My first job in San Francisco was with a dot-com start-up, back in the summer of 2000, where my audio skills came in handy. In my quieter moments I would spend a bit of time on Napster, almost exclusively - and this was my justification - downloading music that I had on CDs and tapes left behind in England. I grew to appreciate the way it allowed you to browse through other people's collections of music, and would often, if I found something a little esoteric, message the person, and occasionally formed some online friendships. The example that sticks in my mind was when someone started downloading some tracks that I had by the Fire Engines. Now, they were a very obscure Glasgow band from the classic days of Postcard Records in 1980-1, so I assumed I was dealing with someone of my generation from the UK. It turned out instead to be a young woman in Buenas Aires, and that was fun, because one of my regular Napster correspondents was a student in North or South Carolina with a taste for Scott Walker who had mentioned an imminent trip to Buenas Aires. I got the two of them in touch with each other, but never heard in the end if they indeed met up or what came of it.
On Friday, not having a spectacularly happy day, I got a card in the post, from someone in the UK who I have never met, but who follows the blog. I hope I won't embarrass the sender by quoting the opening lines: "I am, by nature, anonymous, a leaf on a tree indistinguishable from, and hidden amongst, billions of other leaves. But sometimes a chance remark from half-way round the world reminds me of my connectedness to the whole tree". The card was a lovely screen-print of a Tunnock's Tea Cake, a delicacy I have not enjoyed for some time. My sombre mood evaporated.
As an old Buddha said, "There is no remedy for satisfying hunger other than a painted rice cake".