I’m sure it’s not an experience peculiar to me, but it’s surprising how often, when I come across something that has not particularly attracted my attention previously, a similar situation seems to then recur on several occasions. It can happen with all sorts of things – encountering a ‘new’ word when reading; suddenly noticing a friend’s mannerisms; accidentally meeting a new acquaintance in unexpected places etc.
I mention this because of incidents that occurred during a visit to Menorca last year.
We were enjoying a mid-morning coffee when I sensed that I was being watched. I looked up and, sure enough, there was a face eyeing me from the trunk of a nearby olive tree.
Shortly after, while photographing poppies I became aware of a somewhat pained face to the right of the flowers.
From a nearby wall, two faces (one half masking the other) looked on disdainfully. Was I becoming paranoid?
This sequence of incidents reminded me very much of an episode in Kenneth Graham’s children’s novel Wind in the Willows. Mole ignores Ratty’s warning and ventures into the Wild Wood:
‘Then the faces began.
It was over his shoulder, and indistinctly, that he first thought he saw a face; a little evil wedge-shaped face, looking out at him from a hole. When he turned and confronted it, the thing had vanished.
He quickened his pace, telling himself cheerfully not to begin imagining things, or there would be simply no end to it. He passed another hole, and another, and another; and then–yes!– no!–yes! certainly a little narrow face, with hard eyes, had flashed up for an instant from a hole, and was gone. He hesitated–braced himself up for an effort and strode on. Then suddenly, and as if it had been so all the time, every hole, far and near, and there were hundreds of them, seemed to possess its face, coming and going rapidly, all fixing on him glances of malice and hatred: all hard-eyed and evil and sharp.