Unexpected smiles from strangers. Rare as hens' teeth in a big city, where the default mode is the avoidance of eye contact and intently scrolling your smartphone on the train is the human equivalent of a cat stopping to wash itself in the middle of the room (it makes you look Important and Purposeful when you're really just at a loss for something to do). But, lucky me, last week I received two - one in the supermarket (fruit & veg) and one, even less expectedly, on a busy station platform as the 07:39 disgorged its passengers into the morning rush - and both brightened my day out of all proportion to the simplicity of the act itself.
Did the smile-givers have any inkling of how that bold moment of breaking through the invisible but tacitly consensual wall between us would make me feel better for the rest of day?
Or were they just amused by my funny little face?
Well thank you smile-givers, either way: I promise to be less Britishly buttoned-up and to Give as well as Receive in the dark and drizzly winter weeks ahead.
Dusty Springfield - 'Just One Smile' (1967)