Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pen Pals

Pen Pals

The Royal Standard whips round in the wind above Buckingham Palace, signaling the presence of Her Majesty. Fighting back the childish urge to press my nose against the damp glass of the black taxi in which I am riding, I watch, unblinking, as we speed past all the old familiar landmarks, standing comfortably solid in the waxen light of an early morning sun. Out the right side window I glimpse white swans gliding lazily along the pond in St. James Park. To my left, four black lions nod a regal welcome from their perches in Trafalgar Square, while down the street to my right, Big Ben gives me a wink. Suddenly the taxi wheels round in front of my destination, The Wolseley, where I am scheduled to meet a new friend for breakfast. I step out onto the grey pavement, push open the doors and enter into the grand art deco interior. If it were not for the contemporary air of the diners inside, I could easily be Miss Lemon herself, meeting Hercule Poirot for tea. As it happens, I am to meet someone I have never even seen before.

Just as Julia Child and Avis DeVoto forged a fast friendship through letters - it was ten years before they actually met face to face - I feel I know Jeanne the moment we say hello, even though our friendship has been heretofore confined exclusively to the written word. For, unlikely as it may seem, we have become friends through this newfangled form of communication, blogging. A truly lovely lady with genuine charm, Jeanne has five blogs, a fact I find utterly exhausting even to consider, particularly since each one of them is so different from the other and each is so artfully done. We spend the next couple of hours discussing everything from books to travel, from skin care to family, laughing and finishing each other’s sentences as good friends are wont to do. After leaving The Wolseley, we wander through Hatchard's, the oldest bookshop in London and five floors of total literary enchantment, where Jeanne buys a cookbook and I, a book of ghost stories. As we say our goodbyes, I watch her leave in her gorgeous grey coat and lavender scarf, grateful for the introduction that this blog has allowed.

I would consider this wonderful meeting an anomaly were it not for my experience a couple of days later. When I let it be known that I was coming to London, I received a sweet letter from Jayne, the talented blogger from A Novice Novelist, inviting me to tea. I adore Jayne’s writing, and accepted immediately. (How could I not look forward to tea with someone who states in their blog profile that they had wanted to be a cat when they grew up?) We arranged to meet at a place we were both are curious about, a place rather mysterious that I shall write about later.
But for now, come along with me to the following Sunday......
it is a grey day and....

My cab driver is lost, something frankly unheard of in London. As a cold and rather determined mist falls, we hurtle down one street, then another in a very strange and unfamiliar part of the city. Finally I suggest he simply put me out where we are and the embarrassed, but defeated, man agrees. I ask directions of several people along the way and, after a few wonky starts, I finally arrive in the appointed cobblestoned street - late, damp, and more than a bit concerned that Jayne might have given me up as a lost cause. But then I hear my named called and turn to see a lovely red haired woman in a magical coat crossing the street to meet me with a grin on her face. And again, it is as though we had been friends for ages. We wander through Sunday markets, getting delightfully lost, and finally end up in a warm and cozy spot for lunch where we talk for hours about words and writing, subjects dear to both our hearts. We discuss the delight in working out the puzzles of plot and discover, not surprisingly, that we were both the type of child who always asked for books at Christmas. Not once is there a lull in the conversation - not once is there an awkward pause. It is almost dark when Jayne puts me on the correct underground train back to my hotel and, just as with Jeanne, I feel as if I am saying farewell to someone I have known for years.

I suppose there is a lot to lament in the current state of the culture and, Lord knows, I have occasionally participated in that lamentation with vigor. I have whinged over the feared demise of the written word and wrung my hands at the awful diminishment of the beautiful English language. But this past week gifted me with a brand new take on the subject of communication. For just as those who came before us treasured the arrival of the post, for it brought correspondence from those far away, providing a connection unique, and sometimes even deeper than face to face communion could afford, I find I wait eagerly for the next postings of my favourite blogs. Through my enjoyable encounters of this past week, I have found this modern communion to indeed be real and the friendships it affords most authentic.
We reveal ourselves in a different way when we write. Our thoughts float to the surface with a purity unsullied by shyness, free of the distraction of gesture or expression. Such is the power of words and it is delightful to discover that power untempered by the medium in which it is conveyed. I have no doubt that, had the opportunity been available when they were writing, Julia and Avis would have been bloggers extraordinaire, much like my new/old London friends Jeanne and Jayne.

Do stop by and say hello to them both.
I know you will be happy you did.

Jeanne’s blogs .....

Jayne’s blog, A Novice Novelist


  1. Adventure! I love it. What a wonderful setting in which to meet blog friends. I can't wait to read more of your adventures.

  2. Oh Pamela, you sweet thing! Again, we are right on cue as I wrote about our meeting today as well :) Thank you for your kind words, this post was magical!

    I can see jet lag is nearly a thing of the past as Pamela is truly back amongst us! I have been thinking about 84 Charring Cross Road since our is time to read it again. First things first, I plan to stop in and say hello to Jayne and then watch Julie and Julia. You have inspired me yet again!

    Best wishes for a wonderfully creative weekend Pamela!
    Hugs to Edward :)

    Jeanne xxx

    Best wishes for a wonderfully creative weekend Pamela... hugs to Edward too :)

    Jeanne xxx

  3. Hello Pamela

    So glad you were able to meet Jeanne and Jayne. Seems like you had a wonderful time and I look forward to your next story!

    Have a great week-end.

    Tracy :)

  4. Oopps ...leaving message on iPhone bit tricky..just so excited :)

  5. So pleased you had a wonderful time. Strange how disappointments often happen for a reason. Hatchards, The Wolseley. If I'd only known I would have asked you to pop in to meet our new Australian tenant !

  6. I am so glad you found treasure of the best kind in London! There is something still magical about the Westminster and central area, even to a city loathing country mouse like me and I do like seeing Big Ben.

  7. Popping over from Jeanne's blog...I LOvE Edward! He is a magnificent dog!
    Your trip had to be so much fun in meeting Jeanne! She is so interesting and elegant! How fun to have had breakfast in such a pretty place!
    Reading just bit of your blog, I can tell you are a fascinating writer....looking forward to reading more!

  8. Hatchards......mmmmm, my favourite bookshop in the world!
    Nice to meet you Pamela...I've long been a follower of Jeanne and I too marvel at her capacity to write five blogs! I share one with my darling sister and that is as much as I can cope with!
    I'm off right now to read Jayne's blog. I hope you stop by at Beauty in the Ordinary ( and meet Victoria and myself.

  9. Isn't it just ducky when one actually meets blog friends in person!! Everything seems to fall in place so easily. I've met many and must say I had such fun every time. I just stopped over to meet Jeanne and Jayne - both delightful.

  10. It is great fun meeting cyber friends isn't it? I met Elizabeth when I went to New York a couple of years ago and she took us to places we would otherwise never have seen. I have also had several bloggers from this country for coffee or afternoon tea. Friendship is what makes the world go round.

  11. Hi, Pamela, I'm dropping in from Jeanne's blog. Wonderful how you got together like the old friends you had become.

    I totally fell in love with your blog. Thanks for sharing your St. James Park trip. Have a great weekend!

  12. There are only a few, very few, childish urges one should not indulge. Please don't allow yourself to forget that childish sense of wonder, of delight, of expectation, of mystery, of excitement. Pressing one's nose against the auto window is one of the safest indulgences and makes the memory all the sweeter and more precious.

  13. How very wonderful! And I so loved reading your words, Pamela. In all the years I've been on the internet, I've met in person only one woman whom I met online -for a very few precious moments in a bookstore in her city. Yet, I feel closer to her and to the many people I've never met than I do to those in my offline life. You have expressed beautifully what so many of us feel.

  14. Gosh your own narratives...stories told and shared and those that are waiting to arrive...quite magical..I'm so glad you had a lovely time xxx
    Hugs Lynnxx

  15. Hi, I've recently found your blog and it's such a lovely read. I'll be catching up on your past posts.

  16. Next time you visit London, or Oxford, or the Cotswolds, I hope that we can meet up!

    I've met at least a dozen blog friends in person, and it has never been a disappointment. I truly believe that if I'm drawn to someone's writing then I will like them in "real-life" as well. Truth is, I feel like I have much more in common with blog friends than many of the people I see daily.

    I'm so glad that these visits enriched your trip to London! I hope your physical equilibrium is restored soon. xx

  17. Dear Pamela, I have ordered 84 Charing Cross Road on DVD since reading your last post. I haven't seen it for years and my memory is so shocking for films I shall enjoy it like the first time.

    How lovely to meet Jeanne and Jayne. I must visit Jayne's blog.

    I'm dying to know where the cobbled street is, but I think I know already. Look forward to hearing more about your trip. Have a great weekend and give Edward a kiss from me xx

  18. Ted and I wondered what adventures you had in London. I have visited your links and have found new voices and venues to enjoy.

    Next time you should venture North!

  19. Thank you for taking us along for the ride, Pamela, and for your gracious posting of friends found in this modern medium.

    I do so hope to visit London and Hatchard's some day. In fact, I think I'll add another month to my calendar and call it "Some Day".

  20. How much fun to meet your blog buddies in London! Thanks for connecting me with Jeanne too. It sounds like you had a delightful time. I’m amazed that your cab driver got lost – I hope he stopped the meter. Was it a black cab? Black cab drivers have to pass a rigorous test called the Knowledge.

  21. it's wonderful to meet blogging friends in really life, so glad you had such a nice time with both Jeanne and Jayne

  22. Thank you for introducing me to both of these lovely ladies and their wonderful blogs. I was chuckling at some of Jayne's procrastination posts...and Jeanne is amazing! I don't know how she manages all but her blogs are delightful. What fun that you were able to meet both.
    I too have always thought that when I write I am most myself, you described that feeling hinderances interfering with authenticity...such freedom is precious to me.
    Hope you are feeling back to your beautiful self again...
    xo J~

    btw- There is another blogger extraordinaire,Geri...who also writes five blogs, all fabulous, you'd love them as they focus on writing, history and art. Her Bronte blog is one of my must reads.

  23. Oh Pamela, for what ever reason your post brought tears to my eyes!
    I so agree with your sentiments about writing, friendships forged across oceans or to the next small town through blogging.
    I have experienced it myself and delight in it! These are friendships based on shared passions, the experiences of life and interests. Wonderful!
    Perhaps the best of both worlds....
    To you my blog friend and your pen pals! To the magic of friendship!
    And if you ever will be up here, my door is open!

  24. I am so glad to hear you had such a wonderful time in London! The opportunity to meet new/old friends in such amazing places must have made the trip all the more memorable.

    "I find I wait eagerly for the next postings of my favourite blogs..." I feel this way about YOUR blog. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us. :)

    ps. My word verification was "wreaddig" kinda cute for a blog we read and dig :)

  25. Pamela, your blog is one of only a few that I follow and I love that you lead me to new places and, in your writing, touch on my heart strings when it comes to literature, art and life. You have given me hope that I, too, will write a blog. One would be enough for the meantime, until I get my ideas in order and take the leap so many others have taken, I will continue to enjoy all that you and your friends have to offer. Thank you for the inspiration.

  26. I am really loving the camaraderie of the blog world and look forward to meeting some of the people I have gotten to know through our shared interests and passions. It is a treasure, isn't it. Great you got to go to that lovely city to meet a new friend. Love your dog!!!

  27. it sounds like you had a super time- and I so want to meet Jayne and I'm afraid we don't seem to do very well at finding time. hopefully one day!

  28. Aw Pamela, thank you so much for your kind words about my writing, and about me! Wasn't it so much fun?! I'm ever so glad we met but am amazed how quickly the day sped away with us!

    Cheers to being new/old friends. :)


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