Writers Abroad Blog
Six degrees of Separation
Posted by Crilly

Six Degrees of Separation

This is a phrase I confess to having used occasionally but have never really taken into consideration. Until recently...

The internet says this theory was conceived in 1929 by a Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called ‘Chains.’(The link to Goodreads is here just in case you can’t resist a peep!) http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23491355-chains

There have been numerous tests since the theory came to light and there is plenty of information available online. It means a person anywhere in the world can be connected to another, through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.

Keep the above in mind and before you go to sleep wondering where this is leading, let’s digress, let’s talk about -

The Perth Writers Festival 2017.

This event is held annually at the University of Western Australia. This lovely institute of learning began life in 1911 and is a mere 3963.9 kilometres from where I live on the east coast, 41 hours in the car or five hours by plane, take your pick!

The 65 hectare campus is situated right on the Swan River. Many of the sandstone buildings feature coastal limestone arches and Romanesque features nestling side by side with lush green lawns and wonderful gardens. Moreton Bay Fig trees and many species of oak trees flourish there offering a welcome respite from the searing West Australian sun.

It is the perfect setting for the three-day festival.

There was something for everyone. Topics were numerous and varied – the local paper says “sharp, satirical and provocative.”  Speakers were carefully chosen, an intelligent mix of international and local. There were workshops to attend for a reasonable fee, lectures with a nominal fee and numerous free lectures alongside panel discussions with many writers. Music could be heard floating through the courtyards in the evening as people sipped wine under the stars and listened to poetry.

The weather was hot, in fact too hot at times but the organisers had the foresight to provide plenty of food and beverage outlets with many shady umbrellas and places to sit. More than 43,000 people attended this year, a testament to how popular this event has become.

The atmosphere was one of genuine camaraderie, a feeling of being united by a real love of literature and understanding of words.

On the second day it was necessary to make a phone call, so slipping outside I found a cool spot among the trees and away from the crowds. Sitting on an empty bench I was joined minutes later by a smartly dressed lady with blonde hair and reading a book. On finishing the phone call she leaned over and said,

 “Excuse me, but if you don’t mind me saying – you should always get a second opinion.”  She’d overheard me talking to one of my daughters about a very sick friend who was looking for advice.  I agreed with this lady and we began chatting.

In a few minutes, she’d told me quite a bit about her life and that she’d once lived in Bangladesh. Not really thinking there was much chance, I asked her if by any chance she knew Paola. She did!

For those who don’t know, Paola is an accomplished writer and was a long-time member of WA.

On my return home, I contacted Paola by Facebook and she remembered the lady with blonde hair whose name was Nana Lye. She was happy to know Nana remembered her.

Now what was that about six degrees of separation?!


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