Fate, Coincidence, Kismet, and How England Lost the World Cup in 1998…

I always wonder about the role of fate in our lives. My sister met her husband of 15 years at a party. She nearly didn’t go. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have met him, they wouldn’t have had their two children, and all of their lives would have been very, very different. Or would they have been? Would they have met at another point? Were they ultimately destined to be together?

There are so many points in our lives that are, we feel, the result of luck, both good or bad, but sometimes what appears to be a lucky break is actually the result of tremendous effort and hard work. We always complain about our bad luck, or ‘kismet’ as my mother’s generation calls it. ‘It’s not my fault my boyfriend cheated on me’, ‘It’s not my fault my husband drinks so much’, ‘It’s not my fault I didn’t get promoted’. Perhaps we can’t control what other people in our lives do, but unless we are children or are in an abusive relationship we can control what we do. Dump your cheating boyfriend, divorce that rotten husband, leave that lousy job if you don’t like it. Unless of course there are real payoffs to staying in the situation that you’re in. It could be the safe option, it could be comfortable, you could have security. You might secretly enjoy the attention of being a martyr and complaining about your lousy life to anyone who’ll listen. You are in control of your destiny. Only you. Nobody else.

I’m going to tell you a funny story now which is 100% true. We all have one funny story in our lives that nobody would believe and this is mine. In the summer of 1998 I was walking with a friend down Campden Hill Road in High Street Kensington. We were going out to a meal in Bayswater. I was all dolled-up in a blue dress and sandals and it was a beautiful day so I had a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. As I was walking along I came face-to-face with Paul Gascoigne.

Gazza: Hello

Me: Hi

Gazza: Is there any chance I can come to your place for dinner tonight.

Me (Quite disgusted): No. I don’t think so.

Poor Gazza looked quite dejected. I did feel a little sorry for him but I wasn’t going to let a random man who I’d never spoken to before come back to my room.

After his rejection, Paul Gascoigne got very drunk and a photo was taken of him eating a kebab. That was the photo that got him kicked off the England squad that year and England lost the World Cup.

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