I think I am one of the mad visually and hearing challenged persons who seems to say hello to everyone I meet – at least round about where I live. Mad or eccentric? Possibly both but there is method in my mad eccentricity despite the embarrassment caused to my children and others.

In the first place, if you don’t see precisely where people are and which path they are taking as you approach them, a timely hello often draws the useful response and you are not likely to walk into each other, assuming, of course, I cotton on to their presence at all. Smile.

In the second place, One does not want to be guilty of passing by a friend or neighbour without acknowledging them in some way. In our position we want to be on good terms with everyone, never knowing when help might be needed and we don’t want to be stand-offish.

And this business of not knowing whom we are talking to is a real poser. We are not so brilliant that we can recognise a voice in the busy street and there is no chance of facial recognition, of course…. Or is there?

Possibly most of us have our own stories about embarrassingly not recognising friends or family. Many times has my daughter had to say: ‘It’s your daughter Dad’ and, not long ago, I was waiting for my wife outside a shop. She had a dark German Shepherd guide dog but I greeted and nearly hugged another little lady coming out of the shop with a dark shopping trolly in tow.

Returning to facial recognition, tThe technology people are on to this one. Our phones can recognise faces and the wonderful Orcam glasses can be taught to speak the face of a friend as you approach him or her, provided you follow the right instructions beforehand to make it possible. But there is another old-fashioned way of finding out whom you are talking to in the street which, again, might appear mad and eccentric. So try this one if you are brave enough: ‘I know it sounds silly but I don’t know who you are’ and see what your neighbour or even your mother-in-law says in response.

Good luck and give it a go. The trick is to learn never to feel embarrassed.

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