I APOLOGISE to the lady I frightened in an ice cream shop the other day.
It is a sad thing about me that, despite being, er, generously proportioned, I can, without meaning to, glide silently from A to B, in the manner that Bertie Wooster described about Jeeves: “He’s like one of those weird chaps in India who dissolve themselves into thin air and nip through space in a sort of disembodied way and assemble the parts again just where they want them.”
Many are the people who have leapt in the air in fright, having thought themselves in solitary confinement and turned round to find the Cook features grinning amiably at them from close range.
Maybe it’s the grin.
I would wear clattering tackety boots, but I have a tendency to slide about the pavements when wearing anything but rubber soles, which is even more alarming for passers-by, and quite dangerous for myself and any unfortunate paving stone that happened to take the weight of my sudden descent.
When I remember, on my approach I stamp feet, clear the throat and huff and puff.
But when I forget, the hand flies to the throat, the eyes bulge, and the person, oddly enough usually female, recoils.
And the sad thing about the lady I mentioned in the first sentence is that she had dived into the shop because she is afraid of seagulls and had just seen a young one on the pavement in front of her.
As she disappeared into the wide open spaces again, it was clear that she thought that the seagull was the lesser menace.