On dilemmas and film stars

Last week was pretty epic in its level of interestingness. You can’t complain about a week that begins with a Monday night in the company of famous authors; continues with an evening avec Bishops (ok, maybe that’s not interesting to all, but it is in my world); and concludes on Friday afternoon with half an hour in the company of Robert Redford.

God bless Wittertainment, the BBC and the Sundance London Film Festival – and, most importantly of all, Fridays as days off. Being free on Friday afternoon just over a week ago meant that I was able to listen live to the show (a first, I usually save the podcast for my post vicar school walk home) in response to a tip-off that an exciting announcement was being made. Exciting it was – a live show was taking place the following week, in London, and with Robert Redford. I filled in the form in record time and prayed.

Well, I filled in the form and alerted a fellow fan that they should do the same. Annoyingly, for things like this you’re only allowed 2 tickets and I have two friends who I knew would love to join me. Sadly, the quota filled up too quickly and I was left with the dilemma of which of the two I should take. 

I don’t like difficult decisions at the best of times – this was a bit of a ‘mare. How do you decide between:
Friend 1 – responsible for introducing me to Wittertainment. Never been to a live broadcast. First to know that I stood a good chance of getting tickets.
Friend 2 – massive Wittertainment fan who took me to the Christmas show in 2010 and offered me tickets to last year’s that I couldn’t take up. Took me to The Now Show last month and gave me their spare ticket to World Book Night. Currently storing a lot of my possessions in their home.

See? Tough call. I did what any other sensible person would do – I played them off against each other. Friend 1 said he’d fight Friend 2 ‘to the death’. Friend 2 accepted this challenge, stating that they’d bring peanuts (Friend 1 has a nut allergy). Ultimately though, I went on a ‘first come, first served’ basis – meaning that Friend 1 got it. 

But the guilt was still there and Twitter made it SO much worse. Friday morning’s Twitter stream looked like this:
Me – “Geekily excited about today’s antics. What should one wear to a radio broadcast at a film festival??”
Friend 2 – “not going to be jealous…not going to be jealous…not going to be jealous…not going to be jealous…”
Me: “*Feels bad & struggles to think of suitable response*
Friend 2: “I’m an evangelist, and thus all about the guilt. *mission accomplished* – all is well! Have a great time!”

And then Friend 1 decided to be all gracious and tweet:
“Looking forward to seeing @Wittertainment live at Sundance London today, courtesy of @LizaClutterbuck.” 
Because that didn’t rub her nose in it, not at all…

In the end, my decision was kind of justified in a twist of Christian small world-ness. Another response to my excited tweet was from a fellow trainee vicar who had tickets too. We were right behind him in the queue to get in and it emerged that Vicar School Friend and Friend 1 had once worked together but hadn’t seen each other since. What a coincidence.
Photo from here
Dilemmas and friendship issues aside, it was an excellent afternoon. If someone could find out how Robert Redford has managed to stay so well preserved, and sell it, they could make a heck of a lot of money! He’s 75 and doesn’t look a day over 50. He was great to listen to too (you can download the podcast of the programme here), witty, politically knowledgeable (in the right way), and a great story-teller. I clearly need to have something of a Refordathon in order to fully appreciate his brilliance. (And find some way of making a Clutterbuckathon a possibility – suggestions are welcome.) 


It is a small world after all… Anyone in Christian circles knows that the six degrees of separation is rubbish – it’s more like three. (In fact, I have one friend who reckons that between the two of us we know everyone, given that pretty much anywhere I go I meet someone who knows him.)

Lately, I’ve had a run of coincidences that have gone from the pretty random to the utterly ridiculous…

  • A girl I’ve done kids stuff with at church for a couple of years, turns out to have a Dad who does the same job as my parents. Not so unusual – it makes a current total of five of us at church with parents in that particular denominational profession. On top of that, our sisters do the same job too – they’re both teachers, so no massive coincidence there – but in fact they teach in the same school. Random.

Two weeks later…

  • My sister is out with her colleagues and ends up sat next to a woman whose imminent maternity leave is the cause of the celebration. During a conversation about weddings which results in my sister mentioning her maiden name, this woman suddenly exclaims “Oh! You’re Liz’s sister”. Turns out the teacher in question worked with me in my bookshop era – in fact, we began our jobs on the same day. Quite random, though not unbelievable.
Last Thursday…
  • A colleague casually mentions that he met someone who knew me the night before. Turned out her name was Alice, so I began running through friends of that name in an attempt to work out who it was. A comment about the Potteries and a priest for a father quickly made me realise that the girl in question was my Godfather’s daughter – who I’m in semi-regular contact with regarding our mutual driving sagas. The truly weird thing about this encounter is that they’d met on a crowded platform at Green Park station and simply got talking, which is not normal London behaviour! The revelation of his occupation and employer immediately had Alice asking if he’d come across any Clutterbucks – deeply worrying. 
  • I’m just home from a day out in the sun, tinged pink both from its rays and a little embarrassment. Sauntering through Covent Garden after a delightful few hours with friends, I popped into a favourite Café Nero for an iced beverage and the use of their facilities [that’s a delightfully British way of saying I needed the toilet]. As I made my way through the crowd at the counter, realised that one of the arms that had just taken a frappé bore a familiar wristband. I looked up a discovered an equally familiar face. We chatted, discovered we’d come into the café with the exact same purpose and after a few minutes I excused myself. I guess that as we both live in London, this shouldn’t be such a coincidence, but you just don’t generally bump into people like that. [There’s a back-story as to why this was more random than it might seem, but I’ll not go into the details.]
  • The slight embarrassment results not from this encounter, but one 20 minutes later when we both ended up (independently) in Trafalgar Square. I was busy escaping the attentions of a male tourist intent upon interrupting my quality time with my book [“Can I sit here and chat with you?” ,”No. I’m reading and having some quiet time by myself”]; he was waiting for friends. I decided I looked like a stalker – hence the pink cheeks. Paranoid? Me? Very. [It should be noted the use of the word ‘he’ in the previous sentence suggests why this might have been a potentially cringe-worthy encounter.]
None of these coincidences are bad things, just a little weird and leaves me pondering whether this happens to me more than most other people? It certainly feels like it at the moment. 

It’s a small world after all

I’ve said before that the world is actually a small place. Factor in the incestuousness of the Christian community and the world becomes a village. Facebook pretty much makes the world one extended family…

Having posted a bunch of photos from the wedding I was at over the weekend, I was surprised when an old primary school friend commented on one of them. This girl has already turned up at a number of random places in the 16 years since we left school, including my friend’s church when we were students and outside my tube station on my way to work last year. Turns out she’s friends with the new boyfriend of a friend of mine – who she’d spotted in a photo I’d taken of the couple at the wedding. Random.

A couple of weeks ago two friends of mine ran into each other at a retreat centre. I’m not sure how long it took them to work out they had me in common, but exceedingly random nonetheless.

And yet, it seems I’m also able to walk straight past good friends in the street, completely oblivious of their presence. Hmmmm.

It’s a small, small world

I live in a big city, in fact officially it’s the 17th biggest city in the world (in terms of population). The chances of bumping into people in random places should be pretty minimal – unless you live round the corner from them. (Although, for the record I’ve only bumped into my neighbour in our area 3 times in the last year.)

Usually I meet people in logical places – church friends at church, or places near church; old work colleagues near my old office; friends from Muswell Hill in Muswell Hill (surprising!). They say that you can never walk down Oxford Street without bumping into someone you know, yet I do it frequently (maybe the theory’s based on people who only go there once a year) but I have occasionally met people from totally random places there.

The thing is, lately it’s been getting ridiculous. I’m not talking about people I’ve found on Facebook, as that’s kind of the point of Facebook. It’s all the other stuff:
– Meeting a girl from primary school on my way to the tube station one morning.
– Running into an old housemate from uni, who I’d not seen in over 4 years, in a pub.
[The above events happened on the same day.]
– Finding a guy with a nice profile on an online dating site (don’t judge me, please!) and then realising I’d been at uni with him.

I have friendships which have originated from random coincidences. Ann’s a great mate, who I met in London, but it turns out her mum was trained as a minister by my dad. Or Lissie, who’s good friend in 6th form was my sister’s oldest friend. There are more…but after a while it gets tedious!

Having put up with me talking about these coincidences, my colleague’s now decided I have both random friends and a random life. I think the problem is that life is incestuous, and basically you can’t escape anyone.