Last week I dropped my purse on a pavement in North Swindon - it must have been twenty minutes later that I realised, retraced my steps, where did I last have it, maybe it was in the car, had I left it with daughter and the baby, had the baby eaten it ... you know the drill. I asked in Marks and Spencer's - more in desperation than hope. And there it was, handed in, with all my credit cards, bus pass, driving license, money - every penny was there.
Last time I was in Nepal I left a memory card from my camera in an internet cafe - and it was almost three hours before I realised. I raced back, trying to persuade myself that these were only photographs and I had my diary so would never forget the places I had been. As soon as she saw me the woman who ran the cafe reached behind her for the card and passed it to me. Then she did a most un-Nepali thing - she put a comforting arm around my shoulder.
I don't make a habit of losing things. (This is said to reassure daughters, as I shall soon be going walkabout again.)
But I just want to highlight the kindness of two people - both of whom have probably forgotten these incidents entirely - who made such a difference to me. (Not forgetting those who rescued me in Cambodia - but I'll say no more about that, in case those of you with the book haven't read that far!)
They have confirmed a belief that most people are fundamentally kind. That, in our ineffectual and often clumsy way, we look out for each other.
Do we all have tales of strangers who may never know the impact of their random acts of kindness?