In February 2012 I sent my first draft of my complete novel to my literary friend in America to read, most likely during the summer break at his university and, apart from writing a few draft chapters for potential sequels to that novel, I then did little more fiction writing but instead returned to contemplating my deferred computer project. However, my correspondence with my friend did continue and in one email I told him something not mentioned in the novel, that the main character Graham also had the surname Graham, his father having enjoyed reading the novel Catch 22 with its character Major Major Major. The name Graham Graham and initials “GG” would prove significant in incidents occurring after I told him this.
I had written the latter part of the novel hastily, telling rather than showing the story except in the more essential scenes. One of the basic rules of fiction writing is “Show; don’t tell,” but I had felt that I was working to some inexplicable timetable and indeed the timing did appear to have been critical because the first signs that strange things were happening appeared in September 2012 while I was still waiting for my friend to find the time to read through my novel for the second time to add his comments to the document.
In September I searched the Internet more thoroughly than before for potential resources for my computer project and had two fortunate successes. The first was finding in the CV for one lady that she was the daughter of the chief engineer on the original development of the Honeywell 200 computer in the 1960s. I contacted her and she was delighted to encounter someone so interested in the machine, of which her father had been very proud. He had died just over a year earlier, so while I was working on my novel, and she had all his personal papers in her basement. She told me that she would read through them to find any that might be of use to me. By coincidence my excursion into fiction writing for almost two years had evidently delayed my computer project just long enough for events in her life to develop to the point where she was willing to do this. There was also another odd coincidence, that her name was Gay Gordon, a slightly droll name with a Scottish association much like that of my character Graham Graham, who also had the same initials. In later times when I began feeling that strange coincidences were plaguing me I searched for an academic group studying such coincidences but the leader of the only one that I found also had the initials “GG” so I didn’t approach them as it might have looked as though I were fabricating such coincidences on purpose. I will describe how the “GG” coincidences continued to appear later. Gay found some fascinating documents written by the man himself that revealed facts about the machine’s development not mentioned anywhere else including the basic design decisions.
The other item that I found on the Internet was an oddly unattached page written by an unknown person stating that they had a collection of components for a Honeywell 200 computer. This page was not connected to any website but nevertheless a search engine had found and catalogued it as a result of it being stored in a test folder within the domain of a Netherlands website named Natura Ingenium. I contacted the site owner, whose name was Els, and she passed me on to her partner Marcel, the author of the page concerned and owner of a collection of memory components for the Honeywell 200 computer. To my great delight he had exactly what I needed for my project and I had indeed found my essential memories in the future as I had hoped back in 2010. However, there was far more to the discovery than that as the words “about something else” appended to the title of my novel had suggested, the encounter with someone actually named Els being the least of it.
Marcel told me that he was happy to donate his components to my project and that he would be coming to England shortly as a prelude to spending a six month sabbatical doing research at UCL in London. Just six weeks later he arrived at our home carrying a bulging rucksack containing all the circuit boards that I needed to start work on building the memory unit for my computer. At the beginning of 2013 Marcel, Els and their children came to stay in London while he worked at UCL studying skull bone densities as his speciality was the development of medical scanner technology. I will explain the relevance of this later.
During the family’s stay in London I found out from Els that her name was a common contraction of Elisabeth in the Netherlands. I had already read translations of various Dutch websites about her work so knew that she was carrying on the task that her father Jan Couenberg had taken on, which was saving the many urban trees in Amsterdam, which were suffering from problems affecting the healthy growth of their roots. Jan had died a little while before I first encountered Els. I had found an odd picture of her on the website of Garage Notweg in Amsterdam. It only showed her legs protruding out of a hole dug under the roots of a tree, which was understandable, but I found it surprising that a picture of her face had not been shown. I also wondered why she was being mentioned by a garage but Garage Notweg turned out to be a former Renault garage that had been converted into a workspace for various organisations, Els’s Natura Ingenium included. The significance of these details will also become apparent later.
Following Marcel’s delivery of the computer components I focussed on starting up my project, blessing my good fortune and giving little thought to any coincidences. The next part of the story requires quite a lot of explanation, so I will provide it on the next page.
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