Monday night found me washed up in London with time on my hands. This very rarely happens, so I was determined to use the time well: notwithstanding inasmuch as which I went to a literary gathering in a room above a pub in Soho, an event put on by ‘Caught By The River‘, a collective of writers, musicians, riverside romantics, anglers and bar-room philosophers.
But first, some urban landscape.
As some of you know, the offices of Your Favourite Weekly Professional Etcetera are to be found behind Kings Cross Station, where we editors devote ourselves to
saving young ladies from sin furthering scientific understanding. When our orifice first came here, more than a decade ago, the area was the pits. The pavements and alleys were strewn with used needles and condoms; most of the area consisted of boarded-up warehouses; one was often propositioned on the way to the station after dark. Not nice. The past several years, though, have seen a transformation. The streets have been cleaned up, the warehouses restored and occupied, and, finally, after many years of work, the area in front of Kings Cross Station itself has been restored to create this magnificent plaza (pictured above) which – as I can attest – is a wonderful relief after the claustrophobia of a rush-hour tube.
It’s not quite finished – a few nooks and corners remain to be spruced up – but Monday morning saw commuters wandering around this wonderful space in a happy daze, with workmen looking on, justifiably pleased with themselves.
But I digress.
How did I come to be attending what some might say was an obscure literary soiree? It started when a correspondent, the well-known science author, Mr B. C. of Swindon, inducted me into an invitation-only Facebook group of literary types: writers in various states of publication, publishers and agents. (I have since drawn fellow Occam’s Typist Professor S. C. of Omaha into the club.) As with many online communities, we share our successes, commiserate one another on our setbacks, swap tips and advice. But we rarely meet one another in person.
Through this group I got to know the work of author Neil Ansell, and bought and enjoyed his memoir Deer Island (which I reviewed here). So, when Neil advertised – through our group – that he’d be reading from his book at the above-mentioned gathering, I was keen to attend. Thus it was that I finally met Neil in person, as well as another member of our little band, and learned about some other authors associated with ‘Caught By The River’ I might never have encountered otherwise.
It struck me that whatever the faults of teh interwebs, and there are many, I’ve met many of the people I count my best and closest friends through blogs, facebook and even twitter. There are some who say that a life lived largely online is a pale simulacrum of the real thing, and, to some extent, they’d be right. But if it weren’t for the web, there are many experiences in meatspace – enriching, profitable experiences – I’d have completely missed; many wonderful people whom I’d have passed as ships in the fogbound night.