Clever folk, both before and after Copernicus, have worked hard to demonstrate that I am not the centre of the universe. Indeed, the whole concept of the universe having a physical centre is looking a little shaky since relativity and the growth of the dark. Oh yes, as Susan Cooper warned us, in modern physics the dark is truly rising.
Nonetheless, contrary to my book-learning, Dame Nature and her handmaiden Coincidence do seem determined to convince me that everything does revolve around me. Before I illustrate with a couple (of hundred) recent examples, I feel we should all take a moment to consider a quotation a wise, old friend of mine used to trot out whenever coincidence was in the air. “How often didn’t that happen?” he would ask – and those around would cease their foolish prating.
My first example comes from my recent arrival in Cambridge. Having travelled up from the south coast in dry sunshine, the moment my train arrive in Cambridge it started to rain. I manage to catch my bus down to Addenbrooke’s only slightly moistened, but as I disembarked the wrath of God was loosed upon the earth. By the time I had made it the 200 yards from the bus stop to the Blood Donor Centre, I was soaked through and my umbrella had been reduced to a useless wreck. As I checked-in with reception, I noticed that my right hand was dipping with blood – my own as it transpired (perhaps from an umbrella disintegration-related injury?) – so I looked more like I was making a withdrawal than a deposit. Fortunately, my injury was not severe and did not prevent my donation (or the ensuing biscuit-based mini-feast). The Lord may have been wrathful, but it didn’t last long (is Our Father by any chance strawberry blonde, I wonder? – or at least was before he was stricken by old age). A rampant egomaniac (like, for example, myself – well, just consider this blog you are reading) might feel he was being singled out by Fate for some payback. Of course, subsequent viewing of the news suggests that most of the divine, weather-based retribution was aimed at Scotland and the east coast – so, I should be grateful that he could spare a small part of his bounty of rain and wind for me.
You will be pleased to know that my blood loss, both planned and otherwise, was soon made good through the medically recommended combination of mulled wine and mince pies. However, these weather-related coincidences are not uncommon: oft rain will start just as I go outside and cease as soon as I regain cover. I have even been to Florida when it snowed – first time in 80 years! But not all coincidence is ill-favoured, which brings me nicely on to incident number two.
On Friday afternoon, I made it to the tail-end of a Christmas party at Hughes Hall college. I am able to sneak into such events and enjoy a tepid glass of mulled wine and a mince pie as it was with Hughes Hall that I left my piano when I departed Cambridge to live in more southerly climes. At this “do”, I was introduced to only three people – one of whom, it was soon revealed, had a penchant for musical theatre and had made much use of my piano (probably rather better use than I ever managed). This same chap, it transpired, had been an undergraduate at Southampton University and so was perfectly placed to introduce me to a singing teacher near my new home. What are the chances that one of an effectively random group of three people would prove to be so useful? Then again, I did meet my current singing teacher in a rather similar fashion – so perhaps this is the established way to find vocal tutelage.
So, whilst coincidence is my constant companion, more-often-than-not she smiles kindly upon me (if we ignore some of her weather and train punctuality-based work). Indeed, late yesterday afternoon as I returned from my singing lesson to my (Trave)lodgings (oh yes, I know how to live the high life!), strolling along beside the oily blackness of the Cam under the merest sliver of crescent moon with a song in my heart, my ego soothed by a positive response to my last post, I couldn’t help feeling I was the luckiest chap alive.