When I go to get my hair cut in Westminster I go to the local cafe there and have 2 eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. It’s every six weeks or so, I suppose, but I know the cafe well as I used to live on the street and be a regular there. In this cafe when your order is ready the man behind the counter calls it out in a generous baritone voice and you trot up to the front to pick up your fare. Last Wednesday when I went in after my haircut there was a slight change to the procedure. This time he asked me my name and so when he called out the prepared order he prefaced it with my first name. This was perhaps to avoid confusion amongst the customers or perhaps a new marketing ploy to create a connection with the customer and so have you, feeling loved, coming back. In any case, as I left the cafe, my breakfast finished, I heard the call from behind ‘see you next time’ suffixed by my name. Now he has it, that name, and there is nothing I can do to retrieve it.
Giving my name up is not necessarily a thing I like to do. The publican in ‘The Blackbird’, the pub close to where I work four days a week, has also by some method recently got hold of my name. He does not know the name of any of my co-drinking colleagues. I don’t know his name. Why should he have my name? When he uses it, it feels to me like he has something on me, some key informaton, a tape with which to blackmail me or a set of my fingerprints on a murder weapon. My plan is to trick him into giving me his name so that I can get back at him. Why not ask him out right, you ask? Why not just say ‘And what’s your name then, seeing that you have mine?’ Of course, such a frank request would not do. I will have to learn it secretly through some cunning scheme and then, in a moment when he leasts suspects it, produce it and, as though a knife drawn out from where it had been wrapped in a pristine white magician’s handkerchief, wield it suddenly and shockingly against him.