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It was around 4 years ago when my Finacee Jason (WormThatTurned) suggested going to a Ciao meet. I was still only a blue dot at the time and seemed to spend more time on Ciao putting my foot in it then 'making friends' so we decided against it. Four years on though and whilst I am still only a rubbish shade of purple I seem to have got more into the community side of Ciao and talk to quite a few members outside of Ciao.
It was the beginning of July when I first heard that Lizzie (Lizkempo) was planning a London meet. I quickly sent messages to all of my 'online friends' asking if they were going and in some cases I went as far as begging them to go (you know who you are!). Lizzie soon produced a review about the proposed meet and names of members wanting to attend soon started pouring in. A Yahoo group was set up to discuss the meet and help out members who would need accomodation and forums soon started buzzing with polls of who was going.
I quickly put my name down as a definate yes and WormThatTurned soon followed when he realised he was off work. Lizzie's list of members attending continued to grow and it was interesting to keep going back to her review and see if anyone had been added. I must admit I didn't know who half the members were and I didn't talk to many of them, but there were a few names I was interested in meeting and so I decided I would still go.
As the meet got closer I got more nervous, there were some members I knew I would instantly get on with and was really excited about meeting them; but there was still a large mumber of members coming who I had no idea who they were! A week before the meet and WormThatTurned and I had a shock; MOT bill of £430 and so decided that spending another £70 on a hotel for the meet probably wasn't the wisest financial decision and so we decided to just go home to Northampton the same day, a decision I wasn't too pleased about as I get really bad motion sickness and knew I would have to restrict the amount of alcohol I drunk at the meet.
A couple of day's before the meet I dragged WormThatTurned around the hell hole that is Kettering shopping centre for something to wear, although I was constantly reminded by Wormy that I have loads of clothes at home, I wanted something different. Finally I found something that would just about do and whilst Wormy thought that I was now fully prepared, I had other ideas; the day before the meet I started having a panic attack that I didn't have any shoes to wear, Wormy just laughed as I literally have over 100 pairs of shoes, but I still dragged him through every shop that sold shoes, but I couldn't find anything I liked and almost had a breakdown infront of the Clarke's sales assistant when she said a pair of boots looked nice on, when in reality they made my ankles look the size of a football. After a nicotine break I soon calmed down and returned home shoeless.
The night before the meet I hardly slept due to being so excited, and unlike me as soon as my alarm went off I shot out of bed to get ready. I must of spent my usual hour getting ready, but typical Wormy took all of 5 minutes!
Pictures of London Ciao Meet
Men! And so after quickly ushering him into my car we drove to Kettering train station where we only had to wait a matter of minutes before our train arrived, which was going dirrectly to London and took little under an hour. Unfortunately we were stuck next to all the football fans who were being foul and talking about Borat who was on Johnathon Ross the night before, that quickly lead to impersonating the scene where Borat and Johnathon started feeling each others groins, nice!
On arriving at St Pancras we quickly walked around to Euston underground. Wormy is normally a pro at directing us around on the underground, but for some reason we couldn't find where we needed to be to get to Covent Garden. After walking what felt miles, we finally found the train we needed to be on. I suggested to Wormy that there might be other Ciao members on the train and so we went about looking at everyone and guessing who they might be. We saw a very strange looking chap and Wormy was sure that because of his odd looks he must be a Ciao member!
As soon as we got out of the underground we saw the Pub the meet would be in, Pitcher and Piano, but it was still only 11:30 and the meet didn't start until 12:00 so we decided to go and prepare our stomachs for an afternoon of drinking with a large McDonalds, where we continued to look out the window and play our new game 'Spot the Ciao member'. Needless to say we soon started getting dirty looks from people trying to eat in peace and so we made a quick exit!
Just as we got outside the Pitcher and Piano we lit up a cigerette to calm my nerves. Although Wormy thought that I was cheating at our game, I soon started tugging on his arm saying 'I spot one, I spot a Ciao member'!! Infact I spot two, walking into the pub was Simon (Ailran) who I would not have recognised had I not seen another picture of him other then his Ciao profile one, and Jo (The_Nursery) who was looking lovely and whom I recognised straight away from her profile picture. I started feeling all excited and nervous bouncing around like it was christmas or something, while Wormy just looked at me in amazement. Then just as I was gathering myself, Simon and Jo walked back outside asking if we were going in, 'We don't bite' they said! So we all walked in together and quickly saw a sign up at the back of the pub which said 'Ciao Meet'. 'Oh my god I thought'!
We soon got greeted by a smiley Tricia (Tricia24) who was having a smoke 'Great' I thought, 'I have found my smoking partner for the day' and the lovely Lizzie (Lizkempo) who had done a brilliant job of arranging balloons around the room and leaving sweets on the tables! I then saw a face I recognised straight away, one of only two people there who I have mutual trust with. It was the lovely Ian (IanM73) who instantly made sure I hadn't got lost and had found the nearest McDonalds! As I talk to Ian quite a bit through Ciao guestbooks I was instantly put at ease to see someone I knew! I then saw a member sat talking to Ian and I would of never guessed in a million years who it was had they not had a name badge on, it was the lovely Sarah (Duskmaiden). Sarah is a member who I have seen around the site a few times and have read some of her reviews, but it was a great opportunity to sit and hear her talk about her Ciao and Dooyoo experiences (and a big well done by the way for becoming the new Books and Magazines Guide!)
And then I spotted another member I had to sit and have a long think about who they were, but thank god someone gave me a nudge and told me that it was infact Richard (Beaker66). Due to him being wedged in the corner (his words not mine!) I didn't really get that much time to talk to him but in our group discussions he seemed like a friendly and interesting man and next time I will definately have to squeeze in the corner next to him and have a good chat!
While we were waiting for some more people to turn up we all went around in the circle to say who we were on Ciao. It was a good way of breaking the ice, but oh I wish when I was 15 and joined Ciao I had thought of a better name. It was so embaressing having to say that my Ciao name was Spoilt Little Brat, which was met with members laughing, which I expected!
Then in walked, or rather jumped, Andy (Olly_plimsoll) and his girlfriend. Andy is the other member who I have mutual trust with although due to talking to other members I didn't get the chance to say more then a quick 'hello' to him, which was a shame`. Shortly following Andy was Barbara (Koshkha) who I have to say Wormy and I loved. Although I never really spoke to Barbara on Ciao much before she instantly came and said hello to me and was so kind and came accross as a genuienly lovely person and one who I would love to meet again and have a longer chat with.
With all these new people arriving I quickly decided that it was time for another fag break where I was joined by Wormy, Tricia and Lizzie. I was really impressed with how friendly Tricia and Lizzie were and I imagine they would be a right laugh on a night out. Then looking slightly lost at first came in a Heather (Rosillew) and her toy-boy (lol) Mikey. As they joined me in what was quickly turning into the 'smokers corner' I spent most of my time talking to them. They seemed like such a lovely couple and Heather is just an absolute gem and someone I would be very interested in seeing at a meet again. Her partner Mikey, who Heather you must get on Ciao, was also a darling and I know Wormy really appresiated having someone to talk about football with and giving him the latest scores!
Next in was Gwen (Orlando) who once again was lovely and brilliant to talk to! As I walked in someone walked by and I instantly recognised her and her daughters picture, it was Kate (Mattygroves). After I had finished being an unsociable smoker and re-joined the group I was introduced to Kate. After reading a lot of Kate's reviews I would of been really interested to have had more time to talk to her.
Next to arrive was Andrew (Coleecip) a member who I had never come accross on Ciao although Wormy seemed to remember some of his reviews. Ian, Wormy and I huddled around gossiping about how he looked so much like one of the guys from American Pie- I was impressed lol!
With more people turning up, conversations soon turned to our Ciao habits and I heard some funny stories about first reviews, including Lizzie's whose first review was apparently all in capitals! It was also comforting to know that I was not the only member to of once been kicked off the site, although my reasons seemed quite mild compared to others!
Some people had made comments about bringing note pads to the meet to help aid their review, I thought this was just people joking, but sure enough a note pad started sirculating asking us what Ciao means to us. Lizzie started it off with writing what can only be described as an essay (lol) about how she enjoys writing, but after that I think most of the messages were referring to Ciao politics and the dark side of the community with someone who will remain un-named (You know who you are you naughty boy!) drawing a little picture of a weevil being shot!!
The gossip was brilliant at the meet and a few ex-members names were tossed around and their 'story' discussed; I heard one ex-members name being mentioned a few times which amused me seeing as the 'incident' was two years ago!
Later in the meet another two members showed up, one being a member whose last review about bollocks had me in fits of laughter, the lovely Steve (Reposter78) and another face I have recognised on the site, Chrissy (Promotions_lass).
I knew it would happen eventually and as much as I tried to hide the cameras soon came out, Ian first taking a snap of all us naughty smokers and then Wormy catching me off guard and having a revolting close up- not nice! We all huddled up for a group picture, and I ended up on on the floor next to Lizzie. A waitress was suposed to be taking the picture but buggered off just as we were all ready and then there was a fiasco because Ian didn't know how to use his camera (I think he said he borrowed it so he is forgiven!).
After 5 hours at the meet Wormy and I were starting to feel hungry and wanted to take the opportunity to do some things while in London so we decided that we would leave. Just as we were about to get up and go another very familiure face walked in, Duncan (Torr). He looked just like in his picture and it was clear as soon as he walked in that he had more then a few Ciao fans!
We said our goodbyes and made our exit and started to have a wander around London. We ended up going to Bella Pasta on the next street and just talked over all the people we had met. We both agreed what a good job Lizzie had done and how lovely she was. Then unfortunately it was time to catch our train home, with all the other Arsenal fans that had been down for the match. They were funny and we had a good laugh at their drunken expense and their chanting of almost every football chant ever made up!
By the time we got home I was so tired, slightly drunk and ready for bed, not that I got much sleep as I kept going over the days events in my head. Both Wormy and I are glad we decided to go and met some genuinely nice people who we would love to meet again at another meet.
Thanks for all your company, I really did enjoy in and once again a huge well done to Lizzie for all her hard work!
Lol... make me jealous that i missed it then! I agree with you though - aestro... i regret choosing that now lol. :-P xxx
snowbunni 17.11.2006 21:52
Sounds like great fun! Good choice of venue, the Pitcher & Piano was a favourite haunt of mine when I used to work in Covent Garden. It must feel quite strange to meet all those Ciaoers in real life! x
Ailran 09.11.2006 14:24
Great write up on a great day. It was as good as it sounds here and i for one cant wait til the next one :o)