I’m sitting in the doctor’s surgery, feeling like death, trying to suppress my coughing, and hiding in a book. The woman across from me looks up at me then back to her form. Then she comes over and says “Did you work at Leicestershire?”, “Yes – and I sort of recognise you, were you in the external team?” “No, I was in the internal team.” (As I was). I had to apologise as I couldn’t remember her name, but she could remember mine.

We did a bit of catching-up, whilst straining to here our names being called.

I left Leicestershire (County Council) in 1989 and have lived in Cambridgeshire ever since, changing my job during that time. She married an American, became a US citizen, has just divorced after 14 years of marriage that ended badly and is visiting relatives in the UK. She is likely to return to the US as her qualifications in the UK are a bit out of date and she can’t earn much of a salary to move back here.

It seems she has an aunt on the Cambridge /Norfolk border, although most of her family are in the North-West, so it was pretty weird that she would end up in an Ely GP’s on the same day as me.

We didn’t have much to do with each other 18 years ago: she worked on a different team, was a higher grade than me and, as an evangelical Christian wasn’t into the drinking and partying that “we younger gels” got up to. To be honest, I don’t think I would have recognised her if I’d passed her in the street. However, close up she looks pretty much how she did then, particularly how she dressed and hair-style, apart from a bit older and greyer and, clearly, so do I.

If I hadn’t felt so ill I would have spent more time with her, to be sociable, but as the doctor had confirmed a chest infection and I was feeling very tired through lack of sleep, we shook hands and wished each other well and that was it.