It's a small world

Old Nov 29th 2022, 8:09 pm
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Default It's a small world

There were two strangers in the apartment one day when I got back from the office. Linda worked for a tour company at this time (1972), greeting each plane-load of visitors to Efate in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific, now the nation of Vanuatu. This couple had asked her to recommend a cheap place to stay, but they were backpackers, and we had been backpackers once, so... "This is Pam and Bruce! Pam and I have just discovered that we went to the same church retreat when we were fifteen! Small world! Bruce is Canadian!"

"Bruce Stephenson. The name rings a faint bell," I said. "Have we met before?" My address book of the time had a host of names from my travels dating from nine years ago. And there he was: Bruce Stephenson, mother's address in Canada, Thessaloniki, Greece, October 1964. "I don’t remember you either", I said, “but the book doesn’t lie". We thought about it, then, "Zorba the Greek!" Bruce cried. And so it was. Eight or ten of us foreigners from the hostel watched the movie in the town cinema. Then we sat around drinking coffee back at the hostel, and some of us exchanged names and addresses. "If you ever get to Canada..." - that sort of thing.

So... two "small world" adventures for the price of one. Three, I suppose, if you count in the fact that Linda was also in the crowd that night. She hitched a ride with me the next day, and the rest is history.
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Old Dec 5th 2022, 5:30 pm
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Default Re: It's a small world

This story, too, is from my time in the New Hebs in the 1970s... I had arranged to meet a visiting client in his hotel one evening, and while waiting in the lobby I was reading the hotel's Notice Board. A voice behind me said cautiously "Gordon Barlow?"

For a couple of months in Nassau three years before, Ed Derksen and I had shared an office. Then he went off to a job in Argentina and I went to Australia to learn how to make a fortune on the stock-market. I was in Vila working to replace my losses, and Ed was just passing through on a business trip to South Africa. Neither of us had a clue that the other was in Vila. He had recognised the back of my head! Beat that for a small-world experience!

We chatted for five or six minutes, and never saw each other again.
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Old Dec 5th 2022, 11:25 pm
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My mother traveled to Nigeria at least a couple of times, as well as Kenya, before she got married, to visit friends who worked in the Anglican/Episcopal church.

Many years later she was teaching at a Catholic school in Gloucester, UK, and was introduced to a family from Nigeria trying to get their children into the Catholic school. The parents assured the headmaster in Gloucester that the children has been attending a Catholic school in Nigeria, and provided the name (it was St something). The funny thing was that my mother had visited the school herself, and it was Episcopal, which was a bit of a bu99er for their aspirations to get their children accepted into the Catholic school in Gloucester!
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Old Dec 6th 2022, 10:48 am
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Default Re: It's a small world

It is indeed a small world.

About 20 years ago I was enjoying lunch at the restaurant at the top of the GrossGlockner pass in Austria when my school time headmaster walked in. Slightly surprising, anyway we chatted for a while, his boyfriend was parking the car. So in walks my manager from London, still firmly in the closet, and married to a lady [well so the christmas party told] - well this was slightly more awkward, but what happens in a restaurant overlooking a wonderful glacier remains there ...
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Old Dec 9th 2022, 6:54 pm
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Default Re: It's a small world

Pulaski and grenada - great stuff, both! I would like to have been at your glacier lunch, grenada!

Back in 1963, airfares were much too expensive for young people wanting to get to Europe from Oz. A friend and I took a clapped-out old Italian navy boat from Brisbane to Southampton, and a bus from there to London. It stopped outside the Overseas Visitors Club in Earls Court, and I stepped out, pausing halfway down to check I wouldn't land on top of anybody passing by. There wasn't anybody except for a fellow coming towards me six or seven yards away, who greeted me with a surprised "G'day, Pablo!" It was an old schoolfriend whom I had last seen seven years before. (Pablo was my nickname there.) Small world! We did our respective travelling until winter came, and we hung out together with our respective friends in London until the weather was good enough to go on the road again. He was going to hitch back home overland, and I to hitch over and buy a car in Hamburg and "do" Europe by myself. We agreed to get together again back in Brisbane one day. But there's another story about that. Soon come.
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Old Dec 15th 2022, 2:11 am
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Default Re: It's a small world

In the middle of winter, well out of the tourist season, Linda and I were just about the only strangers in town. The shopkeepers were anxious that we stay around and buy something, and pressed free drinks on us. But midway through some heavy negotiations, a higher duty called. There was another pair of foreigners in town, and watching foreigners meet and gabble away in their weird languages was an entertainment never to be missed. "You really must come!" This way! This way!

We allowed ourselves to be dragged off to the other side of the town centre, into the shop where the others were. As it happened, we surpassed our escort's hopes. "Hullo," I said, "I thought you’d be back home by now." "Yeah, we got caught up in Lebanon", Graham said. He was an old schoolmate of mine who had left London a year before I had, yet here he was in Esfahan, Iran, in the company of a Japanese fellow he'd met in Spain, and I in the company of a girl I'd met in Greece. We delayed their departure for thirty minutes with idle chit-chat, then they hit the road again. It wasn't till twenty years later that I met up with Graham in Brisbane and learned all his news. He signed my Passport renewal form, then, and we marvelled at how long we'd known each other. We're in regular contact via WhatsApp, now, which is nice.
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Old Dec 15th 2022, 5:22 pm
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Default Re: It's a small world

I showed up for my first day of work at Alpha Inc in New York, in 2001, and I was chatting with my new colleague in the next cube. He told me he had worked in the UK, in the UK office of Beta Inc, in Small Town, UK, and wondered if I knew a friend of his who used to work there. I said that I had only worked in London, and didn't know anyone at Beta Inc, but asked what his friend's name was. .... It turned out that the friend had changed jobs, and two weeks previously I had literally been sitting in the next cube to him in London!
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Old Dec 16th 2022, 10:02 pm
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Default Re: It's a small world

This thread is dragging the chain a bit, so let me broaden its scope to cover the "small worlds" of people with common international experiences.

When Linda & I moved from Nassau (Bahamas) to Perth (Australia), we ran into three couples who had also lived in the West Indies, and we quickly became friends with them. When visiting English expat friends back in England over the years, we noticed that many of their friends had been expats somewhere. We ourselves always felt more comfortable with people who had lived somewhere else, than with new expats.

I suppose it's natural enough; maybe we all identify with those who have shared our general experience. Can anybody add to that?
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Old Dec 21st 2022, 5:32 am
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Default Re: It's a small world

When we first moved to New Zealand in 2004 MrBEVS still had some hair on his head. Bit curly , bit ginger , bit thinning but it still needed cutting . I was not about to attempt that as I once snipped my teenage brother's ear quite badly whilst trying to cut his hair at his insistence. That memory of which still makes me giggle.

Anyway MrBEVS needed his remaining hair cut so off he toddled to the local barber. First time there of course. Waited his turn, as it seems you do , and then plonked down into the chair .

Nice older , somewhat portly , barber looks him over pronouncing him 'new' & asks him what he wants a-doing of with his bonce. MrBEVS replies.

There follows a small silence as they looked into each others eyes having recognised, in each other 's accents, the YamYams they both were.

MrBarber man becomes very hearty as he trims a couple of hairs several times over. "Where yam from then ?" . "Wolver'ampton" came MrBEVS reply.

Euphoria ensued and there was much waving of the comb which was just as well as it hurts MrBEVS when one combs his scalp. ( it happened once in Kaikoura and left a bit of a red scratch on the left hand side)

" Ar. I lived there too. Which bit?"

"Lowhill" Mr BEVS informed, keeping a bit of a wary eye on the scissors by now but nevertheless enjoying the encounter with someone who did not mistake him for an Aussie or a Yorkshireman.

Many hairs were rapidly cut in all the excitement . It turned out that this hairdressing chap had a good pal in the area who also hailed from Wolverhampton . There was nothing for it but to down scissors mid-cut and call his friend ,which he did.

Passing the telephone to MrBEVS , a little exchange ensued.

It transpired that said friend of Mr Barber CutsFewHairsOverAndOverVeryQuickly had actually lived in Lowhill, which is the same area that MrBEVS was born and grew up in. In fact, his mother had been born and bred in the exact same house & her father had done the exact same thing but in a house just around the corner from that exact same house. However the rather astonishing revelation was that MrBarber's friend had been the local policeman and had actually lived at the end of the same road as MrBEVS and had known his mum even before she married.

MrBEVS went to have a shandy and also a meal a few times with those fellows and they spent a few hours talking the Black Country YamYam in their own way. I am not sure the dishing up of a version of grey peas and bacon went down too well. MrBEVS is more of a yorkshire pud man.

Yes - I did go over the hair cut and chop off the few remaining wisps. Couldn't send a man to meet his fellow yamyams without looking his best.

M
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Old Jan 2nd 2023, 7:37 pm
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Default Re: It's a small world

Originally Posted by BEVS View Post
When we first moved to New Zealand in 2004 MrBEVS still had some hair on his head. Bit curly , bit ginger , bit thinning but it still needed cutting . I was not about to attempt that as I once snipped my teenage brother's ear quite badly whilst trying to cut his hair at his insistence. That memory of which still makes me giggle.

Anyway MrBEVS needed his remaining hair cut so off he toddled to the local barber. First time there of course. Waited his turn, as it seems you do , and then plonked down into the chair .

Nice older , somewhat portly , barber looks him over pronouncing him 'new' & asks him what he wants a-doing of with his bonce. MrBEVS replies.

There follows a small silence as they looked into each others eyes having recognised, in each other 's accents, the YamYams they both were.

MrBarber man becomes very hearty as he trims a couple of hairs several times over. "Where yam from then ?" . "Wolver'ampton" came MrBEVS reply.

Euphoria ensued and there was much waving of the comb which was just as well as it hurts MrBEVS when one combs his scalp. ( it happened once in Kaikoura and left a bit of a red scratch on the left hand side)

" Ar. I lived there too. Which bit?"

"Lowhill" Mr BEVS informed, keeping a bit of a wary eye on the scissors by now but nevertheless enjoying the encounter with someone who did not mistake him for an Aussie or a Yorkshireman.

Many hairs were rapidly cut in all the excitement . It turned out that this hairdressing chap had a good pal in the area who also hailed from Wolverhampton . There was nothing for it but to down scissors mid-cut and call his friend ,which he did.

Passing the telephone to MrBEVS , a little exchange ensued.

It transpired that said friend of Mr Barber CutsFewHairsOverAndOverVeryQuickly had actually lived in Lowhill, which is the same area that MrBEVS was born and grew up in. In fact, his mother had been born and bred in the exact same house & her father had done the exact same thing but in a house just around the corner from that exact same house. However the rather astonishing revelation was that MrBarber's friend had been the local policeman and had actually lived at the end of the same road as MrBEVS and had known his mum even before she married.

MrBEVS went to have a shandy and also a meal a few times with those fellows and they spent a few hours talking the Black Country YamYam in their own way. I am not sure the dishing up of a version of grey peas and bacon went down too well. MrBEVS is more of a yorkshire pud man.

Yes - I did go over the hair cut and chop off the few remaining wisps. Couldn't send a man to meet his fellow yamyams without looking his best.

M
That's a great story, BEVS, and very well told! I know how things are when two people with the same accent/dialect meet up in the same room. And I have come across some unexpected conversations. I once went on a cricket tour from Cayman to Houston - a scratch team with members drawn from several local clubs. We didn't all know each other. On the plane I sat beside a Barbadian whom I found very difficult to understand; I pretended to go to sleep, to avoid the mental stress. On arrival in the luggage area I introduced myself to a chap from Yorkshire, whom I also couldn't understand. How embarrassing. So at the bar of the hotel we were staying at I avoided both men and talked with people I knew.

Then I noticed that at a table away from the bar the Bajan and Yorkie were chattering away fluently to each other with no misunderstandings at all. The accents were quite different, I'd have said; but yet there they were... Go figure!
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