My first thought was that I had travelled back in time, such was the quaint nature of language used by the tiny old lady with the curly silvery blue hair as she stood before me, earlier today, and asked for help.
And then, this being the modern world, I thought: Am I being drawn into some sort of a scam?
"Would it be a dreadful imposition," the little old lady called out in a slow and carefully enunciated tone as I wandered past her, "if I asked you to help me?"
I hesitated. A dreadful imposition? What was the request?
"My bag has split so I need someone to carry it, because I can't carry it for myself."
The bag was actually the tartan covered compartment of a small and battered pull-along shopping trolley, and it was indeed split, with a fairly large cargo of bread and beans and a few other things about to spill onto the pavement.
"I do apologise for troubling you," she continued in her quaint and very deliberate way of speaking. "It's only round the corner."
So I lifted up her trolley and wrapped my arms around it, and she was so tiny I am pretty sure I could have lifted her up as well and carried the whole bundle along the street, but anyway... I resisted such over-zealous gallantry and let her toddle along beside me and soon we were at the door of some flats, and when I asked her how high she lived she revealed it was on the first floor.
"I usually just bump the trolley up," she explained.
So there I was carrying a little old lady's shopping trolley up a rather dark deserted stairway and wondering again if this was some sort of scam, and was I about to get mugged by the young and burly friends of an evil little old lady with curly silvery blue hair?
But I arrived outside her flat without any assailants leaping out at me, and as she began to open her door she giggled and said...
"Thank you so very much. I would invite you in for a cup of tea but my neighbours might start talking about me."
Now it was her who should have been worried, in this modern world, as she stood with her home's door open beside a big ugly stranger... But of course I just smiled, assured her that it had been no imposition at all, and suggested we might get the tea in Cafe Rocco some day if our paths ever crossed again.
"Oh! I do go there sometimes," she said. "I love their carrot cake."
So there I was wandering back out to the street and once again thinking of Claude.
What is it with me and little old ladies? We seem to attract each other. Will it still be the same when I am a somewhat littler old man?
I am writing this in Cafe Rocco, 14.06 in the afternoon, wondering if I can proceed to finish my bit of work on the laptop in peace, or if a little old lady may come along and insist on feeding me carrot cake.