For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 31 October 2013

My Oldest Friend


Ian is my oldest friend. I've known him for over fifty years. As children we lived within a mile of each other in an obscure part of Lincolnshire called the Isle of Axholme (I've written about the Isle of Axholme and my childhood roots before on this blog). We went to the same infant school, primary school and secondary school. We both studied German at university — Ian at Manchester, and me at Durham. For a long time Ian has been living and working in Germany, where he is well known in the arcane world of antique clocks. Take a look at the list of his articles, lectures, projects and restorations. It's all a closed book to me, and I just stand on the sidelines, totally awestruck at his specialised knowledge and ability.

Although Ian visits the UK quite regularly to see his mother (who is is 98 this year), we'd lost contact a little, and hadn't seen each other for a long time. Then, suddenly, one evening a few weeks ago, Carmen and I started to reminisce about old times and old friends. I don't suppose we'd consciously mentioned Ian for a while, though he was always at the back of our minds. The very next morning, Carmen was looking through the living room window, when a figure appeared at the gate. It was Ian. His VW had broken down, it had been taken to a nearby town where he'd picked up a replacement car, and this he drove straight to where we lived. We had a lovely afternoon, and a few days later he returned, and we visited Doddington Hall near Lincoln, where we spent another great day.

10 comments:

Ruth said...

So cool. Hi, Ian!

am said...

Synchronicity fascinates me. And Ian's website with the antique Uhren is a treasure. Lovely post.
I'll remember that word. Uhren ... die Hände der Uhren.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, Am, it was exactly as I said! I'm also fascinated by synchronicity, as you know. I feel a post coming on about this. I've heard all the arguments. But I genuinely believe that synchronous feelings and events are rationally inexplicable, and that Koestler was right.

Hildred said...

I am a believer as well, -how many times does the phone ring and you know exactly who is going to answer your 'hello' - even sometimes before it rings....

Goat said...

Nice story. In my experience, Ians are usually awesome people.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Hildred...

... and Goat, yes, your own name, of course!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yet another example of amazing coincidences Robert.

I am still in touch with the friend I started infant school with. Must be a Lincolnshire thing.

Dominic Rivron said...

People seem to have a tendency just to turn up in your garden :)

Vagabonde said...

This is true synchronicity. This happened to me several months ago. We knew we were going back to San Francisco – the first time since 1970. I tried to find the phone number of people I knew and found the number of the brother of my late best friend – I had not spoken to his brother in years. When I called him and gave my name he said “I was just talking about you to my wife” then he explained that I had given him a print of a castle from the Loire Valley for Christmas one year and he had placed it in his hall. That evening as he walked by the print he thought it needed cleaning as he had not cleaned it in years. His wife asked him where he bought the print and he answered “a friend gave it to me decades ago, she…” and the phone rang and it was me! The first time I had called him since 1970! We had dinner with them later while in San Francisco and I took a picture of the print – I’ll show it in a future post.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Pat... and Dominic: I think it's our turn to turn up in your garden next!

Yet another amazing example of synchronicity, Vagabonde. It also occurs to me how many times I've heard variations on this: how a person goes on holiday to a remote part of the world, and meets there someone from his/her own street or workplace...