I have been called many things in my time. 

At school, where the tradition was to call people by their surnames (I don’t think people had first names back in the 1950s, Christian names maybe, but first names?), I was known as Honey Bee, partly because of the obvious connection between honey and bees but mostly because Honey P sounded like Honey B.  My parents might as well have called me Brian and had done with it.

Then, in the army during National Service, I was called Hun, presumably because, at the time, fighting the Germans in World War 2 hadn’t been that long ago. As point of interest, my dictionary says Hun was an offensive/informal noun for a German in World War 1.  Never mind, habits die hard.

Then, at university studying psychology, I became known as Phoney.  This was because someone spotted that my name, when written with no full stop and an inadequate gap between the P and the H, spelt Phoney.  Years later, when I got my doctorate, I inevitably became Dr Phoney.  I adopted a policy of openly admitting this by with a self-deprecating joke about the absurdity of being a Chartered Psychologist called Dr Phoney.  Audiences invariably giggled but looked slightly anxious.

And now, I’m Dr Peter Honey (that’s better!), Has-Been (hmm, not so good). The only good thing about being a has-been is that you have to have been a been first.  One of the inevitable consequences of being a has-been is that people send you emails asking about things that happened a long time ago, before you became a has-been.  This week is typical.  A man in New Zealand contacted me about a book I wrote back in 1969 (Developing Interactive Skills, co-authored with Neil Rackham).  I congratulated him on finding the only other copy of the book presumably still in existence (I have one put aside for my grandchildren).  Another person emailed to ask a question about three articles I wrote  about the Repertory Grid technique in 1979.  I gave him the wrong answer because I couldn’t remember what I’d said in 1979!  Never mind, commendably, he tracked down a copy of the article and put me right. Then, to round off a typical ‘has-been’ week, someone wanted the correct reference for an article I wrote in 1996 (a mere 16 years ago!).

So, you see, all you have to do to cheer me up is ask me about something I wrote a long time ago. 

Anyway, this piece has been inspired by a recent article in the The Times about Wearies.  Apparently, I’m one of a growing number of people who are labelled thus.  Wearies, the article explains, are ‘Working, Entrepreneurial and Active Retirees’.

On balance, I think it might be better to stick to Dr Peter Honey, HB (has-been).

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