The Flutterby Effect
Today is a bit of an anniversary for me.
No, it’s not my birthday or my wedding anniversary or anything like that.
It is in fact the 50th anniversary of The Great Storm of July 10th 1968 in Cheddar.
You may well ask why it should be such a big feature in my life, but in fact it was. It wasn’t so much the storm itself, but rather the summer in Cheddar that changed the course of my life in a rather profound way and the storm did indeed play its part in that.
There were a few little milestones during that hot summer that passed unnoticed at the time but were to shape my future in subtle ways. It was a perfect example of the Butterfly Effect.
It was the start of a couple of friendships that in turn were to lead to other friendships. It was the summer I started to play the guitar which in turn was to lead to other Butterfly Effects.
I can safely say that if I hadn’t gone to Cheddar that year my life would have taken a significantly different path. The storm itself did pay one significant role though. It changed my personality in a very subtle way – I matured overnight. I gained a confidence in myself that had been absent before.
There’s nothing like a near death experience for doing that.
“There’s nothing like a near death experience for doing that.” Indeed. This is just my experience, but you start seeing all kinds of crazy shit you never noticed before, and you also start viewing things you know/thought you knew differently. Thanks for the read.
In fact I have had a few near death experiences in the course of life [who hasn’t?!] but that one was unique in that it was a drawn out protracted experience, not like a car accident or whatever. Living in a state of near terror for well over twelve hours was a somewhat unique experience.
Cheddar? As in the cheese?
Yup. The very same. Tourists used to come into my wee shop begging for real Cheddar Cheese sandwiches, which I served up with aplomb. I didn’t tell them that the cheese I used was made in Mitchelstown in Ireland!
One of my mental games, when not otherwised engaged in keeping this country running, is to identify such ‘nodes’ or pivotal moments in my life (and other famous people- like some old spinster of the parish, in C18 Austria, deciding she would go to the village fete and having one bier too many- which led directly to Adolf’s grandad …). Usually they are less dramatic than your ‘near death’, infact to really classify as a ‘nodal point’ (thank you to W.Gibson esq) they need to be truly mundane…to be moments when , again to quote Gibson, ‘everything changes and nothing changes’. Like deciding I’d hitch home from college one afternoon instead of waiting for the free bus – a drunken whim which resulted in my getting into that whole ‘sex’ thing a bit later on. Or my mishearing my then boss in a noisy pub and putting my hand up for her to include me in that round of drinks she was , I thought, about to buy. Or deciding at 4AM, drunk again (a pattern emerges?) that I would choose to sit in a bus with a bunch of middle class German teens for 18 hours.
I like the term Nodal Point. It describes an abstract fairly succinctly. Cheddar was definitely one of mine and I can think of quite a few others where I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, like the time I chatted up a girl by mistake [long story] who ended up becoming Herself. Or is it the right place at the wrong time?
Just one day before your own ‘nodal point’, I passed my Driving Test, an event which changed my life in more ways than I could imagine at the time or even assess now, 50 years later. That single gift of uninhibited mobility dictated my career, my home location, my partner selection, my social life, my choices, basically everything about who I am. It was, without a doubt, the most significant examination I ever passed in my life, putting mere paper educational qualifications into the background shade where they belong.
My advice to any young folk now is, sod all the over-rated school-stuff, get your Driving License and then there’s nothing stopping you, the world will be there for you to take, just use it and steer it well.
Indeed that was one of my nodal points too, and I would presume the same for anyone who did the driving test. As far as I remember, I did my car test on the 10th December 1971, also as it happens in the middle of a thunder storm. Thunder seems to play a pivotal role in my life? I had held a motor cycle one since ’66 but it was sunny the day I did that test.
I married the first mrs timbo a month before your life changing experience. That was my Nodal Point, as 36 years after the divorce, whenever I go out on my motorbike, I still regard all other road users as her paid mercenaries dedicated to rub me out.
My particular Nodal Point there happened a few years later when I accidentally chatted up a Yang Wan who was later to become Herself. The chat up was on the 31st January 1975 and she officially became Herself on the 31st January 1976.