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  • One lunchtime last week I left my office to buy a sandwich.

    The deceptive calmness of the sky had led me to venture out with only a thin white top to protect me from the elements.

    In the short few minutes I spent in the shop, the blue sky stole away and was replaced by a roaring downpour, the sort that takes your skin a week to dry out from, or at least leaves you looking indecent for the rest of the day.

    I stood in the doorway, watching the rain and inwardly cursing my short-sightedness.

    As I looked on, a woman walking in the direction I needed to go in, scurried past with a large umbrella.
    Without pausing further, I stepped behind her under the umbrella, and scurried too.

    ‘What am I doing?’ was my first thought..
    ‘Well I appear to be getting away with it’ was my second.

    Down the street we marched, I in her shadow, matching her step for step in perfect synchronicity.

    I am not sure exactly when she became aware of my presence. I imagined I saw a slight tensing of the back of the neck, a small falter in her step.

    Being British, we often aren’t well equipped to deal with situations like this where a stranger so casually and openly ignores social norms, so we continued to make our way down the street in silence, both of us wondering how she was going to acknowledge the situation.

    Eventually she took a deep breath, stopped suddenly and turned around to face me.
    ‘I’m sorry’ she said. ‘But do I know you?’

    I could only shake my head, look slightly shamefaced and watch in damp resignation as she strode away, the relief tumbling from her quickening footsteps.
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