Now I’m not trying to say that I’m Mr Unforgettable; that I’m one of those people who, when met once, emblazons himself onto everybody’s consciousness for all perpetuity with a light that never goes out. But I like to think I impinge just a little bit on those around me. That I leave a slight impression on the memory. Even if it is only to recognize my face as opposed to my name.
Years ago I did an evening class at the local college – French beginner’s level. It only lasted a year but was pretty intensive and a good deal of fun. Our tutor was a strange Francophile whose name I forget (yes, I know, people in glass houses and all that) and who rode a bicycle around town like a Victorian lady wrestling with the idea that she ought to be riding side saddle for the sake of propriety.
She still rides that same bicycle in the same manner and I still see her every few weeks as she pushes those pedals round and round like a Gerry Anderson puppet attempting to walk realistically.
We’ve always caught each other’s eyes and smiled and nodded at each other in mutual acknowledgement.
You taught me French, I think to myself.
And I imagine that in her head she’s thinking, I taught that young ruffian French.
Well, on Monday she drew up on her bike at a junction and as I was close enough to speak I thought I’d say hello – or even bon jour – and swap pleasantries.
All seemed to go well at first.
“Are you still at the college?” she asked.
“Why, yes,” I replied, “I’m just completing a course in Level 1 Sign Language as it happens.”
She looked a bit askance. Like what I’d said wasn’t quite right.
“Are you still teaching as well, then?” She asked.
Eh? Teaching? “Er. No.” I replied. “You taught me French?” I said rather plaintively.
A look of recognition passed over her face. Not recognition of me; recognition that she’d made a mistake. “Oh sorry.” She apologized. “I thought you were David the woodwork teacher.”
“No.” I said rather stiffly. “You taught me French.” I believe I may have growled that last bit.
I could see her thinking zut alors and praying for the lights to turn to green. Things had got suddenly uncomfortable so I said a quick goodbye and stomped off up the street wishing I’d learnt a few more German swear words when I was at school.
So there you go. Not only do I not speak French well enough to stand out in her mind as a star pupil but I also look like a ‘Dave’ and look like I might be able to make myself useful with a dowelling rod.
Honestly. My ego has hit le fond du baril.
And yes. I had to Google that.