Sunday, October 02, 2005

Shyness Is Nice, And Shyness Can Stop You From Doing All The Things In Life You’d Like To 

It’s a rum business when you start liking people you’ve never even met.
Harmless enough in moderation I suppose, but it’s only a stone’s throw from fandom, which in turn is a mere slippery slope away from court injunctions and restraining orders.

One minute it’s “Hi, we’ve never met but I really enjoy your stuff,” and before anyone can say Intruder Alert you’ve descended into “Yeah, I’m a big fan actually. Huge.” No wonder people look at you funny. You’re flat out on your back on a patch of black ice but the words won’t stop coming out of your big stupid mouth. “Did you know I rent a room across the road from you? Very nice area. I love what you’ve done with your bathroom. Blue is so your colour. By the way, don’t forget your car tax expires this month.”

A little while ago, me and Girlfriend went to the London Blogmeet and I got the chance to meet a whole bunch of people who I’d never met before but already kind of liked. It was really good.
If my own experience was anything to go by, this is what happens: you sidle up to somebody and say “Hello, my name’s Tim” – and this bit is key – you say the name of your blog immediately. Otherwise there’ll be an agonising silence while they think “Tim? Do I know a Tim? Tiny Tim? Timmy Mallett? Tim Henman? Who was that actor who played James Herriot?”
Once the penny drops – ah! A Free Man In Preston – you tell them how great it is to meet them at last. You need to get this in quickly as well, to spare them the embarrassment of accidentally saying out loud “Gosh, I thought you’d be much better looking.”
You then make a point of telling them that although you like their blog very much, you don’t read it obsessively or in any way that could be misconstrued as creepy.
“I haven’t read your stuff for weeks actually! That’s how not remotely creepy I am! Go on – ask me about something you’ve done recently. I won’t be able to answer. I know nothing about you at all, come to think of it. No, honestly - ask me, ask me, ask me!”

In no particular order, I spent a jolly afternoon bothering various bloggers in this fashion.
It was lovely to say hello to A Brazen Hussy In Paris, who of course was neither brazen nor hussy like. She recited back to me one of the comments I’d once left at hers that she liked, which I thought was very decent of her. She also said that she liked Charlotte, Bill Surname’s loyal PA. We chatted about this and that, although on reflection I think it might have been more of an inquisition on my part. I can’t remember anything that I said to her of any particular consequence, as I can’t with any other blogger I met that day, but it was really good to say “Hi” nonetheless.

I talked about stock photography with Andre, because that’s something I’ve always wanted to get into but never have, while he actually gets on with it and does it. I thought he was really great - just like in his blog, only more so - and could happily talk Smiths B-sides with him any time he likes. He talked about himself a lot - come on, we wouldn’t want him any other way, would we? - but he also asked me and Girlfriend about various stuff going on in our lives and I thought he was thoroughly charming.

Unfortunately Jonny B, everybody’s favourite Norfolk blogger, couldn’t make it due to a last minute bowling emergency. Instead, he sent one of his sub-editors to stand in for him, a nice enough youngster despite a tendency to prod you in the chest to emphasise whatever point he was making at the time. He’d obviously been instructed to play up the “wouldn’t say boo to a goose” personality trait, and I thought the whole business with the table was rather unconvincing, but it was good to meet somebody from the I Don’t Believe It franchise even if it couldn’t be JB. Just like his employer’s blog, he was infuriatingly popular.
I told him that The Proclaimers sing in a similar way to those annoying people who think it’s necessary to shout at the deaf. He gave me a look and wandered off to talk to someone else.

I talked to Anxious, Greavsie, Tilesey and Celeste, and Jamesyboy - who were all very nice, naturally - about the loneliness of the long distance runner; Bombardier; erm, can’t remember; sorry, still can’t remember; and nope, it’s completely gone respectively. I was thoroughly impressed by Merialc’s courage to turn up on her own in spite of not knowing anybody and being very nervous (apparently) about it. I thought she was lovely.

I asked Laura about property development - hooray! - and thought she was ever so nice: good fun and much more up and together than I’d expected, somehow. Don’t know why. Perhaps it’s a post-rat race thing.

Anna was very nice. I can’t explain why but I’ve always been slightly scared of her. But she wasn’t scary at all. She had a big smile and a cheeky twinkle in her eyes. Her fella was a very charming chap, and I enjoyed having a good look - as many others did during the course of the day - at his musical wafer.

I talked about Joni Mitchell and other music stuff with Paranoid Prom Queen and Bonobo, who were both really friendly and very easy to talk to. I liked them a lot.

I talked to Wibble and thought he was wonderful. Amazingly honest and frank, and you know, just somebody who you could happily imagine hanging out with. And him and Andre organised the whole shebang, so big respect where it’s due to both of them.

Obviously there were others, but my memory is fading. No offence intended in the likely event that I’ve forgotten you. I would have liked to talk more with Vaughan and Troubled Diva because I’ve read their stuff since and like it, although not in a creepy stalker kind of way. Ahem.

As the evening progressed, we did the ‘levitating’ somebody in a chair thing - me, Girlfriend, Jonny B’s sub-editor and Laura lifted Lisa Badger if I recall correctly. And in the interests of revisionism, we apparently didn’t play I Have Never…

The most bizarre thing - for me, anyway - was meeting Maria, who entered the pub hotfoot from Mexico.
“Mexico?” everybody thought, wondering if perhaps they’d misheard, and she’d actually said something that just sounds like Mexico. Like Manchester, say, or possibly even Nottingham.
“Yes, Mexico,” she smiled. “But I’m not just here for the blogmeet. I’m here to meet my lover as well.” She said she was hoping to see some of London during her week long stay. That is, if she ever got chance to leave the hotel room.
“Oooh,” everybody winced quietly, “that’s got to hurt.” Didn’t they?
She told Girlfriend the whole trip had been paid for by her husband. It’s certainly not how we do things in Preston. Again, she was really nice.

Afterwards, our generous hosts Lisa and husband TA took us to a miniature Japanese restaurant in Leicester Square, where it’s considered courteous to bang your head on everything. It was really good of Ms. Badger, TA and assorted Australian housemates to put us up for the weekend and great to see them again. They’ll be welcome here anytime they like.
Other highlights of the weekend were seeing Alison Lapper Pregnant, and a swift whizz around the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday morning.

With hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t too smart expecting my poor old Toyota Nosebleed to transport us to central London and back without throwing a hissy fit. I worry that its days are numbered. Next time we go to a blogmeet, we’ll travel by Concorde.

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