I’ve just got back from Blackpool. I went to meet Jim and Helen and some of the other friends I’ve made by visiting their chatroom. Given the timing I was rather apprehensive. It was Dan’s 5 month anniversary a week ago and today it’s his 29th birthday. I’d had a hard several days before I left and I was concerned that I’d cry all the time and spoil it for everyone else; but I’d promised to go and I’d got the bus ticket, and I wasn’t going to waste the money. Besides, there’s the sea close by, that’s always a good place to go.
I woke up stupidly early on friday morning. I’d set the clock for 4:30 but my bodyclock kicked in at 3am. I decided to get up as trying to get the extra 90 minutes would have left me feeling awful and would probably been a futile exercise anyway. I left for the train station at ten to four in the morning. Left me tell you that right after mid-summer, dawn arrives at 3am and by 4am, sunrise is looming.
Anyway, you don’t need to hear the mutinae of how my journey went, save that it was long and sunny and I started another knitting project on the way and had a lovely chat with the lady across the aisle from me.
I could give you a blow-by-blow account of how it went, but there’s no need. I was met, provided with coffee and made to feel welcome. Through the afternoon more of the chatroom people arrived and were met with a full mug of something. Helen is more than a chatroom host, she is a tiny dynamo always with one eye on making sure the people around her have what they need.
Food was set out and one by one we vanished to get changed for the evening. Then things went a little wrong. You see, we had planned to have the chatroom running exactly as normal but to set up a working microphone so that there wasn’t umpteen laptops trying to run, we could have just one projecting the chatroom on to a screen and we would talk to the people in the room and they could type responses. Except that the server had a power surge and some components got fried. The owner of the website we use promised to be up all night until the problem was fixed, and bless him, he did exactly that, but it was too late for out planned party online. The next best option we had was to record what happened all evening, store it, and then broadcast it another night.
So we had a good night. Singing hits of all kinds, eating and drinking and generally putting names and ID’s to faces. I’m not going to relay everything, it would take too much time and space here, but I will say that Helen had to send me to bed when I finally fell of my chair and started dosing sitting upright on the kitchen floor against the cabinet, when I’d been awake 21 hours.
Saturday morning Jim proved that he has more talents than simply providing music for chatrooms. A full cooked breakfast for about 10 I think it was. It went down well. Then Helen kicked us out to go down the seafront or go into town, whatever we felt like doing; while she cleaned the house up and got ready for the second evening of the weekend.
Saturday night was less formal and the chatroom was up and running as it should be, so we did very much the same again, singing, eating drinking and playing jokes on people.
I haven’t laughed so much all year. I’d been concerned at how my mood would be, but it was very quickly obvious that I didn’t need to be, that these were good people. I was able to forget what has been happening and just think about the moment.
On sunday, breakfast was a muted affair: Jim was on to Lunch. One of the guys had won the quiz that is run on a weekly basis, and said that instead of the normal prize he’d prefer a cooked sunday lunch. So we got sunday lunch. Boy, did we get sunday lunch! It was gorgeous.
After lunch, the departures began. Some people had long journeys and there was the football match as well, so cars and bags were pack and people waved off. My coach wasn’t til the evening, so when the football started I whipped off down to the beach again and wandered along taking pictures and watching the birds and generally enjoying the quiet and watching the tide go out. It was far too short, even if it was 2 hours; but I had to get back, the match was over and my coach was going to go whether I was there or not.
So ended a great weekend with good people. Jim, Tink, Don, KD, Paul, Cal, Ady, DerbyDog, Matty, TechVac, thank you for making it so good.
Dan, as always, I love you. Happy birthday to you, my own personal angel and sunbeam. I hope I did you proud this weekend.