Saturday 5 January 2013

A1: S7 - Fate & Strangers

As you can imagine, the whole Mr X scenario altered my way of thinking and living rather dramatically. It seemed like the icing on the cake of a series of fateful pointers that were trying to tell me that I shold be following my dreams, not wasting time doing something I didn't even enjoy. I came to the conclusion that I was going to drop out of University. My parents were livid, understandably. But that was when I realised that they only ever seemed to care or want to intervene in my life when I was deviating from the perfect preconception they had conjured as to the way my life would go. Where were they when I was young, hopeful and needed and begged for their help to set me on the right path? Exactly. So, in the politest terms I could possibly have mustered, I told them where to stick it. I was 19 years old, and it was time that I took sole responsibility for the decisions in my life, after all, it's me who has to live it.

I won't lie though. A teeny weeny factor that had leant me toward that decision was the possibility that if I did drop out of uni, then maybe things would've been a bit easier between me and Mr X. Perhaps if I had less commitments and was following the path that he too was following, then... maybe something could've actually happened between us. I knew that was beyond proposterous, foolish and naive, and I had so, so many more important reasons for making that decision, but... I knew that it was there too. And y'know... I think that's the first time I've ever actually admitted that to myself.

I sought the opinion of the people who I thought would have the most authority on the matter, and with my mind made up, I got the paperwork from uni. I filled out everything and ticked all the boxes... but something really made me hesitate about sending them back. I held the papers in my hand that would make or break me. Now, I'm about to be super pretentious and for this I apologise, but there was a book we studied for A-Level English Literature called 'Brideshead Revisited' by Evelyn Waugh. There was one quote in this book which I will always remember. It read,  “Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all.” I was at possibly the most difficult crossroads of my life so far. I tried to cast my minds eye into the future and guess what would happen to me either way, but I came to nothing. Everything was just fog. I was petrified. The question hung over me like sickness. Do I stay, or do I go?

Then, in a streak of brilliance, something came to me. Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery. I had the perfect insider into the industry that I dreamed of. I text him straight away asking if perhaps he'd like to meet in London sometime soon, as there were a few things I wanted to ask him. His reponse made me smile. "Sorry Darling, just popped over Vegas for the weekend. Let's meet when I'm back. x"

During this time I'd begun writing a lot. I was writing regularly for an online magazine but also had started to write a novel, which I'd called "Oscar & Ophelia." (This is where the latter half of the name Scarphelia comes from, but that's a story for another day) Anyway, just when I thought Mr X had been the pinnacle of the extraordinary events, another one came along. When I was writing, I found it very inspirational and theraputic to listen to a classical pianist called Ludovico Einaudi. His music is absoloutely beautiful, if you've never heard of him, I BEG you to youtube him right now. So, I was listening to him, when I noticed in the little box where it says where they are next playing, it said 'Trafalgar Square.' I nearly weed myself.

Being such a world-reknowned and famous Italian composer, he only ever played grand European music halls in places like Berlin and Rome. I couldn't believe it when I saw he was not only in England, but so close to me too. I instantly pulled up countless tabs researching the event, and to my sheer and utter delight, I discovered it was a free music festival called BT River of Music, which celebrated cultural diversity in lieu of the Olympic Games. It ran over a Saturday and Sunday with different stages dotted in locations along the River Thames to represent each continent. Einaudi was playing the Europe stage on the Sunday. In a giddy stupour, I went to secure myself a ticket genuinely trembling with excitement and disbelief. But the order didn't process. Confused, I tried again and again, on a variety of different websites. Only then, did I come across the Facebook page which revealed that there were tickets available for every other stage and day, except for the Sunday at the European Stage, with thousands of people begging for Einaudi tickets.

Considering the short amount of time I'd even been in the knowledge of the event, I was surprisingly crushed. I googled his other tour dates, but there was nothing until 2014, and that was in Venice. I was nothing short of crestfallen. But then, in a random impulse, I clicked and ordered tickets for the Saturday of the European Stage. I instantly told myself I was a dick. I'd never even heard of any of the acts performing, and the ones I youtubed sounded awful. But I resolved that I'd lost no money, so just went to bed in a grump.

A few weeks later, a little green ticket came through my door, and I remembered that I'd ordered the stupid thing. The following Saturday which held the event, I didn't have work until late, and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Now, what I find truly remarkable about this tale is that I sat in my bed that Saturday morning and I thought to myself, "If I go today, if I choose to be brave and take a chance... I know Lady Fate will repay me." I sat there, and I knew that something ridiculous would happen to me if I went. I could just feel it in my bones. Because that's just the sort of shit that happens to me.

So, I got my stuff together and set off to London, to an event I didn't want to be at, and was only going because I was annoyed that I couldn't go to the other event and was going out of spite. On a whim, I phone Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery and we arranged to meet that afternoon. At least if Lady Fate tricked me, I'd at least have something to show for my day.

I arrived at Trafalgar Square and it was dismal. The stage looked moderately impressive but there were about ten humans wandering around and the bands were terrible. I still had hours before I had to meet with Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery so I pulled out my notebook and started drafting an article for the online magazine. It was then, for no particular reason, I looked up and to my right. Sitting on the wall of the fountain, notebook and pen in hand, was a boy of around my age. I watched him closely for the next fifteen or so minutes. Then that niggly little voice in my head said, "If you don't ask, you don't get..." "Fortune favours the brave...", so, I took a deep breath, paused, and walked over to the boy.

"Hey um, are you a uh... journalist?" I squeaked and he smiled at me, bemused. We got talking and it turned out that his Father was one of the organisers for the event, and he'd been roped in as a plus one to write reviews on every aspect of how the event went. I thought it was pretty interesting, and quickly an hour had passed. We went to get a drink and laughed at how terrible the music was. Then, he mentioned that he had access to all of the stages as a plus one for both days of the festival, and he'd chosen the Europe Stage. I laughed and told him my bitter tale of how I ended up being at the festival on that day. He found it hilarious and said he'd make sure to enjoy Einaudi twice as much for me.

Before I knew it, I was late for my meeting with Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery. In a panic I said my farewell, we swapped phone numbers and I skipped merrily all the way to Victoria Train Station where I was meeting Fitzwilliam. What I didn't realise is that we were going for high tea in the Five star Grovesnor Hotel in Victoria. I was absoloutely blown away as soon as I entered the hotel, and Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery lead me through the tapestry carpeted and wood panelled corridors to the tea room. I couldn't help but exclaim a low "Woooooh my god" as we entered. I felt like I was suddenly on the Titanic with a tiny Asian Millionaire.

He bought us tea (IT WAS £5 FOR A SMALL TEA) and we got to business. I got out my notebook and we refined all my goals and dreams. We came to the conclusion that although I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do in the industry just yet (becuase I simply wanted to do it all) we discovered that what I wanted to do was entertain. Wether it be through my writing, acting, singing, presenting, fashion designing - I simply was a born entertainer.  He recommended some names to me and said he'd tell some very high contacts of his about me, which thrilled me to the core. I told him my mantra "Forever remain curious, refuse to remain unremarkable" and he smiled. 

"And that's how I'll always now remember you."

Then he asked for my pen and flicked to the very first page of my book where that very mantra was written, and underneath it, wrote "And I will not procrastinate, because I know my time is now." I grinned, because I knew he was right. (But then I was also secretly pissed off that he'd written in my book without asking. I MEAN HE DIDN'T EVEN DO IT NEATLY.) 

Then, I broached the subject of university. I told him my detailed and in depth plans (omitting Mr X) and after half an hour of explanation thought I'd demostrated a brilliant case as to why I was ready to leave. After suveying me for a few seconds, he leant in and said:

"Katie, I cannot begin to tell you how much damage you will do if you leave university now. I wouldn't hire you, and I know you. And if I wouldn't, nobody else sure as hell will. Please, please promise me you won't drop out. I don't care if you graduate with a third, I don't care if you spend your whole time there snorting coke (these were his actual words) just promise me you will get a degree. Change your course or re-do the year or something, anything. Just don't drop out. Katie, this is very, very important."

And as I sat there in front of the millionaire magazine industry tycoon begging me to stay in University, all my so carefully thought out plans flew out the window in an instant, as did my divorce papers from the uni. I would go on to change my course and it be the best thing that I ever did. 

So, with a brain and a notebook laden with ideas and excitement, I headed home. The train was rattling along monotonously, the grey and dreary south speeding past in a suburban smudge, when my phone went off.

I looked down at it. It was a text from the boy from the festival. I laughed as I realised I didn't even know his name. I saved him as 'stranger boy' in my phone. And do you know what that message read?

"Hey, it was really cool meeting you today. Look, I know this might be a bit forward and random but... my Dad says he really doesn't feel too good and is not going to the festival tomorrow. So, sorry if this is a bit weird, but I have a spare ticket to see Einaudi tomorrow night, if you wanted to come?"


And that is how one tiny fateful decision to go to the wrong day out of spite, caused me to talk to one person in over a thousand, who just so happens to be the one person in the world with a spare ticket to the right day of the event, and who just so happens asks me to go with them. And that is also how I came to the decision to stay at University and change my course.

I knew it'd pay off and my god did it. The next day at 5pm, I met the boy outside the fences, we were given special VIP wristbands, and I got to watch Ludovico Einaudi live in Trafalgar Square as the midsummer sun set behind us. 

I tell you, Lady Fate is my very best friend.