PC 19 Coincidences

I rushed around, a little like a headless chicken, not sure what I was looking for. I saw flashes of the familiar and the unfamiliar, of roads that ran nowhere and paths that went on for ever. A bottle of ‘Stohl’ rum came into focus, completely divorced from its surrounding. Some stranger held the bottle and laughed and asked: “What are you looking for?” It seemed such an obvious question and required no thought to answer: “I’m looking for the Pink Panther.” The stranger turned the bottle and there on the label was a cartoon drawing of The Pink Panther. So there it was; I’d found it!”

Suddenly I awoke from this collection of random thoughts, the dream so vivid and real. Most of you will remember The Pink Panther, but for those of you too young, the actor Peter Sellers made a series of films in the late ‘60s about an incompetent French police inspector named Clouseau. It featured an animated cartoon panther, which happened to be pink! I had experienced this dream way back in 2001 whilst staying with my brother and his family and, on appearing for breakfast, was asked: “Sleep well?” The dream and its Pink Panther hadn’t yet drifted into my subconscious and I was able to recount some of the detail, over my three boiled eggs and coffee.

I didn’t know much about the stages of our sleep, so was fascinated to be told at the wedding of chums that there are five stages that the body cycles through, roughly every 90 minutes. What a strange coincidence therefore to read exactly the same thing two weeks later in the Delancey Place daily news email, which I had just signed up to. So then I got thinking of other coincidences which I have experienced, some quite recent, some so bizarre to be unexplainable. Why should one have periods when ‘coincidences’ are more frequent than at other times? Is it that we are sometimes more open, more aware, more observant, more ready to accept? The question hangs in the air!

My favourite Australian author is Tim Winton (Cloudstreet, Dirt Music etc) and I ordered his latest book, Eyrie, in July this year. It’s a social tale of life in the raw in the suburbs of Freemantle, Western Australia from where Tim Winton hails. Somewhere in the book the narrator goes into a friend’s flat and sees a postcard showing Rio de Janeiro’s ‘Christ the Redeemer’ on the mantelpiece. I did a double take! The postcard could have been from anywhere; its origin had no bearing on the story, but it happened to be from …… Rio, a city I am now so so familiar with! Weird I thought.

A few days later I’m reading another book and, in the description of a scene, read: “…… the woman pulled open the café door, and came in, leaving the door to slam shut. Startled, I looked up from my Expresso, and immediately noticed her brown sweatshirt with the words ‘Thief River Falls is Paradise’ emblazoned across her chest. ……..” Some minutes later, Celina and I go for a walk along the seafront at Hove. On our return, I see a piece of junk mail in the front hall advertising “Blue River Falls.” “Weird! “River Falls” twice in a couple of hours?” I thought …..  but just a coincidence? Surely?

At the beginning of last month, my daughter Jade and husband Sam go off to Jersey for a family wedding, the same weekend that we have a small supper party. Chatting to one of our guests, I find out that she originates from ……. Jersey, but that now her mother is living in Weymouth ……. where my brother and sister-in-law live. Is this just random chance?

Some years ago I went to Osbourne House, the summer house of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, built on the Isle of Wight. It’s a rather Italianate palace, with towers at various corners. In one of the state rooms there are wonderfully proportioned floor-to-ceiling windows; the detail I particularly remembered was that the shutters had mirrors attached to their internal faces. It was easy to imagine a candle-lit formal party, the room full of uniforms, white tie & tails and long dresses, everything reflected in the mirrored shutters.  I don’t like curtains too much so when we bought the apartment in Amber House in 2012, I got the local House of Shutters company to come and measure up for some shutters. I will always remember the salesman Dean’s face when I said: “Oh! And I want some antiqued mirrors on the inside of the main ones.” I think he thought I was mad, but they work well and he’s even been back to take some photographs. So the connection is made to Osbourne House. Only a couple of months ago I found out that Amber House used to be part of an old people’s home (appropriate you might say!) called Dresden House. And if you google ‘Dresden House’ you read it was in a street named Albany Villas, “where many houses reflect the architecture of …. Osbourne House”. Full circle? Weird or what?

Is it such a coincidence that my daughter’s step-father-in-law Richard was born on the same day, in the same month, in the same year as my sister-in-law Jane – 10th January 1953? Weird?

After the boiled eggs and coffee, we all went off to Portland near Weymouth, to sail with my late nephew in his dinghy. We trailered the boat down to the dinghy park and started the process of rigging the mast and generally preparing to sail. Unfamiliar with the particular rig, I helped where I could, but found myself looking out over the other boats on the hard-standing to the waters of Portland Harbour. In the immediate foreground amongst all the other craft was a small catamaran dinghy. Very visible on the starboard keel was a cartoon character – The Pink Panther. I did a double take, not believing what I was seeing, for here amongst the gravel and the fibreglass was the subject of my dream early in the day. Weird? Spooky more like!!

Just a few random thoughts!

Richard Yates – richardyates24@gmail.com

P.S. I hadn’t thought about The Pink Panther of my dream much in the last thirteen years, although last night when I was pulling together thoughts about life’s coincidences I sort of relived it. This morning, after a session of Bikram Yoga in Ipanema, Celina and I walk in the direction of the local Zona Sul supermarket. At the intersection of two busy streets there’s a flower stall, and sitting next to it is a Saxophonist, lost in the tune he’s playing and hoping for a generous donation. That tune – the theme from the film The Pink Panther! Now that really is weird!




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