...and not a little scary. Working busily in a library on my laptop, a figure hurried in, black-clad and masked. It is rather horrible to be suddenlyconfronted with some one who will not reveal his or her face. I jumped for a moment.
My next thought: I must not, I dare not, show any fear. Even a slight expression of concern might get me into serious trouble.
She used computer next to mine and, without any of the usual exchange of smiles - absolutely impossible when masked - speedily clicked on to whatever she wanted, and then left. No face visible, only eyes in a slit above the fully masked face, and a vast black robe cloaking her to the floor.
In everyday life, a masked face sends a message of hostility: in present circumstances it is particularly unpleasant. Probably the most fearsome thing, however, was my immediate realisation that if I were to show any normal fear or worry in the face of such hostility I could be punished. In theory at least, there is a possibility of the masked figure denouncing me for having shown an emotion she regarded as offensive and to demand that some form of official actio be taken against me.
I am rather glad that the tradition in whch I was brought up encouraged me not to give way to fear and not to make a fuss when something unpleasant suddenly came my way. This has stood me in good stead over the years and will continue to do so.
The Britain in which I learned these things was one in which no one could have imagined my need of it in these circumstances.