Sunday, July 05, 2009

(253) shall you receive

I gave a fiver to a mendicant couple in Southend at Easter 2007, the first occasion that I gave more than a few coins to beggars.
A day or two later my (somewhat scruffily attired) wife and son dined at the El Descargador restaurant in La Union and, to their great surprise, when it came to paying the bill they discovered that it had been already paid for them by an anonymous couple at an adjacent table, who had since departed.

On March 21st 2009 I contributed five pounds to a minibus fare in Leicestershire, although, in view of the number of passengers, I needed only to contribute just over a pound.
The next day I hopped in a taxi for the return journey to the same railway station with someone whom I did not know and he offered to pay the entire fare of 5.80 Pounds.
I insisted on chipping in about half.

On March 23rd 2009 I returned to a girl at a Bureau de change at Luton airport an extra 10 pounds she had mistakenly given me, adding that I did not want to get her into trouble.

A couple of days later two Spanish cops let me off quite a serious misdemeanour, adding “Bye Bye”, when I had also failed to produce my license and insurance, although I actually did have both with me!

On May 5th 2009 I gave a wino woman 22p at Highbury and Islington corner in London.
The next day I picked up first a 2 centimo piece near check-in at Luton airport and shortly after a 20p piece from the floor.

I often gave gift copies of my book Coincidences away only shortly afterwards to sell the same number, e.g. Simon Williams and a Bulgarian guy who styled himself TheNewOne at the Internet Chess Club each bought a copy shortly after I had given two copies away.
This must have happened about a dozen times since publication in September 2000.

On June 28th 2009 I was at at Cala Cortina beach (see Entry 242) when a woman approached me asking for money for her petrol to enable her to drive the 50 kilometres or so back to Murcia city. Her story struck me as highly implausible, but I parted with 6 €. She was asking for 10 €.
As she walked away from my car I handed her a gift copy of Coincidences.

I had sold 244 copies with a further 8 that might have been termed "bartered", but sales had dried up and it had certainly been over a year since I had made the last one.

(Her phone number turned out to be, as I rather suspected it might, bogus.)

On July 4th 2009 I received this message at the English Chess Forum -

Sent: Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:54 pm
Dear James
A couple of really strange (chess related) coincidences have happened to me recently and so I have been trying in vain to find a copy of your book on the subject. Can you help?
Best regards, John Anderson

We had shared a flat at a tournament in Guernsey in 1978 and had bumped into each other a few times since.

I asked him if he would like to buy a signed copy or just to have his library get it for him. I also asked him to please detail his own coincidences.

The next day I got this e mail -
From: John Anderson Sent: Sunday, 5 July, 2009 11:57:03
Subject: Coincidence?

Hi James

A signed copy would be great... I tried the local libraries, Foyles, even Chess & Bridge(!) without success, but read somewhere that you may have self-published, hence the direct contact.

A couple of months ago I found myself thinking about Nigel McSheehy, wondering what he was up to, was he still playing, that sort of thing. I`ve no idea why this thought should come to me as although we were (chess)friends as teenagers, I haven`t seen or heard from him since 1983 when I moved back up to London. I looked on the ECF grading database to see if he was still listed but it seemed he was no longer active.

Then a friend sent me an email about the 1st Worcestershire Congress which takes place in a couple of weeks time in Bromsgrove, near to where Nigel lived and worked when I knew him. I didn`t think of this as being a coincidence at the time, just that it might be worth entering and would be a good excuse to revisit some old haunts, see some old friends and, of course, I resolved to try and look Nigel up.

The very next day, on the ECF forum, Nigel was mentioned! He had a peculiar habit of recording his moves using R U Y L O P E Z instead of a-h apparently and I was about to write in saying that he used Binary to record his moves when I knew him - together with "screwing" the pieces into the squares in order to demonstrate to his opponent that this was clearly the only correct move in the position!

But before I could do that, Keith Arkell had posted that Nigel had died a few years ago. I googled Nigel to see if there was a local obituary or something and I was simply amazed to see your blog
Living the Dream: A Coincidence Diary: (212) N.A.P. McSheehy
in pole position.

I was amazed because - and this is the really spooky thing - the previous evening I had watched you in a re-run of WWTBAM - the first time I had ever seen it. While I was aware of your success, of course, I was just randomly channel-hopping when your picture caught my attention. I never watch the program, let alone the "Classic" repeats!

The other weird thing was that I was about to start a new thread on the ECF forum along the lines of "Where are they now?". I was curious as to what had happened to some of the great friends and strong players (relative to me,not you!) I`d met over the years. I was going to start with Jonathan Kinlay who won the British Under-21 Championship but got married very young, just after he graduated from Bristol University. The rumour at the time was his new bride (Maggie?) didn`t like chessplayers very much and had made him stop playing!

I`m not sure there was any truth in that but other than writing a monograph on the Keres Attack and doing an Audiotape on the Kings Gambit he did, it would appear, hang up his chess boots.

So imagine my surprise when on a thread discussing who would make a good ECF president, Jonathan Kinlay`s name came up within a day or two. It seems he is/was a very successful businesman similar to David Norwood.

Anyway, I`m off to buy an extra Lottery ticket this week, just in case...

Best regards

In mid-1986 Angela Julian-Day (see Entry 14) had mentioned to me chatting with this John Anderson as she took a bus ride through London.

He verified it in a subsequent e mail -

Yes, I do recall chatting up a very pretty girl on the top deck of 159 bus in 1986! I think we were sat next to each other when I heard what I thought was an American accent - those were the days when we still had conductors of course - only to be corrected that it was Canadian. Could that be the same one?

However, when I asked her what she was doing in London she said she was an International Chess player! I remember having to suppress a smile but she was really charming. I`m sure she never mentioned you though...
... ... ...
In the early afternoon of November 7th 2010 I bought my wife a cake she had specifically requested from an ALDI store and jokingly donated the centimo change to the checkout girl.
"Chica rica", I observed. She smiled.
A few hours later I picked up a centimo from the forecourt of a nearby petrol station.