Meeting people in real life is hard. I've often thought that it's easier - well, certainly more acceptable - to attempt to strike up a romantic relationship with a stranger (by 'asking them out') than to begin a friendship, at least since the days at infant school when it was OK to go up to someone and say 'will you be my friend?'
But canal cyberspace, whether in the form of forum of blogs, acts as a great big dating agency for all sorts of friendships/mateships/acquaintances.. A cahnce to suss out people's likes and dislikes and attitudes and form an opinion of whether you would like them if you met them - because despite the warnings we issue our kids, and the few high profile exceptions, my experience is that most people's online persona gives a pretty good idea of what they're like.
And if you're fellow bloggers or forumites with a defining shared interest, what could be more natural than dropping by in passing, helping one another out, having a drink. I've met so many friends that way - if I mention just a few I'm bound to leave some out, but they include Alan and Cath Fincher (Sickle and Chalice), Amy and James (Lucky Duck), Bones, Hairy Neil, Neil and Kath (Herbie)... and now Jim of Starcross.
Jim was someone I'd wanted to catch up with for a long time, purely on the basis of his blog, so we were delighted when he dropped in on Sunday, first for a cup of tea on Bakewell, and then later (after the Archers), for a few pints in the Swan. We had a lovely evening in great company and are really looking forward to catching up again some time.
Whilst on the subject, I've become rather tickled by the idea of staging a Black Country Romeo and Juliet. Just the balcony scene, really.
Rowmeo! Rowmeo! Wheer am yow Rowmeo!!
Oh yes, and reading about Jaq on nb Valerie's experience of being an American in the Midlands, I did wonder what our visiting transatlantic friends make of the delicacy on offer at the Bridge and other local eateries - Black Country Faggots... mmmm... (though I had some in the Bridge last night and they weren't that great, not a patch on the ones at the Nelson in Braunston the year before last).