I am often shy in many ordinary social contexts; I am not able to “chat” or do small talk with any ease; I have difficulty recognising people and remembering names (this has been a lifelong phenomenon); I have little and fluctuating knowledge of and little interest in current affairs, whether political, social, or sexual. Now that I am becoming quite hard of hearing, a polite term for deepening deafness, I find groups more difficult and tend to retreat into a corner, to look invisible, to hope I am passed over. This was incapacitating when I was young or when I am in a crowd or at a party, I agonise, often wedged into a corner, leaving as soon as I can, somehow relieved. But if I find someone, at a party or elsewhere, who shares some of my interests, then I am drawn into animated conversation.