Hurrying into the outpatients department to drop off some samples for the path lab, I notice a guy sitting in the waiting room who is the very spit of a guy I used to work with in the ambulance service. I can’t help but do a double-take – as he does, too.
‘Malcolm?’ I say – instantly realising it’s not. (Like a celebrity look-a-like, or a waxwork dummy in Madame Tussauds – he shares just enough of the salient features to be recognisable, but lacks that essential Malcolmness).
As soon as I’ve finished speaking, though, the guy says: ‘Phil?’
‘No, I’m Jim’ I say, blushing. ‘Sorry. I thought you were someone else.’
‘Me too! It’s incredible how like Phil you are.’
He nudges the woman he’s with.
‘Doesn’t he look like Phil?’ he says.
She barely glances up.
‘Maybe. A little,’ she shrugs, going back to her Kindle.
‘Who’d have thought?’
For want of anything else, I hold up the samples I’ve got in my hand.
‘Just dropping these off,’ I say.
He smiles and nods, as if that’s exactly the sort of thing Phil would do.
I drop them in at reception, then turn to go. To be honest, if there was an alternative route out I would have taken it, although why it should be so embarrassing I’ve no idea.
‘So – all the best!’ I say to him as I pass. ‘Nice to meet you!’
‘You too! Phil! Have a nice day!’
We both wave at each other.
I leave, trying to act nonchalant, but horribly aware of everyone in the waiting room turning to watch me go (everyone apart from the woman on the Kindle, that is).

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