Christmas is a time for catching up, and trying to think of things to say. But what to say to people who you haven't seen for several years and who you didn't really know that well in the first place? On Christmas Day itself, I had several odd encounters in the space of just an hour.
As me and my sister are on the way into church, we wander past my old Latin teacher.
"I hear you had to drive home via Basingstoke?" he says to my sister.
"Er, yeah - how did you..." says my sister, quite surprised and clearly confused as to how he could possibly know this.
"That must have been fun," he says sarcastically.
"How did you know I'd driven back via Basingstoke?" she asks.
"Finger on the pulse," I chip in.
"Oh, you know," he says. "I do a bit of networking now and again." He turns to me. In deliberately patronising tone: "Opened your stocking yet?"
"I'm saving it till later," I say, with as much dryness as I can muster.
After the service, we're shuffling our way towards the exit, hampered by old people and ecclesiastical socialites. We slowly pass my old geography teacher, who's standing with a dazed grin on his face.
"Happy Christmas," he says absently. "Are you still an excellent spin bowler?"
"Hello. Happy Christmas. Yes, sure am," I respond.
"I bet you haven't spun a ball in ten years, have you?" he says.
"It's definitely getting near something like that," I reply. He laughs. We carry on shuffling.
There is one more final odd conversational switch to make, as I shake hands with the vicar on the way out.
"Great to see you!" he says kindly. "Still a writer?"
"Yes," I say.
"I saw a film about a writer recently," he says. "Finding Forrester,"
"Oh right," I say. "No, I haven't seen that."
"Writing can be a very lonely life," he says rather sadly. I instinctively pick an inappropriate response.
"Hahahaaaa," I laugh.