There was an episode of one of those television series where the programme tries to trace family members. A woman of sixty-seven had discovered that she had an identical twin sister from whom she had been separated when they were babies. The women had lived their lives three miles apart.
Would it have been possible for them to have lived so many years and never caught a glimpse of each other? Would it have been possible that no-one saw one twin and thought it was the other and commented upon it? If they had, did they ever think they were seeing themselves?
I remember driving to visit a hospital on a fine spring evening. The traffic was light, but some person in the control centre in the city must have looked at their monitors and decided that such free movement should not be allowed. Every single light turned red as the small cluster of cars approached. Barring there being a herd of cows or a funeral procession led by a horse-drawn hearse, progress could not have been slower.
On the radio, there was music from Alfred Hitchcock movies and every junction provided an opportunity to watch every pedestrian and every other vehicle and ponder whether any might be a Hitchcock character
At one set of lights, someone looking very familiar crossed the road. A dark blue coat with pale blue shirt and navy trousers, the twenty-something had a mop of dark brown curly hair and carried a Tesco plastic bag. Examining him closely as the red turned to green, there was a sense of knowing who the person was.
Only fifty yards down the road, did it register that the man crossing the road looked awfully like myself; or he looked as I would have looked a generation previously.
Hitchcock’s music provided a suitable backdrop to trying to remember the stuff from theoretical physics about all of time happening at once and about glimpsing our future or our past out of the corner of our eye.
Except it could not have been me, I had never walked across that dual carriageway in my life. Unless the many universes theory was correct and in some parallel existence I was buying my food in Tesco before crossing a busy road on the way home.
It was a disconcerting moment. It might easily have been dispelled by turning back to check the man and no doubt discovering the man was nothing like me.
Had I thought I saw myself in my own neighbourhood, had I heard tales of people thinking they had seen me, I think I would have looked for me.