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. 

Sibling shopping

I’m looking for a new sibling…
I jest of course. How could I possibly want to replace my unique (and utterly irreplaceable) little sister?

Easter weekend has been spent back in the shire in the company of sibling and sibling-in-law. Picking me up from the station in ‘nam (that would be a nam of the Cheltenham variety) we went straight into town for lunch at its ‘similar to but legally distinct from’ Wagamamas and some shopping.

The ‘nam has excellent, if somewhat expensive, shopping and we were on a mission to buy a soon to be 13 year old boy’s birthday present. (How is he that old? Teenage boys are so hard to shop for.) In addition to presents, we also managed to purchase identical shirt dresses (on my recommendation, already owning the same dress in black) and I acquired a skirt in Fat Face that my sister had bought only the week before. It seems there is sororal telepathy and there is simply liking and recommending the same clothes…

Owning identical clothes is fine as most of the time we live miles away from each other and spend approximately 2 weeks (if that) a year together. However, I should have realised that her new dress was likely to appear yesterday morning – after all, isn’t Easter Sunday the traditional day for donning new outfits?

She left for choir practice whilst I was in the shower, so I hadn’t even glimpsed what she was wearing; it also wasn’t visible during the service owing to her cassock/surplice. Not until I met her after the service did I discover we matched, albeit in different colours. [I suppose I should be thankful that the identical dress I’d bought didn’t quite fit – despite being the same size as my original black one – such is the way with Primark…] We may have got away with though. My rather purple jacket seems to distract attention away from any other item of clothing, and it was too cold to be without layers. Plus, even her husband didn’t notice till late in the evening.

I’ve just put on the grey skirt we both now own. (How could I resist a £13.50 Fat Face bargain that’s perfect for work?) I suppose I’d better pop into the lounge and check what she’s wearing. Identical clothing two days running would be too, too much.

Before I do, I have one more issue to mention. Because of our similar taste, I’ve often had a habit of passing cast-off’s onto her – especially ones that no longer fitted. Now that I’m back down to her size again, there were one or two things I’d rather like back. Specifically, an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt I bought years ago in Hong Kong. I’d bought her one too (different colour), so if I got mine back it’s not as though she’d be left with nothing. However, she is immovable. I ‘gave’ it to her and thus it is hers. Apparently it also fits better than her original. I find this grossly unfair, especially as she has a very full wardrobe and I’m struggling to rebuild mine.

Hmph. Maybe I should look for a new sibling after all.

Christmas again?

I’ve succumbed to the reality that Christmas is just 4 weeks away, so the annual task of working out what to get as Christmas presents has started.

My sister likes to help with this, in an effort to ensure that she doesn’t end up with a pile of crap I suppose, although she only has a limited influence on other friends/family… The last couple of years I’ve received a helpful, if just a tad sarcastic, e-mail along the lines of this one (from 2006):

Subject: I don’t want a lot for Christmas

Christopher and Elizabeth,

Again it has fallen upon me to notify my nearest and dearest as to what I might desire for Christmas. May I take this opportunity to point out that this does rather take the excitement out of the whole occasion and confirms for me that no one in the family really knows me.

Firstly, a brief introduction:
Name: Mim
Age: 22
Likes: Comedy, clothes, Disney, Christmas jumpers.
Dislikes: People not knowing what I might like for Christmas, being called Megan
[the family labrador].

Down to business:
My little unimaginative friends…
You should already know a selection of my favourite televisual entertainments. This year these include: Qi, Little Britain, Scrubs, Arrested Development and many many more. Should you peruse a website such as Play or Amazon you will find dvds of the above as well as tie-in paraphernalia and more importantly the little section on “people who bought this also bought…”. This is a mine of information and can lead to exciting little discoveries.

By way of feature films I much desire Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The seaweed is always greener and so on. There are also always classic films that can be enjoyed time and again. My personal likes are often found in bargain basement-type areas. I don’t know what this says about my tastes but it makes present buying that bit more exciting. And sometimes less expensive.

Now there is the essential Christmas jumper. This should be a woollen affair, preferably with a bold, unavoidable pattern. Classic colours are pink, dark red or purple. I am still looking to branch into tank top wearing but I would like these to supplement, not replace my Christmas jumper collection.

I like scarves. Contrary to popular belief, one can never have too many scarves. Some of mine have gone missing in this summer’s move. These will need replacing. Burgundy, dark green, purple, dark pink etc. Patterned, foreign-looking ones. There is a nice shop in Tewks that has these. (Also, Gap has a lovely woolly burgundy one…)

Failing any of the above there is the option of theatre tickets. I would like to see Wicked, Avenue Q and anything else cheesy and/or racist. Nothing to beat a bit of cheesy racism.

I think that’s all. Any questions please let me know.
Please discuss any potential purchases with each other to avoid the issue of duplicate gifts.
Happy shopping!


The great thing is that she’ll probably never know this e-mail is online as she never, ever, reads my blog. (I love my sister…) I’m going to have a hunt for her 2005 missive, which was a total classic as she basically wanted (and still wants) a drum kit – each part of the kit was a different gift-buying opportunity.

I’m just waiting for the 2007 edition to turn up. When it does (I’m assuming it will, she’s only told me about one rather high-brow book that’s on her list so far), I’ll see if it’s worth posting.

And as for me? My problem is that I like surprises…but my family aren’t always that creative. However, a wish list in the form of a facebook note may be the way to go this year.