Archive for the ‘coincidences’ Tag

Coincidences No.s 348, 349 & 350

Wild wild country documentary

No. 348 Springfield

23.10.18 I am having a pre-shoot meeting about a documentary to be shot next week in the USA. There are two main characters and the director is staying in the house of one of them. I ask her where this is. She says Springfield, Missouri. It’s not a place I have ever visited or thought about – I thought it was where The Simpsons lived.

22.10.18 I am watching the last episode of the documentary series ‘Wild Wild Country’. When the cult leader is returned by the police to Portland, Oregon they take two or three weeks to fly him cross-country to break him down. One of the stops mentioned and shown on the journey map is Springfield, Missouri.

Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons)  based Springfield (a fictional town) on a town near where he grew up in Portland, Oregon:

“Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show ‘Father Knows Best’ took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do.”

thompson twins pop group 80s

No. 349 Thompson Twins

21.10.18 I am chatting to the Programmer of HotDocs, Toronto in a square in Rome (we are both speaking at the MIA film market). He mentions an 80s gig he went to recently at which the Thompson Twins performed (or perhaps just Tom Bailey). I haven’t played or thought about the Thompson Twins for some time – probably since seeing the delightful  ‘Sing Street’.

15.10.18 I go to see Paul Brady and Andy Irvine performing with Donal Lunny at The Barbican. This is all courtesy of my friend Oisin Lunny, Donal’s son. In our party is an Indian percussionist. He talks a little about some of the bands he has played with. After Blancmange the next band he mentions is Thompson Twins.

kingdom of us documentary

No. 350 Kingdom of Us

23.10.18 At the same meeting as in No. 348 me and the director of our forthcoming Springfield-related documentary are discussing some of the companies and people she works with. In that exchange the producer Julia Nottingham (formerly of Pulse) comes up (she works with one of the director’s business partners). I know Julia from my chairing a session on Music Documentaries at Sheffield DocFest a couple of years ago when ‘The Possibilities Are Endless’ was just out, Julia’s film about Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice. The director also mentions Julia’s documentary ‘Kingdom of Us’.

23.10.18 That morning I am clearing up stray DVDs from around the house. A small stash of them I find under a pile of paper on my desk. I flick through them – they are old BAFTA screeners. I recognise them all except one which I read the blurb on the back of to remind me what it was – I make a mental note to watch it again soon. It is ‘Kingdom of Us‘. Produced by Julia, directed by Lucy Cohen.

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Coincidences No.s 876, 877, 878 & 879

No. 876 Ruth

Charlie Sheen and Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Jennifer Grey & Charlie Sheen in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)

I go to see ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ this evening, for the first time on the big screen since the late 80s. In the scene between Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen in the police station there is a glimpse of a wanted poster on the wall. The wanted person is Ruth Wilson.

I recently completed a documentary entitled ‘Vanished’. It is about a school girl who went missing in the mid-90s. She was called Ruth Wilson. She is still missing/wanted (by her friends).

No. 877 Ghana

I am listening to my old acquaintance Philippe Sands’ podcast ‘Intrigue: The Ratline‘ about a Nazi who escaped justice by fleeing to Rome and perhaps Latin-America after that (I haven’t finished the story yet). In the episode I’m on at present there is an ex-leader of the Hitler Youth. He became an advisor to the government of Ghana after the war as he evaded justice too.

I am working on a documentary about an Afro-American man who flees to Ghana, repatriating himself after becoming increasingly ill-at-ease in his native USA.

No. 878 Welling

Bobby Wellins saxophonist

Wellins

Enfant Terrible No. 2 starts a job in a school in a place I have never heard of in Kent, not far out of London. It is called Welling. I know Wellingborough in Northamptonshire where my first bank account was located. I know Bobby Wellins the saxophonist who gave us the haunting ‘Starless and Bible Black’, one of the greatest of jazz tunes. But Welling means nothing to me.

On the tube on the way home the next day there is a story in the Evening Standard about a wheelchair-bound man who is in court after running down two old ladies at a bus stop. The outrage took place in Welling.

No. 879 Seven Dials

seven dials covent garden

Where seven streets meet

I write an email to a colleague I am due to meet the next day at Red Bull Media. I ask him where their new offices are. He replies by email: Seven Dials, Covent Garden.

I open the email from Red Bull. I am standing on the street – at Seven Dials.

Coincidences No.s 435 & 436

No. 435 Shrouded in mystery

Turin Shroud Face

I am on the Eurostar to Paris sitting next to a group of men travelling together who turn out to be tax inspectors (I get talking to them through the bloke next to me reading Dante’s Divine Comedy). They are off to Italy, to Florence, via Turin where they are due to overnight this evening. I ask them if they will have time to see the Turin Shroud.

I am in the Sacre Coeur this same evening. I stop to light a candle in one of the side chapels. On the wall for some reason is an image of the Turin Shroud.

No. 436 Chicago

360-chicago-observation

I am on the phone on the street in Passy, Paris 16e, greenlighting the latest Real Stories Original, a documentary set in Chicago.

I come off the phone and glance across the road – there’s a vintage clothing store called Chicago.

 

Coincidence No. 460

I am watching ‘Othello’ at The Globe with Enfant Terrible No.2. I notice the line, when The Moor has killed Desdemona:

“Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon”
The same night there is a lunar eclipse which turns the moon red. It is known as a Blood Moon.
blood-moon-total-lunar-eclipse-27 july-2018

27th July 2018

The longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st Century took place on 27th July 2018. It lasted 103 minutes (the entire celestial event lasted nearly 4 hours).

Coincidences No.s 455, 456, 457, 458 & 459

dorothea-lange-migrant-mother-1936 photograph great depression dust bowl

Dorothea Lange’s iconic ‘Migrant Mother’ (1936)

No. 455 Oakland

I am in the Barbican Art Gallery looking at an exhibition of photographer Dorothea Lange and notice that many of the prints are from the Oakland Museum of California. This reminds me of my friend Richard who lives in Oakland. I send him an email there and then asking if he has seen the exhibition which has or will also be shown in that museum.

I get an email back a few minutes later saying that it is good that I emailed as he happens to be home in London for a funeral. (As a result, we get to meet up a bit later at the Clissold Arms for a drink.)

(I have a documentary shooting at the moment in Oakland – Back to Black.)

sick puppy carl hiaasen book cover design

No.456 Black dogs

I am reading Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. The puppy in question is a black Labrador.

I keep seeing black Labradors everywhere. I saw one on Ness Island yesterday. I saw one in Coldfall Wood a couple of days ago. Since then I saw one at the bow of a small boat in Ullapool. One at Seafood Shack, the award-winning street food outfit in the same town. And someone shared a video on Facebook showing a black lab falling into a river rapid while going after a stick and a golden lab subsequently saving it by grabbing the stick and pulling it out of the fast-running water.

The island that is about to be spoiled through property development in Sick Puppy is being renamed Shearwater Island. The boat that I take to explore the waters around Ullapool is called the Shearwater.

On the way to Ullapool I hear about a shooting at a newspaper office in Maryland, USA, the Capital Gazette. One of the victims is Rob Hiaasen. An unusual surname – it turns out he is related to author Carl, his brother.

The night before I meet a man named Olaf at a dinner given by Scottish Enterprise at Xpo North in Inverness. It is the second time that fairly unusual first name came up in the day. Earlier I meet a Norwegian actress and film-maker who mentions that one of the times you can see there are plenty of Norwegians in London is on Norway Day when they gather at the Norwegian Church in London, St Olav’s (church and seamen’s mission).

the 39 steps john buchan book cover design pan

My first copy (from my dad)

No. 457 Portland Place

I buy a copy of The 39 Steps in Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness. I start reading it by the Moray Firth and on the first couple of pages there is a reference to Portland Place where Richard Hannay rents a flat.

I am walking through Inverness when I find myself in Portland Place (1828). (It contains the most northerly mosque in the UK.)

Naked & Invisible Nude in Newington Channel 4 short form video still

‘Naked & Invisible: Nude in Newington’ (Channel 4)

No. 458 Newington Green

I am sitting next to the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise at dinner. She tells me that her daughter has moved to London – to Newington Green.

I am talking to the chair of the panel I have just done at Xpo North. He tells me his office is in North London. Camden Town? I ask. No, Newington Green.

In my talk for an earlier panel for Skills Development Scotland I refer to a film I commissioned at Channel 4 and there is a still from it in my presentation. It is a scene shot in a greengrocer’s on Newington Green and the title of the episode is Nude in Newington.

Xpo North inverness creative industries scotland

No. 459 Independent filmmakers

Google Alerts points me to an article in a magazine called Filmmaker. I check it out and it is run by an organisation called IFP. This stands for independent filmmakers.

I meet one of the fellow panellists for the session I am doing at Xpo North in Inverness about 21st-century storytelling. Nick is from Brooklyn. His games company is part of IFP (which I’ve never heard of before that article shows up).

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 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 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.

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