One Face Fits All!

Airport The words "I know you" have followed me through life.  The first instance of mistaken recognition took place at Heathrow Airport when I was travelling alone to Dusseldorf in Germany.  I tell you I was travelling alone because I was just eight years old!  Let me explain.  I was at school in the UK and my parents were stationed in Germany.  Ladies from SSAFA (the Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association) used to meet military orphans off the train and take them as far as the boarding gate at the airport.  (Grandad used to do it but he'd been promoted to the 'higher life'.)  This was just such an occasion.

As I stood clutching my boarding card and passport, a seemingly mad woman appeared, grabbed my arm and started leading – no dragging – me away saying the queue for Jersey was at Gate No 5.  For a shocked moment I remember just gawping at her, wondering what was going on.  I was frightened and dug my heels in, probably like a calf might upon entering the abattoir, and protested loudly.  Chaos ensued.  Airline staff appeared.  My docs checked . . . heck, these people were supposed to be looking after me!  I remember the poor lady's face as the penny dropped and the seriousness of her attempted abduction dawned.  She'd been trying to help, thinking I was the child travelling in her party.  Nope, not me love!  I fear this lady may have been permanently scarred by the incident, the fellow travellers at my gate by now treating her as Myra Hindley's sister.

I should add that regardless of age, height or weight this phenomenon has tracked me through the years.  I can only think my face is so bland it could be anybody!  The 'everyone thinks they know you' thing has always been a standing joke in our family.  On another occasion a vicar even thought I was his daughter as he saw me about my business in Surrey.

At the age of 21 and living in Leicester, I remember sitting in a pub with a male friend whom I hadn't known long.  An elderly couple (actually, they were probably my age now!!) came and sat uncomfortably closeSleeping dog and their dog lay on my feet.  Now what would you have done?  I could hardly say to my new young man (actually, he was 8 years my senior), "Are they with you?"  Said couple settled into their seats and  joined in our conversation.  The dog slumbered on.  My feet  went numb.  Then the lady asked me something about someone I'd never heard of.  Her face was a study in panic as the penny dropped.  Paul had thought they were friends of mine, I thought they were known to him.  Profuse apologies followed.  The flustered lady said I was the double of their friend's daughter and she didn't doubt because the dog came and lay on my feet and he didn't normally like strangers!  Now that's odd!

Also in Leicester, Paul and I looked after Jack and his wife, Ellen.  Ellen passed away.  They had no family.  We were at the house with Jack awaiting the arrival of the funeral car to take us to the service.  It was the very severe winter in the early 80s.  Jack lived in a terrace of houses and each householder had dug a path from the front door through three feet of snow to the road.  I answered the door to the undertaker.  A small man in a grey wool coat stood there with disproportionately large gloves resting on his chest.  "I know you, dear", he said.  I'm a bit phobic about coffins and funerals and this man could give Uriah Heap a run for his money.  It wasn't just the outside temperature which chilled me to the marrow.  And there was no escape for old Jack had nobody else in the world.  It was awful, the car park at the Crematorium was frozen and, as we followed the hearse in, our limo spun 360 degrees, adding further horror to the occasion.  The funeral was conducted with just the three of us in attendance.  Can you imagine what the singing was like?  So very sad.  And, can you believe, even before the funeral had taken place, one of the neighbours knocked on the door and asked to have Ellen's sewing machine!  Blimey, you're probably feeling proper depressed by now.  Sorry!

Many, many other instances of mistaken identify have occurred which sometimes have innocently landed in trouble.  By now living in Cheltenham, I had declined a shopping afternoon with a good friend as I was going to perm Mum's hair.  The curls weren't even dry when I had an irate phone call saying I needn't have lied, if I didn't want to meet her, I should have said so, blah, blah . . . "  Her husband had 'seen' me in town that afternoon!  Yeah, sure!

While using the ab cruncher at the gym (no, not recently or ever again with my mesh bits in place!) the woman on the adjacentinstrument of torture gave me the next sordid instalment of her affair.  Stopping her before she incriminated herself further, she replied, "You are the lady who comes into my veg shop every week?"  Sorry, missus.

This very week, following blood tests at the hospital for daughter and self, took daughter for hot chocolate in WRVS cafe prior to depositing at school.  My attention was drawn to a woman and her husband in the queue behind me debating whether to have the offer (coffee and croissant) or the full monty breakfast roll (which looked like a meze (spelling?)in a mega muffin).  As I turned to look, this loud lady said those chilling words, "I know you". Well, no actually you don't!  I was treated to a time-line of her life and at no point did our linear paths cross.  Daughter laughed but didn't know what was about to be delivered to the table . . .

Not having broken her fast before departing for hospital (not a fasting blood test you understand, just suffering from back trouble . . .she couldn't get it off the bed!) she was a trifle peckish.  Chose the healthy option (hmmm, a caramel slice and large hot chocolate).  I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it.  The vessel was the size of a small bucket with a handle on each side as it was too large to lift with one hand.  It must have held two pints.  Wish I'd had a camera with me.  Embarrassment factor 10 for daughter as progress of said vessel across cafe was tracked by the able, sick and infirm simultaneously!  To give you an idea, imagine a two-handled soup bowl scaled up by a factor of 10.  Ingestion was a slow process.  I sat there demurely with a small latte.  (Please don't misunderstand me but some of the volunteers are special needs.  I wondered whether a soup tureen had been used in error.  We expected the largest of the three cups displayed.)

PS – Glad to report daughter only has a non-specific virus.  Perplexed?  The swelling in neck reported on previously suggested glandular fever.  With TaeKwon Do grading and trip to Madagascar looming, this would have been a disaster.  Mononucleosis test negative – thank the Lord.  And it seems I'm fully 'ironed up' so finally restored to my former glory .  

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One Response to “One Face Fits All!”

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  1. I’m still learning from you, while I’m improving myself. I absolutely love reading everything that is written on your website.Keep the posts coming. I enjoyed it!

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