Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…in a small world

Clichés are great, aren’t they? Since coming to Perth I’m really enjoying the one about the world being a small place.

I got a brief taste of it in Adelaide. Sitting on the grass bank on the second day of the Test, I got speaking to the English family beside me. As often happens in this situation, the conversation focussed on how much better we found things over here and where exactly we came from. It turned out that they’d spent a bit of time in Bristol and their youngest, around five years, was born in the hospital where my mum now works.
It was cute, but as he was delivered briefly before my parents had moved to Brizzle, it didn’t mean too much.

In Perth, though, I’ve had two moments that made me marvel at the connections that are made.

One night, an internet friend was showing me some of his favourite spots in the area. He took me up to Cottesloe beach which, as it was about 9pm, was pretty much deserted. We walked along it and saw a guy with a metal detector and got speaking to him. After talking about his finds (that night about two dollars, a brooch and something else shiny) they started chatting about local attractions.

He bade us farewell but turned back when he realised he hadn’t spoken to me much. I told him I had come from Edinburgh and he replied saying he’d spent about eight years there, studying and working. He asked me about uni and I told him I’d studied journalism in Aberdeen. He then said ‘Journalism in Aberdeen… who do I know in journalism in Aberdeen?’ before naming someone who I’d briefly worked with at stv. It turns out he was her second cousin (I think… he was her mum’s cousin).

Then last night, I settled down in my room to have a bit of a read and a new girl came in and sat on a bed not far from me. A guy I’d seen a couple of times — he’s got a shaved head but a dreadlock pony tail, he wears a hat with feathers in it and he makes odd comments about the cricket when he walks past as if he knows very little about it but wants to join in — started speaking to her. I overheard her say she was from Scotland so when there was a break in their conversation I asked her where about in Scotland she was from. She gave a vague ‘just north of Aberdeen’ in a way that people do when they’re from somewhere small that no one’s ever heard of. I presumed she meant somewhere like Fraserburgh so asked where exactly and she said Huntly, which is about 20 miles from where I spent most of my childhood. I told her I grew up in Fochabers and she made a noise that I took to mean ‘ooh, that’s a coincidence’. Her boyfriend walked in then and she said ‘This guy’s from Fochabers’ and pointed at me. He took one look at me and said ‘Of course he is, he’s Ollie G–‘. It was a guy I’d played cricket with, and against, when I was growing up and hadn’t seen since I was 17 or so. What I liked most about this reunion was that we discovered we’d both studied in the same city, at the same university, over the same years and didn’t once bump into each other then.

Now that things like this have started to happen I look forward to more of the same. Unless, of course, they begin with a woop.

Filed under: australia, ,

4 Responses

  1. Jemma says:

    I like the part where the boyfriend says “of course, he’s Ollie!” like as if everyone should know who you are and that you’re from Fochabers. Awesome 🙂

    • Oliver says:

      Maybe they should. I never did find out who left this comment: http://www.knowhere.co.uk/Fochabers-Moray/Inverness/Scotland/info/celebs

      I think you’re going to like this. I was speaking to him last night. His sister is quite a good cello player (celloist?) who lives in Glasgow. She’s often hired for weddings for the ‘celebs’ who live there, like the footballers. Anyway, she was playing her cello at the MOBO awards recently, and she featured on one of Chipmunk’s songs! You know how everyone in the world is meant to be connected by six steps? That puts me just three away from Chippppppy!

  2. Dave w says:


    I know someone else who travelled around Australia and bumped into her next-door neighbours, who were coincidentally visiting the same obscure part of the country at the same time.

    Only chance meetings I’ve had so far are bumping into a few people I met in Venice in other parts of Italy, but it’s not so surprising that they’d be doing a similar north-to-south tourist trail.

    Strange coincidences and other spooky phenomena have a habit of avoiding me. Almost supernaturally so…

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