A FEW MONTHS back I was standing in a car park in the UK smoking a cigarette. Not one of those hideous underground car parks, but a nice one, in the open air. A woman in a white 2008 Fiat Panda drove two hundred yards over from her spot and pulled up next to me and wound down the window. “Your smoke is damaging my health, please put your cigarette out,” she said. I just stared at her, unable to speak. Her face was wreathed in this curious mixture of jubilation and vindictiveness and—I don’t think this is going too far—hatred. She hated me on sight. And she was utterly jubilant in being able to do so, that she had someone in her sights on whom she could exact her vituperation. Seeing me smoking satisfied some desperate craving within the woman, more desperate perhaps than the one I have which makes me smoke cigarettes. She may well have been driving around all day searching for someone to persecute. My guess is that she worked in a local government social services department, probably as a middle manager, and owned cats, but I cannot prove this. That may be just my prejudice coming through.