Home » General Musings » Whatsyername…?


Once upon a time I had a brain, actually to be more precise I had a memory – in fact, I had quite a good memory.  I was rather proud of my memory – my family used to say it was elephantine.  Not now, more goldfish than elephant. Actually, I’m struggling to remember what I was going to write this blog post about…

That’s right – memory.  Throughout my thirties, I airily dismissed my inability to retain the most basic of facts and information as “nappy brain”.  As I approach 40 (next week), this no longer seems a viable excuse – I no longer have any child in nappies, nor have I changed a nappy for the best part of 18 months.  Anyway, I never really bought into that “nappy brain” thing – I’d like to think it was just nature’s way of making those early years of 3 children under 5 marginally more bearable with a sort of brain fog – rather like one of those soft-focus photographs, slightly blurry round the edges – “nappy brain” is nature’s survival mechanism.

image of brain broken up into separate lobes

image of brain broken up into separate lobes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what’s happening now?  My stomach lurches when one of my children suggests playing pelmanism.  This was my favourite game as a child – I found it so easy, could remember exactly where everything was.  Not now.  Now, I have to face the ritual humiliation of trying my best but still being thrashed by a three year old.  As for that game with objects on a tray which you have a minute to remember before they are removed and you have to recall them – well, I struggle to remember the tray.

Names.  I have come to dread introductions.  As hard as I think I am concentrating, immediately I am introduced to someone, their name has passed through the increasingly empty space between my ears and gone again.  How difficult can it be to remember someone’s name?  My greatest fear is then having to introduce “whathisname” to someone else and I find myself frantically going through the alphabet (in my head), hoping that the letter will spark of a memory of a name – A – Archie, Andrew…no…B – Ben, Brian…no… C…and so on.  Tell me I’m not the only person who does this?  In fact, I no longer count sheep when I go to bed – I am a raging insomniac – I just go through the alphabet trying to remember people’s names! Is this an age thing?  People say it is because I have so much else to remember – bla, bla, bla.  I don’t buy that – I’m sure I had far more to remember when I was younger and at university or whatever. Those who have read previous blogs I have posted might be tempted to say perhaps it is “mother’s little helper” – the glass of wine that smoothes out the edges at the end of the day. I don’t buy that either.

Whatever it is, I don’t think I am alone.  As long as I can remember my own name and those of my husband and children, I am not going to worry…although I have noticed an increasing tendency to refer to my children by all three children’s names – something my father always used to do and which I found intensely irritating.  I get it now. So if you are introduced to me, don’t be offended if I don’t introduce you to anyone else – I can’t remember your name and it’s nothing personal!

3 thoughts on “Whatsyername…?

  1. I can totally relate about 1.) the soft-focus time when children are small and 2.) not being able to remember peoples’ names.

    Truthfully, though, I’ve never been tremendously good at names… it isn’t a getting-older thing. I have to tell myself, “You are going to see this person again… remember her name.” If someone introduces a random stranger off the street, I give myself permission to promptly forget the name. Problem: I often see that stranger again… and I (unsurprisingly) draw a complete blank.

    • You’re right about actually having to tell yourself to remember something – I’m sure I never used to do that though! At least when you see the stranger again, you remember you have met them, even if you don’t remember their name…focus on the positive!!

  2. Ditto! I used to have a great memory for people and names and now it goes in one ear and out the other. I have forgotten the person’s name within a minute of being introduced! Not great in my line of work either! Sorry…and your name is…?!

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