I am useless with names.
My ex-mother-in-law who very sadly, passed away last year, understood my predicament all too well. Apart from having her own issue remembering the names of her six children, she always used to delight in telling me the story of her old school friend, who not only had an abundance of brothers, but also oodles of dogs. According to Grandma, her friend’s mother would frequently recite all of her son’s names, closely followed by all of her dog’s names before she finally addressed her one and only daughter.
I am blessed with two daughters and two sons. Throughout the years I have frequently misnamed them. And our dog too, of course. I have always been in awe of how, during a telling off, they managed to keep a straight face, when I sometimes yelled, “You, whatever your name is…”
You can imagine my secret joy then too, when our son, who we had originally believed to be our daughter, changed, very thoughtfully in my opinion, his name from Lori to Lawrence, AKA Lawrie for short.
Currently I still have no grandchildren to burden with false names. But that does not mean that I do not grow additionally confused. I have technology.
A couple of years ago, my son, Aden, got a phone he could talk to, not just on. I’d hear him shouting, “Hey Google…” And then asking the phone a question. “What’s the weather going to be like today?” For example.
That same summer, Akasha and I , decided to do a fantastic trip. Travelling by train, first out of Germany, then across France, we hopped on the Eurostar and through the tunnel and then to several spots in the UK, all the way up to Scotland, back down again, with a bit of a detour through Belgium and the Netherlands. Staying with various friends along the way. It was a truly magnificent two weeks which we still often talk about very fondly.
But two summers on, I am still left with a tiny problem.
Two households had a new playmate in their homes. Alexa. They’d whoop, “Alexa! Play [insert name of song].” And she would play that exact song. Well, mostly. Or they’d holler, “Alexa! Turn the volume down!” And she’d oblige. Or they’d ask her questions on all kinds of topics and she’d tell them the actual answers. I was well impressed and somehow Alexa snuggled herself into a little corner of my brain.
We returned from our travels and life continued as normal. I called the dog Akasha and Lawrie and Aden and Joni, before I remembered that her name is Lexi. The dog looked confused and didn’t really know how to respond.
We recounted our journey to anyone who would be prepared to listen.
Then, one day, my mobile gave up the ghost. And my husband suggested, that for the first time in my life, I might like an iPhone? We found an old model which had been on display in a store and decided that that would be my new phone.
My phone arrived a few days later and she had a special gadget. Siri.
She works like this: you call out, “Hey Siri!” she wakes up and then you can ask her a question. Or give her a task. She’s especially useful when you need to be hands free and say, you want to call someone, or you have your hands deep in dough and you forgot the remainder of the recipe.
Problem is, I find myself bellowing “Hey Google!” Then when that doesn’t work, I reselect and screech, “Hey Alexa!”
It has even been known, in our household, for me to complain to my husband, “That iPhone is rubbish. She never answers me.”
The poor, slightly disturbed man, looks back at me, somewhat incredulously.