The Witch of Portobello in a bookshop

The Witch of Portobello

I was in a bookshop today in Guildford. I let a lady go before me as she was laden down with books. There is one book you have missed I said, and you are very lucky I have not taken it, The Witch of Portobello. Her eyes opened wide. That was the one book that caught me eye she told me, but I did not get it as I did not know the author. Well now is your chance I told her, and she added it to her purchase.

I will tell you a story I said.

I then told her the story of a stone as told by Ken Crane at the end of Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day party. His wife Yumi picked a stone. When he was asked to pick a stone, Ken picked the same stone. The stone was the Alchemist Stone!

I explained to her that these were examples of synchronicity, a term coined by Carl Jung

Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.

I gave her another example. The previous week I had come to Guildford for lunch and had hoped to find a friend. Sadly I did not. I was again in Guildford on Monday. Before I left the house I had a message from Paulo Coelho to say O Aleph (Elif in Turkey) had been released in Hungary and had shot straight to No One. I arrived in Guildford, was on my way to lunch, when there was my friend sat by the river reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My friend is Hungarian!

The Witch of Portobello tells the tale of Athena. Sherine Khalil, or Athena as she is known, believed to be of gypsy descent, was rescued by her adoptive parents from an orphanage in Transylvania in Romania. Her early childhood was in Lebanon, then in London. My Hungarian friend is from Transylvania.

When I chatted to my Hungarian friend, I said Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a good choice to read. I commented on the love you put into your work, something I said Paulo Coelho had said at his press conference in Istanbul. I had long forgotten I had written something similar when I wrote of the film of The Witch of Portobello.

Scribes had an important role in early Judaism, theirs was the task to copy out ancient scriptures. They had to be in the correct frame of mind. The same was true for illustrators of early Muslim texts. It does matter what you do, be it write a book, paint, draw, compose music or carve a piece of wood. Robert Pirsig captured the essence of this in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Only then do you cross the transition zone.

I mentioned to the lady I met in the bookshop that Carolena Sabah starred as Athena in the film of The Witch of Portobello and that I had the pleasure of meeting her at Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day party in Istanbul.

I wandered to the Castle Grounds and flipped through the two books I had picked up, one of which was 500 Illustrations by G Curtis Jones and Paul H Jones, a collection of inspirational and thought-provoking stories and anecdotes. Or as the subtitle says: Stories from Life for Preaching & Teaching. One of the stories which caught my eye was Good Samaritans, a tale of a random act of kindness, a motorist stopping to help a fellow stranded motorist. When I got home in the evening I found Carolena Sabah had posted as a facebook note a very similar story Kindness is Contagious involving herself. Not only that, the time when she posted the story was at the same time I was sat in the Castle Grounds in Guildford reading Good Samaritans!

I knew Paulo Coelho had posted on his blog today a story about dance, but it was only when I got home this evening I saw it was taken from The Witch of Portobello! [see Dance!]

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3 Responses to “The Witch of Portobello in a bookshop”

  1. keithpp Says:

    In the early hours of the morning, I should have long gone to bed, Carolena Sabah and I were exchanging messages on facebook. Carolena plays Athena in the film of The Witch of Portobello.

  2. Ken Crane Says:

    Thank you Keith for writing about us!!

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