Monday, July 19, 2010

Twists of Fate 3

Journalists sometimes use the phrase "cruel twist of fate" when a person or family suffers more than one occurrence of the same loss or injury. Charmaine Kennedy whose boyfriend and ex-husband are both shot by gunman Derrick Bird. Frances Culling, who has watched her husband and four children die of the same genetic disorder, and now fears losing her remaining daughter and grandchildren. These people are unlucky, but there is no twist involved - unless you count the irony of Mrs Culling's surname.

I think the phrase properly applies to those cases where it seems natural to personalize fate, and attribute him with a cruel sense of humour. Two of the following examples have a good-news-bad-news structure, the third follows the frying-pan-into-fire pattern, and the fourth is an example of being "hoist" (blown up) by one's own "petard" (bomb). There may be other patterns.


A miner who lived through the worst pit disaster in a county because of a twist of fate died in a similar accident nearly 30 years later on the other side of the world.

Northern Echo 13 February 2009


A woman who survived a ferocious "death roll" crocodile attack in the wild has been killed after being bitten by a snake in her garden.

Daily Mail 4 March 2008

A schoolboy was killed when he walked on to a busy motorway after arguing with his father at a wedding.

Crawley News 18 July 2010, Daily Mail 18 July 2010


Jimi Heselden, the British philanthropist and owner of Segway Inc., tragically passed away on Sunday after an accident involving an off-road model of his own company's famous two-wheeled vehicle.

AOL News, 27 September 2010

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