Thursday, July 01, 2010

today : 2 coincidences clash

Serendipity is a funny thing. It's basically coincidence but still has the power to surprise and amuse.

Yesterday I was on my way to the supermarket. In the car I was playing a CD I'd made that has quite a few songs that I consider summery. On the way into the car-park the song that was playing was Good Lovin by the Rascals. I parked up, got out of the car and went to the machine to get some cash. A car passing behind me had its windows down. Playing inside the car was Good Lovin by the Rascals. Now that's quite common if you're listening to something like Queen (which I never do) or currently popular songs. But Good Lovin, although not totally obscure, is not really a song you hear very often around. Don't know why - it's fantastic.

Today I went again to the same supermarket to pick up a couple of items. On the way into the car-park my CD was playing Two Sevens Clash by Culture. It took me a couple of minutes to find a space so I sat and listened to it almost all the way through. Eventually I found a spot and parked up. As I got out of the car I waited to let another car go by before I crossed the car park to the supermarket door. It being Summer, pretty much every car has windows down. The car passing in front of me was being driven by someone I know. Not well, but someone I worked with briefly a few years ago. I can't remember his name. But this was not the extent of the coincidence, as on the stereo of his car he was playing Two Sevens Clash by Culture.

I live in an area that in no way could be described as a hub of Rastafarianism. In fact there are very few Afro-Caribbean people at all in the vicinity. It wouldn't have been so shocking if I was playing Bob Marley and someone else was playing Bob Marley. But Culture? Never had a hit, never played on the radio and to all intents and purposes pretty obscure - known only by a certain generation and even then a rather small sub group of rastas and dub obsessives like my friend Guy. For it to randomly appear in my day in such a random way was worthy of a blog-post methinks.

A friend of mine (from England) was once walking through an American university town. Princeton or New Haven CT or Cambridge MA. Somewhere like that. She was talking to her companion about someone she went to University in England with several years before, only she couldn't recall the person's surname. Her memory was jogged when the subject of her story walked around the corner and bumped into them. In later discussion she wondered if she had unconsciously clocked the person in the vicinity and that was what inspired her story about them. I prefer to think it was just a freak coincidence.

I myself was once a shopping mall in the USA. I'm pretty sure it was Woodfield Mall in Schaumberg Illinois. I walked past a group of those fake market barrows talking to my friend Becky. A hand grabbed my shoulder from behind and I thought, for a second, that I was being mugged. It turned out to be one of the barrow stall-holders. He was selling slightly cheesy print-out certificates with the etymology of names on them. He told me that I was from North Leeds, and even named the suburb. I played along and he went further, narrowing my accent down to the area between two main roads - perhaps 3 square miles. I was astonished. We didn't know each other but he had grown up about half a mile from me. On further discussion we found out that his younger sister had been at my school and that she'd sung in the chorus of a couple of school musicals where I'd played guitar in the band (she must have then attended the legendary last night parties, but I cannot be expected to remember anything coherent about the parties. That's what made them legendary). I recognised the name but couldn't put a face to his sister.

But that didn't detract from the coincidence. The guy had been living in Chicago for many years. He was no linguist or expert in accents. It was just that my voice had stood out so specifically as exactly the same as his, that he decided I could only be from where he was from, almost 4000 miles away.

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