I had communicated with people very rarely since moving into my cottage four years ago. A weekly visit to the village shop, where I slipped around pointed questions from locals and bought groceries and other essentials of life sparingly. The woman behind the counter was used to my ways, used to my unkempt appearance and no longer sniffed the air discreetly to gauge how far I had sunk in terms of personal hygiene. She was reassured. I kept myself, my clothes and my cottage clean although for what reason I couldn’t say. There was no profit in it. I put it down to habit: an ingrained dislike of ingrained dirt.