Yesterday evening, our hotel in San Francisco recommended a local seafood restaurant for dinner. While standing in the queue, my daughter and I realised that the couple in front of us were also from England. Coincidence? Hardly. There are lots of British tourists in San Francisco.
We spoke to each other (highly unusual for us restrained Brits) and they asked where we were from. I explained that we had recently moved to Bredonborough, about an hour south of Birmingham. “Ah! We were both born in Birmingham”, they replied. Coincidence? Hardly. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK.
“And where were you before you moved?” they asked. “A small village outside Salisbury”, I replied. “Which village?” they asked. “Broadchalke”, I answer. “What a coincidence! For twenty years we lived less than five miles away. We know Salisbury well,” they replied. Coincidence? It gets spookier.
“We worked abroad while we were there. Our children went to a boarding school in Salisbury”, they continue. “Perhaps you know the headmaster, John Singleton?” (!!!) “ His wife was so wonderful. Our son was new at the school and slightly nervous, so she found a mug with his name, Peter, on it, and gave it to him.” (Peter is my brother, so it was presumably an old mug of his).
Here we are in a random meeting in San Francisco, and a complete stranger is telling my daughter stories about her grandmother, who she sadly knew as she died before she was born. And they were not done yet, for once I had explained who I was…
“So you are David Singleton! Your step-brother. Tom, was the best man at our son’s wedding…” they go on – and we end up sitting on adjacent tables.
This life is full of the most wonderful surprises.