What I Nearly Did..

To Kill A MockingbirdAt the weekend, I nearly saw Michael Buble.

I was in Birmingham to see the stage production of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ (very good and recommended – and it’s on tour from London).

Before the play, we indulged in a little retail therapy in the Bullring and then we went to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant.

And then, what did I read the next day in the Birmingham Mail? Michael Buble had also been in the Bullring AND in Jamie’s restaurant! Perhaps he was sitting on the next table….

As writers, thinking about the things that we – and our characters – nearly do or say or experience, is an interesting idea.

The fabulous poet Jo Bell has written a whole post about it here on her blog ’52’ that encourages us all to write a poem a week. But even if you’re not into poetry, I’m sure you’ll find it inspiring.

I dare you not to read one of the poems she features in this ‘So Near And Yet…’ post – The Race, by Sharon Olds – without your heart in your mouth.

Here are some of my ‘nearlies’ – some from the weekend, some a bit more ‘life-changing’:

* I nearly won £1000 in a short story competition. I came second and got nothing. (Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned that before. I’m not bitter or anything).
* I nearly got us really good seats for ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ but clearly I was looking at the stage plan back-to-front. Instead of 6 rows from the front, we were 6 rows from the back!
* I nearly posted Michael Buble’s selfie from the Bullring but I thought he might sue me.
* We nearly missed the 10.18 train home from Moor Street but, thanks to a kind policeman, who directed us, some FAST RUNNING and a slightly delayed train, we made it. If we’d missed it, we’d have had a 1 hour 20 minute wait for the next one.
* I nearly went to a different university, met different people, had a different life.
* I nearly, once, went on an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa with an ex.
* I nearly picked a different puppy from Bonnie’s litter…(that one kills me).

What are your ‘nearlies’? Could you write about them?

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10 Responses to What I Nearly Did..

  1. Nicola says:

    Fantastic post, Helen. Just over 20 years ago (oh my, I feel old) I nearly threw up on Bob Holness. I was performing at the Birmingham Symphony Hall and he was hosting the musical extravaganza. The nerves nearly got the better of me. Thanks to the Blockbusters star, who was absolutely lovely and gave me a pep talk, his black patent leather shoes were saved and so was I.

  2. Tracy Fells says:

    Loved this Helen – there’s probably a whole article/book on ‘nearlies’.
    Recently I keep getting runner-up in competitions and have twice now ‘nearly’ won £500!
    My life changing nearly was 25 years ago when I nearly didn’t visit the library one afternoon – if I hadn’t gone I wouldn’t have bumped into my future husband …

  3. Ooh, Tracy, that sent a shiver down my spine!! Definitely a story in there…!

  4. And maybe, just maybe all those nearlies happened in parallel universes.

  5. kaypickard says:

    I went to see To Kill A Mockingbird in Woking in October and I nearly wrote my blog about it! I was not disappointed – it was wonderful, and so true to the book, as was the film.
    And I am really going to see Michael Buble at the O2 next Monday! Sorry, I am showing off but we must have the same tastes. Maybe I will give a review of the concert on my next blog?

  6. philippabowe says:

    Nearly 20 years ago, after some months spent backpacking in Mexico, I nearly moved there as the right-hand woman of a shaman, helping her to support and protect a group of Mexican Indians. I was massively excited as we made plans for me to return to the magical lake where she lived after clearing up my life in Paris, and found it strange that she said “We’ll see, you might meet your future husband this year.” Passing through London to see my family on the way back to Paris, circumstances led me to meeting up with my former (and for many years, reviled) long-term boyfriend, on the 30 December – we were married 3 months later and have never looked back. And of course I didn’t become a shaman’s assistant, tho’ I’m convinced she saw my destiny in a dream or trance and knew not to expect me…
    Great post Helen, the nearlies of life are fascinating and bring up all those questions about fate and destiny as opposed to the power to shape your life – the questions that feed into the stories we write.
    PS. Yes, I was very caught up in the anxiety of the excellent Sharon Olds poem.
    PPS. Had to look up Michael Bublé, didn’t have a clue who he was…!

    • Wow, Philippa, what an amazing story. I’m particularly intrigued by the words and phrases that you oh-so-casually dropped in.. ‘months spent backpacking in Mexico’ ‘right-hand woman of a shaman’ and ‘for many years, reviled’!! Soooo many stories in there! Have you ever written about any of that? (apart from now, I mean!) Thanks for sharing – fascinating stuff (and I love hearing about how couples get together!)

      • philippabowe says:

        It was an amazing time. And no, I haven’t written about it, I steer clear of writing (directly) about my own experiences, maybe from a feeling that it would be ‘too easy’, I’m not sure – I like to splash about in worlds far removed from mine!

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