It could have been differentMay 19th, 2008 | By Ian Poulton | 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
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.