cornish cousins


Connections from Cornwall

I have to admit to being compulsive. Not in a pedantic, lining up shoes and putting the cornflakes in the same place, way, but I'm obsessed with looking up trivia for its own sake, often with no use or relevance - time wasting twaddle, if I'm honest. I'm a 'truth is out there' kind of woman - if it's there, I'll find it! Sometimes though, it's possible to be piloted along an unexpected route and the search has a 'shivers down the spine' conclusion.

I squandered a couple of days recently messing around with a cluster of spiders spinning their webs across the internet and did they get in me in a tangle! This story would best be explained with bullet points. I'll keep it simple. John, my husband, came across photos of an old friend, Ed Scarisbrick, taken when they were in their teens, both playing guitar at a party. After leaving school, John and Ed had followed similar routes into graphic design and worked in studios in Central London; the last John knew, Ed had married and moved to the US.

John Googled him and found a single reference on the website of an artist and musician called Paul Olsen, ( an American who grew up in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. Sadly, Ed had died and we thought it would be nice to trace his family and let them have the photos. We knew that the family had lived around LA , however, search engines showed no results and the next step would be to ask someone with a Californian connection. Over the past year, I've become e.friends with woman called Kitty Quayle, who lives in the old Gold Rush town of Placerville; I contacted Kitty to ask if she could look in local directory for anyone with the name of Scarisbrick. Kitty is President of the California Cornish Cousins and the impression I have of her, is that she's like me and loves, as she says, 'sleuthing'.

Kitty followed a couple of leads, but couldn't find phone numbers. She too, found the Paul Oslen website and e.mailed him; astonishingly, within a couple of hours, he e.mailed her back, to say he lived in England and would John call him. To condense a two hour phone conversation; Paul Olsen and Ed had become great friends. Ed had a great career and in the 60s/70s was considered to be amongst the highest echelon of airbrush illustrators in the US, having perfected and been a front runner in the 'chrome look' revolution. Ed was at the top of his game when he met Paul and taught him how to render chrome spheres with an airbrush. He was very much in demand, with more work than he could manage, which resulted in the single most incredible phone call Paul had ever received, 'Paul, how would you like to paint the Star Ship Enterprise?'. The model maker who designed the Enterprise needed an artist quickly and Ed recommended Paul. That was the end of life as you knew it, Paul!

Every question John had wanted answered, dissolved as the blanks were filled in. Paul was due to go back to the US to visit his sister, who lives in Truckee. It was at this town's railway station that I first discovered the Cornish emigrants' mining history and even more uncanny, Paul was going to see friends during his stay, who live in Placerville - Kitty's home town! The way I see it, there are those who blindly believe in fate; some, although not many, prefer the logic of the multiple string theory of a parallel universe (...yeah, right!), and most, like me, when applying intelligent intuition, sometimes make a synchronous connection to something initially unconnected.... call it what you will - serendipity, deja vu, or just plain coincidence, I find it fascinating.

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