Monday, July 19, 2010

The Bob drink: a preliminary report

Thanks to all of you who turned up on Saturday night. I counted 15 in all, including me, which is more than respectable. These were Jams*, Kellie*, Francis*, Max, Sue, Jim, Darryl, Mikey E, Carl*, Keith, Daniel, Flesh and two other halves of bloggers who are of course also human beings in their own right.(Asterisks denote posts on the topic of the drink.)

I got fairly drunk. No blows were traded. No papparazzi were present. No one was exactly as I imagined them. Everyone was nice. My main regret is there were too many people for me to manage to talk to everyone properly, or indeed anyone at any length.

A preliminary statistical analysis reveals more details on the demographic.
At least 33% are resident in the London Boroughs of Lewisham or Greenwich. At least 40% are current or former Green Party members. At least 13% have a strong Danish connection. At least 26% have a strong Irish connection. At least 26% have a strong Essex connection. At least 40% are in gemisht Jewish/non-Jewish relationships. More than I care to admit had excess facial hair. Fewer than I expected drank ale as opposed to lager.

17 comments:

jams o donnell said...

An excellent night Bob Thanks for setting it up. It was great to meet you

Francis Sedgemore said...

"Fewer than I expected drank ale as opposed to lager."

Post-imperial England has relatively few things going for it, and proper beer is one of them. So to see you all quaffing alcoholic fizzy pop was the only disappointment of the evening.

"Mikey E"

Respec, innit!

Noga said...

These are all very interesting details but you are not telling us what actually happened. How did you recognize each other? What were the first words after introduction? What did you all talk about? Was anyone particularly funny or witty that he/she impressed the rest of the party? Etc etc. You know, put some flesh on the statistical bones, Bob.

bob said...

When the Lewisham bloggers used to meet up, I was often the only one drinking the yellow fizz instead of the brown nectar, and I figured there was a kind of elective affinity between the qualities of bloggers and the qualities of ale quaffers. I guess I was wrong.

bob said...

Noga, I did say "preliminary"! Recognising each other was not always easy, and I realise I'm assuming that there wasn't someone who came by and didn't work out who we were and not have the courage to approach us. It's kind of weird when you visualise someone by an avatar (see e.g. Jams' comment above) who turns out to have an actual face...

Kettle's boiling - back in a sec.

bob said...

What were the first words after introduction? What did you all talk about? Was anyone particularly funny or witty that he/she impressed the rest of the party?

The other odd thing was the lack of common denominators other than me. I have been to a few local bloggers' meeting - there the common denominator was obvious. I have been invited to but not attended a few leftist blogger conventions, if that's not too grand a word, where being left-wing was a common denominator. Here, the only one was reading my blog. I've been accused of being too ecumenical in my blogging, and that probably showed on Saturday.

So, the first thing people would say would be, "And where do you blog?" Then there'd be an answer, then the response would be generally an embarassedly baffled one. Blogging is by definition niche blogging, and if you sit in a different niche (e.g SE London, Jewish heavy metal...) you might not encounter the other niches. This made it interesting, too, though, and there were suprising parallels across the niches, such as the large number of free-lance workers facing financial insecurity because of the structural changes in the media, or having gone to similar schools in Essex (a county I've barely visited).

On who was most impressively witty, I'll pass on that, in my role of host.

On what we spoke about, the asterisked links above give some examples:


Kellie: "to get a hint of the atmosphere, have a read of Uncle Eddie’s post on The Philosophy Boys."

Carl: "The conversation went from the weird and apparent demise of the left in this country (Michael Ezra who blogs at Harry’s Place had much to say on this subject), print journalism, Jewish Heavy Metal music (which I at one point termed death klezmer), and the Centre for Social Cohesion, among many other things in between."

Other topics I recall: what citrus fruit should be chopped into dark rum and into campari, getting published on Comment is Free, Irish nationalists on the fascist side in the Spanish civil war, reasons for leaving the Green Party, having multiple web identities, and fans of Slavoj Zizek.

Noga said...

Another question that I have to ask. Bloggers have virtual personaes. It's a written medium, not a spoken one. So persons who are shy or insecure or reticent can actually come off as the very opposite. I wonder then if you had any surprises in this respect. What was your general impression, Is there a congruity between the blogger and the person behind it as far as external behaviour is concerned?

(Taking myself as an example, I know I am very shy in strange company and I can actually sit out hours of such meetings without opening my mouth even if I feel I'm going to burst. I'm pretty sure the perception I give in my blog is that of a pretty talkative person who cannot shut up.)

raincoatoptimism said...

I bloody love Slavoj Zizek, I'll be honest, he opines that Christianity is to Judaism what perversion is to law - what a guy

kellie said...

One topic was how few people read individual blogs compared to other media, even the more popular blogs, and related, the importance of not getting obsessed with nutty hateful bloggers because they also have very few readers, and related to that, how picking an enemy makes writing easier, but not in a good way.

Trying to talk sensibly without instant access to Google was of course difficult for me, but I hope that I managed. Trying to remember the conversation next morning without a back button or history cache was even harder.

Jim Jepps said...

Thanks for inviting me!

Am I included in your Danish (I used to live there) and Essex (I come from there) stats?

bob said...

Jim, you're not included in the stats, so I'm glad to have used "at least". Rigorous testing might have revealed I'm the only one who has no Danish or Essex connection. Odd.

Noga, good question. I'm quite shy in person, especially about expressing opinions. It's interesting to hear fluent writers talk, sometimes they're just as fluent and sometimes they sound almost tongue-tied. I used to have a friend who wrote and published beautiful poems, and in person the ratio "sort of" and "like" and "kind of" and "um" to the words in between made him almost completely un-listen-able-to. So, on Saturday, no-one turned out utterly tongue-tied and incoherent, but I think that most of us (certainly including me) were at least a little less articulate in voice than on screen.

Raven said...

Sounds like it was a good night. But I'm enjoying the post-discussion and loving the questions. Noga's questions are spot on, and so is Bob's analysis about solitary writing vs. social speech skills (why would they co-exist in the same person?). (btw I've done a little piece referring to this drink-up, though I didn't actually attend!)

bob said...

Raven, I'll make sure you're there if we do it again. Your post was very interesting, and I'll say something about it later.

Mira said...

Ale drinker, resident of Essex, with Essex consort. It was particularly good to catch up with Mikey and Bob, see Kellie and Daniel, with whom I'm familiar in the text, in the flesh, and hear a little about Francis the former drink-soaked trot albeit briefly. Sorry to miss Keith and the Greens, and not to have talked more with Bob. Only arrived at 11, by which time coherence had twisted its ankle. Enjoyed hearing the Essex schoolboy stories, and Kellie's reasons for blogging. Sorry to Daniel for talking too much. I know I laughed a lot but I can't remember at what. (Good journey - relatively peaceful N8 from Bank all the way - but we had to leave Jams, so it's good to know he - and Kellie, Bob and Mikey - got home OK). Pleased to have been there, nice going Bob, thanks.

Andrew Brown said...

I'm sorry to have missed it but glad that you're thinking of doing it again.

bob said...

Andrew, I felt you were there in spirit, at least among the 33% percent from LBL/LBG. Your co-ordination of the Lewisham bloggers was my main inspiration!

Mira, thanks for coming.

schalomlibertad said...

let us know when you take the tour to berlin. would love to host you!