Ian McMillan: Ever the optimist and with luck on my side

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Here’s Ian McMillan being a very kind silver-haired gentleman and helping to put things in the car boot. Let’s look carefully: yes, although Ian McMillan is being helpful, his mind isn’t quite on the task in hand. Those who know him will know that he often drifts off into a reverie or a waking dream. He tells people he’s planning complex poetry but a glance inside his skull would reveal emptiness, tumbleweed and distant harmonica music.

This time, though, Ian isn’t daydreaming. As he began to put the shopping in the boot he noticed something gleaming on the floor. It could have been a button, but it wasn’t. It could have been a shard of foil, but it wasn’t. It could have been a dropped monocle, but it wasn’t. It was a 10 pence piece. It might have been more interesting if it had been a monocle, but you can’t have everything.

Ian lifts the boot up and turns to grab the 10 pence piece, muttering the old song ‘See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck!’ As he bends to pick up the coin, time slows down like in a film and he starts to think about some of the lucky things that have happened to him in the past.

There was the time when he was a child and he went to see the film The Sword in the Stone at Wombwell Plaza and there was a fake sword in a fake stone in the foyer, and if you pulled it out you won a prize. Young Ian pulled and pulled but the sword didn’t budge. Nowadays Ian’s silver hair and wrinkles would tell him that the sword would never budge; in the early 1960s he believed that it would and when it didn’t he got upset and had an exploding tantrum, stamping the foyer floor like a flamenco dancer and blubbing real tears that cascaded down his ample and wobbling cheeks. So much so that a passer-by, overcome with empathy at the young man’s plight, bought him a box of sweets, which calmed Ian down at once. So that was lucky: the sword didn’t come out of the stone but Ian got a bag of sweeties. Luck!

Then there was the time Ian got all the way to Wombwell Baths with his dad for their Saturday morning swimming lesson which, to be frank, Ian didn’t really enjoy because they consisted of Ian promising that he’d take his foot off the floor in a minute and his dad standing in the shallow end wringing his hands and saying ‘Is your foot off the floor yet?’, and discovered he’d left his trunks at home. So he couldn’t have his swimming lesson which he didn’t really enjoy. Now, that was lucky!

Ian’s an optimist: he believes that things (sword stuck/no trunks) always turn out for the best, that good luck will shine on him like a benign reading lamp. He turns to pick up the ten pence piece. He deftly transfers it to his Gentleman’s Purse. He turns back to the boot, and he hasn’t put the lid up far enough and it’s falling down rapidly towards his bonce and injury is about to occur. He sees what he thinks is another ten pence piece on the floor and darts to grab it 
but it’s just a bit of glass. And the boot misses his head.

And that’s good luck!