Quirky meetings in Hello Goodbye Hello

The other day you met somebody who could change your life.

This week's read

The other day you met somebody who could change your life.

It may not happen immediately. You may not see life-alterations for years, in fact. Right now, the two of you are in a “get to know you” phase, but one thing’s certain: this former stranger will be a good person to have in your circle.

So what would it be like to meet someone famous – or someone on the fast-track to infamy? In the new book Hello Goodbye Hello by Craig Brown, you’ll read about some of history’s most unusual and interesting tete à tetes.

Nineteen-year-old John Scott-Ellis had just gotten his first car.

It was August 1931, a beautiful day for a drive around Munich. Scott-Ellis swore, years later, that he wasn’t speeding. He was enjoying a leisurely drive, which was fortunate for the man who stepped in front of Scott-Ellis’ car.

The man was Adolph Hitler.

Rudyard Kipling longed to meet Mark Twain and when he finally did, Kipling was pleased Twain was generous with his time. Later, when Kipling became famous for his own books, he was not so gracious.

Although Helen Keller knew many notables, she was eager to meet Martha Graham. Keller had always longed to dance like “other girls” and Graham was happy to let Keller feel the music.

But by the time Graham met Madonna, Graham’s reputation had turned darker. Madonna sought out the semi-reclusive “Grande Dame” of dance and when they finally connected, Madonna was awestruck. It was a meeting that, years later, turned out to be beneficial to both.

Michael Jackson saw no benefit in a “date” with Madonna, however, but his agent insisted. Jackson was mortified, embarrassed, and felt “queasiness” at the meeting, yet still agreed to accompany Madonna to the Academy Awards in 1991.

In 1972, Queen Elizabeth spoke with her estranged uncle, the Duke of Windsor, at a meeting the Duke’s wife disdained. There was no love lost when the Duchess of Windsor met with others of the Royal Family after the Duke’s death, either.

Yet, when the Duchess met Adolph Hitler, he had nothing but praise for her…

They say you’re never more than six connections away from any person on earth. Hello Goodbye Hello is fascinating proof of that.

Starting with a chance encounter that might’ve changed the world, and ending with a friendship that likewise would’ve had worldwide repercussions, author Craig Brown takes readers on a circuitous connection through history, art, and entertainment.

I got a kick out of the real-time feel of these stories (even though some of them happened decades ago), and I liked that Brown gleefully gives readers the good and the bad, as well as plenty of side-notes and further information that gives double meaning to many meetings. Indeed, this book carries a lot of surprises.

Though some of the personalities may be unfamiliar, this is an easy-to-read, quick and quirky book that’s hard to put down. If that sounds like it might meet your interests, Hello Goodbye Hello is one to get acquainted with.

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