Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brief Encounter

Aside

Two days ago I got an e-mail from a blogging friend to say she and her partner would be in the area and would I like to meet for coffee. My first reaction was slight panic – I had always been envious of bloggers who met up but – being off the beaten track, as we are, never imagined it would happen to me. I had grown fond of my friend and admired her work- she is a writer- so when it came to a decision between meeting her and preparing for visitors there was no contest.

MTL was encouraging, although couldn’t be persuaded to join us. Not knowing who I was meeting (I like to keep people guessing – you may have noticed) my eldest son said:

‘For God’s sake take MTL or at least make sure he knows where you are. Make sure it’s in a very public place.’

The French son said:

‘What! In the flesh!’

Visions of white slave traffic but when I tell you that my prospective visitor was Granny P – Penelope – and her partner, Beloved, you will no doubt see the funny side of it

I was early. I hadn’t had time to ‘suss the joint’ because the original venue, I discovered, was closed until September, The garden looked attractive, the weather was fair so I chose a table with an umbrella and ready access to the conservatory should it be preferred.

Although I had only seen a blog photo I recognised Penelope instantly but she didn’t see me and I followed her into the hotel.

‘Penelope!’

She turned and looked at me.

‘Are you Pat?’

We embraced in the continental way and sat in the garden where we were joined by Beloved who had been parking the car. We talked and talked and talked. Beloved was the perfect third person – never looking impatient at our utter absorption, bringing us tea and coffee and taking a photograph of us. Occasionally he would join in the conversation and I thought I detected the faintest northern accent – only noticeable to another northerner- he was originally from Liverpool, and this did nothing to change my opinion of him as a lovely man.

I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything. Penelope and I talked for almost two hours without once feeling the awkward silence that can happen between strangers, because of course we weren’t strangers. We talked about our lives – past and present and found we had some shared experiences. It was quite personal and private so forgive me if I don’t elaborate. I also find it difficult to describe Penelope but if I tell you that I felt nostalgia for the old, close friends I used to have, you may understand. Penelope also was feeling nostalgic for the Somerset countryside where she used to live. Hugging her good-bye was like hugging a younger sister and I am so glad we were able to meet. Thank you for taking the trouble Penelope and Beloved.

To get Penelope's blog click on Granny P on side bar.



25 comments:

f:lux said...

How fantastic! I mean, would you have ever got to know each other and even met up if it weren't for the internet and blogs? I suppose before people had snailmail pen pals, but they wouldn't have had such scope for encounters with like-minded souls.

Oh, and you look lovely! :)

Dandelion said...

she is a writer

A writer? A writer? The woman is a cult icon. I've just realised who she is.

The pictures look lovely, and I love your dainty feet.

R. Sherman said...

Glad it went well. My only blog meet was a success.

I'm now off to catch up on weeks of Pat's life.

Cheers, dear.

PI said...

Randall: I am sooo glad you are better.

PI said...

Dandelion: I feel I haven't done Penelope justice. The hope is that people will go to her blog and see for themselves. I found the experience quite affecting and found writing about it difficult without sounding patronising. I admire and like her enormously and found her witty and warm. I must now go and paint the toe nails of my dainty feet ready for my French grand-daughter.

Kim Ayres said...

The only blogger I've met to date, that I didn't know before I began blogging is Doc Maroon, although he remained cagey about his identity even then. He gave me a first name to call him by, but I still have no evidence it was his real one.

john.g. said...

OOhh! Mum2, that sounded lovely! xx

PI said...

Kim: see the Doc's comment under the photo.

Johng: it was son - it was. And I'm 8 stone 12lbs and NOY fat but I will lose some. Promise.

sablonneuse said...

It is amazing how you get to meet people 'virtually' via blogging and then find that they are just as you imagined in the flesh.
Not that I've come face to face with any 'bloggie friends' myself yet (except Canisfamiliaris whom I've known for years) - just going on hearsay - but one of these days I hope to see some of the people on my sidebar. The young people's blogmeets may not quite be my scene but your tete-a-tete tea sounded just right.

kenju said...

I know how fun it is to meet other bloggers, so I am really glad you had this opportunity, Pat!

PI said...

sablonneuse: having dipped my 'dainty' foot in, I would hope - certainly with Penelope - to be more adventurous next time, with a meal and wine involved,

PI said...

Judy: I'm hoping one of thews days we may meet.

Dandelion said...

Oh, I think you have, pi. And anyway, being immortalised by The Cure is surely recognition enough. Your plan worked, too, I did go to her blog and look.

Can you do Penelope Lively next?

Guyana-Gyal said...

A blog meet! How lovely. And you met Penelope [for some reason I don't think of her as GrannyP.]

There's something sweet and touching and vulnerable about the way you've written this Pat, I don't know why I think so, but it really touched me.

The internet and blogging has opened up the world for us, hasn't it?

PI said...

Dandelion:that's a relief and I'm glad you visited her site. I missed the opportunity to meet Penelope Lively some time back and at present my main interest is bloggers.

GG: I know Penelope is a loving and much loved grandma, but you are right there is nothing grannyish about her and that is a compliment. I'm glad I managed to convey how I felt. As for the internet - it's living proof that, for me, one door closes - another opens.

granny p said...

This is a beautiful description of our lovely meeting, Pat. Doubt if I can better it - and anyway can't till I'm back on the island....too much to do here. Meantime, I can relive it all here. Thanks GP/P

PS. Quite like being described as a cultural icon.....Vanity dies hard.

PI said...

GP/P Thank you. Hope all is going well and you are enjoying the rest of your trip. It's turned really cold now and the sun has gone. Sounds like a lament - reminds me of the song - 'Aint no sunshine when she's gone!':(

Moogie said...

How absolutely wonderful!!! I now need to check out her blog. I'm so glad that you had a good time. This is such a wonderful post Pat. Perfectly written.

PI said...

Thank you Moogie! You'll enjoy her blog.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Isn't it just a WONDERFUL experience to meet a fellow blogger? And you are so right. We DO know each other so it feel like we are old friends right from the moment we actually physically meet...That is exactly how I felt about both the bloggers I have met.."Ij Person"....And I understand the feeling of sharing certain things that you feel immediately comfortable sharing because of the previous blog history...People whoi don't blog don't understand. They think somhow that it must be like a chat room or xomething...where people lie about who they are....Well, maybe there are some bkoggers out there like that but so far, I haven't encountered anyone like that, especially in our dear circle...! I love that your kids were worried...Sweet, but funny, too...Obviously NOT Bloggers!
So happy for you Pat.

PI said...

Naomi: everything you say is true. I remember one of my blogging friends said her daughter is always telling her 'they are not your friends' and my blogging friend said 'How little she knows.'
The children are not bloggers but one of them encouraged me to start one and thank goodness he did!

Terri said...

I really enjoyed reading about your meeting. I've met quite a few bloggers myself and each one has been a wonderful experience. So good for you! Off to visit her blog now...
Oh....Michele sent me.

PI said...

Hi Terri! I think your first is probably quite special = don't you?

Goalie said...

Sounds like an excellent experience. Makes you (well, me) wonder what all is possible someday. Glad your meeting went well, and the scenery was beautiful!

PI said...

goalie: it was. And anything is possible.