Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Chance meeting such a joy.

Three decades ago I met Alan Browne at John's coffee shop in a tiny arcade off Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. I'd take my son there for lunch because John's speciality was a salad sandwich made with lettuce, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, grated raw beetroot and pumpkin. From memory there were only three small tables and chairs, the proximity of which meant it was conducive to striking up a conversation. On this particular occasion Alan, who I didn't know, leant across and said 'I have a theory about smokers. They want to take in more of life'. Such a seductive idea, breath and breathlessness, life and death. I had a number of conversations with Alan who was a psychologist who worked at nearby Swinburne.
As it happened, today I was in KMart at Victoria Gardens trying on shoes I didn't need. When I heard a man say 'They look good'. It was Alan and he was surprised not only that I knew his name, but that I could recount our very first meeting. He told me I should be riding on the top of an elephant, a line that suggested to me that he admired my excellent memory. But perhaps he meant something entirely different because he mentioned Joseph Campbell the mythologist and in another breath said that I might like the llustrations of his namesake Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz) a long time collaborator of Charles Dickens.
Amidst the ambling crowd and under the harsh fleuroscent lights we had a brief but fruitful philosophical conversation about silence and poetry, the nothing, cause and affect, isness and the mysterious universe that had directed us both to this spatial configuration. Alan is an artist making fragile bones from ashen clay, molded and imagined from one point to another. Interesting because I had an xray of my lumber spine on Monday and I thought I'd finally found the point in which our conversation and meeting intersected. However on further discussion Alan said that his son was studying science fiction and so I wrote down the title of my book for him to pass on.
He said that he had felt suddenly drawn to enter the shop and ventured to remark that although some meetings appear destined mathematicians would probably put some rational spin on it. I expect the unexpected, but when chance meetings like this occur I still find them rather delightful.

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