Archive for the ‘coincidences’ Category

Coincidences No. 347, 348 & 349

No. 347 Steyning, Sussex

I am reading a book about the Preraphaelites (William Gaunt’s The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy) – it mentions how one of Rossetti’s models claimed to be from Steyning but referred to it being in Surrey (when in fact it is in Sussex), casting doubt on her veracity. (Time seems to have proved she was telling the truth as she now has a blue plaque in the small rural Sussex town).

The next day I am at my book group when one of my friends mentions he’s just had a great weekend away in a house located in a place called Steyning.

dante gabriel Rossetti-Fanny-Cornforth model painter preraphaelite

Fanny Cornforth by DG Rossetti

No.348 FML

I am running a workshop on short form film-making in Helsinki and one of the participants suggests #FML as the title for their film. I can’t recall what it stands for (despite being an occasional collector of TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms) and having FML in my lists).

That night I am watching 13 Reasons Why in my hotel room and the key characters use the term – repeatedly. It means “Fuck My Life”.

13 reasons why protagonists

No.349 Brittle Bone

I am standing in the bathroom writing an email about a wrong master for my Real Stories commission Brittle Bone Rapper being used in a showreel.

As I click send the words “brittle bone” come up on the Radio 4 programme that is playing on the radio.

 

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Coincidences No.s 344, 345 & 346

No. 344 (24.4.18)

Burke and Wills explorers Australia

Two bearded men

I am at a meeting at ITV about a project related to Burke & Wills, the Irishman and Englishman who were the first non-natives to cross the heartland of Australia in one of those mad Victorian expeditions.

I get home and in my Facebook feed is a post by an Irish colleague in digital media announcing he is moving to Brighton and does anyone know a good moving company. The one that jumps out at me among the replies is Burke & Wills.

No. 345 (7 & 8.5.18)

Ezra-Pound-poet writer

One slightly bearded man

I am reading Ezra Pound’s Cantos in the garden and look up his Wikipedia entry for some background. At one point it says: “he seemed in an “abject despair, accidie, meaninglessness, abulia, waste”. I haven’t seen the word “accidie” since Mr Fitch taught it to us in Lower Sixth English in relation to something to do with courtly love over three decades ago.

The word comes up again the next day. I am reading John Buchan’s final Edward Leithen novel ‘Sick Heart River’, a very different text and context. (Although both writers had a shared interest in hating Jews.)

No. 346 (5-9.5.18)

Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1907

One clean shaven woman – Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1907

Quakers keep coming up all week. On Saturday I’m walking from Tavistock Square to Euston and when I cut through the gardens of the Quakers HQ opposite the station (Friends House) it is swarming with delegates to some major conference, one where they review their rules (as I hear the next morning on the radio). This is the second time I’ve found myself in this cut-through garden in the last few days – a couple of  days previously it was with my friend Safiya, talking YouTube videos and channels – not too spiritual.

I am reading about Ezra Pound in Wikipedia [see above] – his father was a Quaker; he went to Quaker schools.

I am reading Finn Fordham’s book ‘Lots of Fun at Finnegan’s Wake‘ in the Humanities Reading Room of the British Library – it is the first book I have called up since the Reading Rooms moved here years ago from the British Museum, I got a new Readers Ticket on Saturday. (The last book I called up was a Dr Seuss one called ‘The Big Leap’ as I wanted to use it as the basis of a script – that was back in The British Museum circular reading room where Pound worked daily). In it I learn Joyce’s patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, was a Quaker.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple of other path-crossings with Quakers this week – one to do with a Quaker business.

***

While on the subject of Harriet Shaw, I noticed whilst reading Finn’s book today (Finn leads the Finnegan’s Wake Research Seminar I go to every month at the University of London/Senate House) how appropriate Joyce’s patron was called Weaver as weaving the text into an organic whole seems to have been the goal/result of his compositional method in The Wake, adding layer upon layer and gradually inserting references to other parts of the text to bind it all together.

There seem to be lots of words that connect writing and material/cloth:

weaving – text – texture – textile – Stoff (Ger. material) – stuff – thread – skein

text

late Middle English: from Old Northern French texte, from Latin textus ‘tissue, literary style’ (in medieval Latin, ‘Gospel’), from text– ‘woven’, from the verb texere “to weave, to join, fit together, braid, interweave, construct, fabricate, build” .

 

 

 

 

 

Coincidences No.s 322 & 323

Black Panther Party member Bobby Hutton carries a loaded shotgun in front of the Oakland police

Man With Gun. Black Panther Bobby Hutton carries a loaded shotgun in front of Oakland police station. California legislators passed a law prohibiting carrying loaded weapons in public in 1967 after Black Panther members demonstrated with loaded guns at the Capitol. Hutton was killed in a shootout with Oakland police a few months later. (Ron Riesterer/East Bay Times Staff Archives)

OAKLAND

In the morning I am working on a documentary called ‘Back in Black’ to be shot in Ghana, Morocco and Oakland CA. It is the first commission for my second slate at Little Dot Studios/Real Stories.

In the afternoon I go to Allianz Stadium, home of Saracens rugby club, to meet full back Alex Goode to discuss a media project. He is wearing a black Oakland Raiders cap.

In the evening Enfant Terrible No. 1 (who I once gave an identical Oakland Raiders cap I found on an airport bus in San Francisco) talks about Oakland in the context of the Black Panther movie.

SEAT CHANGES

I get an email from a ticket agency informing me they want to allocate me new seats for the Waterboys gig I’m going to at the end of the month at The Colosseum in Watford because one of the original seats is broken.

Within the hour I get an email from EasyJet telling me that the aircraft I am due to travel on early next month to Belfast has been changed to another aircraft with a different seating arrangement so my allocated seat is being changed.

Out Of The Blue Album Cover the waterboys

Man With Hat

 

 

Coincidences No.s 212 & 213

No. 212  (27.03.18)

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

26th March 2018

I am working with a fellow producer in Covent Garden in his office. We are talking to a colleague from Glasgow-based Finestripe Productions who attended the Labour Anti-semitism rally outside Parliament last night. This prompts my co-producer to mention who his MP is (as he was prominent at the event).  “Where is the constituency?” Harrow he tells me.

I go round to my mum’s for dinner with my step-dad. We have arranged to go for a Chinese somewhere in Colindale. When I arrive the plan has changed. It is more of a family affair and we are going to a different Chinese. We drive through Harrow, on to Hatch End. (Not sure I’ve ever been here before.) I decide to phone my co-producer from outside the Chinese: “I think I may be in your manor.” I tell him the name of the restaurant. “Look opposite, slightly to the right. Can you see Wellington Road?” I can. “That’s where we live.”

No. 213 (26 & 27.3.18)

1962 lawrence of arabia movie film poster

1962

I am watching a movie from the 80s, ‘Winter Kills’ starring Jeff Bridges. It strikes me that Jeff looks a lot like my old friend Adam D.

I get an email from Adam D for the first time in ages, about 70mm screenings of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in his home town of Amsterdam – do I fancy flying over?

Coincidences No.s 210 & 211 – Radio radio

22.iii.18

It is 4.30 in the morning. I hear the cat out on the landing. I come out of the bedroom and it seems a bit frantic. I shoo it downstairs and as I follow it to lock it in the kitchen I notice movement in the downstairs hall. A mouse. I chase the mouse into the kitchen, close the door, open the back door and shoo it out with a brush.

I go back to bed and turn on the radio to lull me back to sleep. The programme on BBC World Service that comes on is talking about getting rid of mice and how do you know that you’ve got rid of them all.

24.iii.18

Jeff Bridges as Nick Kegan in Winter Kills movie 1979

Nick Kegan / Jeff Bridges 1979

I decide to watch a slightly obscure 70s movie on Saturday night – ‘Winter Kills’. It is about the aftermath of the assassination of a popular young US president and the conspiracy theories which follow his shooting. The main character, Nick Kegan, bears more than a passing resemblance to Robert Kennedy.

I stop the movie to go into the kitchen to turn off the dinner. On the radio, which has been left on, is Robert Kennedy in an archive programme on BBC Radio 4 about the killings of both Kennedy (RFK) and Martin Luther King (MLK).

RFK Robert Kennedy attorney general may 1961

Robert Kennedy 1961

 

Coincidences No.s 208 & 209

13.ii.18 Theatre503

I meet the Creative Accountant, Sydney Levinson, for tea in Mayfair (Little House). At the end of the meeting he has to head for home to get ready to see the play of a friend of his at a small theatre in Battersea – Theatre503. I’ve never heard of the place.

I leave the tea with Sydney to go to a special preview screening of a documentary I’d recently commissioned, Sorry I Shot You. The screening is in Bermondsey in a back-street cafe run by an ex-offender. The director of the film, the protagonist, and various people at the gathering are also ex-cons. I meet an interesting and pleasant man called John who has done time in Liverpool for armed robbery. He is smartly dressed and articulate. He has recently written a play about his time inside which is about to be put on …at Theatre503.

10.iii.18 & 14.iii.18 Wildwood

I am walking from home to Crouch End through a string of woods. When I get to Queen’s Wood I read the information board at the entrance which explains that the woodland which covered England until 5,000 years ago was known as ‘Wildwood’. Not a term I have ever heard but I know a road called Wildwood near where I live, beside an island of woodland. I explain all this to my friend Roddy over breakfast at Banners.

An email comes through this evening about a newish band I’ve never heard of: Wildwood Kin.
A family trio – two sisters and their cousin – Wildwood Kin formed four years ago while in their mid to late teens. Their extraordinary debut album Turning Tides entered the UK charts in the top 40 and whilst it borrows from early folk influences, not least in their hypnotic three-part harmonies, it delves deeply into other genres, featuring both electric and acoustic instruments and boasts inventive electronics and spectral atmospherics.”

I’m listening to their inventive electronics and spectral atmospherics (out of Exeter) as I write this and it’s not unpleasant. Though I’d sooner have the band I saw last Monday (5th March) at the Imagining Ireland gig at The Barby, Saint Sister, a harp-keyboards duo (out of Derry & Belfast), not actual sisters but with a sisterly vibe. 

saint sister irish band

Gemma Doherty (Derry) & Morgan MacIntyre (Belfast)

Here’s a really striking song they performed, Corpses:

 

Coincidences No.s 388, 389 & 390

No. 388 Smith & Cosgrove

mark e smith the fall singer

Smith

I am sitting having dinner in Glasgow with my friend and former colleague Stuart Cosgrove. An alert comes up on his phone that Mark E. Smith of The Fall has died. Stuart interviewed Smith when he was at NME. This morning on the plane to Scotland I was reading Stuart’s book ‘Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul‘.  In the bit I was reading it mentioned the song ‘There’s a Ghost in My House’. It reminded me of an 80s cover version by The Yachts, a single I have but haven’t listened to or heard for years. As the plane taxied in I looked for that version on Spotify. Unusually couldn’t find it. The version that came up was by The Fall – Smith & co. would have known it from being in the Manchester-Wigan Northern Soul zone.

No. 389 Cosgrove & McCallum

james-brown-singer soul

Brown

I am waiting at City Airport when I bump into another old Channel 4 colleague, Neil McCallum, ex-Head of T4/Youth Entertainment & Music. He’s also on the 10.20 to Glasgow. When he was at C4 I used to call him “the hardest working man in showbiz” as he was always first in and last out of Horseferry Road. As I settle down to Stuart’s book on the plane, buffeted by Storm Georgina, the first sentence is about James Brown, using his “hardest working man in showbiz” tag, comparing his workrate to that of The Supremes (their’s was even harder, which Stuart shows lay to some degree behind their eventual split).

No. 390 Chopra & Chopra

Deepak_Chopra

Chopra

Last week Deepak Chopra, the American guru character, came up five times – once in Michael Woolf’s ‘Fire & Fury’ (which we are reading currently for our book group); once in relation to Princess Diana; once in the Finnair in-flight magazine; once in connection with an app his son is releasing. But the irony was receiving this text from my friend and colleague Professor Paul Moore at the University of Ulster about my interest in coincidences:

“Saw this with you came to mind…

Live your life with an appreciation of coincidences and you connect with the field of infinite possibilities. – Deepak Chopra

from Zen Moments”

A meta-coincidence of the most satisfying kind.

Coincidences No.s 359, 360, 361 & 362 – Back in the Old Country

first edition ulysses james joyce 1922 paris book novel

A snip at €30,000

No. 359 – 06:12:17

I am packing for a trip to Dublin to address the board of RTÉ, the national broadcaster of Ireland. There is one area of the subjects I am covering which I’m not feeling 100% confident about.

As I take stuff out of my work bag to make space, an old copy of Broadcast (the TV industry trade paper) surfaces. It’s from late September. Two pages have become detached from the centre. They are about exactly the subject that was niggling me.

No. 360 – 06:12:17

I am at Luton Airport in the queue to get on the plane to Belfast (I have a meeting at BBC Northern Ireland before heading south to Dublin). The plane is heading to Belfast International / Aldegrove which is north of the city in Co. Antrim.

My phone goes while I’m in the queue. It is Home Counties-based Northern Irish radio broadcaster Peter Curran. We almost never talk on the phone – we do face to face and use email/text to arrange getting together. He tells me he is recording a programme in Antrim and something he saw made him think of me. I tell him that that’s a bit weird as I’ll be in Antrim in about 55 minutes.

lemon soap sweny dublin james joyce ulysses

A snip at €5

No. 361 – 07:12:17

I go to a reading of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in the old pharmacy (Sweny’s) near Merrion Square where Leopold Bloom buys his lemony soap in the novel. (I’d seen a copy of the ultra-rare 1st edition a few streets away earlier in the afternoon – see photo above.) People show up ad hoc and each person reads a page from where the group had last gotten to – the reading goes round the attendees for the duration of the session. To make it feel just right an auld drunk fella showed up to take advantage of the warmth and light. The section they are reading today happens to be my favourite in a 733 page book.

I go to turn my phone to silent before the reading starts. My phone shows 19:04 – the year ‘Ulysses’ is set in these streets of Dublin.

Earlier in the afternoon I drop into the old pharmacy (now run by Joyce volunteers) and buy a bar of the lemon soap in a facsimile wrapper.

As we read we read the line “To wash his soiled hands with a partially consumed tablet of Barrington’s lemon-flavoured soap”. A couple of pages later we read: “in Lincoln Place outside the premises of F. W. Sweny and Co. Limited, dispensing chemists”. Between we read:

“What reminiscences temporarily corrugated his brow? – Reminiscences of coincidences, truth stranger than fiction…”

(I have just noticed Sweny’s intials – F W. I came to the reading directly from the National Gallery of Ireland, 3 minutes away. I had been at an exhibition of F W Burton (Frederic William) called For  The Love of Art.)

lorraine chase campari TV advert

Lorraine Chase

No. 362 – 02:12:17 & 09:12:17

The name Lorraine has been following me around this week.

At the start of the week (last Saturday) I am directing a documentary about cycling. I go to interview a couple in Birmingham. The wife is called Lorraine and is an ex-church minister – I have pictured her as a thin white sticky woman, influenced I think by Lorraine Chase, the woman made famous by the Campari TV ads in the 80s (catchphrase: “Nah, Luton Airport!” – see No. 360 above).

As it turns out the interviewee is a substantial black lady.

At the end of the week (yesterday, Saturday) I go to a screening of ‘I Am Not Your Negro’, the feature documentary by Raoul Peck about James Baldwin and Black Lives Matter (from the 40s to the 2010s). I sat next to documentary veteran Peter Dale, my old colleague from Channel 4. During the film I noticed in the archive footage a sign for a diner in one of those southern towns like Selma, I forget which: it is called Lorraine.

Coincidences No.s 355, 356, 357 & 358

No. 355

Graham Norton Channel 4 presenter chat show

In the morning I have a meeting at BAFTA with a director (Peter Demetris) I worked with on ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ to discuss a forthcoming commission I’m doing at Little Dot Studios to do with modern addiction. Peter reminds me he was studio director on Graham Norton’s first chat show ‘So Graham Norton’ on Channel 4.

In the afternoon I get an email from presenter Tim Lovejoy mentioning Graham Norton’s producer at So TV which of course was set up to make ‘So Graham Norton’.

No. 356

bible salesmen salesman

An old friend and gig-mate (another Adam) comes to stay from Amsterdam (aka A’dam). He has been working during the day at a famous University Press and mentions that he reckons a significant proportion of their revenue comes from bible sales.

The next day I am at the University of Surrey in Guildford doing a guest lecture. While I am there my old colleague, Jon Weinbren, Head of Digital Media Arts, out of nowhere mentions bible salesmen.

No. 357

blue star garage finchley road

A blast from the past – now buried under flats

My mum is trying to describe where an office she visits regularly is. She positions it relative to the old Blue Bird garage on the Finchley Road. I further triangulate it relative to an orthodontist’s surgery I went to once or twice as a kid with her. I remember the man telling me I had a “Polish jaw”. She can’t recall it at all.

A couple of days later one of my best friends visits from Aspen, Colorado where she now lives. We go to the National Theatre together and at lunch she mentions the very same orthodontist to whom she went as a girl.

No. 358

mercedes van I A Harris fruit vegetables

My grandfather was a research scientist not a fruit & veg man (he had a secret love of bacon)

I go with Enfant Terrible No.1 to visit the grave of my grandfather Ian Harris on his birthday (the same day JFK was shot – that’s how I know what I was doing on the day, I was at Pop’s tea party in a cradle).

On the drive home, as I’m talking to my son about his great-grandfather, we pass a commercial van parked in a drive in Hendon with the name I. A. Harris emblazoned on the side.

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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