In preparation for my final year at university I listened to a podcast from Derren Brown (Memory; Tricks of the Mind) to try and improve my fairly average memory. One of the tricks he teaches is for remembering the names of people you meet which I think is such a valuable skill. The technique involved taking the persons name, visualizing someone famous or someone you know with the same name, and then sort of smushing the two people together in your mind’s eye (or at least that was what I took from it).
Basically I’m trying to explain how I found myself, ten minutes into my first English tutorial, desperately trying to imagine the girl next to me as Kim Jong-Un. The techniques pretty fun and effective so long as you don’t use the wrong part of the name and start calling girls, ‘Jong’ or even worse, ‘Un’.
So there I was laughing to myself as I pictured the sweet, blond, Liverpudlian girl next to me as a chubby Korean dictator when I was interrupted by some dreaded words from the tutor.
“How about we read a paragraph each?” He said with a jaunty smile, he knew we were too old for this sort of thing but he didn’t care, it was all in the name of fun and getting to know each other. Across from me Rachael from Friends and Katy Perry looked at each other with smiles that said, ‘this is just like school, I bloody loved school.’
Well I didn’t Katy. And it was pretty much primarily because of this exercise.
“Who wants to start?” the tutor said and Hannah Montana put her hand up and began. I fell into the routine remembered so vividly from all those years ago at school (maybe I don’t need Derren Brown at all). I counted the people ahead of me in the circle, then the paragraphs on the page. Then I read through the one I would be made to read out loud over and over in my head whilst the others took their turns. When it came to me I managed to stumble through it, feeling the eyes of the sort of strange ‘Celebrity Come Dine With Me’ looking at me pityingly till I finally, after what seemed like an age, stuttered out the final word.
Obviously, having not listened to a word that had been read, I sat in silence for the rest of the class, amusing myself only when Hannah Montana started talking about feminist themes in the text. Little did she know that one day she would be twerking in her knickers at some global music awards, sticking her tongue out so far that she ended up looks like a unravelled gyrating Hubba Bubba bubblegum roll.
Note to self: Stop learning memory techniques and learn to read.