I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why things happen. I’ve finished the first draft of my psychic’s memoir and, reading back the entire story from start to finish, am bowled over by her attitude to life. She had the most appallingly abusive (sexually, physically, emotionally) upbringing – and came close to death on numerous occasions. She saw things no child should see. Yet she doesn’t bear any animosity; she doesn’t hold any grudges. In fact, she considers herself hugely lucky and her life totally blessed.
I asked her if it was because she believes in karma and she said yes, in many ways. ‘Not just my own karma though. I was there to give people choices to work out their karma,’ she said. ‘They had the choice to do harm or not. Some chose to harm; others made the choice to walk away and do no harm.’
She firmly believes that, while we ultimately create our own reality by our thoughts and actions, some things are meant to be. Obviously the house comes to mind when I think about this. For us to be in the same situation as we were a year ago smacks rather strongly of Fate.
But it also got me thinking about Adrian and I and how we met. I remember, back on the CL site, Frances and a few other people asked how we got together and I promised to tell but never got around to it. Well, it was very much a tale of Fate: too many coincidences to be anything but.
I had just left my job at the Evening Standard and had gone freelance. Freedom from the office grind was bliss and I arranged with a friend to go to the gym one afternoon. So, sporting leggings, trainers and a top in a particularly vivid shade of puce (that clashed horribly with my hair) I headed off to Brixton.
Louise was standing outside a large pair of doors with a face like thunder. The gym was shut. ‘But it’s never shut,’ she wailed.
‘Never mind,’ said I, never that gutted by a missed exercise opportunity. Let’s have a coffee instead.’
The coffee place was shut.
‘This is getting weird.’
‘OK, so let’s go back to your flat and have one there.’
So we did. As I was sitting at the table, waiting for the kettle to boil, I found I couldn’t keep my eyes off her phone. I never ever checked my ansaphone (this was before mobiles) but for some reason I felt I had to. So I rang up and sure enough there was a message from my old editor. Was I free to go to a Paul McKenna launch at one of the Park Lane hotels? In about two hours?
It was hardly a glamorous assignment but I figured I couldn’t very well turn it down.
No time to go home to change so I found myself in gym gear and NO make-up walking into this smart hotel. Ah well, I figured, it wasn’t as if I were going to meet the love of my life or anything. I’d sit at the back and sneak out the second it was over. But, just at that moment, someone I hadn’t seen for years turned up and insisted I sit with him.
The presentation was a bit cringe-inducing – very stage hypnosis – and when it ended I was all set to run off.
‘Stay for a drink,’ said Andrew. ‘Oh, and have you met Adrian?’
I knew his name – he used to work on the NME and write for Blitz and City Limits. He also looked familiar – a bit like a slightly manic Nicholas Cage. We shook hands and wandered out the hall, chatting vaguely.
‘Well, nice to meet you but I must get going.’
‘No, have a drink. Just a quick one. Stay right there.’ And he ran off before I could say no. A few minutes later he returned, with four bottles of wine poking out the pockets of his crumpled Katharine Hamnett suit.
‘I wasn’t sure what you’d like.’ It set the tone for our whole relationship really. We sat and drank and ate sushi and really it was like talking to my twin. We liked the same things, we felt the same about everything (this, I hasten to add, was before he became a real ale bore and got into shooting).
When we were turfed out, I got on my bus and he jumped on too. At Kings Cross the bus turned a tight circle. Adrian leaned with it (thinking of his motorbike days I suppose) but then leaned too far and flopped neatly into the aisle. There he sat, unable to get up enough momentum to regain his seat while the whole bus dissolved into hysterics.
‘Er, don’t you need to get off here?’ I reminded him.
‘Oh God, yes!’ Jumping off the bus with a jaunty wave. I looked back and smiled and then he smacked his head with his hand and started sprinting after the bus.
‘I haven’t got your number! Give me your number!’
So I did, yelling out the numbers, painfully aware that the whole bus now knew we had only just met and that I was considering a return match with a mad man with wild eyes who evidently drank Far Too Much.
So that was how it all started and I can’t help but think that Fate had a helping hand in it – probably appalled at the lack of progress I was making when left to my own devices. But there’s an amusing epilogue too. Many years later I was in London in a bookshop in Cecil Court. As I placed my purchases on the counter, the woman serving looked up and stared at me.
‘I know you from somewhere,’ she said and we then proceeded to go through everything from junior school to foreign holidays, much to the irritation of the small queue building up behind.
‘I think I’ve just got one of those faces that are very familiar,’ I said in desperation.
‘No. I know you.’ Then she clapped her hand over her mouth and laughed. ‘I know! You were on the 73 bus, sitting next to that mad bloke who fell over as we went round Kings Cross. My friend and I were crying with laughter about that. God he was drunk. And totally bonkers. What a nut-case eh?’
I tried to stop her but she was in full flow, now telling the whole queue about it.
‘Hmm, wonder whatever happened to him? I reckon he was heading for a fall that one.’
‘Er. I married him.’