Fame at last

Three things have happened lately that I find heartening.  Each has confirmed that I’m not as invisible as I’d assumed I might be.  Invisibility is definitely a hazard when you reach my age.  It must explain why so many young people crash into me whilst texting!

I was invited to speak to a conference at Lancaster University.  Invitations of this kind are becoming rarer simply because people assume I must be dead by now – death being the ultimate in invisibility. However, the problem with infrequent invitations is that I have to prepare!  In the old days, when I was in the swing of things and doing lots of public speaking, I’ll admit that I used to wing it.  I had a number of talks that I could deliver with effortless fluency; no need to refer to notes or use PowerPoints as a prop.  But it’s different now.  I need to do my homework, to Google some things, even to read my own stuff. 

The train journey from Euston to Lancaster takes 2.5 hours – plenty of preparation time.  I took three of my own books, one published 23 years ago, another 22 years ago and, the most recent, 15 years ago.  I hadn’t read any of them since they were published and had forgotten most of the contents.  Reading them again on the train was a revelation.  I rediscovered a couple of models I had forgotten I’d invented and, it may (will) sound conceited, but I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with everything I read.

I was chuckling happily to myself when the woman in the seat beside me said, ‘You must be fond of that author.  Three books all by the same person?’   Caught red-handed I said, ‘It’s worse than you think, I’m Peter Honey and I wrote these books.’   A woman sitting across the aisle (do trains have aisles or is that just churches?) looked up from her laptop and said, ‘You’re Peter Honey!  Why, I’ve done your learning styles questionnaire and when I was at college we had to read lots of your stuff.’ 

See what I mean about fame at last?  Perhaps I should always read my own books on train journeys and make sure that fellow passengers see the name of the author.  Better still if I did so wearing a label saying ‘I’m Peter Honey’.

But that’s not all.  Earlier this week I went to a lecture at the National Picture Gallery about the mosaics in Ravenna.  The lecture had been organised by The Arts Society and on each seat in the lecture theatre they had place a leaflet advertising The Society and extolling the virtues of joining. It features a photograph of the audience taken at some previous event and there, slap bang in the middle of the photo, is me!  So far as I can see, I’m the only man – a token man – surrounded by women.   I’m assuming a professional photographer took lots of photos of audiences (perhaps even hundreds of photos – have you ever known a professional photographer take just one?) and deliberately chose the one of ME. 

Finally, in a glossy brochure published by Garsington Opera, I have found another photograph of me.  There I am, sitting on a bench, immaculate in my DJ, reading the programme.  Once again a discerning photographer (surely not the same one?) has snapped me without my knowledge.  The only disappointment is that only my nearest and dearest know it’s me in these photos.  I should definitely wear an ‘I’m Peter Honey’ label whenever I venture out. 

Never mind, the point is I’m clearly not as invisible as I thought I might be.  

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