The Chain

cropped booksI like to take a journey when I read. Not the type of journey intended for every reader by the author (though I do of course enjoy this, obviously), but a journey that connects every book I read; a journey that takes me from one tome to the next. A never-ending link, so to speak. Here’s an example of the latest three books in the chain:

  • Ox-Tales: Fire – A collection of short stories compiled by Oxfam with fire as the theme. Works come from renowned authors such as Mark Haddon, John Le Carre, and Jeanette Winterson. The story I enjoyed most was Dog Days by Winterson.
  • Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – And so I moved onto Winterson’s debut novella, a semi-autobiographical tale on her growing up in the north, raised by Pentecostal Christian adoptive parents, whilst coming to terms with her homosexuality.
  • God – I visited my friend recently while he convalesces at home from a back operation and while there he recommended Alexander Waugh’s biography on God. Given Winterson’s religious upbringing it seemed fitting as the next choice in reading material. And then, when I noticed a line of praise from Winterson on the cover of the book, my choice was sealed. My friend had no idea what I was reading, and yet unbeknownst to him, at that moment he’d provided me the next link in my chain.

As I continue to read Waugh’s book I have no idea what I’ll move onto next, but that’s part of the excitement. For me at least, anyway. Sad? Maybe. I’m sure the next link will materialise itself to me soon. It always does.

Everything happens for a reason.


The Squirrel

22e1441467a811e2b42122000a9d0ed9_7A scurry of squirrels once lived together in a tree. They were all very good friends and had a great time hanging out together. They had fun, they laughed a lot, and sometimes they would invite female squirrels over to their tree so they could show off their nuts.

Every day, the scurry of squirrels would leave the tree in order to collect nuts. One day, one of the squirrels decided to take a different route than the others. He wanted to explore new pastures. He wanted to achieve something for himself. He knew it was a risk, but would he regret it if he never tried?

At the end of that day he returned to the tree with some nuts, but not as many as he used to come home with. Patience is a virtue, he thought. It just needs time.

As time wore on the squirrel was returning with fewer and fewer nuts. Eventually, he was going back with none. The squirrel’s morale and confidence was crushed, but his pride wasn’t. Rather than confessing this to his friends, he decided instead to borrow some of the nuts that had been stored by the others. He would replace them when he became in possession of more of his own. But things didn’t pan out as he had planned. He was still not gaining any more nuts, and he was still forced to borrow from the collection. As time wore on, the situation became serious and it became more difficult for him to admit to the others what was happening.

It didn’t take long for the other squirrels to notice that something was wrong. Their pile was smaller in size. Where had their nuts gone? They had a meeting and realised that someone was taking nuts from their collection. Realising it was none of them they confronted the squirrel who had sought pastures new. Racked with guilt, the squirrel confessed everything to them. Suffice to say, they were not happy. And they had every right to be mad with him. He’d betrayed them. He’d gone behind their backs. They were supposed to be friends. Why had he not approached them from the very beginning? Why had he not confessed sooner, before they realised? Why had he let it get to this? Friendships had been broken. Trust was no longer there. The squirrel had paid a very heavy price.


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Lately I’ve begun to recognise the coincidences that have been occurring in my life. There’s a pattern. Each of these coincidences has occurred in the last three years. Each has happened around twelve months apart. Each has slipped by unnoticed, until now. I’ll highlight what I mean:

  • In 2010 I visited a boxing gym near Finsbury Park with a photographer friend in order to conduct some interviews with young Olympic hopefuls. It was the first time I had been to that part of London; twelve months later, I moved to Finsbury Park after viewing several places in the north and east of London.
  • In 2011 I went to a wedding in Manchester. It was the first time I had been to the city. A year later, I was in a long distance relationship with a girl who happened to live in Manchester.
  • Last year I worked for a publishing company on a lifestyle magazine that was guest-edited by a certain celebrity chef. We spent many times at his restaurant in Marble Arch. Twelve months later, I’m in an internship on the next road up from the restaurant.
  • Until last year, I was responsible for a community website that focused on the area of Pimlico. This week, I began a new job that’s based round the corner from Pimlico Road.

Is there a link to all these coincidences? Or is that all they are – merely coincidences? Maybe I should lay down a map and connect the dots. Perhaps that way they’ll point me in the right direction. It would be nice to know where I’m going to be a year from now.