Opinion: Matthew Munson: Being led by fate

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

Have you ever let fate direct your chances? Do you believe that it already does? I don’t believe I’m at fate’s mercy every minute but allowing it to influence a particular moment in time can be rather fun – although I didn’t think that when I first tried it.

A couple of friends – the Ashtons, as I collectively refer to them – introduced me to the concept of “travelling by coin” a few years ago when I was forcibly held in a car against my will and made to travel without knowing my ultimate destination. Reading that sentence back, I acknowledge that I have made it sound rather more dramatic than it actually was – I wasn’t kidnapped, let me make that plain – and it was rather entertaining, to tell the truth.

It’s a simple enough concept; you flip a coin, and heads and tails represent left and right. This means you could end up anywhere – when the Ashtons and I introduced Bryan to it last year, we ended up in Dover after a trip out almost as far as Canterbury – and it’s an intriguing concept, giving up control to an inanimate object, but everyone should try it from time to time.

Rather desperate to find something to do this weekend that was away from the tablet, TV, and board games (we’ve had a plethora of those lately), I suggested that we travel by coin for the day. Bryan leapt at the chance, which pleased me; he was brilliantly excited at the possibilities and, tell the truth, so was I.

It was thanks, therefore, to a 10p piece that we ended up in Whitstable with tennis rackets, a library card, and snacks in case things went wrong. But the coin led us well though couldn’t avoid the eventual slip in mud that resulted in Bryan’s entire legs being covered; it was quite spectacular, and I can’t even now begin to fully explain how it happened. Suffice to say, Bryan had a very uncomfortable journey home on the train, but a hot shower, plenty of hugs, and lots of encouragement later meant he could laugh it off as he got into clean clothes and reflected that tennis could happen a different day (and my own dislike of any kind of sport was silently cheering I’d avoided that particular activity).

Living by fate is a pleasant way to spend a day, especially if you can gently … guide it in a particular way – by knowing where certain restaurants are, for example, that your child will like and giving the choice between two; then you will never be disappointed, and an avoidance of too many choices means that melt-downs don’t occur. If Bryan ever reads this column in the future, then he’ll find out the truth – but perhaps by then he’ll be a father as well and will say, “That’s a blooming good idea.”

Of course, I sincerely hope he does become a father one day, because I can then encourage my grandchildren to ask him questions similar to the ones he currently asks me – such as, “Dad, did you ever me Guy Fawkes?” and, just as I was putting him to bed the other day, “What’s climate change?”

All children should be given the opportunity to work in investigative journalism for a few years – wouldn’t they all be great at the job?