Sometimes coincidences are just waiting to happen, hanging in the air. Sometimes they're the warmest surprise possible.
A couple of months back I succumbed to my inevitable inability to sleep on long-haul flights and decided just too power through with the biggest back-to-back movie fest this side of a teenage girl's slumber party (I decided not to wear the pink nightie for reasons of taste).
As a self-professed film snob with a love of art house and 50-seater cinemas and a hatred of any film with big red letters on a white poster, flights are perfect. I get to stock up on all the guilty pleasures that looked half good but weren't worth a tenner and enduring the Vue/Odeon/Scummyworld.
So, Planet of the Apes and some Simon Pegg one down, I found Kinky Boots. Made in 2005, this Little England comedy played on well trodden lines - rising unemployment in manufacturing, London as some kind of bizarre metropolis and laughing at people with funny voices. As it turned out, the 90-minute piece tipped just on the right side of charming.
Reluctant shoe factory owner Charlie has no idea how to save his ailing Northampton business, happens to stumble into a transvestite cabaret show in London, the show's star Lola complains about the lack of comfortable high-heeled latex boots for 6ft tall men and the rest is as you'd expect, with Nick Frost playing the chief fat-bloke-who-originally-mocks-the-tranny-but-whose-views-are-changes character.
The fact I was travelling back from India watching a film about the problems in UK manufacturing was an irony that didn't go unnoticed given the continuing trend towards outsourcing to Asia.
A few weeks later, I attended the launch of Mary Portas' new Channel Four show Mary's Bottom Line. The firebrand retail consultant has visited a factory in Greater Manchester to manufacture British Kinky Knickers using Nottingham lace at an all-but-closing business. The knickers are a bit racy, feature a dubious explicit pun on the packaging and are not what those who run the factory are used to handling. Sound familiar?
|An old shoe factory (left) faces Spiral Records|
Last week, I visited Northampton to have a look at the only Rennie Mackintosh-designed house in England. I couldn't resist the opportunity to check out a record shop a couple of people had told me was excellent Spiral Records is more than just tucked away, it's practically buried 6ft deep on St Michael's Road round the corner from a 'Jesus Centre' and by a dual carriageway.
My visit is brief, eyes widening with each piece of rare vinyl (some really nice 50/60s compilations) and an impressively wide selection - Orchestra Baobab nestle by the Sex Pistols.
Alex, who has run the shop for ten years, is taken aback when I introduce myself, not least because the fella manning the small coffee stand within the shop is also called Alex. Business is decent, Alex says. Overheads aren't what they are in the town centre and competition to buy trade vinyl isn't as tough as elsewhere. I point out the old abandoned factory opposite, asking whether it was a shoe factory, yes, he nods but it's supposed to have been torn down years ago. Are there any of the Cobblers' famous factories still going? "Just one," says Alex. "Divine, it was in this film a while back y'know, Kinky something…"
I finish his sentence, thank him and walk out happy that a few little things in my world have quietly collided.