Wednesday, 25 November 2009

What's in a name?

It’s curious how mental blocks work, isn’t it? I have a colleague called ‘Jon Astbury’. We work together, we get on fine, we talk most days, sometimes several times a day. But he recently he broke some bad news to me. Not that I immediately recognised it as bad news.

‘Have you heard about the new project manager we’ve appointed?’

‘No,’ I said, ‘though I’m glad we’ve made the appointment. We need a few more.’

‘His name is John Astley.’

It took a moment for the significance to sink in.

‘People will constantly be getting us confused,’ Jon added, to make sure I’d grasped the point.

That was it. Complete mental block. The new John started work but there was no way I could remember his surname. All I knew was that it wasn’t ‘Astbury’ but it wasn’t a lot different. Apsley? Asbury? Aspley? No way I could work it out.

The worst of it? I spend a lot of time working with him too. We’ve frequently gone out to see customers together. I have to introduce him as ‘John, why don’t you introduce yourself?’

I finally had to come clean and tell him. He gave me an easy way to master the problem.

‘Just think of the eighties singer Rick Astley,’ he told me.


I didn’t dare admit I’d never heard of Rick Astley. I just smiled and thought to myself ‘right – so now I’m going to learn to remember a name I’ve got a mental block about by thinking of a singer I’ve never heard of.’

But here’s a funny thing. Ever since I heard about Rick Astley, I’ve had no trouble remembering John’s surname. Odd thing, the mind.

Anyway, now I have to move on to the next conundrum. I’ve worked well over the last few years with my colleague Paul Cooper. Today we have a new staff member who sits at a desk not ten feet away. His name? Paul Cooper.

Anyone know any singers whose names could help me tell them apart?

2 comments:

Mark Reynolds said...

Alice Cooper, obviously.

David Beeson said...

Excellent suggestion. Now I just have to work which of the Pauls looks most like her/him.