Kate Beckinsale recently admitted that she doesn’t really know how to pronounce Chloe Sevigny’s surname, which is awkward to say the least since she’s known her for 18 years and now feels it’s too late to ask. Welcome to a lifetime of fudging the facts. It’s obviously a given that most of us will forget within nano seconds the name of the person we have just been introduced to. You have an acceptable window of opportunity to get away with asking them to remind you by making out that you are stupid or have a brain disease and can’t retain information. But it’s a small window. And what if it’s facts about friends or family? I’m not sure what my brother’s job is, for example, but he’s been doing it for ages and it would be ludicrous for me to ask. Equally, my father asked me the other day to tell him more about ‘the catalogue I was writing for’. I have never written for a catalogue in my life. He was a bit surprised to hear this.
So what is the way around this nightmare? You want to protect their feelings, therefore cunning tactics need to be employed. For example – to the brother with the mystery job: ‘What is the best thing about your job?’ ‘How long have you been there again?’ Try to piece together a picture of the facts, like Sherlock Holmes and his Mind Palace. To the friend with the unpronounceable name: ‘How do most people pronounce your surname? Do you correct them when they get it wrong?’ And if you see someone is floundering with facts about you, be kind. Say, ‘I am a writer but I’ve never written for a catalogue’ before you’ve been asked – and put them out of their misery.