Friday, November 12, 2010


When I forget people's names they somehow know. Maybe it's because I have a rubbish poker face. Perhaps it's because I am, usually, good at names and so my not addressing someone by their name will seem out of character. I don't know.

If I can stand unobserved outside a crowded room of acquaintances or parishioners I can usually recall the names within a few minutes. If I can rehearse in my mind before an event the people I am likely to meet I can load my short-term memory with the names from the past (vicars do end up knowing an extraordinary amount of names) hiding in the crevices of the long-term memory. That woman coming up the drive? Ah yes, Mrs Mustard.

It is, of course, all a gimmick. If you remember the name of someone you met once, two years ago they will be impressed. So I write names down and review them from time to time.

Someone I know well is brilliant with people and hopeless at names. Let's call him Bill. Because he doesn't use people's names nobody spots that he doesn't know them. Bill is a people person because he is sincere not because he has a good memory.

I recall an axiom from the don't-tell-people-this-is-an-axiom book I haven't written. 'Sincerity is the greatest help in pastoral ministry; if you can fake that you've got it made.'

Yes indeed folks, and with a warning that infinitives will be badly damaged in the next bit, the best way to care for people, is to actually care. If you can't manage that then to apparently care will be indistinguishable.

It seems that recalling names is less important than liking people. Ah well. To the back of class I go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Am I right or wrong to wonder if the last sentence is implying that you don't 'like people'.Why the back of the class?
However I fundamentaly disagree that apparently caring is indistinguishable from actually caring - I think your non-verbal communication may give you away. Intergrity in the way we behave is surely important.

But I'll sign this 'anonymous' so you don't need to remember me!