Quite opposite to what your mother always warned, I URGE YOU to chat to strangers. The most interesting stories come forth from older, younger, foreign, local, shy and chatty folk when you ask the simplest of questions.
Where were you born? What brought you to this area? Where did you take your last holiday? Any question really – it can lead you down all manner of conversational pathways, and you can discover so many unbelievable coincidences.
This month I got to know Valerie Compton a little better, a wonderful lady who I met through our library’s ‘meet the author’ events. After we’d shared a couple of events together, Valerie invited me over to her place for a drink. We enjoyed her beautiful, both delicate and knarly, both established and developing garden a summer’s evening this week and discovered three things about ourselves. I was thoroughly amazed, compounded by the fact there were three of them.
First, we both came to Northants for a job, not having any ties there beforehand. Ok, so that’s just something in common, not a coincidence. Take a look at coincidence number two. Her husband grew up in Swindon, as did I, and being between my grandparents and dad’s generation, knew so many things about Swindon I did and did not. He went to the rival school of my former grammar school, and I bet you we have mutual friends since the Gibneys have been in Swindon for at least four generations.
Here comes the kicker. The third coincidence was that Valerie herself lived in East Grinstead (where I lived until I was four years old), knew my street, and probably knew my neighbours (if I could remember their last names). Added to that, Valerie and I were born in the same hospital – only 40 years apart! I was once of the first babies who had a UK ultra sound photo in the mid-80’s and now the hospital no longer stands, but Valerie and I had both passed through.
So, get chatting. And as a writer, it could spur some thoughts which grow into a novel. Meet new people. Strike up a conversation. You never know what you will discover.