Serendipity and Coincidence

There are, of course, simple serendipities and coincidences – they happen all over the place and at any time. And then there are those extraordinary ones which defy belief. Like the time Mr and Mrs Smythe went, on a whim, to Brazil, and the couple from No. 34 were staying in the same hotel!! And they hadn’t seen them for months…

Naturally, occurrences can either bode well or not for the people involved. Stray from the path, and you could find your ‘blind date’ is actually your wife or husband, as the case may be. Whoops!

“What people call serendipity sometimes is just having your eyes open.”

— Jose Manuel Barroso

jordhan-madec-tube-unsplashI came across the most serious ‘coincidence’ I had ever encountered, while collating facts for my only novel The Catalyst. The book is based on the actual terrorist bombings of several London trains and a bus in 2005, the aftermath and a few fictitious survivors’ stories and fate. Because of the actual dead and injured, the subject was too delicate to write about at the time, and it was several years before I actually wrote the story and had it published.

The Foreword to my tale reads as follows:

“It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else.”

— John Green (Will Grayson, Will Grayson)

THAT FAR-REACHING ARM Coincidence, which seems to weave its disembodied way through all manner of innocent and drama-filled occurrences and ‘incidents,’ again came to the fore on the 7th day of July in 2005.

Press reports at the time claimed an anti-terror drill was organized and carried out that same day on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, by Peter Power, a former high-ranking policeman and Managing Director of Visor Consultants. Known to only a handful of people, a fictional ‘scenario’ of multiple bomb attacks on London’s underground was, incredibly, being played out just after the time the actual bomb attacks took place, stretching the meaning of coincidence to its utmost limit.

The coincidence of the innocent and the truly dreadful events carried out on that day, was said to be ‘Disconcerting’… but apart from information given to accredited journalists and academics, no further comments were forthcoming from Peter Power because of ‘The Extraordinary number of messages from ill-informed people.’ (Reported on 13th July.)

The news reports fanned the flames of conspiracy theories and high-level cover-ups, so familiar to us today in the aftermath of any major incident or attack.

craig-whitehead-man in hat-unsplashThe press also reported that the former Mayor of New York: Rudolph Giuliani was visiting London at the time of the attacks. He was staying at The Great Eastern Hotel (close to Liverpool Street station ) where TASE: The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, was hosting its Economic Conference. Israel’s Finance Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was the keynote speaker. Presumably this was intended as further fuel for the fire of mysterious and sinister goings-on. Newspaper editors and their owners are, for the most part, not usually shy of publishing rumours, gossip or outright falsehoods when it suits their needs.

Eerie connotations lingered, however ‘coincidental.’

But an investigation by journalists at UK’s Channel 4 news found the ‘anti-terror drill’, while certainly a coincidence, was in fact a purely theoretical exercise, and the terror attack scenario was one of 3 possible incidents being examined by a group of business executives. As Channel 4 and BreakForNews.com pointed out:

‘These types of private-sector “risk management” drills never use field staff. Neither do [such] low-level corporate drills have active involvement of police or other security forces.’

alex-motoc-news-unsplashSo, it seems the Press over-hyped the story, perhaps misled by initial statements. Or maybe they just decided to go with a more colourful interpretation of events. Peter Power himself dismissed it as ‘spooky coincidence’. And the chosen date? It was indeed coincidence — but an unbelievable one? ‘Every week across the UK there are probably about a hundred exercises, tests and simulations going on to get crisis teams familiar with their roles,’ Power insisted. ‘We certainly do this regularly for many clients, the vast majority of them paper-based.’

People love stories, and the idea of dark machinations and sinister plots involving spy agencies, government cover-ups and terrorists is the stuff of countless books, films and TV shows.

A good journalist will always try to dig a little deeper to uncover the facts. But not everyone wants to hear the truth, and many people will choose to believe whatever interpretation of events most closely fits with their existing world-view.

Shakespeare described man as: ‘noble in reason and infinite in faculties,’ but, sadly, we are often rather lacking when it comes to reasoning, and rarely in full possession of all those faculties.

The Catalyst is available from Amazon: Paperback $13.99 or Kindle 99 cents.


© Copyright Joy Lennick 2022

Photos: unsplash.com / pixabay.com

19 thoughts on “Serendipity and Coincidence

  1. Liz Gauffreau 25/07/2022 / 10:52 pm

    I agree with your comment on the Shakespeare quote. The past few years have certainly born that out.

  2. quiall 26/07/2022 / 12:52 am

    We are living in a society where by whoever speaks the loudest on social media gathers the most attention. It’s got nothing to do with the truth. And that is a sad statement on us.

  3. Yeah, Another Blogger 26/07/2022 / 2:13 am

    Hi, Joy. Shakespeare was as brilliant a person as has ever lived. Maybe the most brilliant. But, in that quote, he got it wrong.

    • joylennick 26/07/2022 / 7:28 pm

      Probably laced his mead too liberally with something or other, Neil…The trouble, it seems, with some clever people, is they are low on common sense! Just think of some politicians and the flocks of sheep! xx

  4. Tandy | Lavender and Lime 26/07/2022 / 9:01 am

    One of the non serendipitous occurrences of this awful event was the story of a young Israeli girl who had left her hometown of Tel Aviv as she was afraid of being killed by a suicide bomber. She was on the bus that was attacked and sadly lost her life 😦

  5. joylennick 26/07/2022 / 9:30 am

    Oh, Tandy, how tragic! Poor girl. RIP. I was a young girl in WW11 in the UK and several times there were such terrible incidents and raids – like being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s the unfortunate side of life, for who knows?! Our family was very lucky, with only one, dear uncle killed.

  6. robbiesinspiration 26/07/2022 / 1:45 pm

    Hi Joy, it is wonderful to see you have a new book out. Congratulations. It sounds very interesting and I have grabbed a copy.

  7. joylennick 26/07/2022 / 6:26 pm

    Why, thank you very much, Robbie. Quite a story attached…I checked the title: The Catalyst, before I started writing, and by the time the book was published, there were five… other books with a similar title, so my poor book was swamped. Do hope you enjoy it, It is all based on checked facts and the area and house where we lived in the UK. The characters are, of course, fictitious. Happy reading. Hugs xx

  8. An amazing coincidence!! I don’t believe most that I read in the media and to be honest have more faith in novels especially those that have more realism than the factual accounts. Terrific post Joy.. ♥

    • joylennick 27/07/2022 / 12:02 pm

      Muchas gracias, Sally. How are you keeping? What’s the weather like in Ireland? Most of the world seems to be sizzling…Phew. Heat and old age…do not pair well!! Otherwise fine. Still looking for a mainstream publisher for my 10th book The Dobrowski Portrait. Hey ho. What are you up to? Take care. Love Joy xx

      • Busy getting the house ready to put on the market Joy and getting up to the usual mischief, writing, reading and listening to music… life goes by quickly doesn’t it.. good luck with The Dobrowski Portrait…love and hugs ♥

  9. Jennie 27/07/2022 / 3:38 am

    The press only has part of the story and they jump onto every bandwagon. Unfortunately, most people get (and believe) their news from the press. Fabulous post, Joy. Thank you! And congratulations on your new book!

  10. joylennick 27/07/2022 / 11:40 am

    Thank you Jennie. The book has been out awhile, but was swamped by four other books with more or less the same title (not mentioned when I checked…) Hey ho! Cheers.

  11. Tom 27/07/2022 / 11:45 pm

    I remember that day vividly, Joy, although I’m at the other end of the country. I seem to recall another incident, or a failed attempt at one, two weeks later – and although vivid, it seems ages ago too.
    I love coincidences and enjoy reading about them.
    All the best with your new book! 🙂

  12. dgkaye 02/08/2022 / 4:44 am

    Fab post Joy. I don’t believe in coincidence as everything happens for a reason. And yay for you on this book, which I just grabbed a copy for myself! ❤ I'll leave you with this one: “Coincidences are spiritual puns.”
    ― G.K. Chesterton xxx

  13. joylennick 02/08/2022 / 12:12 pm

    Thanks for reading my post; and buying my book, bless you, Debs. Do hope you enjoy it! Take care. Hugs xx

  14. derrickjknight 05/08/2022 / 12:04 pm

    That was my 63rd birthday, Joy. The serendipity was that had I not been walking as usual from Little Venice to North London that morning I may well have been in Edgware Road tube station at the crucial time. My two daughters were unable to check on me by phone because the mobile networks had been handed over to the emergency services. I walked along Marylebone Road not knowing why the Tube stations were all closing.

  15. joylennick 05/08/2022 / 12:51 pm

    A day you will always remember, Derrick! When younger, I worked in both the City of London and the West End but lived in Essex, so was either in the Aldgate/Liverpool Street area or Soho, as I worked for an agency as a secretary for a while and used a few of the train lines affected, so the enormity and horror of the situation, really affected me. Thanks for reading. Cheers.

  16. D. Wallace Peach 11/08/2022 / 4:51 pm

    Fascinating, Joy. Even then, the media was sensationalizing and speculating. If only we’d seen the writing on the wall and known how the advent of social media would change, and damage, the world. Scary stuff.

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