I recently got into conversation with someone whose name managed to send me back on a rather scary trip down Memory Lane. Scary because the last time I had had the "pleasure" of hearing the same kind of name it took me nearly 30 years to stop being scared stiff around the person who answered to it (I am still slightly nervous around them even now - I stopped being scared stiff of them after my Mum died).
There are two major differences between the two circumstances though - the most important one being I saw the name of the second human written down before I heard it (and I will explain why this is so important), the second most important being that I had come across this name as a real name prior to the conversation (even if it was mainly in the context of the name of a shop in Leicester).
As I hope you will have noticed by now I have a pretty vivid imagination. This can make life extremely interesting sometimes. The times when it gets extremely interesting are when I hear or read a sentence which can be read two ways - either because of the way it is written even if I know it is in one language, or because I may understand one word as coming from another language, then have to reread the sentence when it makes no sense to me.
I must admit that my Mum didn't deliberately ensure I felt I had to keep a wary eye on one of her cousins in case he suddenly decided to turn into a street in front of my very eyes - but that is how my 5 year old self ended up feeling the first time I heard his name. (Or at least the first time I remember hearing his name - there is photographic evidence which suggests I met the poor man a few years before that.)
In this case the cause of my confusion was simple. My ears heard "We are going to see Lane", or "Lane is coming over". In my dictionary the word "Lane" meant "road", or "street" - nowhere my knowledge of the English language was it a man's name.
I was actually a bit disappointed and more than a bit scared when a man answering to the name of "Leen" - pronounced like the English "Lane" - turned up.
I had heard of "Transformer" type toys (the cars that can be turned into robots) by this time. I must have put the two together in my head and decided that the human in front of me was likely to turn into a street at any minute.
Had my Mum actually written the name down I would probably not have got so confused and worried because the two spellings are completely different.
In fact, you could say that my Mum unwittingly had a weapon to ensure my good behaviour (had she chosen to use it). It was a combination of a Farmhouse, two photos which I associate with it, and the aforementioned "Transformer" cousin.
You know how nowadays the British Police are getting upset because parents are telling their little children that the Officers will arrest the children and take them away if they are naughty??? For some strange reason my parents never actually had to try that trick with me. They had a much easier option had they but known it.
The Farmhouse in question belonged to an aunt and uncle of my Mum (incidentally the parents of the "Transformer" Leen). This Farmhouse no longer exists but it was one of my favourite buildings in Rotterdam. It was almost like a surreal place with rooms all over the place.
I seem to remember the two photos being somewhere in the Farmhouse - possibly in the kitchen (they were definitely in the kitchen in the next place my Mum's aunt lived in). One of the photos was reasonably harmless (as in non-scary) - it was of a man in what looked, for some strange reason, like an English Police tunic uniform - complete with hat (not helmet). The really scary photo was of a group of Police Officers - this is the one that ensured I was good as gold when I visited (I was never entirely sure they were not hiding around the place in person waiting for me to misbehave).
Yes - you've probably guessed by now - Leen was the Police Officer on the photos.
In fact, I don't know if you remember reading any blog posts about when I went to Holland for my Oma's funeral - and I thought I was going to get kicked out of Holland when a Police Officer appeared in the flat shortly after I had arrived only for the Officer to address my Mum by a name used by her Dutch relations??? That was him.
It is strange how some names really need to be written down before they start to make any sense - and stop people getting confused and scared
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