Who's Who?

I'm losing my mind. Now, that Dave is 'crazy' is of course not news to the people who work around me here at Mokuhankan. They've seen me as somebody 'different' all the way along, so it's not uncommon for them to think (to themselves, usually) "Oh, there goes Dave again; what kind of nutty idea has he come up with this time ..."

But an experience I had the other day wasn't demonstrating that kind of craziness from me; it was the real 'losing your mind' behaviour. And by the end of the day, I came to feel that I had really been treated unfairly - although by whom, I of course couldn't say.

Around noon I had gone outside the shop to do some kind of errand, and noticed a TV crew working at the street corner. This is - without exaggeration - almost a daily event here on Roku-dori, so I barely gave them a second glance, but then happened to notice the person in front of the camera. It was Peter Barakan, with whom I have worked on TV programs on a couple of occasions in the past. I haven't seen him in a couple of years, so I thought it would be polite to stop by and say hello.

Of course I waited on one side until they had finished shooting their segment. Peter had gestured down the street, and spoken something to the camera, no doubt explaining something about the history of our famous district. After they finished, and the camera was turned off, I came closer, and as I did, I recognized one of the production team, who in turn also seemed to recognize me. I nodded to her, and then turned to Peter, extending my hand.

"Peter, nice to see you again!" And I noticed in his eyes that feeling that all of us know; "Who is this? I know I've seen the face, but I can't place the name ..."

I myself hate to be in that situation, so I helped him out immediately - "Woodblock printmaker David Bull; we made an NHK 'Japanology' program together a couple of years ago ..."

"Oh yes! How are you doing? ..."

And we had a short conversation; me letting him know about our new shop just down the street, and he apologizing that he was working, and couldn't spend much time. I of course let him go right away, and moved on with my own errand.

We now skip ahead a couple of hours; I am back in the shop, and up the stairs comes a visitor. He steps into the shop and an instant later I am in the same situation as Peter shortly before. I know the face. I know who this is. But there is no way that I can pull the name from my internal database. And the visitor - who sees me struggling - doesn't help me out. He just grins while I wrestle with my memory, and it is only when I give up and confess defeat that he tells me who he is.

Should I have known him? Well, he was a backer of our Kickstarter campaign, he has bought many of our prints, and on top of this, he made a visit to my Ome home just about a year ago, to have one of the first Print Parties that we organized for that campaign.

Utter failure on my part. But he was a good sport about it and didn't rub it in. He knows just how chaotic my life is at present, and how many new faces cross my field of view on any given day.

But then, while he and I were talking, there came more footsteps on the stairs, and another visitor came into the shop. And again, I felt exactly that same panic. I know this man. Absolutely, I know this man!

Yet again, I couldn't come up with the name. And again, it was not only a man I have met, he was a fellow woodblock printmaker! And he also had made a visit to my Ome workshop! Two in a row, and both of them standing there in front of me, witness to my incompetence.

Sometimes there is just no justice. I myself had been such a 'good boy' earlier in the day, assisting Peter when he was in that position; surely the gods who watch over such things should have helped me out!


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