Many years ago, while studying in Paris as a novice postgraduate, I was invited to accompany a friend to a seminar with Jacques Derrida. I leapt at the chance even though I was only just learning French. Although I tried hard to follow the discussion, the extent of my participation was probably signing the attendance sheet. Afterwards, caught up on the edges of a small crowd of acolytes in the foyer as we waited out a sudden rainstorm, Derrida turned to me and charmingly complimented me on my forethought in predicting rain, pointing to my umbrella. Flustered, I garbled something in broken French about how I never forgot my umbrella, how desolated I was that he had mislaid his, and would he perhaps desire mine? After a small silence, where he and the other students side-eyed me warily, he declined. For years I dined on this story of meeting a celebrity academic, cheerfully re-enacting my linguistic ineptitude.