I’ve spent a fair bit of my time lately with my chin up gazing skywards. And no, unlike what seems to be half the nation, I’ve not been on the lookout for Doctor Who.

My bright brown eyes have been hoping for a glimpse of the famous flying tool-bag dropped by a butter-fingered astronaut who lost his grip while trying to patch up a malfunctioning space station.

How incredible that something so small and far away could be spotted somewhere over our heads. At the same time, it’s comforting to learn that if you happened to be walking beneath it as it fell to earth it would be unlikely to knock you to the ground having burned up in the atmosphere. Phew, what a relief.

I was pondering this extra-terrestrial business on my way to the shops the other day when the chap ahead of me tilted his head and dropped his empty drink can onto the pavement. He made no attempt to pick it up, having no intention of dropping his offensive waste in a nearby bin.

I felt a familiar rage starting up, the temptation to catch up with him and ask politely if he’d dropped the can by mistake and would like it back. Then I remembered the vicious mouthful I got the last time I tried this and I’m afraid cowardice overtook me. Sorry folks, I failed to challenge the lout. I regret to say that I’m not so brave as I used to be.

The simple truth is that I don’t like being shouted at. Can this be to do with my getting older? I certainly don’t feel it that much but one of the annoying aspects of looking older is that the face comes across as being more grumpy; some might see lines and frowns as signs of character and a life well lived whereas I just think they make you look old. 

When my mum was in her eighties she used to say that when you are out and about it was best to smile all the time so you didn’t show a miserable old face. And she definitely wasn’t a miserable old woman, though somebody called her one once when she was in her wheelchair; that was when she ran over a dog’s tail.

She put on her best smiley face and apologised to both the dog and its owner. The dog was fine although a bit wary but the owner was stoney-faced and not the least bit amused. That dazzling smile of mum’s just made it look as she didn’t give a damn. 

It’s a sad fact of life that we do tend to make assumptions about people.

For instance, one of my young relations is covered in tattoos, fortunately not on her face (yet) but each time I see her she’s added another design, and her boyfriend has got even more of the things. I wondered what sort of reactions the pair of them get when out and about.

She said that a lot of the time it’s not favourable, and that was partly why they wanted to have more of the things, to challenge people’s perception of them, that what you look like isn’t necessarily what you are actually like. 

That’s bravely said, but I have to admit that, not knowing them as I do, if I encountered them in the street I’d give them a wide berth even though she’s a lovely girl and he’s a pleasant fellow.

The trouble is that they present themselves as characters who could be threatening, a bit like my can thrower.

I never did catch him up; too scared, you see. Yet for all I know he could have been a harmless astronaut on Earth-leave, looking for a tool-bag one of his mates had dropped.

I’m still wondering.