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By Penny Marek

One of the definitions of ‘Synchronicity’ is “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (such as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality – used especially in the psychology of Carl Jung”.

This set me thinking of my own gift of foresight, which I suppress, unless it becomes too powerful to ignore. Like the fictional David Copperfield I was born with a caul, along with Napoleon, Lord Byron, Charlemagne, George Formby, Liberace and Sigmund Freud. Folklore has it that those born with and in possession of a caul will never die by drowning! David Copperfield’s caul was won at an auction by an old lady who “never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two”. David mentions that “it was, to the last, her proudest boast, that she never had been on the water in her life, except upon a bridge; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely partial) she, to the last, expressed her indignation at the impiety of mariners and others, who had the presumption to go ‘meandering’ about the world.”

Another thing about caul bearers is that they can often find underground water supplies (would that I could, in our present drought-stricken areas!). Add to this our supposed ability to know when weather patterns will change, and to predict when fish and other food supplies will become plentiful, and you will agree that we are extremely lucky individuals.

But back to my ability to vividly dream and visualise events. Two examples stand out for me, both of which happened in the month of December. One day, in 1993, two colleagues and I had a meeting in a quiet corner of the Heidelberg Tavern in Observatory, a favourite haunt of ours, where we would conjure creative things to do with our students and escape from an office that invited interruption. It was a time of tremendous political unrest in our country and just four months before the first democratic elections. Sitting there, I blurted out, “this would be a perfect place for a terror attack!” My companions were shocked - “What on earth are you talking about?” - but a few days later, on the 31st December, three APLA operatives burst into the Heidelberg Tavern with automatic rifles. They killed three and wounded several innocent young people, both black and white. The corner seats where we always sat were peppered with bullet holes.

Years later, in the week before Christmas, 2005, a dream about a turbulent, violent push of water carrying an infant boy away in its current, clung to me like a dark shroud for days. Even my late father’s calm, soothing voice and presence telling me in the dream that all would be well, could not shake my feeling of unease. The dreams always stay with me until the event or imminent danger has passed. I remember meeting a friend and telling her that I was convinced there were to be floods somewhere in the world. She, to this day, recalls our prophetic ‘supermarket chat’.

On the 26th December, a tsunami hit Ko Phi Phi island in Thailand, where my youngest daughter was supposed to be spending Christmas and Boxing Day. Mercifully, she and her travelling companion had decided to leave for another island on Christmas Day. Was my father telling me he would look after her?

I’m not sure whether this so-called gift is a blessing or a curse. Maybe I, too, will die triumphantly in bed at ninety-two! I don’t drink tea – I am far more partial to coffee; I have experienced a sea voyage and survived; I have walked over bridges and like those mariners Dickens’s old lady accused of impiety, I have had the presumption to go ‘meandering’ about the world and intend to meander a lot more in the future.

· Penny is a retired drama teacher. She struggled to find things to write about until she started using word prompts. Now, month after month, she produces well-constructed essay-style pieces that blend interesting information and anecdotes with her trademark humour.


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