It was one of those rare, perfect moments in life, when something is
timed so well that you truly can't believe it. I was at the reception desk of my hotel to pay the bill for the second of the two nights I was
spending in London. I began talking to the receptionist, a charming young Australian who, I later discovered, was named Daisy. Suddenly I noticed what the book was that Daisy had put down in order to deal with me: a certain The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Then, my bill having been settled, she asked me what I was in London for - so I had the perfect cue to tell her about my life as a Researcher for this here real-life Guide, and how I was in London to attend an h2g2 meet. She seemed genuinely fascinated, and we had an chat about other great books we'd read.
As she hadn't yet finished her first Hitchhiker book, let alone looked at h2g2, I thought it a bit premature to invite Daisy along to the meet: but when I told the story later, everyone said that I should have done so. h2g2 is that sort of crowd: welcoming and inclusive. One thing that cropped up in conversations during the meet was how many of us had first come to this site during particularly difficult times in our lives: in my case, after a career that had taken over my whole existence for the previous ten years had abruptly ended. When you consider the sort of situations that Arthur Dent ends up in throughout the Hitchhiker canon of stories, it's no wonder that people going through turbulent times can identify strongly with a character finding himself in the strangest of situations: his old place in the universe suddenly and shockingly destroyed, adrift in
corners of the galaxy where it's not easy to find a nice cup of tea. Daisy, just about as far away from home as she could possibly have been without actually leaving the planet, was perfectly placed to relate to
Anyway, the meet was a lot of fun. It was great to see some old friends and greet some new people, including some who'd travelled
impressively long distances to be with the h2g2 family. Beer was drunk, and so were some of us. Reefgirl's cookies were delicious. My team managed second place in the quiz - thanks for the classy prize badges, Paully and Jimster! And I
greatly admired Natalie's distinctive retro
fashion sense - truly, she looks as if she's just stepped out of one of
those wonderful Avengers re-runs on BBC Four.
I ended up with a spare h2g2 badge. I gave it to Daisy. I hope she'll
take a look at our site... and then, maybe, come to the next h2g2 London