Back in the mists of time, on my first visit to New Zealand, I was walking across a square in Auckland when a voice called out my name. It was the son of a local farmer.
I had seen his parents a few days earlier and they had told me their son was on a backpacking trip around the world and they hadn’t heard from him for a while. I immediately rang them on my phone and passed it to him.
The world is getting steadily smaller. As a student I was on a boat with some friends in the Mediterranean when the father of a friend spotted my appendix scar and asked where I had had it removed.
It turned out he was the surgeon at Rochdale Infirmary who performed the operation. He said the scar looked like one of his.
In the 70s when I was on a diet and had alerted all my friends to help and encourage me to stay on the straight and narrow, I gave way to temptation and bought some illicit chocolate on a solo trip to the Ring of Kerry.
The shopkeeper turned out be a cousin of the stage doorman at the theatre I was working in and on my arrival there I was greeted with his soft Irish lilt enquiring, in front of my colleagues, if I had enjoyed my Mars bar?
So this week I was having Sunday lunch to celebrate my youngest daughter’s birthday in The Boot – the community-owned pub in Bledlow Ridge.
A voice uttered my name and I turned, expecting to see a middle aged Doctor Who fan who had recognised me despite the ravages of time, but saw instead the unmistakable features of Ian Ogilvy – who once played The Saint so memorably and, more to the point, whom I had persuaded one convivial evening in 1985 to join me in jumping out of a plane with the Red Devils the following day.
I had not met him before but we had spent a pleasant evening with mutual friends and he had been intrigued by the opportunity to train with and jump with Britain’s finest to help them raise funds for a new plane.
So we spent two exhilarating days together and had never encountered each other since. He now lives in Los Angeles and was over on a flying visit and ended up in the same pub.