Recently, Jack wrote on his blog (which is linked from this one) about how he seems to run into people in bizarre ways, either because they're people he knows but in bizarre places, or because he thinks he doesn't know them and promptly discovers they know some of his friends.
Now I know people are always pointing out that I know too many people (this might, partly, come of having been at school in both cambridge and oxford), and my sister maintains that whatever the usual degrees-of-separation theory is, in my case you only need one or at the very most two people to link me to someone else. I'm not sure I'd quite agree with that, but I certainly seem to know a lot of people–sometimes I just think it's because I have a better memory for people I met only once and/or a very long time ago. Anyhow, I thought I'd entertain you with a few coincidental rencontres this year. The world is *very* small.
Firstly, there's Claire. I may already have told you this story…you've certainly heard about her a fair bit. Claire is an assistante just like me but in a different school. I first met her, with Chiara (an Italian assistant) in a pub in vieux lyon where I had gone with my flatmate Gareth. This was about a week or two before our induction day so we met up again then, and with a couple of other assistants we went and drank tea at the Epicerie. It was very lovely, and absolutely hilarious, because Nick (an american assistant) who was absolutely convinced that Britain was so small that all British people must know each other had his theory spectacularly well proved. Claire lives in Cambridge. So do I. Her mother is a Classics teacher. My parents are both classicists. Her mother teaches at one of the schools I nearly went to, in fact, she interviewed me for a place there. Claire went to school with several people who I went to sixth form with, and also with a few of my university friends. Meanwhile, she is now at Oxford for university where she is good friends with several people I know through either music or school. She is now on her year out in the same place as me doing the same job. I've a feeling there's another link I've missed…but you get the general idea.
Secondly there's Laura. Laura was a good friend of mine all the way through primary school, but we both left for different schools when we were 11 and lost touch. One day Victoria (who's at Selwyn with me and also in Lyon this year) said she'd met a lovely girl called Laura, and I happened to notice on her facebook wall a few days later that this girl was called Laura Brodetsky. Well, thinks I, there can surely only be a very few Laura Brodetskys my age around…and sure enough, it's her! Amazing!
The third coincidence of the year also involves Victoria. When I was going home for Christmas and my plane was delayed by two hours I got chatting to a lovely girl called Fiona, who is bilingual, studying hotellerie in Lyon and was on her way to visit her boyfriend who is a designer in London. At the other end of the christmas holiday, Victoria ended up sitting next to Fiona as they travelled back to Lyon. Coincidence or what?!
Incidentally, that same night when my plane was delayed, I hitched a lift back to Cambridge. The lovely people who drove me home were a couple fetching their sister who was just back from the first term of her year abroad in Bilbao, as she's studying french & spanish at manchester, but she'd been at hills road in the year below me. Her big sister teaches English at Melbourn village college.
Is there a fifth? Doubtless there is even if I can't think of it right now. As Jack said, if these are all the people I have met, how many more people are there out there who I pass in the street without realising I know them? Far too many methinks!