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28 Nov 2005

Fountain of knowledge
You met Winston Churchill? Marlene Dietrich? Mandela? Aaaahhhhh no CS, really. What more can you surprise me with. I'm just green with envy. Is there anything that you may want to accomplish in your life still 'cos I think that you've been there, done that and got the T-shirt. Compared to you, my life is totally boooorrrrriiiinnnggggg. What's my claim to fame? Being a loser compared to you (ha! ha!). Have a cool day CS. Chat to you later.
Answer 326 views

01 Jan 0001

Well, I don't think we can always plan these encounters, and I appreciate all the more those that arise from serendipity. CHurchill, for instance, lived not very far from where I lived in digs in London, and when I was a young student and heard on the radio that he was being sent home from hospital on what sounded like it might be his last public outing, I aranged quickly to take the morning off, and walked the 2 miles to his home, and waited outside. A small crowd gathered, as many people didn't know where he lived ; and when the ambulance arrived, he was carried out on a chair, and paused to greet us. Later we went to his lying in state which was an awesome occasion in mid-winter, but of course we weren't important enough to be invited to the funeral !
Marlene Dietrich, I noticed was giving a few appearances in London in her final tour of public performances, and saved to get a ticket --- then waited in the cold ( in London it almost always seemed to be cold ) at the stage door till she came out --- and unlike modern divas, she was gracious and stopped to speak with us and sign autographs.
Mandela, well, I had been working on a complex case with one of his close friends ( 5 years of dificult work for which in the end I wasn't even paid a single cent ) but at least I was taken to a meeting at which I first met him, and clearly they had been talking about my work --- Again, I was struck by how the truly great people are actually calm and modest and gracious --- in contrast the the jumped up little instant stars who give themselves so many airs and graces.
Other encounters were, for instance, meeting the historically famous woman anthropologist and author Margaret Mead --- she was guest of honour at a major reception I went to, and I noticed that she was standing all alone, as everyone was in too much awe of her to approach and talk to her, which seemed an awful shame. So I went up for a chat and found we got on marvellously well together --- so much so that she invited me round to her home a couple of days later, for dinner ! What I found hilarious was as this great woman famed for writing about the home customs of people in Southern Asian islands was preparing dinner, another guest, a Japanese anthropologist, without being aware of how odd it looked, was wandering round with his camera taking flash pictures of her and the rest of us helping with the meal preparation, as if about to write a paper on the weird Westerm eating customs of the Americans.
A key, I think, it to always be open to new experiences, to remain on the lookout for new experiences, and to be prepared to approach notable people pleasantly, and talk with them. generally, they appreciate it ( and far more so than the people who stand at a distance staring at them and whispering and pointing !
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