Posts that aren’t poems in various stages of gestation are rare here now. I regret this, but I’ve written about blogging ennui too many times and I shan’t reiterate now! Pro tem, I shall try to relocate the impulse and defibrillate the process. Paddles in position. Stand back..!
Almost without exception non-blogging pals find the notion of friendship formed across the internet at best baffling and at worst distinctly creepy. Baffling because – understandably enough – there’s the traditional convention in place that a relationship must be a function of real space and real time shared. Creepy because any relationship that emerges from and is sustained by electronic social media is likely to be seen as the province of the geek, the inadequate or the sociopath.
So the ultimate test of the authenticity of the online friendships must be its translation into the conventional mode. I’ve only met a tiny minority of the bloggers with whom I would claim a relationship beyond passing acquaintance. But with the twelve I have met my experience has been without exception of the same instant rapport and ease of mutual communication that occurs between old friends at a reunion. Clearly friendship is friendship, whether the foundations have been laid through successive encounters in the flesh or close communication across the ether.
No surprises, therefore, when after a happy trudge under bright sun and in driving wind along the towpath of the Oxford Canal I met up with Julia at the tiller of her narrowboat (and home) Pangolin and her mother Anne and Anne’s partner Gerry down below. Anne and Gerry were visiting from Washington State and the plan had been for a gentle meander north up the canal from Oxford. I’d arranged to meet them somewhere near Gaydon Junction, where the Northampton arm of the canal branches off. But that wind blowing across the twists and turns of the Oxford had meant that Julia had to keep the speed down to 2 mph in order to maintain some degree of control over the 62’ length of shallow-draught boat. (Coincidentally, I’d had to negotiate the Oxford Canal in hacking wind some 25 years previously, this on a 72’ narrowboat, so I knew what she was having to manage). We moored up and headed the mile or so to the village of Gaydon where we had lunch in a large empty pub, over which, face to face, we consolidated the blogging links we’d established and maintained over several years.
It was a delight to meet all three and a further confirmation of the e-version of what might rather grandly be called the epistolary relationship. What letter writers throughout history and, in more recent times, long-distance telephoners, pen friends, radio hams and, more exotically, those inhabiting adjacent cells who have wall-tapped their way into mutual acquaintance have discovered about relationship dynamics, we bloggers have discovered too!
PS Anne, you took a number of photos. Inexplicably, I failed to do so. I’d be grateful for any pics that might illustrate our afternoon together.
As the people of the United States of America set about the process of determining who shall preside over its mighty mish-mash of socio/economic inequity, mediaeval religiosity and cultural turmoil, it does to reflect on the nature of power and choice.*
Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts.
You can have power over people as long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power.
Stripped of ethical rationalisations and philosophical pretensions, a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit.
God is on everyone's side…and in the final analysis, he is on the side with plenty of money and large armies.
What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.
*Pace my American friends, whose views represent for me everything that is rational, harmonious, enlightened and noble about their remarkable nation.