“Life is a cabaret, my friend,” sang Liza Minelli in the eponymous film.

In this blog, I look at some of the strange and curious connections that lend colour and entertainment to our maritime heritage.

Author and maritime historian Sam Jefferson writes in his book Sea Fever about literature’s sailing stars: “Narrating the tales of all these literary mariners, I was also struck by the endless quirks of fate that seemed to connect them.”

And as I’ve travelled around the world, giving talks on maritime heroes, I have also noticed how one thing leads to another. Is this happy coincidence, or simply serendipity? And what a lovely word, meaning an unplanned fortunate discovery! Its own history is curious; apparently the word was coined by Horace Walpole in a letter in 1754 explaining the discovery of a lost painting and referring to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. Serendip is an old name for Sri Lanka.

In naming my blog Tales of the Unexpected I am taking on board by association the huge success of the stories by Roald Dahl that were dramatised by Anglia Television and shown on ITV from 1979-1988.

So rapidly popular were they that A Dip in the Pool attracted 11 million viewers, and pipped to the post the BBC’s Match of the Day by achieving 63% audience share. Anglia’s Press Office announced: “Television’s top-rated Saturday night soccer programme has been toppled from its long-standing No. 1 spot in the ratings by Anglia’s new £1.5 million thriller series.”

By happy coincidence (or is it a quirk of fate?), not only did I work for Anglia Television for ten years, but ITV and I share exactly the same birth date.

Follow my blog for more unlikely connections – and discover strange facts and fictions about our maritime heritage.