There are times in life when we stumble unwittingly into awkward conversation with those with whom we should never have made eye contact. We’ve all been there: cornered by a creepy uncle with clammy hands at a family wedding; harangued by a wily tramp angling for pennies; aurally assaulted by terrifyingly radiant graduates in waterproof jackets trying to get you to send £400 a month to save the universe, man.
When it happens to ourselves it can be irritating, frustrating, claustrophobic and intense. You try your utmost to retain a sense of decorum: have patience, be civil, nod at the right moments, avoid causing offence. Mitigating the pain of these occasions is an art which can be developed and honed over time.
However, when we sense that someone else has been ensnared by unenviable company, all we can do is sit back, count our blessings and enjoy the unfurling episode…