Definition

from What Is website

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called "Chains."

In the 1950's, Ithiel de Sola Pool (MIT) and Manfred Kochen (IBM) set out to prove the theory mathematically. Although they were able to phrase the question (given a set N of people, what is the probability that each member of N is connected to another member via k_1, k_2, k_3...k_n links?), after twenty years they were still unable to solve the problem to their own satisfaction. In 1967, American sociologist Stanley Milgram devised a new way to test the theory, which he called "the small-world problem." He randomly selected people in the mid-West to send packages to a stranger located in Massachusetts. The senders knew the recipient's name, occupation, and general location. They were instructed to send the package to a person they knew on a first-name basis who they thought was most likely, out of all their friends, to know the target personally. That person would do the same, and so on, until the package was personally delivered to its target recipient.

Although the participants expected the chain to include at least a hundred intermediaries, it only took (on average) between five and seven intermediaries to get each package delivered. Milgram's findings were published in Psychology Today and inspired the phrase "six degrees of separation." Playwright John Guare popularized the phrase when he chose it as the title for his 1990 play of the same name. Although Milgram's findings were discounted after it was discovered that he based his conclusion on a very small number of packages, six degrees of separation became an accepted notion in pop culture after Brett C. Tjaden published a computer game on the University of Virginia's Web site based on the small-world problem. Tjaden used the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) to document connections between different actors. Time Magazine called his site, The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia, one of the "Ten Best Web Sites of 1996."

In 2001, Duncan Watts, a professor at Columbia University, continued his own earlier research into the phenomenon and recreated Milgram's experiment on the Internet. Watts used an e-mail message as the "package" that needed to be delivered, and surprisingly, after reviewing the data collected by 48,000 senders and 19 targets (in 157 countries), Watts found that the average number of intermediaries was indeed, six. Watts' research, and the advent of the computer age, has opened up new areas of inquiry related to six degrees of separation in diverse areas of network theory such as as power grid analysis, disease transmission, graph theory, corporate communication, and computer circuitry. 

A site called Six Degrees, launched in 1997, is considered  to be the first social networking site and the precursor of sites like Facebook and Twitter which have effectively lowered the number of intermediaries in the chain, arguably to almost zero. 

The Six Degrees of Separation

What is it all about?

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. The theory was first proposed in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in a short story called "Chains."

Why is it included in this Website?

Why not? I've actually had an amazing life even if I say so myself! The majority of this web-site covers my interests and that of my husband Andrew. It also covers our families and ancestry - a good eclectic mix of Polish, Cornish, Hungarian and British! There is also room for my opinions! After all I am paying for the privilege and some experiences have to be read to be believed - especially government bodies! I know my late friend Anna used to enjoy reading those exchanges!

What, to date, the site hasn't covered are the remarkable journeys that I've taken. Not only in the geographical sense but also experiences - like the latest that comes to mind is my 'brush' with Richard III who was re-interred with due dignity on 26th March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral.

When I say 'my brush' it means that as far as I am concerned there are a lot fewer 'intermediaries' than the five required for the 'six degrees of separation.' In some cases I have, of course, allowed for 'poetic licence' but then without it some of the stories might be quite dry.

I had originally intended that this section should be separate to the rest of the site - but there may well be a lot of crossing and linking about as I've already discovered with the need to refresh this section (losing all my original material in the process - typical!). I really should explain that I was able to re-create my notes etc. by downloading back from my website.

When I started this section the 'Home/Index' page contained the story of my brush with the horrors at 'Katyń' both during the war and recently in 2010. This is an area of my Father's life and so it now features, more appropriately in the dedicated 'My Family' area.

In short, this section is being held for what might potentially have been the autobiography I always wanted to write which was to be entitled "My brush with" ..... Meaning that I may possibly have had "6 degrees of separation" brushes with some of my all time favourite people whom I've never met, but did meet those who know them or are related to them etc. SPOILER : There will be some serious name dropping.

Just to start the proceedings - Leslie Phillips, the adorably 'loveable Leslie' has long been a great favourite of mine, mostly thanks to his participation in 'The Navy Lark' which I listened to in the 1960s and now listen too mostly daily as I am building up the whole series on CD. - So what are the links (brushes)? I worked with Angela Scoular, his second wife, at Nottingham Playhouse on a production of Shakespeare's 'Tempest'. Angela and Stephanie Beacham both had 'yappy' dogs at the time which used to scrap with each other backstage much to the chagrin of both ladies!

I then discovered another link, this time to Hucknall, our Leslie made a smutty film called 'Byron's Mine' here!

Then (who says these degrees of separation are just an over-active imagination?) linking to the production of 'The Tempest' mentioned above, was Paul Freeman who played Prince Ferdinand to Angela's Miranda. Paul was so pleasant and nice and he ended up in my favourite soap 'Falcon Crest' - or is that another coincidence? It's difficult to tell them apart. And through Stephanie Beacham who starred in two great favourite series of mine 'Tenko' and 'Connie' I met the McEnery brothers - John married Stephanie and Peter directed Richard III!

Biba - another much closer link than with the five intermediaries - as you will see there is an entire section devoted to my idol Barbara Hulanicki and the halcyon days of 'Biba' which I lived, breathed and dreamed in the 1970s. Not only did we meet and become friends with the Porters (Tony and Bea) but Bea is Barbara's sister. Tony was also a 'Friend of the Midland' and features in my articles where relevant! Of course they also owned Burgh Island which is where we met them and that brings everything back to my love of Art Deco.

For more future ideas have a look here

'Coincidences are Signposts'

Who said that?

I'm not absolutely certain where I came across this, but I honestly think it was something written by HRH, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Am I counting that as a link to 6 degrees or a 'brush' - no, it's just that, until I started revising this page I had not found a definition for the 'Six Degrees of Separation' as found on the What Is site. Having now read it and seen that it was first "proposed as a theory in 1929 by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy" that the hair on the back of my neck stood up - my Mother has Hungarian forefathers and the family name of Hajos still exists in Kraków and Zawoja in Poland. How's that for a coincidence? But yes, I do have a link to Prince Charles - and it all happened at the Television Centre in White City in the 1970s.

Birth Dates

27th April

My birthdate - 27th April (Taurus) - when I was growing up there were birthdays close but not on the 27th - my late friend Anna was on the 25th and a classroom pupil on the 29th. The first time I came across a shared date was in 1971 when I went to study in Lancaster and lived in digs on Dallas Road. My landlord who was a senior chef at a prestigious hotel in Manchester (we only saw him at weekends) shared my birth date. Later on, I discovered that my landlady's best friend (French by birth) was also born on the 27th. She was so thrilled that she gave me a glass beaded necklace that I treasure to this day (note to self - need to take a photo!). She was the widow of a jeweller (of course she was, just to add to the links that bind us) and I gave her a little bijou trinket encased in the popular material of the time - she was thrilled. Fast forward to 2016 - you may have seen the story I featured about the paraplegic cat Sir Toby Toblerone - I discovered this year that his carer, Julie (Mum), was celebrating her 50th birthday on the 27th, added to that Toby had been to visit some schoolchildren so that they could see how, even with disabilities, he could live a fulfilled life - the school, where his 'Dad' works was the chosen venue and it just happened to be sited on Dallas Road! In between 1971 and this latest discovery on 2016 I had another couple of significant mutual birth date coincidences. The first is my very good friend Jenny whom I met when working for Nottinghamshire Constabulary (as it was) - I was covering for a colleague who was absent on long-term sick leave and as such had to carry out senior duties in addition to those of my own. One of these was to offer employment to successful interviewees after certain checks had been carried out. Naturally I noticed immediately when actioning these checks that Jenny and I shared a birthdate and she and my sister shared the same year of birth so I felt comfortable with the idea of her right away! On being offered the post Jenny was very excited and she seemed friendly so I mentioned our joint birth dates which seemed to excite her even more. Time passed and we hadn't really got in touch with each other but then I was sent on a Supervisor's course as it had been decided that I was going to stay in the higher graded position for some time. At the start of the course, the facilitators said they wanted to try as specific ice-breaker which involved all of us introducing ourselves briefly and at the end stating our birth date. They told us that in a class of over 20 people it was a dead cert that at least two of us would share a birthday - we all looked on in disbelief. Third in and it was Jenny and I remembered her name, and when she said 27th April she looked at me, when I blurted out of turn that it was my birth date too, and said 'I know who you are' - we haven't looked back since. She came to my wedding and I have shared two significant decades of anniversaries with her! We are still close! Between 1971 and 1991 when Jenny and I met, I came across two other colleagues at the Police who had the same date but we did not have any affinity and of course with the advent of the internet, in and around 1998, and Facebook so many of us are now discovering shared birthdays. Two that stand out are one lady who is from the 'Angélique' group and another from the 'Cat Who' group both of whom are very dear to me - quite a coincidence eh? And just to add another friend to this group of 'shared birthdays' is my Car restorer's girlfriend who used to work at the local Cat Shelter. The young apprentice who resprayed my car (her first) misses out by a smidgeon belonging to this group, she will be 21 on the 26th of April this year (close enough!)

May 18th

How many of us know that Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła) 1920-2005 and Fred Perry 1909-95 shared a birth date of 18th May? How could that not be a coincidence? Poland > Kraków > My Mother > Jerzy Fedorowicz / Tennis > my passion for the game > Agnieszka Radwańska > Kraków > Poland

General Dates

July 14th

In some places they celebrate 'Bastille Day' on our wedding anniversary. In 2017 I was not only informed that Anne Golon had died but that this was the actual date of her death - a great French author, renowned literary pioneer and stalwart supporter of humanity had ended her life on one of the most famous dates in French history! Anne was a great friend, as is her daughter, and I have been building on a trust in the friendship for over 20 years and throughout the course of my second marriage to Andrew. That is all documented and can be accessed through the links above, but the signposting that I wish to add here relates to the contact made by a freelance reporter to ask help with the creation of an obituary of Anne Golon for 'The Telegraph'. It started with an email addressed to Andrew via his CAMRA account. Needless to say I was in the shower as Andrew tried to impart this news via a closed door - as we both failed to hear what he was going on about, it wasn't until about a half hour later (I was still pampering but covered up) when I opened the door that he thrust a piece of A4 in my face telling me had had an 'email'. Once my eyes took in the content they shot out on stalks in excitement (up till yet nothing had appeared in the English newspapers or their websites and it was already 4 days after the event!) Even in this day and age when I rang the number Kames had left me, the connection was worse than when we tried to ring Poland in the 1960s! Eventually we managed to stop being cut off and James gave me a bit of a background about himself. He knew of Anne Golon as he had been brought up on the books, his mother being French. He wanted to write a fitting obituary but could not be certain the Telegraph would publish it and he wondered it I could help him by filling in some information or clearing up conflicting evidence he had found on the internet and most importantly, could I put him in touch with Nadia? All that really, was water off a duck's back for me but as I am not the Golons' spokesperson I was wary of some of the areas he touched on and told him that I did have answers but he should really ask them of Nadia for her to decide if she wanted to release such sensitive areas to the public. Although mentioned in the 'World of Angélique' website which I reproduced I have never related any contentiousness with the publishing world in my tribute section dedicated to Anne Golon's Angélique as I do not feel it is my place to do so. I was able to confirm that all four siblings were still alive and that the books are currently erroneously being touted as 'erotica' to command silly prices on internet auction sites. James admitted to looking for one to re-read and remind himself of the literary style on the internet and did indeed find that the prices appeared ludicrously high even for out-of-print versions. Finally I asked him how he had found us? I say us because it was a case of finding Mr and Mrs Ludlow via a beer link. He admitted to finding and gleaning information from my tribute pages but was unable to find a contact link (ha! it is there, he wasn't trying hard enough but granted it is quite well hidden). He then decided to have a look around my whole site and found that Andrew has an interest in beer. He picked up that Andrew had a link to CAMRA and went from there (Really he should have followed the Festival website and things would have been easier, but not to worry) and here we were chatting! So despite the disappointment of the news we received on July 14th, compounded by the greater disappointment of no English papers showing an interest (I sent a message to the Daily Mail via their website and a byline to the Hucknall Dispatch both of which were ignored but can be read on my Obituary page), Anne Golon did get her obituary printed in an English newspaper, The Telegraph on the 24th of July (one day before the memorial) and The Times finally pushed the boat out on 31st July with another remarkable piece. (Both available to read here). Is it time for closure? Not sure as the 'quest' has always been to read the conclusion of Angéliques adventures in English, I have partially achieved this by reading the final books in both Polish and French, but what about the final, final book 'Royaume de France?' So does this coincidence still have another arm on the signpost to follow?

October 13th

I'm still looking to find something positive to do with this date as in 1984 (a chilling prospect in its Orwellian self) my leg broke spontaneously - no trauma - supracondylar it's called!)

Tenko

So why 'Tenko' you may well ask - doesn't exactly match up to my parents wartime experiences does it? They were in Europe, 'Tenko' was in what I class the 'Japanese' War. Two principals that I remember well Ann Bell and Stephanie Beacham have links to Nottingham Playhouse (Anne Bell in 'Veterans' and Stephanie Beacham in 'The Tempest') and Television Centre again for Ann Bell as she played Sylvia Llewelyn-Davis in our version of 'The Lost Boys'. The only other tenuous link was to Script Editor Evgeny Gridneff who was serving his apprenticeship in Drama/Plays at Television Centre when I was there. I remember his name well, I was fascinated by it at the time. We're currently enjoying re-runs of 'When the Boat Comes In' (oh yes, I can tell you about James Bolam's time during Veterans, he shared a dressing room with Frank Grimes and the two of them really did behave like the 'Likely Lads') and 'Tenko' which I forever associate with my late friend Anna from Paris with whom I shared many an adventure - she adored 'Tenko'. Because 'Tenko' reminded me of Stephanie at the Playhouse and because her biography was still waiting to be read I decided that this would be my next book alongside any novel I was also reading (I usually have two on the go for variety) and enjoyed reliving my memories of the time I was working as the Saturday (and sometimes evening) stage door keeper at the Playhouse; well it kept me our of mischief (sort of) and supplied me with much needed earnings. Having been a bit disappointed with the book in general I decided that I wanted to read another biography but in a different genre and remembered that somewhere I had Evonne Goolagong's life story to read which had also been waiting for some time to surface. Although Brian Wilsons' book was really higher in the pecking order to read I really wanted to stay away from entertainment as I had also recently read Mike Love's biography. I thought I knew where Evonne's book was but decided to save myself some time scrambling about and looked through a very dusty pile where I found lurking, under an inch of dust an enormous volume entitled 'Remembering Tenko' - seriously it is enormous, there are nearly 900 pages, it will be the be all and end all of all things 'Tenko'. I can't actually remember buying it and having thought about it I've decided I probably intended it as a gift for Anna but owing to her untimely death can't have had an opportunity to give it to her. I'd already bought her the boxed DVD set and found second hand copies of the books of the television series for her which she lapped up with gusto, sometimes watching up to 8 episodes in a day when she needed her 'Tenko' fix. One Christmas she invited a friend over to spend a couple of days with her as they were both alone (can't remember why she didn't come over to us that year) and then subjected poor Brigitte to watching the entire series .... Having also found Evonne's book in a much more sanitary box I decided I would give 'Tenko' the first read as it is such a big book. At this point I will mention that whilst I was still working at the BBC one of my closest friends and short-term flat-mate (while she looked for accommodation to buy as her mother was coming down from Liverpool to live with her) Dotty, was the Drama Plays Producer Graeme McDonald's secretary. She and I had a very similar tenure at the BBC except I ended up working for three producers and she stayed with Graeme throughout. Just as I was leaving to go to work in Derby, Graeme was offered a promotion to Head of Drama Serials and asked Dotty to move with him. She was unsure as we had always been told 'Plays' was the crème de la crème of the Drama triumvirate of Plays, Series and Serials - she declined his offer and shortly afterwards also left the BBC. At sort of the same time, I was really living the 'Take Three Girls' life while sharing a flat in Moore Park Road (Fulham) with three other girls - two of whom were called Judy and Judi respectively and we all also worked evenings and weekends at The Royal Court Theatre. If you think about 'Take Three Girls' I was linked to this as it was produced by my former boss Gerald Savory and of course starred James Bolam's future wife as one of the three. Remember we are watching 'When the Boat comes in' as well! Okay so back to the book, the first surprise (and remember I am only up to page 120) was discovering that this was one of the first major projects that Graeme McDonald (fairly new Head of Drama Serials) decided to take a chance on the nearly all-female cast and production and writing teams and gave it the 'go-ahead' - as Graeme McDonald doesn't feature in the television credits I didn't know until now (nearly 40 years later) of his involvement. I did of course know of Evgeny, Ann and Stephanie. Recently Korea has taken to shooting missiles randomly at Japan - what I hadn't mentioned was that whilst we were at the Royal Court not only did we meet established stars but we also worked with the quirky, the first-timers and the odd rock play - of course for me, my overriding and favourite memory is that I saw the first ever professional performance of Hinge and Bracket in the Theatre Upstairs. Another act we saw was 'The Tokio Kid Brothers' who ramped it up by driving or should I say wheeling their motorbikes onto the stage at every given opportunity! Amongst them was one who fell in love with my flatmate Judy and married her before their tour took them out of England and back to Japan - I've been messaging Judy over the last few days to see if she is ok - they've had some really rough weather, earthquakes, tsunamis and now these missiles over the last couple of years and it worries me how close this all is in a metaphorical sense. Today before starting on my work which related to the new 'Tower Poppy' initiative I decided to have a quick read of 'Tenko' (at least a chapter a day or I won't ever finish it) and nearly fell off my chair! The most hated character in the series is Lt Sato played by Eiji Kusuhara (d. 2010) who was a Japanese (whereas many of the actors were in fact Chinese) and as I read on I discovered that he had, in fact, come over with the Tokio Kid Brothers and stayed on! There was an excellent paragraph of a write-up for the show which brought back even more vivid memories. Although I remember Judy's husband well and another one of the group Hiromi, who's name was easy to remember I also got to know these two members of the cast the best because I was a witness at Judy and Tsuneo's marriage and when Hiromi discovered he was the 'best man' he insisted on calling me the 'best lady' his English was exceptionally limited. Thanks to Tsuneo I discovered a taste for seaweed and still enjoy it today. That gets us up to page 120 or so of the book. I wonder how many more surprises and coincidences are to come - keep watching this space! Oh I nearly forgot - I couldn't wait ti share the new discovery with Judy and she message back to say "Nostalgia! Good days! I wish we were back there sometimes. I helped a Japanese actor a little ..to prepare for an audition for Tenko.." - seriously is this spooky or what? As I delve deeper into the book so I keep coming across other little memories like for instance in the BBC's Acton Rehearsal Rooms where the stars of 'Tenko' comment on the fact that you can meet anyone there and that is absolutely true. One of the most defining moments of my life happened there! So further revelations about Tenko I've just about got to the half-way point and am immersed in reading and watching 'Tenko 2' as the have named it - I'd put money on it that it was even shortened to 'T2' as was out very own Taritu an adorable little black and white cat. Of course Tenko 2 did feature a cat, and according to what is written the cat was based on Beryl Bainbridge's own cat and also called 'Pudding'. I laughed out loud as I read that as my very own first cat (named by my then husband), also a black and white, was called Pudding do these coincidences never cease. But as I tried to do a bit more research into the cat that Beryl Bainbridge may or may not have owned my initial joy was rather dampened as in her memoirs she claims that for the last 6 years of their life (they apparently reached the ages of 21) she banished her two cats to live outside and watched them on the window sill looking in - she apparently had a pang of conscience about this. I'm including it because I also had a friend who lived in Wembley, her ex-husband was involved in the design of the old Bull Ring Centre apparently and she also subscribed to leaving her adult cats to live outside - really, I can't understand this sort of thing and these sort of people, especially if they are in the public eye and might influence behaviour patterns, I haven't really discovered why on earth Beryl Bainbridge is mentioned in 'Tenko' but there you are, the roots of coincidence are everywhere. I know I haven't got there yet, but while I remember there is another coincidence coming up in Part III and the Reunion - Damien Thomas - he, starred in 'The Message' with which I have a link which can be read up here.

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Page updated : 21st September 2017 (G)