In my first year at university I studied physic, a subject so thermostatically beyond interests and intellect that I just managed a Pass. In fact I scored the perfect exam mark – 51% – proving A x SCE = PB+1 (where A = aptitude, SCE = strategically calculated effort and PB+1 = the course pass mθark with a buffer of 1. During one interminable week calculating electromagnetic forces I remember imagining the exhilarating historical moment, not of formulating Mag Force = qvB sinθ given the right hand rule, but of actually realising these forces existed. Like Newton and gravity, Einstein and relativity, Archimedes and displacement – whoooooohoooooooo-infinity!
I feel the same about coincidences. I imagine one day in the future, a young scientist with prior exam results buffered by at least 50% will hit upon the existence of coincidence waves. She will after years of living hand to mouth in Nottingham on diminishing EU funding, finally confirm the existence of coincidence waves, which under laboratory conditions can be repeatedly manipulated to ensure Mark runs into Amy in a Ukrainian theme park, 35 years to the day they first met in nursery school. Our scientist will have cracked the link between seemingly random and unrelated waves that makes people say OMG-what-a-coincidence-that’s amazing.
Young scientist on holiday, Kenyan / Ethiopian border June 1987.
I experience a coincidence this month. On the OMG scale of coincidences it was only a minor collision of previously unconnected elements and indeed skeptics of my theory could easily dismiss my experience. Even reading about this truly trivial forth coming coincidence is no doubt similar to listening to your best friend’s profoundly significant dream – it’s really only interesting to the recounter… But my coincidence has generated a sparkle and will – as long as I don’t break it – perhaps provide a modicum of inter-generational satisfaction at least to the power of one.*
During our first year as immigrants in New Zealand, John’s parents died within a month of one another. Their house was eventually cleared and cleaned, countless belongings patterned with memories skipped into the bins of practicality parked under the eucalyptus. Mary, my sister-in-law, kindly set aside for me a couple of my mother-in–law’s miniature plates, small enough to fit into my suitcase on a subsequent return flight across the ditch.
Over six years later at Foxtwist Barn, one of Nancy’s plates leans on a small stand near my desk, not far from where I am now typing. On the plate, it’s mid Spring. A painted goldfinch perches on a painted branch festooned by painted pink blossoms. By lovely coincidence, the mark on the back of the plate reveals Nancy’s European finch, once a vagrant of Roseville New South Wales, is back in it’s county of origin, Worcestershire.
The Palissy Pottery factory under the ownership of the Royal Worcester Porcelain Company briefly produced four sets of earthenware in the mid 1900s. The pieces are not particularly well known or rare; Palissy is best known for its “Game Series” which feature a brown pattern on the rims and hand coloured centres depicting ducks, pheasants and grouse, typical of the Edwardian period when wealthy families served their game course on matching tableware. Pieces and indeed occasionally full dinner sets are as (comparatively) cheap as (hand cut) chips in antique and vintage shops around the Foxtwist Worcestershire way.
My sister and I recently spent a day pottering around nearby Leominster (pronounced my colonial friends Lem-ster), a black and white market town known for its fine art auction house and antique establishments. And it was here in the Leominster Antique Market, among the thousands of stacked and layered, wall to centre, floor to ceiling china pieces spread over three floors that the second, globally inconsequential, but personally satisfying coincidence occurred. For there, in a glass case hidden by ceramic horses hounds and hares was Nancy’s goldfinch on a vase, tweeting from the blossoms, It’s me!
As coincidences go, in the words of Hugh Grant in the film Notting Hill, “It’s not a classic anecdote, is it?” but Nancy would be delighted. She was an Anglophile to her core, first sailing to England for the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth I and for decades after subscribing to Country Life magazine. John and I often reflect that she would be thrilled we were homing in the rural mid shires. For me, this coincidence wave which wobbled across personal hemispheres and generations, is evidence of the equation Coincidence (Happy Variant) = Right Time + Right Place + Open Heart.
* Hello Lauren Webber
Travel Notes to Self
- Early March – Rome. The Colonna Palace – a must see, open Saturday mornings. The Prince was in! http://www.galleriacolonna.it/en/ The Borgese Gallery, masterpieces in marble http://www.galleriaborghese.it/en/
- A catch up with Manda and her fun mum Jan at the Wallace Collection Museum. Fabulous and so was the collection.
- During March my fifteen year old Australian niece, Kelly auditioned for a place at the Royal Ballet School, the English National Ballet School and the Hamburg Ballet School. For over three weeks I provided logistical support, accompanying her into the intriguing and nail-biting world of international ballet try-outs. How did she go? Stephen Fry announced the outcome on the BBC Radio 4 weekend current affairs show, which devotes the last five minutes of the program to short anonymous items of personal news. Usually, these sad, funny or quirky news items are read by the presenter but because it’s Your News’ 10th anniversary, famous voices have been invited to participate. I would not have known it made the cut, except my friends Rosie and Dan were in their car idly listening …thank you! Click on the link, move to the 22 minute of the broadcast for 30 seconds.
She’ll be eating curry bratwurst by August.
- April in Spain with Jane and no rain. Just brilliant blue skies, tapa and because it was Easter, smells, bells and weeping virgins at every white washed wall turn.
- Prince Charles garden, Highgrove. Hmm… still trying to make up my mind. There was the stumpery, basically a collection of dead trees, roots upwards which Prince Philip suggested would make a good bonfire, an “ego garden” where PC sticks gifted busts of himself and an avenue of enormous topiary, each tree allocated to a different gardener which basically ensures each individually is spectacular while the whole is a distracting mess. There are gigantic urns given to him by Greece, olive trees from Spain and a collection of dying, soon to be removed palms from Australia. Wodge ya expect in this climate mate?! In the end, I decided I loved this garden not so much for its charm – and there are beautiful elements – but for what it unexpectedly says about Charles; the bronze faces of people he has been influenced by topping an old brick wall; the wildflower meadow created in collaboration with a friend; his “man cave” hidden in the woods; the sculptures commissioned from friends. The design is his own and like the rest of us in our neck-of-the-more-modest-woods, it doesn’t always work. But it is a garden in which relationships, rather than aesthetics wins. And that surprised me.
- If it’s May, it’s German junket with John. His UK company won a safety award which included three days of fun in Heidleberg and Mannheim.
- My stuck shoulder has been given a steroid injection jerking it from its performance plateau back into pleasing progress again.
- The bluebell wood behind Foxtwist, where we celebrated John’s birthday with Sally, Bill and Champagne.
- My inherited cat, Taz named by the cat home after the Tasmanian Devil (he’d been abused and dumped) and who after three years of devoted, partially unappreciative care, has not bitten me for a week.
- My running. First my shoulder now my Achilles, burning like Rome. I’d give up and go paddling but recent research into English swimming pools has dissuaded me.
- The Chandelier of Lost Earrings, down for Spring cleaning.
- My passport. I need a rest. I’ll see you in Prague, beginning of June.