I’ve just started re-reading Julian Barnes’s “The Sense of an Ending” in advance of our next Book Group meeting. It’s strange how these things work out but, within less than 24 hours of starting it, I noticed an article in last Sunday’s Observer about his forthcoming book “Levels of Life”. It’s partly autobiographical and deals with life following the death of his wife, literary agent Pat Kavanagh (they were married for 30 years), who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 and died within 37 days. I’m afraid I had never even heard of her, but I HAD noticed that “The Sense of an Ending” had been dedicated to “Pat”. Even stranger, only the previous day, I had bought a copy of Clive James’s book “The Revolt of the Pendulum” (essays 2005-2008) and had seen - I don’t know why, but I often do note book dedications – that he’d dedicated it to “the memory of Pat Kavanagh”. It turns out that she was his literary agent too.I know it’s nothing, but I’m aware that this sort of thing (ie. coming across Pat Kavanagh’s name THREE times in less than 24 hours) seems to be happening to me more and more over recent years. Am I becoming more observant in my old age? Almost certainly not.
I’ve always been pretty good at “looking AND seeing” things from a photographic, architectural or artistic perspective, but I’m also aware of my apparent (lifelong?) inability to absorb details from the written page. It makes me think that such coincidences probably happen all the time and I just haven’t spotted them before?
Perhaps it’s just something to do with “having time to notice” such things?