The briefest brief enounter with the Duke




I’m  feeeling unexpectedly sad at the death of Prince Philip.  It feels like the end of an era.

Someone on the BBC said millions of people must have had brief encounters with him.  I’m one of them.   It was like this.

I was in Cowes for the weekend, having just had eye surgery and wanting to get out of London for a day or so and was leaning on the rail below the Royal Yacht Club watching the yachts come in after the day’s racing when a good-looking, friendly old fellow in scruffy sailing gear came to lean on the rai beside me and we got into conversation.  He was good at banter and we passed a pleasant quarter of an hour batting ideas back and forth as you do.

What I should tell you is that not only was my eyesight not brillliant that day but that I also suffer from prosopagnosia – face blindnesss – and am used to that terrible moment similar sufferers will know well when you’re bluffing that you know somebody because they clearly know you and you make some casual remark and they suddenly have that look that says:  she doesn’t know who the hell I am.


He was wearing sailing gear.  All I said was, “Have you been racing today?”

The look.

Me:  “how did you do?”

He:  (recovering)  “We did quite well.  We came in second.”

Some more banter followed then eventually we both wandered off, the charming old wit to his Yacht Cllub and me to my hotel.

Still smilinng at such a pleasant interlude,  I went into the foyer and noticed a newspaper lying on the desk with  a half page photograph and a blazing banner headline:  Prince Philip sails in second!

Even with my limited face perception I recognised the smiling guy sitting on the foredeck.

Oh dear.

The look.

I still puzzle over the fact that I cannot remember faces after only one meeting.  But that was that.  He must have had a bit of a shock.  It still makes me smile, especially today as his era comes to a close and all the memories roll in..

What a sweet though brief encounter.

Duke of Edinburgh.  R.I.P.



If you want to talk about prosopagnosia let me know.  One of the major research universities is Bournemouth and I went along to do some tests and find out if there was anything to be done about it.  As you can imagine in the old days before lockdown when we had to meet people in crowds at drinks and launch parties  it was daunting.  Every time I entered a room it was full of strangers.  I must have cut hundreds of people without knowing it!  I hope they’ve forgotten or forgiven me.

We made a little film with the students at Bournemouth which is somewhere on utube  A French actor played  the part of the Duke of Edinburgh.  But that’s another story.


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