But I did take the opportunity this year to read off a piece of text that I'd written earlier in the year; bizarrely, it was part of an obituary that I'd written about the number of real life losses that have affected the Shire groups over the past two years - the deaths of Stillpink Sandgrain, Daisyblue Hefferman, Har Dyrssen and Nitzrokk Saru, as well as the alleged loss of Jammers Inaka* - and the impact that they've had on those they were around online.
Here's my oratory from tonight.
Second Life isn’t just a game - it’s an advanced, real-time social networking experience. It allows us to immediately connect with people from all over the globe to share a vast range of interests.We can converse with each other as easily and as efficiently - most of the time at least - as we can with someone in the same room. From these connections, communities grow. The Shires themselves have expanded over the past four years from up to 100 members of the Friends of Raglan Shire group within its first 6 months to well over a thousand fellows now.And it continues to grow; our creativity, technical knowledge, warmth, and general friendliness have made the Shires a wholly enjoyable place to explore and reside in and the community - as a sum of all of our contributions, no matter how small you may feel you have contributed - has been the main reason for that. For me especially, and I hope for you too, it reminds us that we shouldn’t ever take the connections we make with one another for granted.No-one person is better than the next; we’re all different and we all contribute in different ways. Whatever difference of opinion you may have with someone else, always be gracious, be helpful and kind and enjoy your time amongst your friends, neighbours and tiny acquaintances.That’s always been the Raglan way and it’s made the community one of the strongest, most caring and warm-hearted in all of Second Life.
Then I introduced a group of basement kitties performing covers of Monkees songs whilst a hamster rode on a barrel around them. Never a dull day in the Shires!
*I haven't addressed the Jammers situation, and I don't know if I will here. I deleted my original blog post about her supposed death earlier in the year, not out of disrespect but that it had no relevance anymore when she turned up again. It's a contentious situation, and I appreciate others views surrounding it; all I'll say is that I find it astonishing that those who would say "if only I had one more day with this person to tell them..." can so easily turn that person away when they do return.