‘What are you reading at the moment?’ asked Jackie.
It was a simple enough question. The answer was more complicated. I’ve got several on the go. The one for the bookshop book club, the one for the road readers’ group, and a history of Scotland that I thought I’d read in anticipation of our holiday next month. Not to mention any number of half read books scattered around the house to dip into when the mood strikes.
It triggered a moment of panic as I tried to give an appropriate and not too rambling response regarding my erratic, and possibly attention deficient, reading habits.
Other, seemingly trivial, questions can provoke a similar reaction in me. The classic two, so beloved by Cilla on Blind Date: What’s your name and where do you come from?
Easy, if you are well rooted in a childhood town, with a clearly defined place of origin. More complicated for those uprooted at an early age leaving their heart on the far side of the Pennines. And then, in adulthood, finding that there is no family settlement to which to return.
As to my name, my label, my designation. I can tell you the name to which I answer on a daily basis – but you won’t find it on my birth certificate or passport. If you want to write me a cheque or buy me an airline ticket, you’ll need to use my proper name. It came as something of a surprise to me too. The day I started school.
The girl who didn’t answer to her name is still looking for easy answers to the simple questions.