Sunday, 16 March 2014

Nightmares and coincidences

It's been a while since I wrote in here.  It's simply that I've not really had anything that exciting happening.  I've been struck by coincidence recently.  Made it's the new series of Jonathan Creek has set my mind into "lateral thinking" mode.

Quite often, I'll have a song come to mind which I don't have on my phone, and thanks to the wonder that is Amazon MP3 download, I can have it on my phone within seconds.  I do that with some utter crap - I admit it.  But only a week or two after I downloaded "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" it was featured on the Graham Norton show on Radio 2 of a Saturday morning.  "That's weird" I thought to myself.  It's a great song - three minutes of space-themed innuendo set to a disco beat - but odd that I should download it on a whim only for it to feature on Radio 2 not long after.

It's the same with crossword clues.  I do the Guardian crossword rather than The Times.  One feature of the Guardian crossword is that there are different compilers and the crosswords aren't run through a editor and put into a house style before publication. So each compiler has their own style.  But quite often, you'll find the same word comes up in two crosswords in relatively quick succession.  Not that long ago, the word Sealyham (a breed of terrier) appeared in two crosswords within a week or two of each other.  What are the chances?

Well actually the chances are quite high.  Think of how you'd compile a crossword.  You'd look around the room, you'd think of things you saw on the TV, you'd think of things you read in the paper.  Even if you didn't do it consciously, you'd be picking up from all these sources around you and putting those words into the paper.  It's how top-secret code words ended up in a crossword during the war (Google it if you don't know the story...).   So two compilers putting together crosswords at around about the same time will probably have seen the same news stories, read the same newspapers and be aware of the same events around them.  So it's not surprising that the same word is going to crop up in crosswords written around the same time more often than pure chance would predict.  And if the crosswords are written at the same time, then chances are they'll be published around the same time, too.

And I bet that whoever wrote into Graham Norton to request that song heard it in the same place I did which made me remember it after so many years and download it onto my phone.

But sometimes the most confusing thing is just one half of a coincidence.  The other evening, I had a nightmare.  I don't have them often, but do have them from time to time.  If you know me at all, you'll know that I don't attribute them to anything supernatural at all (for the record, I don't attribute anything to the supernatural).  But the other evening the part of the nightmare which made me cry out loud (both in the dream and in reality!) was having a threatening man wearing a high-vis jacket walk slowly towards me around the bed.  I could describe him in great deal, but he's not someone I recognise, nor someone I know.  I have no idea who he was - but I'm absolutely convinced that my brain took a real person and for whatever reason decided to make him scary and put him into my dream.

The weird thing would be if I see him on the street.  It's not impossible.  I suspect he's someone I have seen around the place somewhere, and so it's perfectly possible that I'll see him again at some point. But the fact that I can't remember where I saw him has the potential to make "seeing him in the street" after he's been in my nightmare seem like some kind of premonition.  Fortunately, I don't think that way!

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