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"I don't believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents." – Pablo Picasso

  • D.T.

Andrew Malcolm McCloud

Andrew Malcolm McCloud, known to everyone in town as Malcolm, was always regarded as the quiet type.  When people gathered to talk, he stood on the fringe of the circle.  He nodded and smiled, not saying very much.

Malcolm was born 52 years ago in Port Waikato, a summer resort town on the west coast of the North Island, facing the Tasman Sea.  Port Waikato was not a fancy resort town, but catered more for working-class holiday makers along the beach and the Waikato River. People took day trips to enjoy the bush, the beaches, and the caves. 

Malcolm spent all his life in Port Waikato.  A few short trips to Auckland, Wellington, and Hamilton, with his wife Ruth, never lasted more than one or two days. 

Malcolm was a big man, over 1.8 metres feet tall, with strong features, a ruddy complexion, and ginger-brown curly hair.  He didn’t like to talk, but he was a good listener. 

Malcolm inherited his father’s home and auto  mechanic’s shop on Maunsell Road, slightly out of town, backing on the forest.  Altogether it was 2 hectares.  Fronting the road were three buildings. The middle one was a 3-bay garage. A sign on the roof announced “McCloud Auto Machine Shop”.  To the right was a 4-car garage, and to the left was a factory-supplied farm storage building, which had its own parking area. A sign said “Ruth’s Store.”  At the back of these three buildings was a house.  Originally it was a 3-bed one-storey house, but throughout the years additions were put on: garage, kitchen, workrooms, and an outdoor deck. 

The land between the house and the bush was cultivated as an organic farm project by Malcolm’s mother and his wife Ruth.  It was sometimes known as the Organic Kitchen Farm. 

In addition to the organic vegetables, Ruth also sold quilts she made, as well as hangings, placemats, hotpads, an occasional quilted jacket—all very popular with the tourists who visited Port Waikato.

After Malcolm’s mother passed away, Ruth had two temporary helpers come in to work, and they made the organic kitchen farm very productive.  Ruth was energetic and constantly thinking up new projects for the farm.  One such project was snail farming.  She had learned that someone in Hawkes Bay was unexpectedly successful at that.

Two grown-up daughters, Rose and Mary, went to the university in the big city, then married and started their own families in Hamilton and Wellington.  Rose was a lawyer with two children, a boy and a girl.  They lived in Wellington, where Rose worked for the government.  The younger daughter, Mary, was an accountant for a large real estate company in Auckland.  She married, but had no children. 

Now only Malcolm, Ruth, and Angus—a German Shepherd—lived there.  Angus was actually Angus III.  Obviously, there were two Anguses before him.  Every morning Malcolm arrived at the garage at 7:30.  His helper, Old Man George, was already there.  Two of the garages’ overhead doors were open.  He greeted Old Man George, walked to the end of the garages where large, sturdy, wooden cables created a work place, a lunchroom, or a lounge. 

Old Man George wasn’t really a very old man, merely a bit over 50.  No one in town knew much about him, except that he lived in a shack in the bush and road a bicycle.  Did they think he was old?  Perhaps not.  It was just a name.

He did all the odd jobs in the garage, helping Malcolm any time the work required additional hands.  His favourite work was washing and cleaning the car after the job was finished.  When the customers came to pick up their cars, they were gleamingly clean.  The customers appreciated it.

Often Malcolm would be called to go to various farms and boat sheds to repair all  manner of machines.  When confronted with a disabled or malfunctioning machine, Malcolm would turn it on and listen very carefully to it.  From the sound of the machine, Malcolm would diagnose precisely what was wrong.  People were amazed at how accurate his diagnoses were, and they trusted his ability to fix their engines.

Not only did Malcolm listen to engines, he also listened carefully to all the sounds around him.  He could interpret the meanings of the sounds he heard.  When the pandemic came, and business was very slow, he had lots of time on his hands. 

One morning, Malcolm took his bagpipe and, followed by Angus, he went to the bush behind his house.  Among the tall pines he played “Whiskey in the Jar”.  When he was finished, he listened to the agitated rustling of the tall pine branches.  Then he went to the sand dunes at the shore. Nobody was around.  He played “Give Piping a Try”.  Afterward, he listened very intently to the hissing of the shifting sands.

He went next to the water’s edge and played the “Skye Boat” song.  He listened to the heavy breathing of the breakers, and the wind blowing from the west.  He climbed the rocks, with Angus keeping him company.  They looked out on the Tasman Sea, and standing with Angus, he played “Road to the Isles”.  He stopped and heard the water crashing upon the rocks and the loud splatter that followed.

They went home at dinnertime.  Malcolm was greatly disturbed as he built a fire that crackled and hissed in the large stone fireplace.  He felt compelled to do something.  In the past, the sounds of the wind, sands, waves and the pounding water communicated harmony to him.  He felt serene in their presence, in balance with them and the natural world.  But not today.  Today all the  sounds communicated the same concerns: that wind, sands, waves, and roiling waters were contaminated and  disoriented. Their rhythms were broken and choppy. They seemed to anticipate a pending catastrophe. 

Malcolm sat down on his usual chair, and after a time, looking at the fire, he felt calmer.  Who could he tell about what he was experiencing? Who would understand him?  He looked at Angus, with his large brown eyes and big head resting in his lap.  Angus made a strange noise, like a cry of pain. 

“Yes, he knows,” Malcolm thought, “but he couldn’t tell.  Neither could I.”




“It is only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression on us”

- Arthur Schopenhauer



“Chance encounters are what keep us going.”

– Haruki Murakami



"If there is no fate and our interactions depend on such a complex system of chance encounters, what potentially important connections do we fail to make? What life changing relations or passionate and lasting love affairs are lost to chance?"

– Simon Pegg


"Sweet Serendipity...that unexpected meeting that changes your life"




"Ironically, the people you meet by accident are often the ones who become an important part of your life." 

Solitary Reaper



“Important encouners are planned by the souls before the bodies see each other.”    

Paulo Coelho



"I am thankful for the serendipitous moments in my life, when things could've gone the other way"

Rick Springfield



"Synchronicity: ideas, thoughts,

occurrences that seem related, but defy conventional explanation."


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