The strange coincidences that happen to me every few years! 9



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I’m not an exceptionally rational person, but I don’t usually take notice of superstitions and old wives’ tales. Nonetheless, I do have a bit of a ‘thing’ about years that end in a zero or nought, or a five. For example, I was born in 1950 on the 25th day of April. The only fly in the ointment here is that April is the fourth month – well nothing is perfect – it’s a superstition after all. Despite protestations to the contrary, people of Celtic origin are very superstitious. What is of interest to me, however, is that there have been quite a few other exceptional events that have occurred during these ‘5 and 10’ years that are of peculiarity to me. Or am I just being peculiar? You be the judge.

In 1965, we had an exceptionally heavy snowfall in wintertime in Blackheath. I was staying at my mate Warren’s house and the snow was so heavy that I was unable to return home for about three days. Eventually, my father trudged through the snow to get me and we returned home under great difficulty. In 1970, I met Margaret who became my first wife; we married in 1975 and separated in 1990. My great friend and musical colleague Andrew, died in a freak road accident in 1975 as well. Incidentally, the Beatles (my all-time favourite band) broke up in 1970 and John Lennon, of course, died in 1980. My father died in 1980 also, at about the same time. In 1980 my employer – Blue Mountains City Council awarded me a reference under seal (I think they had run out of porpoises) and for all intents and purposes I also became a Justice of the Peace in New South Wales. I’ve now let it lapse and so I can’t marry anybody anymore and I’m not giving the money back, so there! (He said tongue in cheek!)

In 1985, my son caught chicken pox at school and passed it on to his baby sister; she in turn, passed it on to me. Nasty little sores spread across my entire body and insinuated themselves into every conceivable orifice. Consequently, I was off work for around six weeks – fortunately I didn’t develop shingles. After a somewhat torrid and tortured affair, a lady that I was rather enamoured with, ended our association in 2000. Thankfully, no other little sores eventuated.

Happily, my current wife and I became engaged in 2005. We were on a European holiday in 2010, when I succumbed to a double dose of ‘flu and I spent around 10 days in hospital in Lucerne, Switzerland. I was in respiratory failure and at one stage I thought I had left this dimension and was wandering among the stars. The ‘stars’ turned out to be the lights set into the ceiling of the ICU. It obviously wasn’t my turn.

It’s been said that death comes in groups of three; another of those urban myths that we all talk about at barbeques and dinner parties, in between tearing strips off politicians. This is of course 2015 and so far, believe it or not, there have been three deaths this year that have affected me. The first was of a man who was once a close friend. He was a part of the soap drama that ended my first marriage. Curiously, I do not feel any sense of justified revenge or retribution – too much water has flowed under the bridge. It’s just a reminder of the tediousness that surrounded those events. I suppose one might call it ‘closure’. The second was of another man who was my next door neighbour during the entire course of my first marriage. My feelings towards Tony, my old neighbour, are somewhat benign – we sent off a condolence card to his widow just recently.

The third death was of an old musical colleague whom I knew in high school. This one affected me deeply, which was surprising, because it would be incorrect to say that we were bosom buddies. Steve and I were in a band together called ‘The In-Group’. Our greatest claim to fame was that we did a cruise together with this band on the Orcades for P & O around 1972. Some SAS readers might recall the previous articles I wrote concerning the band’s adventures on the high seas. Steve, in those days, was a ‘drop-dead’ handsome guy. A red-hot guitar player with blue eyes and reams of blond hair; vertically challenged like my good self, but in his case, the ladies were mad for him. (Gnashes teeth). Around four or five weeks ago, I was about to walk up the path to my doctor’s surgery, when a voice behind me called out ‘Hey Jimbo’. I turned around to see a wizened little old man with one or two strands of hair left walking towards me, st aring out from behind huge gold framed 80s style glasses. Could it possibly be? Yes it was Steve the guitar legend. Obviously, I hadn’t seen him for some time. I was shocked.

We walked in together and chatted for a while in the waiting room, both lamenting the passing of the years and of his brother Dave who had been in the band with us. Steve had with him what appeared to be an envelope of x-rays. I was called in. I stood up turned around and shook Steve’s hand and grasped his upper arm which felt unnervingly insubstantial. ‘Great to see you Steve’, I said, ‘Look after yourself’. He always was a quiet, unassuming guy. He was probably having a silent chuckle. That was the last time I ever saw him. I attended his funeral on Tuesday this week.

Is there some sort of inheritance here? I’m pleased to say there is. I spoke to Steve’s son at the wake who is also a musician. He would seem to be intent on carrying on in his father’s footsteps. For my own part, I’m still playing in bands, albeit a little more laid back than in the heady days of the 60s and 70s. In fact, my good lady and I are playing for a couple of hours on Christmas day during lunch in a restaurant. And you’ll never guess – I’ve been seconded into playing, wait for it… Santa Claus! There’s a first time for everything and I’ll go down in history as being the shortest (sorry – vertically challenged) Santa ever known – more like an elf really! A friend of mine quipped that they (the restaurant) must only have a short budget. So on an upbeat note; this is what I’ll remember best, hopefully, about 2015. Good ‘Elf!

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James Craib

  1. Confirmation bias; if you look hard enough you can find patterns for all sorts of things that “prove” all sorts of other things. I’m of Celtic background & have no problem seeing this.

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    • Exactly. Did you notice he was on a cruise playing in his band ‘around 1972’. Not a 0 or 5, so he did not bother to remember the actual year because he was not tuned into it being something significant.

  2. just coincidence, many other things have happened and on other digit dates, but you have just selected the ones that make it seem less of a coincidence and more mystical, probably inadvertently, but we all do it, must wash my lucky socks tomorrow.

  3. Some people have an affinity to a number. For example, my driver licence expires on the 13th, my ex-spouse’s birthday is on the 13th day, my two children’s birthday days add up to 13, The address where I lived was No 13, I’m lucky with Lotto when I include the No 13. My divorce was in 2013.

  4. A great piece James. I’m sure Steve is looking down with a smile. I too, was a close friend of his, and only the other night I dreamed I was talking to him . I asked him what it was like in the after life. He replied’ We aren’t allowed to tell anyone that.’ I woke up smiling and feel that one day we will meet again and have another band together with his brother Dave. I hope it isn’t too soon though!

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