Sunday, 12 December 2010


When I was 18 my best friend went off to the other side of the world for a year. She left quite a gap in my life which I tried to fill by writing long, long letters to her. Over time, in my letters, I became the interesting, entertaining, confident young woman I really wasn't. She got the edited highlights without the embarrassing faux-pas, the witty comments without the dull silences.

When eventually she returned, I realised that while she had gained maturity through experience, I had only achieved lyricism through letters; it was almost inevitable that we'd struggle to connect in person. I couldn't help but feel I'd disappointed her and that feeling has come back to visit me more than once since then.

So, when my beloved mentioned the idea of a few bloggers getting together for a pre-christmas meet, my outwardly positive response was tinged with more than a little trepidation.

As the plans for #yuleblog began to take shape, and a date and venue were agreed, the guest-list waxed and waned. I wondered if others were like me, intrigued by the prospect of meeting the very finest of bloggers, but scared of the reality.

Finally the day dawned. I'd spent a whole week planning what to wear, but that didn't stop the last minute faffing - which boots? Hair up or down? One bracelet or three? Philip stoically calmed my rising anxiety with a bacon sandwich and then we set off for the trip into town.

As we sat sipping cider and waiting for them to arrive, I looked around at the old black-and-white photographs lining the walls of the French House bar. Pictures of people who'd been known and loved in the 1930s and 40s, their confident smiles and knowing eyes gazing down as we sat there in nervous anticipation.
We both looked up expectantly each time the door opened - but we'd barely been there five minutes when they arrived and then, almost immediately, I knew it would be alright.

Many of you will already know Bag Lady  and Mr London Street from their blogs and admire their writing. It would be impossible for me to describe them in a way that does more justice than their own words - if you haven't come across them before, please go and read their blogs and soak up the mixture of reflection and memory, of acute observation and life-affirming love, all underlined by a mix of caustic wit and smut, then you might get an idea of what I'd want to write. All I can say here is that they were all the good bits of all their best posts only better.

They were simply just lovely.

As lunchtime wore on into evening, we drank, we shared food, we chatted without awkwardness or embarrassment. We admired the tiny wine glasses, waxed lyrical over the soft-shelled crab and guffawed at the presentation of the spicy pork and fennel polpette. We talked about our writing, filled in some of the gaps in our individual life histories, and got to know each other a little better. When lunch was done, we made our way to an overcrowded Soho bar and carried on. Eventually, some nine hours later, when Philip could tell that I was flagging, we agreed to call it a day and set off home, but even then it felt like we should have gone on for longer.

This morning, I realised that if I'd given in to all my egotistical worrying about what I wore, how I looked, and what they might think of me, I might have ducked out of meeting them. I wouldn't only have missed a lovely day out in London, I'd have passed up the chance of more days like that in the years ahead - and that would have been a big mistake.


Baglady said...

Just wonderful. Such an amazing day but the most important thing was the fact that it was so easy and comfortable to talk. Loved it. I feel I can't write a comment worthy of the day.

Jackie said...

Sounds like an excellent experience. I love the part about your letter writing in the past, that is a keen observation.

Starlight said...

Lovely blog post. I understand you were nervous and you worried which is, in my opinion, something normal.
I'm glad you had a wonderful time, I wish that someday I could spend a nice day with you guys since you all are very talented writers and I love reading your blogs.

Happy Frog and I said...

I am so glad you all had such a good time. I love the way you captured the day and how you felt leading up to it.

caterpillar said...

wow....seems like you guys had an amazing time....thats real nice...

Liz said...

Glad you went and all had such a good time. Sounds like fun.

Valley Girl said...

"Over time, in my letters, I became the interesting, entertaining, confident young woman I really wasn't."
Oh, how I relate to that. Sounds like a day for keeps.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon, I can empathise entirely with what you write here. The Blogosphere is such a strange medium and one cannot help but create personas of fellow bloggers which may or may not match the reality. I am so pleased that the day was successful since now the virtual and the real can work together to make an even more satisfying whole.

Mr London Street said...

Yesterday was one of my favourite days this year. My track record of befriending bloggers when I meet them in person is a bit patchy, but I just knew that things would be different this time. It was an absolutely lovely day and my only regret is that it didn't last longer, but then that just means that hopefully we will all want there to be a next time nice and soon.

I completely understand the insecurities you had in the run-up to the day, better than you might think, and I'm so pleased you overcame them. I couldn't even begin to pick out my favourite moment from the day (though the scatological polpette might be the leading contender) but what you've written here has prompted lots of big smiles of recognition from me.

Philip said...

I'm just smiling. Nice day x 10. Will do similar post of my own in next few days. Be interesting to compare.

Pat said...

It was good that you weren't alone. My blog meets were two to one - me being the one but I'm happy to say that I wouldn't have missed them for the world. And there was no mention of white slave trade:)

Bth said...

How lovely!

Dani'sfadingmargins said...

Haha...I know what you mean. I'm pretty sure I'm much more exciting in print than in person. If anyone who ever liked my blog met me they might be like, "Oh, are you all? Ho hum."
Fortunately, being a fledgling blogger, I haven't had time to worry about that yet.

otherworldlyone said...

It sounds like the perfect blogger meeting. Though, after reading this, I find myself wondering how I'll fare being a non-couple. :)

Lovely writing, Sharon.

Sensible Footwear said...

Very lovely that you all had such a great time.

Jennifer said...

Lovely post. I, too, often have moments of worry where I have either convinced myself not to attend an otherwise wonderful event, or have gotten dangerously close to it.

By the way, I was directed here by way of Mr. London Street. His writing is definitely something to be admired in my opinion. Your blog seems really interesting. I plan on coming back some more.

Sharon Longworth said...

Baglady - all your comments on the day itself were more than worthy!

Jackie - thank you. It's amazing what hindsight can tell you about long ago experiences.

Starlight - I was so pleased they weren't just great bloggers but great people too.

Happy Frog - it was more than a bit nerve wracking leading it up to it - but well worth the nerves.

Sharon Longworth said...

Caterpillar - yep 'amazing' just about sums it up

Liz - It was fun - I'd like to think that someday we might repeat it with our Canadian blogging buddy?

Valley Girl - I'm flattered that you found something in my writing to relate to - thank you.

Edith - hello, thank you for stopping by the blog and commenting - it's great to welcome a new reader. I wonder if you have met up with any bloggers?

Sharon Longworth said...

MLS - I think you know by now how pleased I am that I overcame my worries.

Philip - I like it when you smile!

Pat - it's amazing how many people I spoke to before the day who looked at me slightly askance and said 'you're going to meet people you only know from the Internet - be careful!' I'm enormously glad that no care was needed at all.

Bth - thank you.

Sharon Longworth said...

Dani - if you can write about it, then it must be part of you - so when the time comes for you to meet some other bloggers, jump at it!

OWO - you know how much we're all looking forward to seeing you in the spring - there won't be any couply nonsense - just a lovely time.

Sensible Footwear - thank you.

Jennifer - thank you for reading and leaving such a nice comment. I totally agree with your views on MLS - and he's as good in person as he is in print. I do hope you'll stop by again.

Penny Dreadful said...

Hi Sharon, I came here via Baglady but I should have been reading you before now. Why are there so many good blogs out there? It makes it so hard to keep up.

I was supposed to come along too (even though I'm not really a proper writer like you all are ) but had double booked. I was really disappointed but reading about what a great time you all had I am now kind of relieved - it would have been awful if I'd come along and been the awkward fly in the ointment! Glad you all had a great time together :)

Lady Jennie said...

Hi Sharon,

I have seen your blog on MLS' sidebar forever (and love the title) but never realized you were Philip's Sharon. (Or perhaps he's your Philip). Anyway, it's nice to finally come over and read you. I'll pop by again.

PS I have a half-formed idea about your year of lyrical letter-writing and what that actually signifies in real life, but the idea won't crawl out of my brain, so it must not be earth-shattering.

bbonnieblue said...

so nice to be a part of your nice to know how many others get jittery about meeting new people much less other bloggers.. just very nice reading.

Blogging Her Mind Away said...

This is one of my new favorite blogs to check in on! Your witty writing style keeps me reading with a smile!

I am happy for you that you decided to join the bloggers and have a fantastic time out in London!