This week a friend nominated me for one of those lockdown challenges that have become popular of late. Luckily it wasn't one involving press-ups or videoing myself. It was to post an album cover that says something about my tastes or my life.
Well, I've probably discovered that I have no taste, but it has pointed to a few interesting moments in my life.
The first album cover I chose was this. A great album which I am not decrying. Almost in the same moment, that very friend who'd nominated me posted a video of Marti Pellow, lead singer of said band, singing in his spare room. (Or Spare Oom as I will forever know spare rooms.)
This prompted a few thoughts, like 'Blimey, he's aged well,' and 'Spare Oom? It's bigger than my house! That four-poster could house a small family.'
But I also remarked on the strange synchronicity that led my friend and me to post the same person to Facebook in almost the same moment. Someone I haven't thought of in decades.
There's something else a bit magical about this to me, though, as I've already had not one, but two close brushes with the band known as Wet, Wet and ... err ... Wet.
I was a fan from the start, of course. Always a sucker for a great voice and a bad boy grin. I left Uni, went to work in London, saw them live at Ally Pally. Then after work one Friday, a guy from accounts started telling us how the guys from WWW were staying at his house. It seemed unlikely, but on further questioning it seemed like it could be true. He was from Glasgow, they were from Glasgow. They were the same age. One of the band was his old friend from school.
So I'd had a few sherberts. (It was the eighties, folks). 'Get them on the phone,' I dared him. Not batting an eyelid, he fed ten pences into the pub phone and chatted in unintelligable Glaswegian to someone. Then he handed the phone to me. 'It's Grasier,' he said. Well, that sounded plausible. There was a Graham in the band. That might be Grasier, in Glasweg-ish.
I muttered hello, and Grasier said hello back. We exchanged a very few pleasantries and then I said, 'So you're in Wet Wet Wet?' 'Aye,' came the reply. 'I don't believe you.' 'Okay,' came the reply. 'Well,' I followed up, 'if it's really you, play your drums then!'
There ws a long pause, and then he said, very gently as if to an idiot, 'Ah'm the bass player.'
I said, 'Oh, right' and put the phone down sharpish. Having made a fool of myself, I refused to go to the after-pub party and actually meet Grasier, and I suspect went home on the tube alone and with a strong sense of regret.
Once the shame had died down, I didn't think anything else about it. But then a good ten years later, I got stuck in a meeting in Glasgow when I was meant to be boarding a plane to Manchester to collect my baby daughter. I could not miss that plane. It was the only time I've had to race through an airport as the countdown to the doors shutting in my face was being announced airport-wide.
I squeezed through the gap and just made it onto the plane. Avoiding the scowls of everyone who'd had to wait an extra four minutes for me to arrive, I scuttled down the aisle to my seat.
And there, in the four seats directly in front of me, were Wet, Wet, Wet and Wet.
They all smiled kindly in a 'Didn't bother us' kind of way. And then like normal humans they trooped off the plane and stood next to me on the shuttle bus at Manchester Airport. Marti Pellow even favoured me with his bad boy grin.
And what did I do? I stared out at the Mancunian rain as if I had no idea who they were, got off the bus and went home to my baby daughter and my parents.
So this week, as this all trekked across the cine-film of my mind, I realised something that only maturity (okay, age) brings. If the universe nudges you once, you can choose to ignore it. If it nudges you twice ... smile back, say 'Where are you guys playing tonight? My folks can babysit!' Ask which one is Grasier and tell him how you embarrassed yourself ten years before.
It's like Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. "To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
I was careless with my WWW opportunities. And I would like to think that I'd know better now.
A Kiwi friend of mine bumped into Bill Nighy - I mean, actually stopped and had a conversation with him - in somewhere far from home. Let's say Germany. Then a year later she's on a tour bus with a pal in, let's say, Spain, and who should be in the car park but Billy Nighy. Her friend didn't let her get off the bus. I wish I'd been her travelling companion. I've have told her to get off the bus and propose, for crying out loud! Stick a ring on one of his weird sticky out fingers* and marry the guy!
Because this stuff doesn't happen to everyone. This stuff is everyday magic. It might mean nothing, but it might also mean something - and I'm on voting on the side of the latter.
Let it mean something. Take that nudge and let it move you forward. You might just end up somewhere interesting.
(Jill's love of WWW and other bands full of boys inspired her teen book, Fanmail. Check it out on www.jillmarshallbooks.com)
(And the * is to say that Bill has dupuytren's contracture, as does my dad, and I think it's amazing that he just plays all his roles as if it doesn't exist. Superhero.)