Being a middle aged woman is no picnic sometimes. I find myself watching anxiously for signs that I am changing from the Fertile Mother of All to the Aged Crone. My children reliably inform me that I may not actually be all that aged but I’ve always been good at a bit of Crone-like behaviour. You know, the wisdom of ages that tells them just before they do something that it hasn’t worked before and probably won’t work now, but they may as well give it a go because it’s good to learn from your own mistakes, except about things like arsenic and other poisons, where I’d definitely trust the advice of others to just say no.
I do prefer to think of myself as ageing gracefully into Wise Woman mode, and on so many days I find I do feel more chilled, more aware of the world in both its good and bad aspects, and more capable of walking away from people who really wind me up rather than engage them in futile argument over one thing or another.
But occasionally I find myself stopping mid sentence, unable to think of the word that a split second before was on the tip of my tongue. I can picture the thing in my head, hell, I could draw it for you so that you’d know what I mean, but the actual naming of it??? Well, that’s left the building of my brain and leaves me looking at whomever has the misfortune to stand in front of me asking either “Who???” or “What???” in bewildered tones. My husband gets very agitated at me for this. “Just spit it out!” he usually commands, while I look at him and think…. if I could just spit it out, don’t you think I would?
Now, this moment of panic isn’t too bad when you’re talking to someone about an inanimate object, but when it happens just as you go to introduce someone to a friend or colleague and you have that terrible feeling that you don’t know their name it can be really embarrassing. I’m bad at names anyway. Adult names, that is.
As a supply teacher I would learn a class-full of names everyday, because there is great power in a name. But adults? I have never been great. I blame it partly on being slightly deaf, so that I don’t hear the name properly and partly on the fact that when I first meet you I will probably be really keen to learn all about you, and the name gets lost in the mists of time.
Today’s word is tartle. It’s actually a word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember. It’s Scottish, which I like, because I can imagine two kilted and bearded highlanders meeting a third and both getting that momentary panic thinking “Have I got his name right? Do I know this guy?” and then walking away thinking “That was a close tartle there.”
It’s easy to avoid having a tartle, you just have to remember everybody’s name. Or do like I do and be totally upfront about it, “Listen, I’m really bad at remembering names. Please don’t be offended if I ask every time we meet, will you?” I do have friends I’ve known for ages and still can’t tell you their surname. If I ever need it I’ll ask how to spell it. That works fine for less plain names, but I did get a funny look off someone called Smith when I asked her to spell out the surname. Hey ho. I was much younger then, otherwise it would just have to go down as one of my ‘senior moments’.
I am, of course, wishing you a tartle-free weekend, full of happy meetings and moments of hygge. But if you do get a tartle, please tell me about it below. I could do with at least one piece of evidence to show the husband and say see, look. It’s not just me.
if you’d like to read more about hygge, then my first two books are available now: 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version and so is How to Hygge Your Summer, again in Paperback and Kindle form, from Amazon. If you purchase through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy, and if you’ve already read it and enjoyed it, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I have a Goodreads Author’s Page!
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