Sunday, 20 May 2012

What's in a name?

Bluetoothy and infrared have just about made redundant the odd collection of cards and phone numbers scribbled on scraps that one used to empty from the pockets after a good night out. I recently cleared out a bedside table draw in the spare room which for some reason had become a depository for such things from the 1990s. What curious days! Many were written inside the flap of matchbooks (remember them?) that catalogued exactly where I spent my drinking time in those days; too many from the French House, but an odd one from an 'International' 5* hotel bar giving me Escobar's number. I racked my brain. A Columbian hitman? Someone after a job? 'Escobar' had no surname, so didn't count. Proper introductions always include the parties enunciating their surnames clearly. If you have a surname you're Somebody. A surname such as Cecil, Deveraux, Percy or Howard allows a follow-on such as 'Northumberland Percys?' to which the wrong response establishes the interlocutor's lack of cred. 

Bibbers with aspirations to poetic or literary ambition also always state their surnames clearly. Even at the risk of earning the Peter Cook response "You're writing a book? Yes, neither am I" which could have applied to nine out of ten topers in the dear old French. As I cleared the draw I unfolded the torn half of a menu card with the scrawled name 'Llewellyn-Coleslaw' and a number. Llewellyn-Coleslaw? Was I reading correctly? Perhaps not. The writing was poor. Then I remembered. The chap with the pretty blond wife and the clock. They lived in some obscure old farm / rectory in Wales of the sort I could imagine well, with three walls made of the sort of Welsh stone that abounds in slimy green algae and the front wall rendered in cracked Portland cement mortar, with leaking slates, rotting window frames and old bits of agricultural machinery under nettle-clumps. He'd come to London to sell the last thing he had of value, a clock that he believed to be worth £32,000. I remember the figure exactly - he repeated it often. Unfortunately the dealers disagreed, valuing it at less than a tenth of this figure, it having been abused as an umbrella cupboard and broom closet for many years. The missing part came back to me. The wife had been sent to a cordon-bleu cookery school by her parents to prepare for the county-set marriage market (do they still do that?) but the only thing she'd come away with was a decent recipe for Coleslaw, which she promised to give me if I called. I didn't call of course - not wanting the inevitable invitation down for the weekend, then the inevitable pleading to buy the clock. 

You just don't get that from bluetoothing mobile numbers.

1 comment:

lilith said...

I was at school with the Llewellyn Coleslaws..