Weirdness in a man's life.
By Simon Mills
Coincidences can really give a chap the shivers. I mean really mind-bogglingly unlikely occurrences of logistical and statistical improbability, not just bumping into one of your friends in your local boozer. There have been quite a few in my life and all fairly entertaining in their own way.
Deepak Chopra, the celebrity spiritualist, likes to attach profound significance to apparently random events like, say, a falling baby saved two times by the same man.
“When you live your life with an appreciation of coincidences and their meanings, you connect with the underlying field of infinite possibilities,” he muses. “This is a state I call synchrodestiny, in which it becomes possible to achieve the spontaneous fulfillment of our every desire.” Blimey.
Now, I am not the sort of person who reads too much into these moments of inexplicable implausibility, but I do enjoy them immensely and see them more as little gifts of anecdotal ammo from above than life-changing interludes. So much so that I have devoted a great deal of time to eating up the complete works of Paul Auster, the master of coincidence. I mention Auster here not just because I want to prove how erudite I am, but because he stars in one of my greatest ever coincidences…
• The year is 2002. My friend Alex and I have taken a trip to New York. A hike in the Adirondacks, followed by a short luxuriation in an Upper East Side hotel. At this point in my life my obsession with Paul Auster is peaking. I am devouring his books, starting one as soon as the previous one is done. Because we are in New York, I am boring my friend Alex to death with constant references to Auster. Alex just wants to eat. The hotel concierge recommends a nearby restaurant, Montrachet. It is a lousy, rain-sodden night, and when we get there it is just about empty. The maître d’ takes our coats and does that weird restauranty thing of seating us right next to the only other occupied table. As the menus are proffered, I glance at the fast-talking, urbane and evidently cultured threesome to our right, one of whom is, yep… Paul Auster. WTF!
• I am early to meet my friend (Alex again) for a drink at the pub. I park my car, turn off the engine and sit thinking in silence for a minute; work stuff mainly. Suddenly a silly, Chris Morris-ish notion enters my head. Is it possible for the internet to get totally full up and, like, burst?This daffy idea makes me smile.With 10 minutes still to kill I tune the car stereo to Radio 4. It’s a science programme. The subject being discussed? “Is it possible for the internet to ever get over full with information?” INCROYABLE!
• I go out for an bike ride with Kev, the editor of Manzine, careering round the narrow East End streets and along the towpaths. Kev overcooks it on a slippery cobble and falls off, banging his arm. He looks peaky pale. “I think it might be broken,” he says. We go our separate ways; me home, Kev to A&E. Turns out his arm is broken. He has it put in a pot. The doctor treating him is called “Simon Mills” – the same name as the guy he has just been out bike riding with. MAD!
• I get a new job at a national newspaper. It’s not a particularly friendly working environment and on the first day I don’t even have my own desk. The editor’s secretary tells me to hot-desk at an unspecific work station for the time being. I sit down opposite a man and says, “Hi, I am Simon.”
“I am Simon, too,” he replies, mildly amused.
“Simon Mills,” I offer, by way of difference. The other Simon looks confused. “Is this a wind up?” he says. His name is Simon Mills, also. BIZARRE!
• I am at home fiddling around with my daughter’s new iPad. She’s downloaded a teen movie called Easy A, so with not much else to do, I watch it. It’s really good, and I especially like the guy playing the super cool, wisecracking dad of the young female lead – a hardworking, bald fella called Stanley Tucci, whom I’ve vaguely noticed in few other movies. Then I go out – to the High Street Kensington branch of Argos to buy a kettle. As I stroll along, I almost bump into a guy coming out of the fashionable clothes shop Cos. It is the actor Stanley Tucci. SPOOKY!
From Manzine No.5.
Information on parking in Russia. Photo: Mischa Gilbert