I met some friends for lunch last weekend. We were talking about the menopause and the vagaries of middle age memory. One friend said,” I said something to this man at work and called him Derek. He said, “My name’s not Derek.” “Oh sorry, David,” she said, “but at least I got the first letter right.” It turned out his name was Adrian.
Sometimes it feels like my head is a Swiss cheese, with holes where names used to be. Or a carpet where some of the threads have been pulled and the pattern isn’t quite complete anymore. The more recent names have been the first to go, on a last-in, first-out basis. I amazed both myself and another friend recently when I effortlessly named a tourist rep who had caused us great grief – on a holiday nearly thirty years ago! But I wouldn’t be able to tell you the name of someone I was introduced to last week, unless I used one of those Memory Peg tactics.
On the positive side of things, forgetting people’s names keeps us humble and reminds us that even though we feel young and immortal inside, there are bits of us that just aren’t working as well as they used to.
Something else that happens to me regularly is that I meet people when they are out walking their dog. I effortlessly remember the dog’s name, but the person? Only if the planets are in correct alignment and even then, maybe not. So if you happen to meet me with your dog, and I look like a bunny in headlights as I do a lot of nodding, with a faraway look in my eye, it’s because I am thinking “I think it begins with a D. Yes, I’m sure it begins with D. Is it Delma, Davina, Deirdre, Dawn? Will I chance it? No, I better not chance it again.” The last time I did that, it turned out to be Aileen. D is for Doh.