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Thursday, December 6

Coming Around Again

I like spotting patterns in life. They sometimes genuinely exist, but you can also invent them, because you only need to correlate the data which fits the pattern to conclude that there's a pattern. For instance, my comment about spin off series of "Happy Days" having the names of two characters in the title - it makes the assumption that there were only three spin off series of the show and that I know the names of them. It may be the case that, given there were three, there might have been lesser known fourth. What would the lesser known fourth series be about? "The Fonz Does Switzerland"? "Not So Happy Days" when the Cunninghams have spiralling debt problems and Pottsy gets hooked on smack? Who knows? In the case of something discrete, like a TV series, it's easily researched. That's not the point, though. The point is that I've chosen to conclude based on a subset of the world that's in my head.

So too, can you find a pattern in things you remember having encountered. "I always see you in Tesco" might be concluded from a couple of encounters, conveniently forgetting the fact that you've seen the person in other places. This is human nature. I think we're always looking for correlations between things to make the world seem simpler and less scary.

So, it may seem like a fabulous coincidence that my Bolton gig last night involved me leaving the surrounding road system at the same exit I'd take to go to my Bolton friend's parents' house and that the Tesco I went to after the gig was the one in which I'd had breakfast with this friend in March 2005 while we were doing the last date of The Musical!, and in which I bought a shirt that my then new girlfriend (now ex-) considered to be one of her favourites. It might seem awfully connected. It isn't really. Though it's nice to revisit familiar places, especially ones which are random and distant. Why shouldn't I have a little area of familiarity in Bolton, even though I've only been there about 4 or 5 times in my life!?

Fast becoming a familiar place to me is the Oxford Service station. The saga with my Louis Armstrong CD had continued longer than I expected after my second trip to the place to pick up the discs that had been left out of the box set resulted in the wrong, though very similar, discs. I was resolved to get the right discs.

It was while I was being seen at this service station last night, tired and hungry again (that may have been habitual hunger, rather than genuine, but I fed myself anyway, reasoning that my lack of sleep and surfeit of exercise would probably see me right), that I considered the situation I was in. I was buying this CD for the third time, effectively. I had listened to the discs they'd given me, which was from a very similar collection. I even had a favourite recording from the collection and had found it quite enjoyable. In fact, the only reason I had for swapping the discs was to make everything match up. I considered whether I would care if I had to keep the wrong discs. No. In fact, I realised that my favourite track - a rather messed up version of "Stardust" in which Louis clearly didn't give a toss about the song - wasn't even on the collection I'd bought... so fixing the problem would leave me worse off. Why bother?

I think it came down to the principle. I didn't want someone else to get the wrong discs (my discs) in their "St Louis Blues" box set, and I wanted things fixed. As it happens I have already mp3ed the discs I got, so I can have the track that was missing. I guess I can live with the minor copyright issues involved in that.

I even considered really confusing the guy who dealt with me (the same guy as had seen me the other week - what a coincidence... not really) by, after insisting that I wanted the right discs in the box, then going out into the shop and buying the other box set (maybe even asking if he'd do an exchange!). He was confused because all he could see on the box and discs was "Louis Armstrong", which he pronounced "Lewis". I had to explain that the artist is not the unique key field here - it's the union of artist and album title. I didn't put it like that... I should have. That would have confused him gloriously further. But then, he was speaking in his second language and I didn't think it was necessarily fair to take out my frustrations on someone doing a low-paid job in the middle of the night. He was frustrated, I was quite pleasant to him - as much as my late night mental fug would allow.

Anyway, we got everything sorted out.

It's nice to revisit old stamping grounds. It's not necessary to stamp so much, though.


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