It could have been different

May 19th, 2008 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Fate sometimes hangs by the slimmest of threads; one person speaking out of turn, one encounter not taking place, and a whole different world might have been possible.

Had I not sat in a Glastonbury pub in May 1979 listening to Dire Straits playing Sultans of Swing on the jukebox, I might have been in class. Had I been in class, I might not have decided that people, whom I had ignored for the previous two years, were good company. Had I not spent time in the company I had chosen, I might have spent more time on books. Had I spent more time on books, I might have got the grades for Bristol University, from whom I had an offer of a place.  Had I gone to Bristol, I would not have gone to London to attend the LSE.

Had I not gone to the LSE, I would not have dropped out for a year. Had I not dropped out for a year, I would not have gone to work as a volunteer at a special school. Had I not gone to the school to work, I would not have met Irish nuns. Had I not met the nuns, I would not have come to Ireland.

And the rest falls into place . . .

Everyone’s life is similar, an accumulation of chances and random occurrences producing outcomes no-one expected.

Which explanation of events is true?


Life is a gamble, at terrible odds-if it was a bet you wouldn’t
take it.

or Shakespeare’s?

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will.

Faith inclines me to the Shakespeare side of the argument; though belief in free will means Stoppard has to be at least partly true.

Listening to Mark Knopfler playing at the RDS tonight, there will be a flickering memory of hearing him in a pub one lunchtime long ago.

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  1. I’m with Shakespeare on this one.

    I have written before about changes beyond my control, made to my working arrangements that led to meeting my soul-mate and changing my life forever.

    I am pleased fate interveaned.

  2. Ahh enjoy your concert I too saw them about that time when they toured Australia, technically perfect. Fate is a strange thing, I often wonder about my luck at being born into a wonderful family, having travelled half way across the globe . . .my father nearly took a position in India . . .I would have been an English Boarding schoolgirl and life would have been immensely different. I’m grateful for his choice of Australia

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