|At Ramla Beach, Gozo|
So we're up on the north coast of Gozo at Ramla Bay. Here the sand is often described as "red" and it's surely the island's best beach. We have swum in the sea - chillier than Thailand or Sri Lanka by far - and we have flopped on our beach towels like over-exerted sealions, falling asleep in the midday sun. After two hours we reckon it's wise to depart even though we had earlier smothered ourselves in Nivea Factor 30.
We wander along the boardwalk to the little cafes beyond the dunes and decide to stop for drinks and a bite to eat. We choose Rose's though we could have picked any of three others and we go right instead of left, finding a table in a shady corner. And we could have arrived five minutes earlier or five minutes later.
There's a young couple at the table ahead of us. He is chomping on burger and chips but she has sensibly opted for a salad dish. We order our drinks and then Shirley whispers, "Is that Tom? Tom and Emily?" We look more closely as they continue to dine and then we realise it really is Tom and Emily! They are in their late twenties and they are from Sheffield and we are very good friends with Tom's parents. Tom and Emily have been together for ages and they now live down in London where they battle to stay ahead of the rat race. Tom is a big friend of our son Ian. They have borrowed an apartment in Gozo for two weeks before returning to the treadmill of work.
Now what are the chances of such a meeting happening? Great Britain is home to 62 million people and Europe has thousands of possible holiday destinations and yet we met Tom and Emily there by Ramla Bay.
I often think about the near misses - co-incidences that almost happened but didn't. You know what I mean - you could have bumped into someone you knew but you were two minutes too late or they were two minutes too early. Or maybe they were there yesterday and you arrived on Thursday. For every successful co-incidence like the one that happened today there must have been thousands of near misses.
In one of my student summers in Ohio in the seventies I worked with a camp counsellor called Ian. Ten years later I bumped into him on the track up to Ios Town in Greece. This is a big world. So many people so how could that have happened? Just like today.
I know I am not alone in having experienced statistically impossible meetings like today's. What about you? Does my co-incidence tale ring any bells?