2014 minus 36: Unexpected

Posted: 26 November 2013 in family, life, don't talk to me about life, personal
Tags: ,

I knew exactly what I was doing today: a bit of shopping, a bit of writing, some correspondence I had to deal with, some more writing, catching up on a couple of podcasts, some more writing (this time for something specific I’ve been asked to do), and this blog.

Oh, and the dozen or so other things that anyone might have slotted into their lives among the obligations they have.

And yet today got blown out of the water, and I’ve spent the past twelve hours doing something else entirely, about which I may or may not write about here as part of a larger blog entry.

So, everything I had planned have been put off until tomorrow, the next day and, in one case, next week. And I find myself, at almost nine o’clock in the evening, sitting in front of the iPad screen, thinking about the viccitudes of life, and how unanticipated events can throw not only a day out of planned complacency, but a life.

Events. Yes, such a small big word.

It was Harold Macmillan, the British Prime Minister, who was reputed to have answered (although he probably never did) the question of “And what do you most fear?” with “Events, my dear boy, events.”

But events is as good a word as any for those unforecast, unanticipated things that happen and cause all your assumptions, every one of your plans into disarray.

At one end, the huge, massive events – whether on the political stage, or the personal, an unexpected death would do the trick. No matter whether it’s assassination, or accident, a death changes everything. Not only for those left behind who loved and cared, but others, far beyond the immediate circle. Take John Smith, the Labour Leader. Had he not died, although I don’t agree he would have won the 1997 election with anywhere close to Blair’s victory, the first Labour government would have been hugely different from that of Tony Blair’s.

Take my brother’s death in 1998 – undoubtedly life would have been different had he lived for his family.

Or take something far more trivial; your car is stolen. Less changes in the long term, surely, but think of everything in the next 24 hours, the next week, that’s different just because of that small little change. Or your house is broken into; because of it, one member of the family has such a reaction that you move home to get away from the scene of the crime. And so many consequences arise from the decision of that burglar on that night on that street.

Or take my best friend’s wedding, in 1992, and my decision that since I was Best Man at the wedding and likely to be busy all day and evening, and I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time, to attend said celebrations without a date. A small decision, with large consequences.

During one dance, (yes, I danced, don’t make a big thing of it) with the bride’s aunt, she mentioned that she’d have to set me up on a blind date. For whatever reason – usually, I’d have run away from the idea as fast as my then-undamaged feet would carry me – I said yes.

OK, the first blind date was a disaster. No, seriously, a disaster; the sort of date where, after twenty minutes, you’re both sneaking looks at your watches wondering at what point it’d cease to be an embarrassment to call the evening to a halt. When we did eventually bring an end to the torture, the relief on both our faces as I dropped her back at home – and didn’t go in for the perfunctorily invited coffee – was plainly obvious for the other to see.

And that was supposed to be it; I’d had a blind date, it hadn’t worked out. Except that the lady in question – Marsha – came up with another name and another potential blind date for me. And again, I said yes. And then, after we’d arranged it, what do you know, Marsha’s husband died and the shiva covered the date. So we cancelled. And rearranged. And, a few days after the date had originally been planned, a week or so after we’d spoken first on the phone, I turned up, knocked on a door, and the woman who I’d only agreed to meet at all because I’d not taken a date to my best friend’s wedding opened the door.

Of course it was Laura, the lady who, a couple of years later, did me the singular honour of marrying me.

And because of that small decision (the non-date at Ian’s wedding, not the marrying me), so much has happened to me and in my life.

Obviously, there’s Laura herself, and though we’re not longer a couple, she’s still one of my favourite people on the planet. One of my closest friends, and partly but not wholly because of the life we shared, probably the person who knows me best.

And of course, there’s our son, Philip, now 18 years old.

I can’t imagine having the success I did have in my former life as an accountant, financial controller and financial director without Laura in my life. I can’t imagine my life would have been remotely similar to how it’s turned out. So many unanticipated consequences of a single decision.

And to think, I remember, at one point, early on in the proceedings at Ian’s wedding, thinking “I wish I’d brought a date.” Who knew, eh? Who knew.

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