In Golden Bay, Tasman, New Zealand, there’s a flippin’ big hill. It’s a lump of earth that separates Takaka from Moteuka. So far, so what. Well, it’s such a big pile of rock that it puts people off crossing over it. Such is the twistiness of the highway people don’t bother.
Shame on them, because Golden Bay is blummin’ lovely.
The locals wear Tee Shirts with the legend “It’s a hill: get over it.”
As clueless foreigners we booked a trio of nights by the sea in the little village of Pohara. We chose, from 12,000 miles away a lovely eco-Inn by the name of Sans Souci: the place without worries. www.sanssouciinn.co.nz
A little bit eco, with the option of dinner. We are here on the strength of a website. As it goes, on arrival, we decide someone elses cooking would be good and bag a table for supper.
What I’m trying to say is that we are here pretty much randomly.
So, I start to think that I am losing it when I recognise a face on the table next to us at dinner. With (rare) discretion I shrink from interrupting our neighbours meal, avoiding embarrassment to one and all. The moment passes, we retire to our room.
(Dinner was delicious by the way. It’s really laid back place who know what they are doing. “Sweet as” they say around here.)
I was reading the excellent Blink – the book by Malcolm Gladwell – at the time, which is all about our subconscious rapid cognition abilities to thin slice our thinking. It goes into facial recognition in some depth and our innate abilities therein. Maybe it had messed with my mind? Stranger things have happened.
Next day, we take ourselves to the wee town of Takaka and peruse their artsy Saturday market. In the line for the ATM, there she is again, the lady from the restaurant. I smile, but there is no recognition from her. I let the moment pass a second time.
Then, an hour or so later whilst sat on the grass near a cake stand which the kids have made a beeline for, there she is again. Three times breaches my limit. I cave in and say “hello”. Not a flicker. I press on with a friendly, 100% genuine – yes, corny – we’ve met before line.
I’m originally from Wales she says…
Say I “We used to sit next to each other in economics in Olchfa school.”
We did too.
Michelle from Upper Killay, Swansea now lives in Golden Bay, New Zealand.
How random is that? To sit on neighbouring tables in a restaurant we’ve never been to before, in a place we picked more or less by chance. 12,000miles from home, seeing someone I’ve not seen for 25 years or so. From the other party, Michelle doesn’t frequent the restaurant either: it was a one-off thankyou meal her and her partner were buying an acquaintance.
I must write to Mr Gladwell: it demonstrates the power of rapid cognition and the incredible capability of our minds to recognise faces. Even ones that have, er, matured. The years have been kinder to Michelle than I of course. Living in Golden Bay must help!
What are the chances?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address…