No, I don’t want to live forever (frankly, it seems an even more ghastly prospect than the other option) and nor am I about to start dancing and singing on and around the stationary traffic of New York city (an allusion there for the older reader). Fame, like significant wealth, has always struck me as something to avoid and, given the events of 2016, does not seem conducive to obtaining value-for-money from my pension contributions. I fully intend to survive long enough to be a burden on whatever state remains on these isles by that point (if any): a point at which demographers promise that we (the then old) will be a far from silent majority!
Despite my attempts to eschew fame, I do seem to have acquired a degree of notoriety in a limited number of spheres. It would seem, to my eternal surprise, that I am somewhat memorable and people who have met me tend to recall having done so. This recall may, perhaps, have been enhanced by the extensive therapy oft occasioned by meeting the author – but even accounting for this, and despite my fairly mundane appearance and mind, I do appear to stick if not in the craw then in the memory. One of life’s great mysteries…
I do have the gift of remembering people. Sadly, its utility is weakened by my ability to remember complete strangers and my inability to provide a name or context for the people I actually do know. Still, unwanted though my gift may be, it is far too late to send it back or try and exchange it.
Going, as I do, to a fair number of musical gigs in Southampton and given my legroom based preference for the front row, I have on several occasions been recognised and greeted by members of the band without having the slightest clue who they were. On this front, I think I may be improving and my “context engine” is a becoming little faster at offering hints as to my interlocutor.
As both a regular visitor to Belfast and a creature of habit (suprisingly few of them filthy), I am now recognised by most of the staff at the Premier Inn in Alfred Street (which I heartily recommend) and several at O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar at Belfast City Airport. This does lead to the slightly odd situation where I’m asked where I’ve been, why I wasn’t around last Thursday and the like. I like to imagine I am an occasional guest star in the continuing drama or sitcom of other people’s lives (in my case, more likely the latter).
However, this morning I feel I reached some sort of peak. Returning home from a session hanging upside down, I slewed my bicycle in front of a DHL van parked in front of my flat. The van was static at the time, though about to move off – but the driver recognised me and called out that he had a package for me (rather than grinding me ‘neath his wheels). This was very pleasing (and not just for avoiding my untimely demise) as I was half-expecting a delivery via DHL, but also somewhat of a shock as the driver has only seen me once before for barely 60 seconds about a fortnight ago. Either the man has a prodigious facility to remember faces – in which case, I fear he is wasted driving a delivery van – or I have become far too memorable.
As a result, I have a resolution to work on for the forthcoming New Year (other countries and religions may have their own programme): I must cultivate anonymity. By 2018, if things go according to plan, I should be instantly forgettable…