I have interested to read of Alan and Merlin experiences in their upbringing in processing B/W photos, my experience was quite different, B/W was virtually the only route open to me! I wasn't able to do the processing myself, so had to rely on commercial processing, and that was god awful, consequently that has coloured my view of B/W! Colour processing was equally dire, and very expensive, the change to colour reversal film things took an upturn. But slides were inconvenient, especially when waiting for the damn things to come back in the post, and when trying to show them without faffing around with a projector and screen et al!
Along comes digital, great I can now process my own(for better or worse) but my view of B/W is still languishing back in the 1960s/1970s and the wispy washy turgid grey things I was lumbered with, so I tend to be hyper critical of most B/W images I see! Lately I'm beginning appreciate more monochrome stuff, slowly though. But I still see way too many that are awful! and remind me of the wishy washy very pale grey things of my past, in my eyes "fifty shades of grey" should be left to the sex trade and not the wonderful world of photography!
I think I've left it a bit late to be a lover of B/W, but I'm willing to be educated. I always look, but I have to bite my tongue these days because I do not wish to offend anyone overly!
Strange how the past is different for each person!