This is not a sob story. But the tears came anyhow. They crept up on me at the 70th birthday party of a friend a few years back. We were celebrating in a hotel ballroom in Letchworth in Hertfordshire and I had struck up a conversation with distant acquaintance – a woman I had met only a few times before and have not met since. We talked about the primary school she worked at and the secondary school I went to, which were just five minutes’ walk apart in nearby Stevenage– both had declined – and about the local council and football team. She asked me when I was going back to New York, where I’d been living for seven years at that point, and I told her, the next afternoon.