Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Every year I go to various Sunday Times Christmas parties and every year there are more people I have to avoid. This is not because they dislike me or I them, it is because I can't remember their names. I blame the sheer weight of time - not that my memory is going (sometimes I wish it would), rather the number of people I have met has increased to the point where I can only attach names to a small proportion in any given crowd. Perhaps it is also because I have an under-developed irrelevance filter. In party conversations, I tend to find myself fixated on ties, agonised expressions, architectural details, stony silences, dentistry, canapes, shoes, carpets - anything, in fact, but words and names. (This could, of course, mean that I have an exceptionally well-developed irrelevance filter.) But the upside of the weight of time is that there seems to come a moment when people like/tolerate/accept you more than they once did. This happens in your fifties. Perhaps it is because one is no longer seen as any kind of threat - or because nobody can remember one's name and they're just being desperately polite. I say this to encourage Iain Dale who is fretting about being 45. Trust me, Iain, it gets much better. In fact, I now see that around the age of 25 people go into a long decline. By the age of 40, they are, to all intents and purposes, dead. Sadly, nobody has the heart to tell them and they keep doing silly things like marketing, public relations, estate agency or remembering everybody's name. Then, miraculously, at 50 they spring back to life and start doing sensible things like trying to remember obscure Bob Dylan lyrics or turning round people's ties to read the label while being talked to at parties. Or perhaps that's just me.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:20 am