You would expect two people who have got to know each other in an online forum to have plenty to say to each other. After all, they already know a lot about each other, and so they can continue to discuss actions, thoughts, feelings that they have written about on the forum. If they don’t happen to suffer from social anxiety.

Social anxiety sufferers, even those who are verbose in an online forum, can be very quiet in actual, face-to-face meetings. The pressure caused by the physical presence of another person causes them to forget what they wanted to say or worry so much about how and whether to express it that they end up keeping quiet. Well, not completely. They usually manage to talk, but their speech is often hesitant and sporadic.

I say “they”, but I can include myself in that, to varying degrees depending on external factors, and probably every other social anxiety sufferer to varying degrees depending on the person themself (is that a word, these days?) and on external factors.

So you can understand that when two social anxiety sufferers get together, the conversation doesn’t exactly flow. Each one struggles with inner thoughts and worries, and neither is able to make up for the lack of input from the other side.

S and I have met at least three times before. Each time, we spent a few hours together and struggled to keep the conversation going. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the experience. I did. But when it was over, I heaved a sigh of relief from the absence of pressure.

This time is different; we have more of an agenda. We’re at the boat show in Southampton, a most impressive array of yachts and other boats. The weather is glorious, and we spend our time seeing how the rich live, driving yachts,

(I wish), examining fish in a marine research boat:

and watching a freight ship (or whatever it’s called):

Conversation isn’t so necessary, and so it comes more naturally, mostly spawned by the things we see.

We have lunch under the sun in the dining area – fish and chips. And visit the tourist shops on the way out. In all, a very pleasant day.

In the evening, I see a TV programme about Vera Lynn. She’s 92 and seems very active and alert. Good for her! She is interviewed by David Frost, who doesn’t look all that young himself!

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