Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Searching for a Word

I'm searching for a word. Nothing to concern you there but hang around; you may be interested. I know I know the word. And as I try to find it I'll give you clues. You might get it before me. This is no stunt. I'm searching as I type.

I can see the word. It is on the spine of three volumes of the many accountancy books on the shelves behind Nick's right shoulder - books which I looked at from time to time during an excellent family meal last Saturday. Nick's my sister's partner. My brother-in-common-law if you like. Except I can't see the word. I can visualise the black book spines and the gold lettering but the word will not come into focus.

It is a word which describes part of Nick's work. He's a banker. Something to do with the swaps market. Not discrepancies but in my head that word lives nearby.

I've tried to remember this word on many previous occasions. I look at it, or hear it, and think, 'This time I won't forget.' Trouble is, it is so irrelevant a word to my life I never encounter it again until the next time I need it (normally when I am explaining to someone what it is that Nick actually does) and then it's gone.

I have a wordy memory. I've tried all the clever visualising tricks for remembering names but none of them work for me. But I am pretty good with names. It just takes a moment or two.

Say you're called Dan Aggerman. That may be a real person I've remembered so sorry to pick on you if you are called that, Dan. I will look at you and a name will pop into my head. Say, John Sackerman. I'll feel slightly strange about that because it will sound right but I'll know it won't be right. It won't be a match. Then, either by a process of going through other Christian names, or by trying not to remember too hard, or just playing with the sounds a bit, I'll get it. Ron Aggerman, Dick Ackerman, no Dan, yes, yes, yes Dan, Dan Ackerman, Ackman, Achman, Aggerman, Yes! Hi Dan, how are you?

If I get a moment to survey a room before I engage in conversation I can normally kick-start this process. If someone I know well comes up to me in a place where I don't normally meet them then I have to bluff for a bit. I hate it when people, at this stage, tell me 'You don't know who I am do you?' Because I am still processing. I know some things about who you are but your name isn't one of them yet. Is it that I know a lot of people? Possibly.

Ubiquities? No that's wrong too. The word I want concerns things you trade. Options of a sort.

There used to be a comic cartoon in the Beezer called the Numbskulls. These were little humans who lived inside the head and body of an adult human. I find this anthropomorphism useful. My mind has a small guy in a grey lab coat who does the filing. At the moment he is looking for a word in the rarely used financial management section and is blowing dust off words such as accountancy, budgeting and solvent. It's not there.

The fact that I mentioned discrepancy and ubiquity tells me that the word I want is filed, almost certainly, in the posh-words-I-use-when-showing-off section. Probably how I stumbled across anthropomorphism.

It's not happening so I'm going to cheat. Google "swaps and options."

Language is fascinating. My Dad had a stroke. He lost some comedy timing but very little language skill. The University of Birmingham did a bit of research, using him to help establish exactly what part of our brains control which bits of language. I can't have had a stroke because I've always been like this.

Google gives me a page of sites about trading. Almost every one includes my word. There it is. Derivatives. Now where shall I keep it? Perhaps in the cookery section. At least I'll bump into it more regularly and it describes the partial-originality of my kitchen work well.

Tonight's meal will be so derivative. Thank you for helping me get through this.

3 comments:

Cosmo said...

Thank you for allowing us to take a meander through your mind. Der-riviting!

daniel said...

hardly an original post...

Emma said...

I used to be convinced that my mind was one large cog that just turned slowly round, when a word reached the front of my mind I would be able to use it, but if I wasn't quick enough it would have moved back round and I'd have to wait for it to get to the front again before I'd remember it.
It bothers me when people say that they're having a senior moment when they can't remember words for simple objects. I'm 24 and I've always been like this. That thing over there... it's a ... a ... a ...
A wheelbarrow?!
A wheelbarrow! I'd have got there eventually!