Serendipity

Today was the kind of day that gets turned into a movie script.

I  cycled into town. In my pocket was my completed tax return which I intended to drop off at the tax office which is housed in a sixties built concrete tower block adjacent to the ring road on the outskirts of the commercial centre. Such is the state of this part of town that it has been years since I was last in this vicinity.

Once I had safely delivered the tax return, curiosity made me take a look at the row of shops opposite the tower block. Usually, such low rent parts of town house unique and interesting shops like comic book stores or tattoo artists. This was no exception.

One of the premises was an art gallery called The Wall. The sign on the door said ‘closed’. I put my head against the glass window and peered inside. I could see a lithe dark haired man moving about the spacious gallery hanging pictures. He saw my face pressed against the glass like some child’s at a sweet shop and mouthed something before coming to the door which was unlocked.

“You are closed”. I said ironically.

“Yes I am,” he replied. “I’m changing some pictures around but if you want to come in and have a look around you can.” He looked down at my bike. “You’d better bring that in or it will get nicked.”

This was great! I has spied some interesting pictures and I would have the whole place to myself.

After talking with the owner for a bit  and dropping in the conversation that I was an artist myself, he asked me if I made a living from it. I said most of my money came from caricaturing but my background was fine art and I still indulged myself with canvas and oil paints. He asked me what I was called and when I told him ‘Ivor the Artist’ he claimed to have come across my website. Then I went upstairs to look at more of the pictures.

After some time he came upstairs and asked if I had seen anything I liked. I was admiring a Mike Jones picture at the time, acrylic on paper and, to my mind, the best picture in the gallery.

“Yes”, I said. “This one is exquisite. I know It has class because it looks good from ten metres or ten centimetres.”

He then quizzed me about my caricature work – how did it work? et-cetera. After explaining to him the usual format at a typical wedding or dinner, he then offered an idea. He suggested I set up an easel in his gallery during an Art Walk and charge a fee for doing a drawing (an Art Walk is a scheme whereby several art venues in the city stay open late in the evening so that people can walk from one to the other and see different art). This seemed like a win-win situation; I would be meeting people, artists and potential customers alike, making some pocket money and the owner of the gallery would be able to promote his venue in the media with something novel. It was in midweek so it was unlikely that I would get a full fee enquiry on the same date. I then suggested a possible contra deal which might persuade me to buy the picture I was admiring, He balked at this and re-presented his original suggestion as a good deal for both of us. I liked this man. He was smart, curious, inventive – all the things that a creative practitioner or entrepreneur should have. I pointed this out to him and told him of my other career as a professional speaker and trainer of creative thinking. To my amazement he claimed to have come across my speaking website as well and proceeded to tell me a bit about his background and his involvement with a cutting edge architectural practice and the occasion they invited a prescient designer in to talk about his green roofs. This was the guy who was commissioned by Ford to build a factory for them and who insisted that he would only take on the project if he could build a green roof. I had seen a television article about the building and how skylarks were now nesting on his meadow roof. This was marvellous good fortune and we recognised each other as members of a particular tribe but more was to come.

He then proceeded to tell me about his daughter who works for O2 and how she was always telling him they were looking for speakers who had an inspirational message. Why didn’t I give him my details and he could pass them onto his daughter. And whilst he was at it, he said, he could also pass them onto this architectural firm he used to be associated with.

Now it was getting Hollywood. I only came into town to drop off a form and here I was negotiating caricature gigs and potential hot leads for O2 and a vanguard architectural practice. I thought I had better depart before something really improbable happened like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz walked in and asked for some ceramic red shoes. I shook hands with Malcolm (we finally got round to introducing ourselves) and left the gallery.

On my cycle ride back home I reflected on the afternoon’s events. There was a seamless quality about them, it was as if I was in the eye of some magical storm and I needed to make the most of the moment.

Once home I checked the date we had discussed for the Art Walk and found it to be available. I had meant to discuss the possibility of buying the picture I had been admiring in the gallery with my wife but some ineffable thought process coursed its way through my body and reached a bold conclusion in my brain with a conscious thought; ‘It’s a sign. Buy the picture now!’

With that I telephone Malcolm and confirmed the date was good and asked him to please place a SOLD sticker on the picture. I arranged to pick it up the next day and at the same time to give Malcolm a five minute run through my SatNav for the Soul® presentation on my laptop so that he could accurately report the value of it to his daughter.

Isn’t this how all the great stories start? I’m hoping the rest will be history (which, of course, it will be, come what may).

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