Blog : Posts tagged with 'coincidence'

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Death

In which we try to stay rational


Now I know that, according to tradition or superstition or some ancient charter, the deaths of the famous are always supposed to occur in threes. But just recently, there’s been an enormous flood of them. It’s seemed this week that every day yet another well-known person has turned their toes up. I know it’s just coincidence, because I do have a rational side; but sometimes you do think: what, another one?

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All The Dead Writers And Me: Jan Mark

In which we remember a great writer


This post has been a long time coming. Ever since I read her obituary, I’ve been meaning to write it, and been putting it off; and that was back in January.

Jan Mark is probably one of the writers who has meant the most to me over the years, at least in terms of understanding writing, and storytelling. She was mostly known as a children’s writer, producing prizewinning, wonderful work such as Thunder And Lightnings. My own favourite piece from her children’s books was a short story, “Nule”,* about two children who treat one of their house’s newel posts as if it’s human, then start to worry that it’s becoming slightly too human.

My favourite book of hers, though, is her single “adult” book, Zeno Was Here. It’s a love story, a very touching one, but it’s mostly about writing itself. It’s about the writing process, the nature of writing, and the feeling of being written about. It’s a novel about the structure of novels, and it’s the book which introduced me to the works of Flann O’Brien.** It’s about coincidence. It ends with the kind of bone-jarring unexpected coincidence that just doesn’t happen in novels; and then you remember that a hundred pages earlier, the characters were discussing just why those sort of events don’t happen in novels, when they crop up in real life all the time.

It’s quite an obscure book, and – as far as I know – has been out of print for ten years, at least. I found my copy of it by just the sort of coincidences that don’t happen in books: finding out that it existed, and going to my local library to see if they had a copy, I found it among the fifty or so tatty things on the “Withdrawn, For Sale” table. It’s only right, I suppose, that you should find a book about coincidence in that sort of way. If you find a copy yourself, read it, because it deserves to be better-known.

* from the collection Nothing To Be Afraid Of

** Another writer I’ve been meaning to post about, but haven’t

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Synchronicity

In which our luck is in


Strange things seem to be happening together at the moment.

Last weekend, without much else to do, I went down to a munch in Leicester. I met lots of people; and as the afternoon drifted into evening people wandered away until they were just three of us left. VW, who admits she used to be a bit goth; Fuzzy, who is so goth he wears Whitby-related t-shirts; and me, Forest “Some Of My Best Friends Are Goth” Pines.

Chatting away in a small group like that, you soon learn a lot about each other. We quickly discovered that we’d all lived up in Scotland, not far from each other, two or three years ago. Not just that, but – being all at least goth-related – we used to drink in the same pubs, go to the same clubs, and so on. We even knew the same people; but somehow we’d never actually been introduced before.* It’s a small world.

The other day, I was chatting to an online friend, F. I’ve never met F, but I know she has family connections in this area, and we’ve talked a bit about the region when we’ve had nothing better to say to each other. When I’d been ambling about between London and Leicester, F had been up here in my own parish, over at a family wedding. We discussed the wedding, the guests; and what school I’d been to, to see if any of the guests would have been people I knew. Indeed, they were. In fact, we worked out that the groom was someone I’d been at school with – someone I used to sit next to in at least one class, so far as I can remember. The best man, likewise was someone I knew. In fact, he was someone I mentioned here a couple of months back. It’s a very small world.

Yesterday, I was reading JPod,** the new Douglas Coupland book. And it includes this exchange:

“What a weird coincidence. I should go out and buy a lottery ticket.”

“How come?”

“Any time you have a coincidence happen to you, it means you’ve entered a luck warp–for the next short while everything you do will be touched by it.”

Maybe, I should be out buying lottery tickets myself. Luck Warp, here I come.

* Unless we were introduced, at some point when we were all so horribly drunk that none of us remembered afterwards. That’s very possible, at least in my case.

** it’s a horrible website unless you like Flash

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Surprise meeting

In which we bump into someone from the past


Do you like it when random people from your past bump into you in the street?

In my case, I generally don’t think I do want to get in touch with many more people from my past. All the friends I wouldn’t want to lose, I’m still in touch with; I still see them at least every year or so. The rest of my schoolfriends, to be honest, I don’t particularly care about. It might sound harsh, but it’s true. If I’d wanted to stay in touch with them, I could have done.

I’m thinking about this now, because yesterday afternoon I was sitting in a pub, having a bit of a munch with a few friends, when some random people start pushing their car into the car park. They come into the pub, and idle time away by the bar waiting for the AA to arrive. I glance at them and don’t think anything of it; but then, listening in, I suddenly recognise one of their voices. I sneak another look: it’s someone I knew fairly well at school.

I hesitated for a moment. But I didn’t particularly want to talk to him. I last saw him ten years ago, and have barely thought about him since. I didn’t want to tell him how my life is going now, what I’ve been up to, who these friends I’m with are, how I know them.

I looked up for a moment, and caught him looking at me, as if he was trying to place where he’d seen me before. I turned back to my friends, and back to the conversation.

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The long arm of coincidence

In which something obscure keeps popping up


Have you ever noticed that sometimes one little thing seems to be popping up all over the place?

Earlier today, browsing the interweb, I read a short Freaky Trigger item about Uncle, a series of children’s books from the 1960s that I’d never ever heard of before. Which is a shame, because – according to this Economist article about them* – they sounded to be exactly the sort of children’s books that I’d have loved if I had known about them when they were still in print.

So then, later on, I’m browsing an internet dating site,** and reading the profile of an attractive-looking person. And, what do they list among the 100 things they couldn’t live without? The Uncle books, of course.

I’m on the lookout now. The slightest mention of J P Martin’s Uncle books anywhere, and I’m going to jump up and shout: “Aha! A third coincidence!” before running off to my nearest second-hand bookstore*** to search frantically for copies. Because they must be significant somehow. Right?

* I have to say, the Economist isn’t my usual reading.

** Don’t laugh. And, no, I’m not telling you which one, because I don’t want you lot finding my ad.

*** As the nearest one I can think of quickly is about 40 miles away, this might take a while. I might not run all the way there.

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