

I am not sure that it is based on a specific event but 1972 was a very tense year in the British government:

  • 2 separate states of emergency were declared due to striking
  • Bloody Sunday
  • The British Embassy in Ireland was burned down
  • There was a very violent protest in Derry
  • Aldershot was bombed with several people killed
  • 2 British ships were sunk by Icelandic battleship
  • The Government introduced pay freezes

All of the people in the club would have had strong opinions on all of these subjects (and more). I would have been amazed if they did not discuss it there and discussions on emotive subjects can easily become shouting matches!

The only real way to stop it would be to stop anyone talking about anything so people know that they can come somewhere just to relax.

Incidentally (slightly OT), when the politics in my re-enactment group became very bitter and nasty (yes, really!) my wife and I banned anyone from discussing it in our house. Our house became a popular hang out for many of the people involved because they knew they could relax. No one had been allowed to blacken their name so they did not need to worry about explaining their side of things.

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@smci from? they copied from us. – Ankit Sharma Apr 7 '15 at 4:16
Was not plagiarised from there at all. Have a look at my profile and you can even see the reference to battle reenactment (or just look at some of my other answers). – Stefan Apr 7 '15 at 11:51

There is no further explanation in canon, making this a Noodle Incident.

The Noodle Incident is something from the past that is sometimes referred to but never explained, with the implication that it's just too ludicrous for words, and the reality that any explanation would fall short of audience expectations. Questions about it are often met with "You Don't Want To Know…"

The dramatic pause before Mycroft says "1972" seems to back this up in my opinion. The whole point is that "1972" is mysteriously alluded to and never explained. Mostly because it's funnier if it's not.

The trope is named after this Calvin and Hobbes quote:

Hobbes: What about the noodle incident?
Calvin: No one can prove I did that!

which the Calvin & Hobbes author later said he decided not to ever explain, because nothing he could ever come up with would be as outrageous as what the readers had imagined before he explained it.

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My understanding was that there was an event in 1972 which caused uproar in the Diogenes Club.

John Watson enters a room and asks for Mycroft, a number of the gentleman in the room look at him in horror. Mycroft arrives and ushers him quickly from the room. Mycroft then explains that the room has a policy of silence. He jokingly comments that there are a lot of very senior (and possibly cantankerous) people using the club and too much talking could result in disagreements and fights.

It's my interpretation that in 1972 there was a disagreement or argument in the club which was scandalous (possibly relating to Bloody Sunday but we have no way of knowing) and has gone down in the club's history. This may have been caused by talking in the silent room, however I think it's more likely it was a disagreement which got out of hand. Mycroft jokingly comments he doesn't want to cause another scandal!

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