I started blogging, um.....let's see.....blimey, over four years ago. I'd just started yet another contract in the frozen wastes of north-east England and was bored shitless living in a basic (if pretty) flat on the coast south of Middlesborough. As I was only going to be there for 6 months I had no internet, no phone, no satellite/cable telly, no central heating and a single 14" TV that the other occupant utilised for continual watching of Coronation Street.
So I did what any normal human would have done - I read an entire broadsheet newspaper every evening over a pint (or two) in the local pub, or I ate fish and chips in the local pub, or I did the pub quiz in....er....the local pub, or I even branched out and watched the televised football game every Monday in the not-at-all-friendly-and-not-very-local pub.
Basically, I was bored shitless.
Then I remembered what I used to do in my previous contract in some other grim and grey northern city. I used to read blogs at work after everyone had gone home and I was stuck in the office with nothing to do but incapable of leaving until I'd completed my hours (due to a rare personal trait of not waking up before noon every day). I say 'I read blogs' but really the truth is I read just the one website to begin with - Things my girlfriend and I have argued about - and a very funny read it was too.
Through TMGAIHAA I heard of an increasingly famous blog about a London call-girl (you should be able to see where I'm going with this) and started adding it to my evening list. That was the first time I heard about Belle de jour. I perused her blog for about a year as it was exceptionally well written - no post too long and every post was interesting (or tried to be). Her writing style took a subject that could easily become lurid or titillating and made it seem so ordinary that you looked straight past the job and concentrated on the person and the strains of keeping such a double life going at full steam, yet the person herself was glimpsed only fleetingly.
In fact, it was her writing that inspired me to start blogging myself (at the no longer required Reluctant Contractor) and I guess, seeing as you're reading this by choice, that some of the things I learnt from those early days have made me into someone who writes something of passing interest. Occasionally.
More importantly, without my blog I'd not have found other readers, met other bloggers in person, and snared Mrs RS (for we met via the medium of Blog). A few times over the last couple of years I've thought that it would be nice to thank Belle for her inspiration. Who knows, without taking this up as a hobby in 2005 I may have ended up as someone who drinks far too much and spends a large chunk of his life on the internet.
Anyway, the reason for this post is that (as you've almost certainly heard) Belle outed herself last week to prevent an ex-boyfriend doing so via the gutter press. You can imagine my surprise when I first read the online article:-
She lives in Bristol. Hey wow! I live in Bristol!
She works at the University. Hey wow! I walk past that building every day on my way to work!
I scroll down and see a picture.
For two years - whilst meandering to work having my morning musings, and probably when thinking of how nice it would be to express my gratitude to an anonymous blogger - I've regularly walked past her.
It's a truly fucking small world.