A strange creature with a pink beard was perched on Newton’s plinth; the distinctive purple plumage on its breast marked it as the rare Geoffle, first identified by Ali Isaac. I think it recognised the dangerous glint of the raised camera… in any case, it descended from its perch with alarming agility, pouncing …wrapping its arms around me with a vice-like grip, before thrusting me towards another of its flock, named Hugh, who did likewise, whilst pointing a small device at each of the people they had herded into line.
This device evidently was some kind of instrument of torture, as each in turn gave their name and status… having, perhaps, been lulled into compliance by the judicious application of lemon drizzle cake.
There was no time to think… the shiny device was pointed in my direction and I found words tumbling from my lips unbidden….
“I’m Sue Vincent…. and I’m late…”
I was too… much later than intended, but it had been one of those mornings.
“You won’t be able to make it…” I was being watched as I hopped down the stairs. Hopped, because I couldn’t walk down them… the knee had gone a few days earlier and was still enjoying itself at the expense of what little dignity I possess. “We’re going.” The heels wouldn’t be, of course, nor the nice skirt that went with them. But the rest of me was, and as Stuart had come all the way from Sheffield for the event, so was he. In fact, we were to find that bloggers had come from as far afield as Germany and Ireland to attend.
“We’re going to be late.” Inevitable, under the circumstances. I had to spend some time with my son before we left. “We’re definitely going to be late…” I was grumbling quietly by this time. Everything seemed to be taking far too long, from getting organised for the off, to finding enough change for the car park. Even the supposedly direct train decided we needed to change trains twice. By Baker Street, things were obviously taking their toll on our sanity, but finally we were on the Tube, travelling like moles on speed through the dark tunnels beneath the city.
“… but not too late…” We emerged from the London Underground a few minutes’ walk from our destination. Would they still be there? Would we recognise anyone?
We needn’t have worried. The distinctive plumage of the Geoffle and his flock allayed all doubt, though it appeared that the females of the species were in charge….
“I was expecting short, red hair.” “How’s Ani?” and “Your son is amazing…” were the three phrases I was greeted with the most. The first I am growing for the April workshop, the second is as mad as ever and the third I could only agree with…
If I had to pick a single image from the afternoon to define what the day was like, it would be that of the hugs that began at our arrival and only ended when we left. There was genuine warmth to the welcoming smiles and introductions to faces hitherto familiar only from the monitor screen. Yet suddenly, we were already amongst old friends.
Thanks must go to Sacha, Ali, Hugh and the Geoffle, who had done a superb job of organisation. The awards were announced with panache and humour…Congratulations for the nominees and winners were real and vociferous and it was lovely that bloggers from across the world had been included…. which was Sacha’s original idea. The Geoffle may have stolen the show at one point… but all proceeded smoothly, leaving ample room for talk and laughter and the very real pleasure of getting to know each other.
There wasn’t time to really talk to everyone in any depth; there seldom is at any event. We did get to spend some time with Graeme, Dylan, Ali and Geoff and to talk with Elissa, Marjorie and others… but not enough. There is always a fear that the online presence may be completely different from the physical ‘feel’ of a person. One of the lasting impressions I will take away from the day is that here, in a world of bloggers and writers, where you could be forgiven for expecting the overlay of a professional persona on the page…what you read is real; the physical presence is the same, and many I would have recognised by their ‘voice’ alone.
While putting words on a page may allow a freedom of speech that perhaps shyness might stifle within a group of strangers, here, it seemed, there were no strangers, only friends who had not yet been able to meet, including a few I have been waiting to hug for some time.
We stayed longer than we should have, not as long as we would have liked… and we will be going again next year, to the second Annual Bloggers Bash. Maybe we’ll see you there?