A strange thing happened in Uxbridge the other Friday and I am still reeling from the unnerving and unusual experience.
Shopping in the town centre, and racing against time as usual, I skidded to a halt (like they do in Tom and Jerry cartoons but obviously without the screeching and clouds of dust), because I was suddenly aware everything was different.
People were standing People were staring
People were looking happy and chatting to each other...... yes, even to strangers!
Then it all became clear.
Outside St Margaret's Church in Windsor Street, glinting in the sunshine, stood the most beautiful classic car, and next to it, a chauffeur in all the gear; long boots, jodhpurs, gloves, who was clearly waiting for a wedding party to emerge.
None of the shoppers, though laden with bulky bags, hurried home; even weary business people delayed baguette-buying to savour the sight for five minutes out of their precious lunch hour.
It made me think of the lines by poet William Henry Davies (1871 -1940): "What is this life, if full of care; We have no time to stand and stare?"
OK, the words may have lost a bit of oomph after Center Parcs hijacked them for their cheesy adverts, but pausing to hob nob with the cheery crowd certainly made my day.
However, I don't think I'll overdo it. In later life Mr Davies took to the road as a tramp and maybe that was taking 'standing and staring' a bit far.
Still, while on the subject of the complex nature of Homo sapiens, you will be amused to hear Mr F and I experienced the Dunkirk spirit recently at an outdoor performance of Twelfth Night at Pendley, near Tring, on a typical August English summer night.
The rain may have been lashing down in bucketfuls, the wind shaking the stage lights so much we feared they would crash on our heads, but we, like the actors, soldiered on, albeit in our case, wearing coats, scarves, hats, and rugs pulled up to our eyeballs.
GEM OF THE WEEK: Seen in St Mary's (Harefield) church magazine: 'Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic'.