I'm sure that just about everybody gets a random thought about something in advance of unexpectedly experiencing it. Yesterday afternoon I was sitting here at the computer when the memory of an old 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' TV programme popped into my mind, ostensibly for no reason at all. I must have seen it in about 1960 and have certainly never seen it again. It concerned the macabre tale of a man who was thought to be dead but was actually alive and conscious, though showing no external signs of life. Various people (hospital staff? Undertakers? I can't remember) were discussing him and how to dispose of his body. In a voice-over he expressed his helpless horror at seeing and listening to them and his intense frustration at not being able to indicate that he was, in fact, still alive. Just when he was on the verge of giving up, one of the staff in the room notices a tear running from his permanently-open, weeping eye. That is the indicator that saves him from, literally, a fate worse than death. So after momentarily reflecting on this story for just a few seconds I dismissed it from my mind.
Then this morning I take the top book from my pile of 'still to read' (about 20 books currently). It's a Stephen King compendium of 14 short stories entitled 'Everything's Eventual'. I read the first story, called 'Autopsy Room Four'. Imagine the shiver up my spine when I find not only that it consists of a very similar situation to the TV programme which I'd been thinking about, though set, unsurprisingly, in an autopsy room, but in an afternote to the story, King actually mentions this very Hitchcock TV programme of 50 years back which had just popped into my head yesterday. (Incidentally, he says that the actor playing the subject was Joseph Cotten, a name which, at my age then, wouldn't have meant anything to me.) What a weird feeling it was! It makes one stop and ask oneself "Just what is going on here?" But at the same time as it's unsettling, it's also satisfying and intriguing.
The argument against the significance of such events is that one thinks of so many things, several hundred in the course of one day alone, that it's hardly surprising that now and again a seemingly random thought is bound to correspond with a later-occurring experience.
An even more spectacular incident happened for me when I was once in Amsterdam when, for reading material, I'd taken with me a single-volume Shakespeare play (as one does), this one being Richard II. Before going out to see the then new film of D.H.Lawrence's 'The Rainbow' (released in that city before it opened in England) I read a passage from the play which included the use of the word 'camel' and in an annotated explanation at the bottom of the page I learnt that the word, as well as being the hump-backed ruminant creature, also meant a stout kind of rope. Reference was made to Jesus' saying that "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (apologies if I haven't got the wording exactly right), which makes more sense when 'camel' = 'rope' than the animal trying to get through that minuscule aperture. (Since then the situation became more confused when I learnt that one of the city gates of ancient Jerusalem had the nickname of 'The Needle's Eye' because it was so narrow and low. So who knows now to what Jesus was actually referring? But, depending on the interpretation, while one is pretty difficult to achieve, the camel-animal going through the eye of a sewing needle is, if it needs saying at all, impossible. So, having just read that information about 'camel' and 'rope', I put the book down and went out to the cinema. When the film started, the very opening scene was a church service with the preacher declaiming from the pulpit "It is easier for a camel to pass through......" More shivers down the spine. Spooky or what?
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