Saturday, 24 April 2010


Strangely enough, and somewhat in keeping with this post, today I read Tania Kindersley’s blog about serendipity. What a strange and lovely word for the joyousness of making a new discovery via an unrelated search – to come about something serendipitously. I’ve been thinking about this concept. Years ago I thought it was simply a made-up word, chosen for a bad film about John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale sharing ice-cream sundaes. Now I understand it as something fortuitous and if not an exact interpretation - rather my own take or extension - its the way the world can sometimes lead you to something new.

Sometimes these things will be short term fixes, but others can be life-enhancing or even changing. Last year when things in my own life were in flux I was drawn for the first time seriously to the ubiquitous Youtube. It was around the time Susan Boyle was breaking records with her ‘I dreamed a dream’ video. Crazily she just wanted to sing in public and instead overnight thanks to the viral she became a global superstar. Into Youtube's search engine I started typing in the names of the artists who I’d always thought I should be listening to, but who I’d never had access to when I was growing up. They were singers like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Youtube - the seemingly ordinary internet phenomenon, so a part of the very make-up of 21st century life had unlocked my propensity for Jazz. It was through these searches that I discovered a new artist called Melody Gardot. There's no real definitive reason for what initially attracted me to her music or the very image itself of a young woman with an enigmatic aura. Perhaps it was because she was new and all the other singers were now fragments of history. Certainly with her music it was the element of sadness and curious wisdom for someone so young. Almost a year later my discovery led me to the journey we made earlier this week to Manchester were we saw her live in concert.

Sometimes we need things to revive our souls. This seems never more so than in our current climate of selfishness and greed, where genuine talent is eschewed for notoriousness and infamy, where the size-zero’s are celebrated and the bankers are given bonuses, whilst the unemployed youth are failed by the government. Art can’t necessarily fix these ills but it does hold up a mirror to society. And it often reflects the individual’s needs. I do believe one can be drawn to such things in the world because they have a subconscious need for revival.

On serendipity

In My Week with Marilyn Colin Clark wrote of his chance encounter with the screen goddess Marilyn Monroe.
This is from the introduction,

‘All my life I have kept diaries, but this is not one of them. This is a fairy story, an interlude, an episode outside time and space which nevertheless was real. And why not? I believe in magic. My life and most people’s lives are a series of little miracles – strange coincidences which spring from uncontrollable impulses and give rise to incomprehensible dreams. We spend a lot of time pretending that we are normal, but underneath the surface each one of us knows that he or she is unique.’

What wonderful sentiment. Perhaps we all possess aspects of serendipity ...

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