Sunday, 23 December 2012

Synchronicities at the end of the year

According to the Mayan calendar, the world was supposed to have come to an end on 21 December. Fortunately, it didn't and, on the morning of Saturday 22 December, I wake up feeling relaxed and glad to have a day off work. Breakfast with my wife Sue and some good music playing in the background. My iPod shuffles and offers up some jazzy flamenco. 

‘Is this the guitarist we went to see in Worcester?’ asks Sue, meaning Eduardo Niebla. 

'No, this is Paco de Lucía,' I say, and marvel at the speed of his playing.

After breakfast we go to Bridgnorth, a quaint little town just over the border into Shropshire. We wander round a few charity shops and I pick up a couple of paperbacks that I've always meant to read -- Jack Kerouac's On the Road (I lent my son Dan my other unread copy) and a nice clean copy of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Later, I treat myself to the latest issue of Songlines magazine. I've never bought this before but I do like a bit of world music and I can't resist a bargain of three free gifts with the magazine -- a free CD, a free calendar and a free book.

When I get home, I have time to relish my horde of goodies. The free book is a beautifully-designed paperback by a publisher called Route publishing, The Train of Ice and Fire. From the blurb, it sounds right up my street:  
'Columbia, November, 1993; a reconstructed old passenger train is carrying one hundred musicians, acrobats and artists on a daring adventure through the heart of a country soaked in violence. Leading this crusade of hope is Manu Chao with his band Mano Negra. Manu's father, Ramón Chao is on board to chronicle the journey... '
And I read on to discover that the train journey ends up in Aracataca which, the blurb explains, is 'the real-life Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude.’ So the free book I’ve just acquired makes reference to one of the other books I've just bought from a charity shop.

After that surprising coincidence, I take a look at the free Songlines calendar and wonder who it is pictured playing the guitar. It turns out to be Paco de Lucía, the very same who had serenaded us at breakfast-time.  With such synchronicities I can't help thinking the Maya have got it all wrong.  If this isn’t the end of the world perhaps it’s the beginning of a promising new era.  It turns out that, over in the heartland of the ancient Maya civilisation, the Yucatan governor Rolando Zapata, agrees with me:  ‘We believe that the beginning of a new baktun’ - a cycle of the calendar - ‘means the beginning of a new era, and we're receiving it with great optimism,’ said Zapata. With my free Songlines 2013 calendar, my family and friends, my books, my music and my coincidences, who am I to dismiss these auguries?  So have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


  1. Nice synchronicity. I have just purchased 'Love in The Time of Cholera' from a local charity shop. Does that count? Happy, happy new year!

  2. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.


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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).