Max Clifford once greeted my husband in a restaurant like a long-lost celebrity friend and we've wondered ever since who he thought he was. It seemed an unlikely mistake for a man of his profession to make. So is there someone out there who looks exactly like my chap?
If you've seen the picture currently sweeping social media of the two identical-looking but unrelated young women – one British, one Irish – who met by chance recently at Bremen University, you'll know it's possible.
The facial likeness between Cordelia Roberts and Ciara Murphy really is uncanny. Adding to the cloning effect, their hair is the same colour and length and they're the same age and build, but the whole effect is much greater than the sum of the similar parts. It's almost eerie.
And it seems that such a strong likeness between genetically unrelated people is not as unusual as you'd think. Niamh Geaney, from Dublin, and two friends were so interested to find their doppelgängers that they set up an online project called Twin Strangers, exploiting the global reach of the internet to seek them out.
Very quickly, Geaney found a remarkably similar-looking stranger living just a few miles away. It's perhaps not so surprising, given that both young women have classic "Celtic" looks; neither of them would look out of place in The Corrs. More interestingly, Geaney's second lookalike lives in Genoa.
Intrigued, I went looking for my double on the Twin Strangers website. All you have to do is upload a face-on picture, then select your key features from a choice of archetypes.
Referring to a mirror, I decided I have an oval face, rounded brows, almond eyes and (unfortunately) thin lips. The nose was trickier. I know it's bigger than I'd like it to be, but does that make it aquiline or hooked? I went for the former.
A gallery of possible matches quickly loaded. My first reaction? You have to be fricking kidding me… But still keen, I scrolled down trying to see past the terrible hairstyles and more challenging BMIs.
Some had sunglasses on, which added a fresh challenge. As did the one where the potential twin was sitting with her elderly parents. Which one was supposed to be me?
It was also intriguing to see how delusional people are. Particularly with regard to their nose shape. I was so struck by this anomaly that I changed my filter to "hooked", to see if I'd been guilty of similar fantasies, but up they still came. Noses that would not be out of place on Miss Piggy, or a heavyweight boxer.
Then, as the initial shock wore off, something interesting began to happen. There were moments of recognition. I found one woman who looked just like my brother, but as I really got my eye in I started to wonder. Was there something there?
I called my husband in for a look and after an initial reaction like my own, he went a bit quiet. There is a hint of something, he admitted, pointing at one woman who at first glance looks radically different to me, but whose picture I had paused at several times.
"It's the dimples," he said, and he was right. There was something about the mouth and the dimples which looked a little bit like me.
Another check of my profile revealed that my age setting seemed skewed to the older side. As I'm often told I look younger than I am (and choose to believe such flattery), I got in there and set it back a decade.
The result was striking. Maybe the new roster of younger possible twins just chimed better with my own set of delusions, but suddenly there seemed to be a number of candidates worth serious consideration.
One in particular. I clicked on the link to Facebook and posted her picture up asking if people thought she looked liked me. The first reply came back from my brother. Yes. She looks like you and our sister.
It's a funny feeling. I keep returning to her picture. She has brown eyes, mine are blue, I think her chin is a bit bigger than mine, but there's something there.
Not just the blondish hair, the rather pointy nose and the thinnish lips; beyond all that, there's a look in her eyes that I recognise.
I feel the oddest sense of kinship. It's really very peculiar, but I'm glad I did it and I feel quite disappointed that she hasn't replied to my "request for contact" via the website.
Perhaps that explains the appeal of this rather bizarre online craze; that we all have some kind of deep-seated desire for connection with an identical "other", believing that a physical resemblance indicates a metaphysical bond.
Or maybe we just want to see how ugly and/or gorgeous we really are, beyond the unsatisfactory mirror and photographic images. Either way, I'm going to keep checking the site. I want to know who she is.
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