I’m aware that at this point I may be coming across like a real Grinch. The Grinch Who Hated Birthdays. Actually, this really isn’t so. I’m far from an antisocial so-and-so. My diary is crowded with lovely social events. I have a loved extended family who I try to spend as much time with as possible. I’m an active member of two clubs and one political party. I could spend half of my life and all of my weekends seeing friends. If I weren’t working full time I would be out there joining community groups, taking part in communal activities and hanging out with mates shooting the breeze. I work in an open-plan office where I make every effort to be, ninety nine point nine nine percent of the time, cheerful and pleasant. When people see me they smile and say hello. I chat in the lift and ask after people’s children. You really wouldn’t have me down as an introvert, and, most of the time, I’m not.

And here I should also mention that I’m really lucky, and I’m fully aware of that. I have a job which I enjoy and which contributes to the success of my organisation. I have a loving extended family and loads of friends and lots of rewarding interests and sufficient spare cash to be able to go out and to travel and to indulge my interests. I am in full health. I am truly blessed and I don’t forget that. (And, since you should be careful what you wish for, in case any jealous god is listening, I don’t in any way want that to change).

The trouble is, the relentlessness of it. I do an old-fashioned office job with old-fashioned office hours and a commute. Since I live in London, from the moment I leave the house in the morning to the moment I get back at night, I’m constantly surrounded by people. If I socialise, or go for a swim, or a walk, I’m surrounded by people. There is literally nowhere except my house where I’m not with people, lots and lots of people, and even when I’m not interacting with them socially, it’s still tiring.

More tomorrow.