I sometimes wonder at my brain's capacity for storing information of patently little use. Yes, it's a talent that occasionally serves me well in pub quizzes and Trivial Pursuit, but in the main it's a total waste of time. I can't help but think that all that space in my head could be better used.
Here's an example: I went to they gym this evening to go for a swim. I parked my car and wandered into reception. I was planning to rent a towel, so instead of pushing straight on down to the changing rooms, I walked over to the reception desk. Just in front of me was a short-ish, chubby-ish guy. I didn't catch what he said, but I did hear the receptionist asking what his name was. He gave it, and the receptionist let him through the gates and into the main body of the gym. It was a slightly unusual name.
So far so unremarkable.
The thing is though, that hearing his name had made me stop dead in my tracks. The reason? I remembered him. I'd never met him before in my life, but I knew him.
Rewind to 1995. I am studying for a Masters degree in Medieval Studies and am living in a postgraduate hall on the edge of the main campus. As you might expect, the postgrads living in the hall were an interesting mix of nationalities... German, Portuguese, Rwandan, Canadian, Greek... all sorts. As chance would have it though, my next door neighbour was from Bolton studying archeology.
Are you paying attention at the back?
Will, my next door neighbour, had completed his undergraduate degree at Birmingham University, so when he saw that they were featured on the new series of University Challenge and that one of his mates was the team captain, he made sure we all made it to the TV room in time to watch it.
His mate was a bit of a character. He had long-ish, curly hair and although I can't remember if his team won or lost, I do remember that he had managed to get under Jeremy Paxman's skin... for all sorts of reasons, I'm sure, but the one I remember most clearly is that he stopped Paxman mid-question to wonder whether, in fact, he should be asking a starter for 10.
"This is a starter for 10!" brayed Paxman.
I don't know why that's been stuck in my head for the last 12 years, but it has.
The bloke who wound up Jeremy Paxman? It was the same bloke who was in front of me in the gym this evening. A bit older, a bit balder and a little fatter perhaps, but very much the same person. Besides, how many other people have such a distinctive name. I nearly tapped him on the shoulder to remark upon this. I wondered if it would make his day if I mentioned something that happened to him back in the day. Perhaps it would have done, but I hesitated and the moment passed.
Still, if he or any of his friends happen to do a spot of ego-surfing on Google at any point in the near future...... Aeneas Rotsos, I remember your TV appearance very clearly and I salute you!
Mind you, as he appears to work for the BBC, perhaps this is no big deal for him. Perhaps Paxman put in a word for him after he made such an impression? Who knows, eh? What I do know is that I'm sure that if didn't use my grey matter to store nuggets of information like this, then I might perhaps have been able to put my mind to something really difficult.
Cryptic crosswords, perhaps. It would have been really nice to be good at them......
Podcast: The West Wing Weekly
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