When I was in London a couple of weeks ago, an odd thing happened. I had what can only be described as an epiphany of some sort.
My experience went something like this: I was in Fortnum's, spitting tacks at hubs because mum had phoned and lumbered us with, 'The Hamper Task of Tantalon', which meant splitting up and returning with our prey - two jam packed hampers, one for a young girl, one for a young boy.
"Go - now. Upstairs; hamper, fill, think 8 year old boy, stop dilly dallying, none of your usual faffing about, time, essence, of.'
There was a bit of a huff.
I turned to go down stairs ( the ones below) and an elderly lady approached me asking "Could you help me downstairs please?"
I helped her down and we made small talk.
By the time we had reached the bottom of the stairs, we had gone from holding arms to holding hands. THIS IS VERY WEIRD FOR A SCOT. I didn't want to let go of her, she radiated peace and we continued to hold hands as we stood in the food hall, I kept thinking how weird it was but yet the feeling was just so wonderful that I wasn't going to let go, I didn't want to ever let go of her. We chatted a little more and I asked if she lived locally and she said: "yes but I have lived all over, I have had a interesting life, I even wrote a book a book about it."
Caught up in her whirlpool, I asked her to write down the details for me, she softly scolded me for not carrying a pen, " don't come out without a pen again."
We eventually parted and I felt utterly overcome. I can barely explain it, other than something in me shifted. I lingered around the food hall and looked around for her and couldn't see her and started to wonder about the whole experience. Just then, a hamper laden hubs started to make his way down the steel ribboned staircase.
"Oh no, why are your eyes green?" (My blue eyes turn green just before I cry.) "It wasn't that bad a fight"
" Something extraordinary has just happened, I don't know how to explain it, I want to cry, there was an old lady and she had this feeling that just radiated from her, I know it sounds really odd and now I can't see her and ..."
Just then, I saw her marching, yes marching up the stairs and I pointed to her, that's her, as she wafted up the ziggurat staircase just like The Ghost of Christmas Present. "I've been holding her hand and didn't want to let go, it felt really, really special."
My husband smiled at me and he looked up at the grey haired old lady and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
I apologised to him for snapping earlier and felt 'muffled' for the rest of the day, the Jesuitical examen, long forgotten by me, were upmost in my mind.
My brief companion's incredible presence stayed with me for the rest of my trip.
On the train home I googled Oonagh, it turns out that she was Princess Diana's spiritual adviser and held the hand of the Duke of Windsor as he passed from this world to the next.
Sometimes, the world is so beautiful.