Saturday, April 10, 2010

Strange coincidences: three green men and some MacLeans

There was a phase in my life during which incredible coincidences and synchronicity were the norm. Most of these events were interesting, amusing and beneficial. I am glad now that I was able to enjoy them while they happened: I did not know that a very bad time was ahead of me. I remember one sequence of coincidences that is unusual by any standards.

A new young colleague came to work in my group. His name was Greensmith, and they put him next to someone whose last name was Greenwood. The other man in the small, partitioned off area was called Verdellen. I was very interested in anagrams and the meaning of names at the time, and thought that it was quite a coincidence that three green men should be sitting close together. I do realise that the name Verdellen is not derived from the Latin word for green, but it still contains it.

I told one colleague, who said that four was his threshold: he wanted another green man before he would believe that it was anything more than coincidence. There was someone else who might have been interested, but I did not tell him because he was frantically checking his notes for an imminent major software upgrade at the weekend.

I decided to wait until after the system had gone live so as to get his full attention, but he suddenly looked up from his papers and - out of the blue, to no one in particular - said that he would be going to the video shop (this was years before DVDs became the norm) to get The Third Man – a very good film. I think that it is a great film, but the coincidence is that the third man is Harry Lime, and the screenplay was taken from a story written by Graham Greene. I told the first colleague that his fourth and fifth men had appeared.

This was just the start: there was much more to come.

That weekend, I bought an interesting New Age book, and discovered that 'the third man' is a symbol for the new religion that some people believe is imminent: we get a new one every 2,100 years or so, and are just about due for another one.

The book said that the patriarchal, threat-and-promise based religion of Judaism relates to God the Father; the mercy and sacrificial humility of Christianity relates to God the Son, and a new, third stage, do-it-yourself religion relates to God the Holy Ghost. One day after having been introduced to this idea via a book, I heard it again in a New Age TV programme.

I started reading another New Age book by yet another person (mainly American) who had changed her life for the better on the outside by changing herself for the better on the inside and learning to read the signs. She had written this book so as to share her experiences and coincidences. She told how she had been unable to decide whether or not to go to one of the film star Shirley MacLaine's seminars. She had an unexpected phone call from a Mr MacLaine. She did not know him: he was an acquaintance of a friend. She was referred to a doctor who specialised in back problems – a Mrs MacLean. Then she went for an interview with a potential landlady - Mrs McClain. All this happened within the space of a few hours. She decided that the universe was telling her to go to the workshop.

This was fascinating, and it was good to find a fellow traveller, but there was more to come.

The next book that I read that weekend was written by a man who said that one of the best times in his life was when he was a university lecturer. The students would come to his place in the evenings and enjoy themselves. He said that he never hears the song American Pie without feeling nostalgic about those days.

I vaguely recalled this song: I remembered the tune but not the words. I kept wishing that I could hear it again. That same night, as I was settling down to sleep, a noisy group of people stopped in the street just below my window. They sounded young, drunk and American. They started to sing American Pie. It was dreadful: they sang badly and did not know most of the words. Perhaps I was responsible: it is a good example of: “Be very careful what you wish for: you will probably end up getting it”.

The next day, I went out and bought the song on tape. I did not really understand it, but was astounded when I heard the words: “And the three men I admire most/the Father, Son and Holy Ghost...” Then I suddenly realised the significance of the fact that the name of the singer-songwriter was … Don McLean.

The final link in the chain came a few days later. I had been going over all the coincidences again and again in an attempt to understand their significance. My mind suddenly threw up memories of reading about the Burgess and Maclean scandal: they were notorious British traitors who spied for the KGB during the Cold War. There was also an unidentified third man in the case. Maclean's first name was Donald.

I still don’t know what all these connections mean. There is a very tenuous link in that the name MacLean in all its variations originally meant the son of a follower of St. John. The name St. John has great significance for me, and it was on my mind at the time, although I did not learn the origin of the name MacLean until many years later.  The name Donald has great significance for me too.

Another incident similar to the drunken singers happened relatively recently, after a time when I had been fighting for survival for many years, and was not funny at all. I was staying in a hotel; I went to bed early because I was tired after a long journey, but I could not quite get to sleep; I was in a twilight state. I kept thinking about someone from the past, who used to sing and play a guitar; the memories were very painful and I felt very unhappy. Then someone came and stood in the street outside my window and stated singing and playing his guitar. Both the singing and playing were very bad: it was more like howling and twanging. The horrible noises went on for a long time and stopped me sleeping.

The next morning, the hotel owner told me that such a thing had never happened before. The man would not go away so the owner had to call the police to get rid of him. So then I felt guilty as well as miserable. I would like to think that it was nothing to do with me, but it does seem like a good example of: "Be very careful what you dwell on continuously and obsessively: it may well manifest in your life".