There seem to be two aspects of internet socialising, not apparently complimentary. I have done poorly from the first, groups and forums, but very well from the second...Internet friends.
Years ago, when I first got on the worldly web I chanced upon two gentlemen through websites with whom I have corresponded regularly since.
They have been the mainstay of my internet friendships. Chas in California, is a classic and racing car fan and a modelmaker of constantly improving standard.A brace of Lotus Elite's in 1/24th scale by Chas and Dale. Chas's is the racing B.R.P. one in what he describes as "bilious".
Urbane, witty and constantly keen to learn from his researches and experiences.
Such good friends have we become that Chas and his wife, Ursula (Uk) spent some time with us a few years ago when undertaking a "European tour" and delightful company they were, too.
And then, a couple of years ago when spannering for my son's boss at Goodwood, I was able to grab a couple of coffees with Chas and his friend. naturally they were quickly grabbed opportunities for they wanted to see and watch everything at that unique event.Chas with a hanger-on he happened to meet at Goodwood!!
My other chum from the States is Rich from Florida. Equally well educated and liberal in outlook, but chalk to Chas's cheese. An old biker, ex Coast guard, digger driver, professional photographer and modelmaker of railway and speedboat subjects extraordinaire. A man whose philosophy is difficult to keep up with, so densely experienced is it. I have rarely met one so well-read. His signature changes for yet another witty and wise quotation every few days. His mails are charged with stream-of-conciousness writing that requires re-reading constantly.This magnificent 1/8th scale model of a Liberty aero engine as used in an American speedboat was made entirely by hand in WOOD!, by Rich Redfern "plus some pens and a parrot toy" says Rich, with typical modesty.
The point I want to make is that it is possible to make really GOOD friends without necessarily ever actually meeting them, or meeting them once or twice only. I am as fussy as they come about friendship. I have only ever had a handful of really good friends, but a fair proportion of them are at a distance, which, now I have no passport, or any desire to go through the impertinent interrogation necessary to obtain one in England these days, I will be unable to traverse.
When I was unconnected from the Internet whilst cruising on our boat, these gentlemen typed e-mails to me, dated and then printed them out after a month or so and posted them to wherever I was reachable. And so having begun the friendship, we continued it with no real help from the ether at all. And, no doubt we shall do so again, when my wife and I continue our travels.A beautiful Cooper 500 F3 car in 1/12th scale by Dale King, entirely hand made.
Of course, through first friends, others will come, Dale, a friend of Chas's in America, Frank and Tom in Canada, Ken in London, Dave and Anne Marie in Holbeach, Graham in Walsall, Dave in the Isle of Man. All through modelmaking mainly, but all through a general outlook that transcends the pettiness of forums and special interest groups, where my natural intolerance causes me problems.
To all my internet friends who have tolerated me over the years, I raise a glass and thank you for your unswerving loyalty.