Identity

Day twenty-three on my thirty blogs in thirty days; I do blog every day but I came across a list of random words, I can’t even remember what they were for or about and thought they would be an interesting selection to write about. I don’t think about them in advance, I just come to them and try and write – sometimes that is easier than other times!

Identity

“Who did you say you are?” I couldn’t quite remember her name but she was asking me about mine as she looked at my pass, turning it over and peering at the small print on the back.

“Jemmy Hoosier,” I replied. Maybe her name was Sheldon, or Shelton, or maybe Shilton… Chilton? She had a badge pinned to her collar but the light was reflecting off it. She looked up at me and now the light reflected off her glasses and I felt obliged to add something. “My grandmother was called Geraldine but when she was a baby she called herself Jemmy, and I’m named after her.”

She moved slightly and now I could see her name was Sylvia Shelton. “Middle name?” I told her ‘Anne’ and she asked where that came from. What was this third degree for? I didn’t ask that of course, I said I didn’t know, I hadn’t got any relatives called Anne so maybe it was just a name my mother liked, or maybe it was some friend of hers who I never knew. “Hoosier is pretty unusual.”

Sylvia Shelton was certainly trying to rattle me, I tried not to be rattled, just patient and a little weary.

“I think originally it was Hosier, but someone in the nineteenth century, maybe my great-great-grandfather went to the United States and when he came back he had changed his name.”

“We can’t find anyone else called Hoosier in the UK.”

“My mum remarried, her name is Baker now, and my sisters are married too. I think I’m the only one,” I tried to sound helpful, but she was giving me that look again, her glasses showing the two bars of the electric light fitting reflected on the lenses now.

I waited; there was no point in saying anything or asking anything. Sylvia? The woman two desks along called to her, and Sylvia told me to wait there – what else would I do – while she spoke to her colleague. They exchanged a murmured conversation, the other woman not looking at me so I didn’t know if they were talking about me or not.

Sylvia returned, staring at me as she walked towards me.

“And what is the purpose of your visit today?” this was the first question she had asked.

“I wish to visit the library and I also have an appointment with Dr Martin – I’m hoping to do some confidential research in the library,” I added to be helpful.

“Research into what?” Dear god, was Sylva really as stupid as she seemed?”

“It’s confidential.”

“Dr Martin isn’t in his office,” she said as if she hadn’t heard my previous reply. No he was not in his office, I knew that, I knew that very well – but I didn’t say that to her, I just stood, patiently, waiting.  I moved slightly and caught site of my own reflection in the glass screen, I looked very glum.

She looked at the pass one last time, wrote something on a sheet attached to a clipboard and passed it to me to sign. I thanked her and she said nothing but pressed for the gate to open and I walked through and headed for the lift. Jemmie Anne Hoosier, I could get used to that name.

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