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A kind of magic...


Today I will be mostly talking about the magic of the universe. This is because I've had a bizarre and wonderful week. I'm talking about funny coincidences that happen day to day, sometimes small, sometimes massive. Maybe you've dreamed about someone who you haven't seen in ages, and the next day they cross your path again. Perhaps you've seen something on the TV about a place and later on a friend tells they are going there on holiday. Or maybe, like me, you have a totally weird threefold coincidence bundle going on, which you just can't keep to yourself. This series of unusual happenings occurred over four days. Allow me to recount them here:

On Tuesday evening, I start reading 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert (she of 'Eat Pray Love' fame). It's all about creativity, something which is greatly on my mind at the moment, what with starting my own website and trying to write my second novel. On Wednesday, I drift into the local Oxfam, as I am wont to do on occasion, for a good rummage around their second hand paperbacks. I find a book by an author I have never heard of called Ann Patchett. The book is called 'Bel Canto' and something about it appeals. I bring it home and pop it on my bedside table.

On Thursday evening, I am reading 'Big Magic' and I get to the bottom of page 49. To my utter disbelief, the sentence before me reads thus: 'Just around the same time that the idea for my novel ran away – it was now 2008 – I made a new friend: Ann Patchett.'

I laugh with the sheer magic of it all and show my husband that I have ‘Bel Canto’ by my bedside, loving the coincidence. (We both love it when the universe does things like that, as we believe it means we’re on the right path.) So I read Elizabeth’s delightful account of meeting Ann Patchett, and passing on the idea for her book through a kiss. Now it's Friday, and I am scrolling through the ‘What’s On’ pages of my local Arts Centre. I am looking at writing courses, not films, but on about the 4th page, I see a picture of Julianne Moore in an advert for the film ‘Bel Canto’, which they are showing at the end of May. Now I am really tingling, as well as wondering what on earth is going on! How come Ann Patchett is invading my life like this? I didn’t know even know who she was a week ago. But it doesn’t end there...on the following day, Saturday, I am scrolling through my Facebook page and a post from another author whose page I ‘like’ pops up. It is an article about mothers and daughters. I think it looks interesting. I have to sign up to the Washington Post free subscription service to read it, so I do. Unbelievably, the article is written by – you guessed it - Ann Patchett. What I love is that this is not the crazy analytics of Google or Facebook but some kind of universal tracking system, which has led me to find out about Ann Patchett. And there must be a reason, but I don’t know what it is. However, I felt I needed to share my bizarre week with her, since she had actually been pretty damn present in it. So through the wonders of the internet I discovered she owns a bookshop in Nashville, Tennessee. I emailed said bookshop with an account of my week, very similar to the one above. (When my husband expressed slight concerns that she might think I'm a weirdo, I duly dismissed them. I tend to think people will get it, and if they don't then never mind. This is the same optimism that led me to email a French campsite after I'd lost a treasured travelling mascot, Damien the Troll, with a 'Wanted poster' and description of said troll, plus reward. Despite my greatest efforts at writing the entire correspondence in French, I was met with a definitive and very French silence.)

Anyway, the following day I received a short but very friendly email from the actual Ann Patchett which read as follows: 'Dear Sibby, I'd say I'm haunting you but I'm very much alive. I hope you like the novel. I've written tons of them. Thank you for the sweet note. Your ghost, Ann.'

Thanks to Ann, my week was infinitely more magical. May you all be blessed with a kind of magic in your lives too. See you next time.


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