On coincidence

At Christmas 2019, I, and then Lyn, had a hideous virus the symptoms of which were exactly the same as the classic symptoms of Covid-19, including loss of taste and smell. Whether or not we, like many others who seem to have had Covid symptoms a couple of months before it was supposedly first detected in the UK, it’s very unusual for me to be ill – I’d not had a virus or flu or anything like that for 20 years or more before then.

What I remember most is that I was really feverish for a few days and for some reason the name of the ‘Avant Garde’ composer Cornelius Cardew popped into my head. I looked his details up and found that he died in the early hours of 13 December, 1981, a victim of a hit-and-run on Leyton high road, on the humpback bridge next to Leyton Tube station. Conspiracy theorists claimed that his politics made his death suspicious. One can’t really blame anyone for thinking that, given that it was round about the same time that Hilda Murrell was bumped off (though a local man was subsequently convicted for her murder).

At the time of my illness, I’d just started reading an Amy Clampitt collection What the Light Was like, published by Faber in 1986, and, immediately after looking up Cardew on my phone, I opened the book on her elegiac poem ‘A Curfew’, about the day that her brother Richard, a doctor, died, at the age of 56. The poem is subtitled ‘December 13, 1981’. The billions-to-one coincidence was increased by the fact that ‘fever’ occurs three times in the poem, including as its opening word.

Anyhow, Clampitt was a fine poet, as the selection of poems on this website to her memory shows. I especially like, as I did when I read it in my feverishness, ‘The August Darks’, about the Maine coast, with its nice quotation from Middlemarch at the end and its overall tone reminiscent of Bishop and (Robert) Lowell.

5 thoughts on “On coincidence

      1. Thanks. Yes, it’s uncanny. I suppose there are lots of viruses out there, but it does seem more than coincidence. (Not that I’m a conspiracy theorist, honest.)

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