Coincidence. Serendipity. I’ve been speaking a lot about that kind of thing recently. From a reader posting comments on City Jackdaw about places from her childhood that also hold connections for me, to a fellow blogger describing serendipity playing out in her own life.
Along with what’s the chances of that happening in the face-to-face world that we operate in, too.
Highlighting them seems to be attracting more of the same, eavesdropping universe that this is.
This post is an example of a string of coincidences that recently played out over the last few days.
It began when I messaged my cousin to see if he wanted to go to a local Non-League football game. He replied that, along with his family, he’d gone to Glastonbury for a few days, a place I know that they love.
In answering his text I told him to “Enjoy Avalon”, referring to the link that the place has to Arthurian legend.
Later that day, while absently scrolling through Facebook, a video surfaced that was first posted in January by the group Kula Shaker. It featured them spending some time on top of Glastonbury Tor, at either sun-up or sundown, with some music and chanting featuring in the background.
So of course I sent this video on to my cousin as I was sure he’d appreciate it. He did.
Then, speaking of Avalon, in a local charity shop I came across a book that I’d been meaning to read since I was a child:
I snapped up a bargain and was able to start it, a few decades down the line from those first youthful intentions.
Now, back to Kula Shaker again:
They are a band that seem to be marmite to people, but I like them. I first encountered them in 1996 when I worked for a short time in a warehouse (predictive text changed that to whorehouse 🙈) on Stakehill Industrial Site.
Driving an electric pallet truck, I passed the radio, perched on a bottom stair, that was playing what sounded like a slice of 60’s psychedelia, which I love.
After first catching my ear, it seemed that, as I made many circuits around the warehouse throughout the next few days, whenever I passed the radio that same song would be coming from it (coincidence again?). This regular amount of airplay demonstrated that whatever it was, it must be new music, and eventually I stopped my truck and hung around long enough to get the name of the track:
Tattva, by a new group named Kula Shaker.
I went straight out and bought their debut album ‘K’ which featured that song, and have been a fan ever since.
Now, fast-forward back to today.
Kula Shaker’s last album had come out in 2016 (K 2.0) but they had been posting/tweeting/crowing for a few weeks about some new music and a tour that was imminent.
Then we got a countdown promising . . . something.
First there was a cryptic smiley drum thing.
Then the countdown became more specific.
And then D-Day, a video was posted showcasing the first music from this pending new album. The title of the song?
What’s the odds? I’ve stopped asking that question.
Glastonbury/Avalon/The Once And Future King
Don’t be surprised if the group play Glastonbury this year. This thing is going to run and run.
I will follow their lights/And I will follow their star.
I was on a bus, coming from Manchester, which arrived at the bus station of my hometown of Middleton. A woman got on it with her friend and two young children in tow, saying that they were going to Langley which is, at the most, a ten minute journey.
Watching her friend shepherding the children to take their seats, she used her card to pay and then joined them. At that point she studied her ticket and within seconds had marched back to the front of the bus, kicking off with the driver.
“Sixteen pounds and forty-four pence! For two adults and two children? Going to Langley? That’s a piss take, an absolute piss take! Sixteen forty-four?!”
The driver looked at her ticket and then explained that the 16.44 was actually the time at which she’d bought the ticket.
I really wish that she’d have caught the last bus at 23.59.
I’d only been walking the dog for a few minutes when I saw, beneath the spring-blossoming tree by the grass verge, a man walking towards us. It was, as my wife affectionately refers to him, the Happy Drunk.
Living alone and often under the influence (but no harm to anyone), sometimes you’d hear him singing aloud on his way home in the evening. Other times he’d be ruminating to himself, completely unaware of your presence. This was early morning though, and he took us in as our individual journeys brought us together.
“That’s a beautiful dog. Is it a spaniel?” he asked.
“Yeah, he’s a Welsh Springer Spaniel.”
“A Welsh Springer? I didn’t know that, I just know a spaniel when I see one. There are different ones, aren’t there?”
“Yes, the English ones are more popular but I think these are better looking dogs. The English Springers are a little bigger, with flat heads instead of these domed ones, and Welshies are always this red and white colour whereas the English ones can be different.”
“Ah, I’ll never remember that,” he replied dismissively. “I just love spaniels. What’s his name?”
I was going to mention that we’d wanted a Welsh name for a Welsh dog and so I’d (half-jokingly) proposed Tom (Jones) and (Katherine) Jenkins, but decided to play it safe and keep it simple. “He’s called Bryn.”
Mishearing, he ruffled the dogs head delightedly. “Fire and brimstone, eh? Fire and brimstone.”
Then we went our separate ways, Bryn throwing a brief, curious glance over his shoulder, the Happy Drunk’s musings turning Biblical.
I hadn’t realised it had been that long until I was going through some books today and uncovered the two volumes of The Northlore Series that I have three stories included in (Volume One: Folklore; Volume Two: Mythos), along with a poem.
I sat down and read my contributions. Reading them for the first time in a while felt strange, as though they’d been penned by someone else. The last one was published in 2016, and since then it seems that my focus has been solely on poetry and non-fiction.
I enjoyed becoming acquainted with those characters again: Alfred Cartwright, the former English teacher finding himself trapped in the horror of the Somme, and Andy, the young, infatuated, wannabe writer, working in a Manchester cafe for a little extra money.
As any reader or writer will know, fictional characters take on flesh in the mind’s eye, appearing in the form that our imaginations give to them. But with the final character – a Lutheran Pastor ministering to a small rural village in Norway, I had a little help with an illustration provided by the series’ artist, Evelinn Enoksen:
I peered at his face, up close, thinking ah, I remember you.Torsten Göransson, the Stockholm man of faith, struggling through the snow.
It made me think of other characters that I have, neither drawn nor written, existing half-formed in the back of my mind, having been pushed back further down the line.
Maybe I should consider bringing some of them out into the light? Maybe they want to breathe a little?
Maybe I should turn my focus inwards and ask “Who’s there?”
Perhaps after this oral history project is completed.