I worry that I’ve got a doppleganger – or perhaps a series of them, as I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’ve been spotted somewhere I couldn’t possibly have been. I have a terrible memory – when I was 21, I left the room whilst talking and forgot what I was saying, who I was saying it to, and why I felt impassioned to make a particular point, all in the nanosecond after stepping into the corridor – but I know that I’ve never been to a steakhouse in my life, Stephanie, so no, that absolutely was not me. I don’t care if they were wearing precisely the same hat as me – I don’t have them specially-made as a one-off, tailored piece of cloth just for me.
I was stopped in the street this morning on the way to the train station, for a passing acquaintance to remonstrate with me that I had completely blanked them in Sainsbury’s last weekend. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that I might have blanked someone – unintentionally, for the most part, although we’ve all had occasions where the opposite is true and we hide behind the frozen mince until danger has passed – but I knew with absolute certainty that this was incorrect as I simply didn’t go in there on the day in question.
But poor old Yorrick (not his real name, although wouldn’t it be great if it was?) didn’t quite get the hang of this new conversational gambit. He objected quite strongly to my protestations and insisted that I had walked straight past him in the frozen veg aisle, ignorning all of his attempts to strike up a conversation.
I’m not very good first thing in the morning, in terms of being awake, alert, and intelligable all in the same breath, and so I hope you’ll bear that in mind when you read through what happened next;
Me: “I promise you, Yorrick, it wasn’t me in the bloody frozen veg bloody aisle. I don’t even like frozen veg,”
Yorrick: “You weren’t shopping in the frozen veg aisle, you were just walking across the aisle to get to somewhere else.”
Me: “I would have had to been walking pretty quick, because I was an entirely different town that day.”
Yorrick: “No you weren’t, you were in Sainsbury’s.”
Me: “I bloody wasn’t! Please, stop going on about it. You’ve got it wrong. It was not me. Anyway, if I was blanking you in Sainsbury’s, why would I be talking to you now?”
Yorrick: “I assume you were just annoyed at me then. You’ve clearly got over it now.”
Me: “I assure you, I wasn’t annoyed at you last weekend, although that’s possibly changing right now.”
By this point, I really was losing the will to live. It reminded me, as I made my final escape using the old excuse of my train being at the station any minute (except, in this case, it was true), of the occasion when I was struggling with one of the self-service tills in WH Smith’s, and the assistant came over to help.
Assistant: “Don’t you want any cigarettes today?”
Me (distracted after spending five minutes mutinously glaring at the error message on the screen and muttering mutinously under my breath for five minutes): “Hmm?”
Assistant: “Cigarettes. Did you want any today?”
Me: “Oh, I don’t smoke, thanks.”
Assistant: “You’ve given up? How wonderful!”
Me: “No, I’ve never smoked.”
Assistant: “Yes you did. You were in here on Monday buying Rothams.”
Me: “I absolutely was not in here Monday, I promise. And I’ve never smoked; I like my lungs too much, to be honest. The only up-side to smoking is possibly giving me a deeper, more gravelly voice. Now, why is this machine insisting I put my stamps in the bagging area when I’ve already done it?”
Assistant: “Don’t worry, sir, your secret’s safe with me.”
And with me, apparently, as I still don’t have the first idea who she could be talking about. It was immensely dispiriting to not be believed on either occasion, and those are just the tip of the icebergs.
I’ve even asked my parents if there’s something they’re not telling me. Was there a secret love-child in the depths of their past that they wanted to confess now? Was I born with an evil twin who they were compelled to dispose of on the doorstep of Social Services because of the number of the Devil on their forehead? My dad then pointed out that he had been checking for that number on my forehead, which was a well-made point.
If anyone comes across this shadowy figure at any point, I’d be very appreciative for a photograph. They’re a smoker, clearly, with a penchant for frozen vegetables and Sainsbury’s long-life milk (or somesuch other sundries that my counterpart probably buys in vast and appalling quantities), so we’ll find them hanging round the cigarette counter of a local shop desperate for their next fix.