Saturday, July 12, 2008

RNA Conference - Small World Moment

Now that I have blogged about the the serious business of the conference I thought I would just add one last little tale. As regular readers will know I have lived all over the world but home is now in Cornwall. We bought our beautiful house back in 1996 just after we returned from 18 months of living in Calgary. We were based up near Gatwick and the company didn't want us to buy a home but to lease. So we did but I didn't feel happy not having a place that was truly ours.

So i will jump back in time to the summer of 1995 when we thought we were coming back to England for a three week holiday and staying with my in-laws in their house on the Helford River ( lets just say at this point I had one 2 1/2 year old boy and another one who was eight months and the garden of the house was on a forty-five degree slope!). Friends who wanted to spend time with us while we were home had booked a cottage in a nearby village for a week. DH and I went there to meet them on arrival. I set foot in the house and the virtually the first words out of my mouth were - "If this house ever comes on the market, I want it." It spoke to me and it still does. Nine months later the word came through the local grapevine that the house was to be sold.......the rest is history.

The vendors were great people and I think truly wanted us to have the house. We shared a transit van to shift the furniture etc. So on the way down from Gatwick I drove our car full of kids and things to somewhere near Oxford and collected the vendor while DH and her husband drove the van down together.

This time allowed me to talk about the house its history and their love for it. Her parents had bought it in the early sixties and brought it into this century. She had so many memories and kindly left us with photos of the transformation of the house. Now you are wondering how this has anything to do with the conference but hang in there.......We bought the cottage with contents as it was an on going letting concern. The vendor only took away a few personal items. Of the many things left behind were copies of her brother-in-laws books. She told of one tenant who had loved the books and and how they kept getting requests for more information. Now my memory may be wrong but I think she mentioned that her bil had visited the house.

These books are still on the cottage's shelves. I have often picked them up but to date have not read them as yet but definitely will now.
Now let's jump to the conference. I arrive tired and a bit hassled on Friday afternoon ( I had driven from Cornwall to Heathrow to collect DH on Thursday so that we could be at DS2's school for a final parents' reception near Andover - spent the night at friends - collected DS2 from school early in the morning to take him to his soon to be senior school near Oxford for uniform fitting and to meet his housemaster - dropped DH off at train station so he could visit his sister in London, returned DS2 to school and then drove to the conference in Chichester). So I registered and crawled to my room dumped the bags and with tired everything left my room looking longingly at the bed. As I left my room I met a man on the stairwell. I thought he was lost as clearly RNA conferences don't attract a large number of good looking men. However we struck up conversation and I tried to figure out how to broach the subject -are you a romantic novelist? By the time we had reached the book stalls I had discovered that indeed he was and over from Dublin for the weekend. It was his first conference. He desperately wanted to know if there would be any other men at the conference. I said not many but a few brave souls were usually around - fortunately at that moment Steve, Kate Walker's other half appeared.

I thought no more about our male attendee until I caught up with him in the bar after dinner Saturday. I cornered him and said exactly what was he writing (that was after I did the polite thing and ask him if he was enjoying the conference) he then spoke of his uncle J.G. Farrell. Something then went bing in my wine muddle brain. He said he wanted to continue the story of one of his uncle's book. What would that be I asked? he said the Troubles. Another bing went in my head. I asked him what other books did your uncle write? He said The Siege of Krishnapur and ......... By this time alarm bells were ringing. I knew each and everyone of those titles. They belonged to my house. They were part of its long history. I tried to explain. I tried desperately to remember the vendor's name. You see I could remember her maiden name as that is a family that the village remembers fondly. Too much wine does not aid memory then Mark came up with her first name and it all clicked........some times it is a very small world.


Debs said...

What a fascinating story, they do say though that truth can be stranger than fiction, dont they? I love hearing tales such as this one.

How wonderful it must have been for him to find this connection at the conference and how exciting for you too.

I've linked your blog and Ray-Anne's on to my report too, I hope you don't mind.

liz fenwick said...

Of course I don't mind Debs :-)

Nell said...


Flowerpot said...

how amazing Liz - what a coincidence! Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

What a great story!

wordtryst said...

Wow, small world indeed. Love that story!