The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

I must be the Bearded One then...

“You are ‘The Bearded One’. I claim my £1,000.”

I realised I had a fixed grin on my face and I hadn’t blinked for several seconds. “You must, er, read...”

“Your blog, yes. Well, I haven’t read the latest posts, but I do follow it sometimes. I liked your piece on the Burns Festival. I was there with the Choir when the panicked police didn’t want to let us across the bridge.”

A complete stranger has just started talking to me like he knows me.

I should feel at a distinct disadvantage, but the truth is, it’s familiar territory.

You know how people often say, “I’m terrible with names, but I never forget a face!”? Unfortunately, I forget the face too.

Usually I have to meet someone several times, and not too long apart, before name and face start to sink in. Even then, if I don’t see someone for a long time, unless I know them extremely well, my memory will dump them into an inaccessible part of my head.

My general strategy, developed over the years, is to smile at anyone who looks at me and be prepared to appear friendly to anyone who acts like they know me. If I do recall them, it’s quite likely to be 20 minutes after I’ve left their company.

How well I get away with this, I don’t really know. Either people don’t realise I have no idea who they are, or they’re too embarrassed to say, “you haven’t a clue who I am, have you, you bastard?

But it’s the only strategy I know, and seems to work better than openly admitting I’ve forgotten someone I taught in a class, worked with in the past, or am married to their sister...

Maybe this is why I find it easy to spout my personal viewpoints, mental and emotional anguish, and unlikely scenarios to a bunch of unknown people who live anything from a few yards to several thousand miles away, via my blog.

Strangers are probably just friends I’ve forgotten.*

*Don’t think that gives anyone the right to come up and ask me to lend them a fiver though


Mrs Pouncer said...

My mother, that gorgeous old harridan, developed this appalling strategy for forgotten names:

Harridan: I am SO sorry; I have completely forgotten your name.
Anon: It's John.
Harridan: Yes, I KNOW your first name; it's your surname that escapes me.
Anon: Trubshaw.

A triumph. However, I was with her last year at a terrible fundraiser where she tried this initiative with an enormous shaven-crowned tyre magnate.

Harridan: I am terribly sorry etc etc
Huge man: Dulcie.
Harridan (moving away swiftly and dragging me along): That man is taking the piss. Don't talk to him.

My mother is Australian and can get away with this sort of caper.

Jimmy Bastard said...

Kim, I felt the exact same way when I had that fella come in to my local and ask for Jimmy Bastard.

Sweet jaysus.. now we both know the fame of Stinky Pitt and the little Tom Cruise fella..

Jessie said...

that, at times, might be a nice trait to have - especially if it was someone particularly annoying...

but it sounds like it may be time to get to know your in-laws a bit better...

PI said...

As long as you don't get stalked.

Ellen said...

Hi there. Finally found my way over to your blog, having loved what you said today on my post over at 5 Minutes on why people shouldn't pity me for having a special needs kid.

I have a crazy memory for faces myself. I could sit across someone on the train and remember them a few years later. I am horrible with names. What I sometimes do is stuff like "So, how do you spell that name again?" Which gets me a "You idiot" look when it's a name like, say, Sue. It's much easier when you are coasting along, pretending like you know them, and anther person approaches whose name you DO know. You say to the person who's name you can't remember, "This is Sue!" Then you pause, and wait for Sue to introduce herself.

I have gotten this down to a science, more or less.

Please do know you and your beautiful Meg.

Charlie said...

My general strategy . . . is to smile at anyone who looks at me and be prepared to appear friendly to anyone who acts like they know me.

Isn't that the Politician Strategy?

OFF TOPIC: Halfway through "Good Omens" and laughing my ass off. And I love the theology because it may very well be true.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

Whatta famous guy :D

I like your strategy. I'm not so bad with the faces, more the names. If someone comes up to me and says, "Hey FLG, whats up?" I'll usually reply with a "Hey man, nothing much, yourself?" Basically trying to jump straight back into the familiarity and make them forget the names :D

But if I don't remember the face, then I'll usually just apologise and ask them who they are again.

Kanani said...

So, who was it?
I've not had anyone come up to me and say they know my blog, but then, I don't have my photo on mine, nor do I say what town I live in! I also have little to do with the people who live around here --except the neighbors, so it's not like anyone in my town even knows if its existence!

Ah well.
I tend to remember people, though sometimes don't put their right "back story" to them.

Kim Ayres said...

Mrs Pouncer - I remember my mother telling me about that technique, then someone did it on me and I felt unclean...

Kim - aye, but I'd rather be famous for some amazing skill or triumph, than just for blogging...

Jesse - :)

Pat - from time to time this has crossed my mind, but like the idea of paedophiles and terrorists on every street corner, I don't think it does us any good to live a life in constant fear of strangers. Though I know I'll change my mind if anything ever happens

Ellen - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment :)

Unfortunately my experience of someone else I do know turning up, is them saying, "Hi Kim, who's your friend then?"

Charlie - So glad you're enjoying Good Omens. I'm going to have to get another copy of it. Mine went walkabout years ago as I kept lending it to friends and cannot remember the last person it went to

FLG - This blog gets about 50 visits a day (including mine). I think it'll be some time before fame visits :)

Kanani - turns out his wife has met my wife. It's a small town :)

Carole said...

I don't remember names or faces either, but John remembers everyone he's met since he was two. Names and Faces. So I wait until he speaks and then I act like I was with him all the way.

savannah said...


at least it was a good meeting, sugar! nice things to say, etyc... ;) xoxox

Gyrobo said...

I have a similar problem: everybody thinks they remember my face and they're positive my name is (insert not-my-name here).

I come from a long line of generic folks.

michael greenwell said...

can we ask you for a fiver on the blog then?

Attila The Mom said...

Hahaha, I do the same thing! Hubby is very involved in business community activities and we've gone to (and hosted) so many events that they all blur into one.

Once in a while some complete stranger comes up and talks to me in the store, etc (well not complete strangers---they know MY name but I haven't a clue who they are). I just nod my head and smile, and say things like "what have you been up to these past couple of months?" while praying that at some point I'll remember them. LOL

Andraste said...

I have cousins I wouldn't recognize in the street. Not just bad with names, bad with faces and contexts too.

If it weren't for SPOUSE, who has a memory like an iron trap, I'd be completely lost.

He'll say things like "that guy over there sat next to us in a pub a couple years ago. I remember he was talking about good brandy, don't you remember? He had the red jacket with the funny cuffs and his hair is shorter now."

how the hell...?

Restaurant Gal said...

Not only do I have to remember names of regulars who ALWAYS know mine, but now I have to remember their drinks of choice! I think my brain is developing new crevices at an alarming rate these days.

Kim Ayres said...

Carole - a handy skill for a minister - could be very embarrassing otherwise

Savannah - true - at least I haven't had to contend with "You must be the Bearded One, you Bastard" Whack!

Gyrobo - surely there can't be many robots about like you?

Michael - you can ask all you like...

Attila - I did a wee business course once on how to remember people's names, but I can't remember how it went

Andraste - at least with bloggers, we can take a quick scan of their archives :)

RG - a very useful skill when your income is largely supplemented by tips :)

Sarah said...

i wouldn't hesitate to call you a bastard. if i thought you were one.

that said, people forget. i could hardly fault someone for forgetting, when i do it myself.

Mary Witzl said...

What a compliment, though, eh? I'd be so pleased!

Forgetting names is one of the worst things about teaching. I've got, say, fifty students a semester, plus I get to know the kids in other classes when I substitute from time to time. They always remember my face and name -- only one of me! -- but after a few months, I forget their names. It's hellish to run into them and have them greet me like a long lost friend when I can't even remember their names.

Eryl Shields said...

I always remember faces and quite often think I know someone when I don't because they look a bit like someone I once met, that's embarrassing. And I not only never remember people's names I tend to call them the name I believe is theirs, if that makes sense. So if for some reason I think you look like a Lucy I will always believe your name is Lucy. Luckily you look like a Kim.

Tom P. said...

With all these comments you are indeed famous. My blog averages a little less than 1 comment per entry.

Anyway, I too have a problem meeting people but it is with names. I always think, "I know this person from somewhere... oh yeah from work, but what the hell is his name? Haven't a clue even though I've been saying good morning to him for the last year."

Kim Ayres said...

Sarah - what seems to make it worse is I seem to be one of those people everyone else remembers. I think having a girl's name probably helps.

Mary - I don't think if someone cameup to you and said "you are the bearded one..." you'd be very happy...

Eryl - I'm so glad I don't look like a Lucy :)

Tom - it's worse when it's your boss...

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