“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