We’re still laughing about it in the morning when we’re out for a family breakfast at the local farm shop. One of us mentions my sister who, as far as I know, doesn’t even know this place exists: within minutes, in she walks. And so we joke about who we’re going to meet next that day and of course, as we stop off for weekend treats at the local shopping centre, who should we bump into but another family who live a good fifty miles away, buried in the depths of rural Perthshire.
I wonder just how much of that you believe. Have I strained your credibility? Can you believe one of these meetings, or two, or three? Can you believe them over the space of a week but not a day, or do you struggle with the fact that only one of these meetings took place where we might reasonably have expected? Are you shaking your head thinking: oh, come on…you surely don’t expect me to believe that?
|Did you believe A Tale of Two Cities?|
In fiction it’s different. I find myself irritated by too big a coincidence, especially when it’s so clearly a mighty contrivance, a crank of the handle that seems the only way to shift a creaking plot. I can think of very many. And yet I’m sure other people’s lives are full of coincidences of the highest drama.
TV presenter Richard Madeley, for example, described an incident in his family history when his grandfather, travelling to the First World War, met a group of Canadians in the same direction – and they included his two older brothers, with whom he’d lost touch after they emigrated. If I’d read that in a novel I wouldn’t have believed it. So perhaps being true isn’t enough – whatever you write has to be credible.
Back to Ben and Jerry, my sister and brother-in-law, our friends from Perthshire. I’ll tell you now that the tale as I told it wasn’t a hundred per cent true. But I’m interested to know which element, if any, stretched your credibility too far and what might have made you nod and find it satisfying. Tell me – and then I’ll let you know the whole truth.