The strangest coincidence today. A man turns up for a haircut. He’s off on holiday to Cambridge later in the day. “I’ve never been,” I say. He says that he used to live there when he was a teenager in the early 1980s. He begins to regale me with Cambridgeshire tales from his youth. His first job was washing glasses in a pub called Tickells in a village on the outskirts of the city. “The bloke who ran it was quite a character; handlebar moustache, really camp. He would sometimes wear a cape.”
After work I meet Dave B & Spanish Ian at The Rockliffe Arms. Ian is originally from Bolton, spends half the year in Spain, now lives in Newcastle. I don’t remember how we get on to the subject, but for some reason he’s telling how he used to work in Cambridge in the 1980s. “There was a pub we’d go to after work called Tickells. It was run by this bloke…”
I thought I was going mad! I stopped him. “He used to wear a cape,” I say. Spanish Ian’s face is a delight of confusion! “Yeah, how do you know that?”! Throughout the evening we keep stopping to comment with ever more amazement at the strangeness of it all.
Cambridge is almost 250 miles from here. Both stories, almost 40 years old. This sort of coincidence, I imagine, would, were it found in a novel or film, be far too unbelievable.