Monday, November 22, 2004
Here I Am In A Roomful Of Strangers
A couple of days ago, I got a call on the mobile. It was one of those frantic Friday-evening SOS calls, when you suddenly realise it's the weekend and you've nada on your dance card, and where's the Queertown kudos in that, my shallow Soho socialite? Never mind though, when everyone else has stood you up, there's always Stranger. He'll never let you down, and he's anyone's for a Stella.
Sadly I had to tell my desperate friend that I couldn’t meet up, as I was on my way to not one of my favourite pubs for an appointment with a group of people I'd never even met, or spoken to, and, what's more, I didn't have even the slightest notion of what any of them looked like (although I was led to believe that one of them might have been wearing a pointy blue hat).
The "oh-yeah?" tone of her voice, and the fact she hung up in a huff, makes me think she didn't believe me, or at the very least thought I was taking the piss. Either that, or she was convinced I was on my way to a secret speed-dating session, and what did my mother always say about talking to strangers anyway?
For when you think about it, meeting up with people you think you know well, solely through what they choose to reveal of themselves on-line, isn't possibly the most normal thing to do, and, quite frankly, it's a little scary too. The only other time I turned up at one of these blogging get-togethers, I chickened out at the last minute, and high-tailed it back to the comparative safety of Old Compton Street and last orders.
So a million-and-one mwah-mwahs to everyone who made a Stranger feel not like a stranger, and relieved me of my blogmeet virginity in such a delightful and alcoholic way last Friday night. The only disappointment was that there wasn't some sort of quiz. I don't think anyone realised quite how much revision I'd put in, and how many individual archives I'd read in the days before, just so I wouldn't be caught out and put my size-nines in it with the wrong person. All that hard work to impress, and not even a starter for ten!
Of course, while I didn't know what my fellow webloggers looked like, they were in the same situation when it came to me (with the added disadvantage that I am invisible, after all). And later on, when I had finally achieved some kind of opacity, it was remarked that certain people had previously always envisaged me as being a Tom Baker sort of character, all long scarf and Fedora.
I'm not sure how to take that one. Did they see me as a fine actor and writer, a wit and raconteur, a bon viveur bringing a fin-de-siècle elegance to the proceedings? Or did they imagine me as some thousand-year-old geezer, bonkers as a bandersnatch, with a dodgy line in cyber-chums, and a history of being heroically sozzled in Soho pubs?
Please don’t answer that one.