Archive for the ‘coincidences’ Category

Coincidences No.s 270 & 271 – Eat Your Heart Out

11/10/17

I go in to Eat opposite my office to have a coffee with an Irish TV presenter I’m meeting for the first time. We sit at one of the only two tables in the branch, two two-person tables side by side. The presenter asks me early in the conversation where I live. I tell him and mention that Feargal Sharkey (Northern Irish lead singer of The Undertones) also lives there. I am about to mention other music-related people in the neighbourhood, striving for a moment to recall, when I sense the person sitting diagonally opposite me, alone at the other table, perhaps four feet away, has had their attention drawn to our conversation. It turns out he had overheard reference to East Finchley. Because that is indeed where he lives too. And he is the very person I was about to name because he was in the much admired post-punk band Gang of Four. It’s nearly four years since I last saw him (when I was writing my first book). The three of us ended up having a fascinating conversation about Catalunya as the musician splits his time between East Finchley/Fortis Green (home of The Kinks) and Catalonia.

gang of four band

Gang of Four

12/10/17

I go to see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican. I notice how he uses three parallel horizontal lines for E and think perhaps I’ll adopt that for my own surname.

downtown 81 basquiat E

I walk away from the Barbican and pop into the nearby Eat for a sarnie. As I walk in I notice a prominent display (Grill Club) that uses a three parallel horizontal lines symbol.

Eat Grill Club sign

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Coincidences No.s 268 & 269

28 & 29/9/17

cocktail shaker kaleidoscope judyth greenburgh

cocktail shaker kaleidoscope by judyth greenburgh

I meet an old friend of mine near the BBC in White City – she’s an artist from North London who now lives in Darwin, California in the desert. Recently she’s gotten really into making kaleidoscopes. One of the ones that most appealed to me was one made out of a cocktail shaker with pills/capsules providing the coloured pieces. I told her how I’d loved capsules since childhood when I was allowed to play with them in the back of my uncle’s pharmacy in Arnos Grove. I then showed her my capsule bracelet which I was wearing – a red-white capsule on a black band sold to benefit an AIDS charity.

capsule bracelet

I’m having a chat with TV presenter Tim Lovejoy and he tells me about some art he’d seen at a Soho exhibition the night before – it showed the work of an anonymous artist called Chemical X made of pills and capsules.

The Spirit Of Ecstasy by Chemical X

The Spirit Of Ecstasy by Chemical X

 

5/10/17

On my jog this morning I was listening to an episode of ‘Desert Island Discs’ featuring Caitlin Moran. For her final track she chose a song by Anne-Marie. I’d never heard of this singer and wondered who she was.

At 17:33 an email arrived from TicketWeb. It advertised an imminent concert by Anne-Marie.

anne-marie concert advertisement

 

 

Coincidences No.s 266 and 267

8/9/17

I am walking down to the bus stop to go to a meeting in Camden Town. The meeting is about a website I commissioned some  years ago on behalf of Channel 4 and the Arts Council called Quotables. This prompted me to think about the colleague I worked with at the Arts Council who I haven’t been in touch with for over a year, wondering how she was.

I’m in the meeting at Camden Town about an hour later and an alert comes up on my phone screen – an incoming email from that very person.

Derek Hill by Cecil Beaton photograph

Derek Hill by Cecil Beaton (courtesy of Glebe House & Gallery, Co. Donegal, Ireland)

10/9/17

I am working on a documentary at the moment to do with the Mitford sisters, in particular Unity.

I stayed in Donegal during August beside the house of English artist, the late Derek Hill.

I read today that Derek Hill was the person who introduced Unity to Hitler. (I had no idea he had any connections with the Mitfords.)

Triple Coincidence No. 416 – Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele painting Sitting Woman with Legs Drawn Up, 1917

The picture on our bedroom wall – Schiele’s wife, Edith (1917)

I’m in Vienna for the first time in over 30 years for Doc Campus documentary workshop at ORF (Austrian TV). The last time I was here was on a scholarship from Girton College, Cambridge for research on the Austrian painter Egon Schiele.

I’d first heard about Schiele in a radio interview of David Bowie. At the time (mid-late 70s) Schiele was not well known outside of the Euro art cognoscenti. His description caught my imagination and I became a teen devotee, having always favoured a graphic approach to figurative art. At school I used to deliver drawings of, say, a glass of water that looked more like cut diamond.

So today I decided to go on a Schiele pilgrimage either to the site of his studio (Neulengbach, just outside of Vienna, where I had a memorable visit in around 1984) or his birthplace (Tulln). I’m writing this on an S-bahn to Tulln.

As I was reading Schiele stuff online this morning in my pension room near Schwedenplatz I noticed for the first time ever that he shares a birthday with my wife. (Along with Anne Frank and Robert Elms.) There is a reproduction of a painting by Schiele in the corner of our bedroom which my wife bought me years ago: it is inscribed “thanks for always bringing pictures”.

I left the room to go to the hotel for the workshop. As the taxi ride dragged on I felt irritated by how far out of the city centre the hotel they had chosen was, out near Schloss Schönbrunn at Hietzing. Never heard of the place. Not much zing. Burbs.

I dumped my stuff and got on the U-bahn to go to to Franz Josef station for the train to Tulln.

I have just set foot in Tulln, sitting on the platform to finish this. Schiele’s father was an official at this station.

On the underground to the train station I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Schiele. Lo & behold there is a mention of sleepy old Hietzing! Schiele had a studio at 101 of the Hauptstrasse I just walked down. (I’ll go check out the site later.) It is here he met his wife Edith Harms, who lived opposite and features in many of his later paintings. She died three days before him in the Spanish flu epidemic in the wake of WW1. He was just 28 but had brought a new modern expressionist vision to painting.

Update, 5pm:

On the way back from Tulln I’m reading my book on the train – The Travelling Hornplayer by Barbara Trapido, a novel with nothing to do with painters – at least it hadn’t had until I got to the shores of the Danube at Tulln where, as I was reading, one of the main characters meets a student painter at college in Edinburgh. On the train back I got to a passage where this student painter’s style is described: “Stella thinks they [the student painter’s paintings] are maybe just a bit like Auerbach; maybe just slightly like Auerbach crossed with Egon Schiele.”

Coincidence No. 415 – orange & smiley

space hopper bouncy toy 70s

I am looking for the coaster from my office desk. No immediate joy so I decide to add it to my list of lost things to find. (Top of the list is a postcard from the early days of The Great War from a lad announcing to his parents that he’s joined up – it has a bulldog on the front.) It’s just I can’t describe it properly as the name of the toy from which the coaster design derives escapes me, it’s been so long since I’ve thought about it. The coaster design is flat orange with a particular black smile. I resort to asking Prof. Google… A Space Hopper – that’s what those classic 70s bouncy toys with horns were called.

The next morning I hear on the news about a new set of stamps to be released by the Royal Mail. Classic British toys. The Space Hopper features.

Spacehopper-stamp toy 70s

Coincidence No. 414 – Love

I am on the phone to a producer I worked with a few years ago on a landmark multiplatform project at Channel 4. He asks me about my new job at Little Dot Studios and mentions a producer he works with at his indie who used to work with the founding partner of Little Dot. (He was in the car and had warned that the reception may go.) Just as he says the name of this colleague, whose surname is Love, the line fails.

love heart hands at sunset

An hour later I am on Skype to an activist in Santa Fe, New Mexico who I sometimes help out with digital stuff. We are discussing a forthcoming crowdfunding campaign. I mention I am seeing a person from a British crowdfunder next week. She says that she has met with a British crowdfunder recently, introduced by Tim Smit of the Eden Project. This person, as it turns out, works with the fella I am due to catch up with and has the surname Love – the very same man.

Coincidence No. 413 – Cod Liver

I drop my wife at the tube station – she is talking to me in the car about the health benefits of cod liver oil (her ma back in Ireland swore by it).
cod-liver-oil capsules in shape of fish
On the way back (3 min journey) on the radio (BBC Radio 4) there is a description of salt cod preparation in Newfoundland in the Elizabethan era, including the first stage where one person on a kind of assembly line has the job specifically of removing the liver. The salt cod was for feeding the troops in Ireland.

Coincidences No.s 410-412

snowflake under microscope

9/8/17 & 8/8/17 Snowflake

I go to meet a detective in the Home Counties for a documentary I am working on. He has given the subject of the film a codename: Snowflake.

One of the Enfants Terribles uses a term I have not heard before: ‘Snowflake’, to mean a pampered modern kid without resilience.

29/7/17 Gee Murphy

We visit the Glebe Gallery beside Derek Hill’s house in Church Hill, Donegal. The visitor just before us, according to the visitor book, is called Erina Mc Gee Murphy – her name contains both my surname and my wife’s. I record the coincidence accordingly:

visitor book glebe gallery donegal ireland

3/7/17 Montana

I meet with a director I am commissioning to do a documentary for Real Stories. It is our first meeting in person, we pop across the road to get some tea, we talk for a while before she pulls out her laptop. Except it is not her laptop – hers is bust, she’s had to borrow her son’s. The documentary is set in Montana, USA. Before she brings out the computer we have discussed both the location and an indie called Joi Polloi.

On the lid of the laptop, among several stickers, is one that reads Montana. This director is based in Sheffield. We have been discussing indie production companies in Sheffield. I mentioned Joi Polloi because I am working with them and have done regularly for a few years. Another sticker on the lid reads Oi Polloi , a small clothes brand (a photo of whose sign I sent a few months ago whilst walking past the Soho branch to the team at Joi Polloi during their rebranding phase when they changed names from Rckt to Joi Polloi – that was my first fleeting encounter with the name Oi Polloi, this sticker was the second).

In the wake of this, exactly a month after the Oi Polloi tea (2/8/17), I visit the new cafe of a friend of a friend in Kilmacrenan, Donegal. This person, the owner of Coffee Time, serves us the day we visit. I’m good on accents and his accent sounds typical of the area, no hint of it being anything other than Irish. After a bit of a chat it turns out he comes from Montana.

coffee time kilmacrenan donegal coffee shop cafe

 

 

Coincidences No. 405-409

Clairefontaine logo French stationery

“The world is a raging torrent of coincidence, flooded with rivulets of serendipity, cascading into a waterfall of creative connections.” Hedley Lamarr

18/7/17

I receive a proposal for a documentary from a new UK indie. It is about an event that happened in 2013 in Africa. I wrote back to the indie saying:

  • although one of the two protagonists shares my surname and lives in the same suburb of London we are not related…
  • …but the other protagonist (best friend of the first) I have known since she was a child and I was in partnership with her father and mother when I set up a dot com business in 2000
  • meanwhile, his business partner in the new indie is the father of my son’s oldest friend and they’ve been going to the local school together for years.

19/7/17

I’m working at Little Dot’s offices in Shoreditch and pop out for lunch. I walk over to Rivington Street where I worked at a new digital start-up, Forma, a bit before starting up that dot com business, so in the late 90s. I duck into a yard to sit and read my book, ‘Sick Heart River’ by John Buchan. The adventure starts in a town at the edge of the Canadian wilderness called Clairefontaine.

I get back to the desk where I’m working (I like moving around so usually work at the desk of someone who’s away shooting or something) and on top of the pile of hard drives at the edge of the desk is a packet of index cards I hadn’t noticed earlier. The brand on the packet is Clairefontaine.

Mission BX 415 bande dessinee comic book cover

It’s a numbers game

4/6/17

I check into Jury’s Hotel in Sheffield for Doc Campus where I am working with director Leslie Lee on her feature documentary ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘ (w/t). I get allocated Room 415.

I move hotels at the end of the week when Sheffield DocFest starts to the Metropolitan Hotel on the other side of the city. I get allocated Room 415.

26/5/17

Our new book group book gets chosen by Martin Bright who circulates the title. It is ‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami.

A few days earlier I am walking through Bloomsbury with a production manager/old friend when Hemingway’s book of short stories ‘Men Without Women’ comes up in conversation and I draw the title to her attention. It is not a book I have read or am even familiar with.

25/6/17

Someone I know has a health issue and a documentary director friend of mine kindly refers me on to a family friend who has experience of the problem. The father of the family it turns out is a prominent film/drama director.

That evening I go over to watch a box set with the person with the health issue, one they have singled out from reputation. The director of that particular episode (of 10) is that same prominent film/drama director (the only ep he directed of the series).

Coincidence No. 404 – Black Card

12/7/17

AMEX centurion black card American Express

Only $2,500 annual fee to have one of these babies

Went to a meeting with the boss of System 1 Group on a sun-drenched terrace behind the British Library. He mentioned that he had been involved with the development of the American Express Black Card for Amex customers who spend over $250K a year.

Earlier in the day I had been sent some footage by producer-director Dan Edelstyn of UK indie Optimistic Productions (with whom I made WTF is Cosplay? at Channel 4) of an American artist who was talking about the way super-rich Americans (eg her “hedgies”) buy art flashing their Black Amex Cards as a way of saying “loadsamoney me!” – she contrasted this with the charming thing she’d encountered in Europe called Cash.

The System 1 CEO had just come from a meeting with marketing guru & fellow Clash-lover Mark Earls who happens to be an old work pal of mine and whose birthday it happened to be, meaning he’d cropped up on dear old Facebook that very morning just before the Black Amex footage came in.

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