The social value of blogging has been emphasised yet again on this holiday. A rendezvous in Scotland with two other bloggers; one, Caroline, for the fourth time; the other for only the first time, but I hope not the last. And I finally met another friend in the flesh who has hitherto been only an 'email friend'. She has not yet tried her hand at blogging, but she has been following my posted-up adventures for over a year. We enjoyed a day out and an evening chat over tea and biscuits. The shared impression is that an awful lot of one's real personality gets expressed in blog posts, at least in the highly personal ones that we do. Meeting up merely confirms what the words and pictures have suggested. I can't help thinking that if you want to reveal your personality in depth, for people to consider seriously, then blogging will do it better than Facebook, and certainly much better than Twitter possibly can.
I have no idea whether the Lucy Melford brand has now become a confirmed market leader north of the Border, but I am at least half-confident that I will be let into Scotland again in 2014! Meanwhile, there is every reason to feel satisfied with my general public reception wherever I go. So while driving southwards towards England and the Lake District - where I am now ensconced, by the way - I found myself mulling over the notion of making contact with certain friends I used to know, on the basis that if I am natural and credible as Lucy Melford, then I should have no qualms about doing the normal adult thing and at least sending them an email. I can find them on LinkedIn. I have in mind friends I knew in another part of Sussex in the 1990s, but have lost touch with because we went off in different directions, pursuing fresh relationships or interests, or by literally moving home.
In theory these friendships can be revived at any time. But now with a twist: it wouldn't be J--- getting in touch, but Lucy. Mmmmm. I have two people especially in mind, but there are some others too. What I'm saying is that I could, if so inclined, make contact with at least half a dozen people, and see what happens.
Well, I pondered this project at some length. And decided that I was risking pain and hurt for a very, very slim chance of extending my friend base. It had to be faced. The most likely reaction would be a steel curtain coming down and silence. Or if I had a verbal response, it would be on these lines:
Sorry, I don't want to know. I don't want your explanations, and I don't want to see you. Please stay away.
I can imagine a less curt dismissal:
I am capable of taking a sophisticated position on what has happened to you, but, when all is said and done, the friend I knew was J---, and you are now someone else, a stranger I don't know, who won't look or sound like J---. I am sure you really do make a very convincing woman, and have an amazing story to tell, but what is the point of our meeting? We might hit it off beautifully. But I think it's more likely that I will feel disturbed and distressed, especially if J--- has been totally submerged by Lucy. I don't want to confuse or destroy a good memory. And if I did persuade myself that I should meet you, would it be from motives of genuine friendliness, or because I was indulging a salacious curiosity? It's awkward. It's impossible. I don't want to be a cheap voyeur, or find that I'm full of prejudice. I'm sorry to say no, but I think it's really best if we don't see each other.
Even if the initial reaction was positive, and we did meet, what then? After two hours of catch-up, what would be there to take forward? How much hard work would the old friend be letting themselves in for? How do they explain or interpret our meeting for others in their life? What control would I have over ongoing discussions of our meeting, or the explosive dissemination of the news that, guess what, J--- was now Lucy? Which friend of a friend would make a point of looking me up on the Internet with mischievous or malignant intent? How soon would the original friend, the one I met, decide that I was an embarrassment or just too much trouble? So that there would in the end be nothing to show for my efforts except unwanted and uncontrolled exposure - the direct opposite of what I know my blog achieves.
No, it's a bad idea. Let the past go.