Real Life

I took a conscious decision to keep away from the computer screen over the holiday period. So I have enjoyed reading newspapers in their print edition without wondering whether or not the comment articles merited a mention on the blog. When an item prompted the need for comment I raised my views to my dad over a cup of tea rather than to the world over the web.

Of course the main reason for keeping away from the blog for a while was that every hour spent browsing the web is time that could be spent with family or friends. (Or to be honest the box set collection of every episode of The Office and the very funny new Peter Kay DVD).

Also back in Lancashire I tend to slip back into old ways very easily. I eat and drink about three times as much as I do anywhere else in the world and not just at Christmas. I talk more about football than politics, watch more comedy than read political comment and my wife could give you a lengthy list of more unsavoury habits that return when I am back on what the southerners among you would call “my manor”.

But yesterday I returned to blog territory, albeit in the real world. I popped down the motorway to Manchester to meet up with the author of my favourite weblog – Norman Geras.

It was a pleasure to meet Norman after months of email and blog communication and we covered a fair amount of ground in the enjoyable couple of hours we spent talking, including not surprisingly some discussion of weblogging.

It was also a rare treat to meet up with a socialist and not have an argument about Iraq. We agreed that the blogs probably overemphasise the popularity of the position we share over that issue. Its quite easy to find pro-intervention left-wing opinion on blogs and much harder to locate supporters of such a position in printed media or anywhere else for that matter.

Of course it is far more enjoyable to talk over a drink with someone than to exchange views via email or on a weblog although blogs do have the important ability to create a conversation that has no geographical limits.

After I got back from Manchester, via an excellent Pantomime production of Cinderella at the Opera House (which I thoroughly recommend if you have young kids and live in the North West) I was thinking that we at Harry’s Place should certainly have another get-together of bloggers and readers in 2004.

I’m not sure that the way we did it last time, a boozy meet-up in the smoky top room of a pub, is necessarily the best way to meet and enjoy the company of people you spend time with in discussion online.

Perhaps we could be a little more serious and have a political day event sometime with some speakers, open discussion and than a social element in the evening? Perhaps we could all chip-in and hire a restaurant for a night? Perhaps you have a better idea?

There’s no rush and it is certainly not something that is going to happen early in the year but if you have any ideas for our next ‘real life’ event then feel free to leave them in the usual place.

Happy New Year to all of you and all the best for 2004.