Tag Archives: coincidences

Je t’aime

In which The Author meets someone new

A funny thing happened to me on the way to town this morning.
I’d better put this into context and say that I’ve got a tune stuck in my head, and it’s been there since about 8.15 or so. It’s a groovy, rather louche and naughty tune called ‘Je t’aime … moi non plus’, by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. It’s there for a reason, too. As Prof Jim al-Khalili would say, Let me explain…
At precisely 0752 my next-door neighbour started hammering something into the party wall. Again. This has been the state of play for several weeks now. I’ve no idea what he’s building in there, or why it should be so important to start work that he wakes me up every morning, but that’s his business. (I might make it my business if it carries on much longer, mind you.) Anyway, having been rudely awakened again, I got up and ran a bath while I listened to the BBC headlines. At about 8.15, my neighbour decided to start drilling into the party wall – at which point my subconscious mind took a little tour along my neural pathways. Watch this:
In Michel Gondry’s brilliant and surreal film The Science of Sleep, Stéphane (the hero) is woken up by his neighbour drilling through their party wall while fitting some shelves. The neighbour is played by the gorgeous Charlotte Gainsbourg. She, in turn, is the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin – who had a hit in ’69 (wow! A Freudian slip if ever there was one) with the aforementioned ‘Je t’aime … moi non plus’. My train of thought, having taken a little-known freight-only branch through my brain, arrived at that particular Ohrwurm and has stayed there ever since.
I left the house just before 9.00 and headed towards the Library as usual. I was halfway down the Gadlys hill, just past the site of the Waynes Arms, when I saw a very attractive young woman walking towards me. At first glance I thought she was my friend Claire M., a burlesque dancer and singer whom I haven’t seen for ages.
As we got closer I realised that it wasn’t Claire, but there was a striking resemblance. This girl was tall, slim, and quite dark, with black hair and a nose piercing. She was also wearing a chunky grey poloneck sweater under a black coat. So far, so good. She was ticking most of my boxes already.
Then she spoke to me – in a French accent. How bizarre is that?
She was trying to find her way to a little complex of offices tucked away behind the old Girls’ School. The GPS on her phone had let her down, and she’d missed the turning. Luckily she had the address as a photo on the screen. We crossed the road and I explained that she’d found her way to the Valley That Technology Forgot. I said I’d guessed from her accent that she wasn’t local.
It turns out that she lives in Cardiff, works in Brecon, and was in Aberdare for a training course. Once we reached the corner we went our separate ways, and I realised that in one of those famous parallel universes I’d just met my next girlfriend.
Yesterday was a day of coincidences (see And Another Thing….) It looks as though today is heading the same way already, and it’s not even lunchtime yet. Friday 13th is just around the corner. Watch this space…

And Another Thing…

In which The Author opens a can of worms

As soon as I posted the previous entry Profiling the Present I realised that it was the 451st item in this blog. That struck me as significant for a couple of reasons.
Ray Bradbury’s cult novel Fahrenheit 451 is about exactly the sort of thing I’d been discussing – the importance of preserving written documents. As you’ll know if you’ve read the book (or seen the film, come to that), it’s about a ‘fireman’ whose job is to burn books which are seen as subversive, or the contents of which run counter to the prevailing ideology. (Its title comes from the fact that 451º Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper ignites.)
Also, the first gig I went to featured two of my mates from school, Darren Broome and Stuart Turvill, whose band was called Farenheit 451. (The subtly-altered spelling was an attempt to sidestep the unlikely event that they became huge, and Ray Bradbury sent Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne after them.) When I said that Crass was my second ‘proper gig’ I wasn’t counting the boys’ gig. It was upstairs in The Conway in Aberdare, after all. When I saw The Cure (also with Darren and a gang of our pals, on Darren’s eighteenth birthday) they were in the Colston Hall in Bristol. I think that counts as my first ‘proper gig’, if you see what I mean.
Anyway, I made a comment to this effect when the link fed through to Facebook, and then returned to the pile of documents on my table in the Library. A brown envelope labelled only with an accession number caught my eye, so I tipped the contents out. The first thing I saw was this:

Rose Terrace

See what I mean about opening a can of worms?
Now, I know from bitter experience that the apostrophe in my family surname has a habit of going walkabout. In fact, it took the Halifax Building Society (pre-carpetbaggers) no fewer than eleven attempts to get my name right on my cashpoint card. Therefore, I’m not sure whether this rent book relates to my late uncle Pat O’Gorman, or to someone whose surname was just Gorman. (See Dave Gorman’s very funny book Are You Dave Gorman? for his own experiences of tracking down people who share his name.) Pat and Vilda certainly lived at a Number 23, but it wasn’t ‘Rose Terrace’!
I’ve got the bound electoral registers from 1961-2 in front of me at the moment, covering the period when the rent book was in use. Pat and Vilda were living in the house which I always remember them living in. Dad and his first wife were living at 1 Economy Cottages (see A Little Economy) at the bottom of Meirion Street. Pat and Vilda’s next-door neighbour wasn’t even named Griffiths. I’ve no idea where Rose Terrace was, as there’s no entry in the electoral register. It’s yet another lost street for the Street Names Project. The plot thickens.
I imagine one of my cousins might be able to shed some light on this. Until then, it’s a mystery, and a bizarre coincidence to boot.
That wasn’t the only weird thing about the envelope. The only other thing in there was a tenancy agreement for someone living at 24 Meirion Street – in other words, just at the top of the hill from where I grew up.
You know, some days you wish you’d gone to the pub instead.