There I was, filling out a form onscreen. I was required to input my driving licence number, my National Insurance number and my passport number, as well as a few others. I duly did as I was asked, then paused and thought.
You see, I know I can be a sort of anally retentive twat at times, just ask my kids, C or anyone who's spent time with me. And I'm not talking about anal retention of the sort that makes people highly successful, either commercially or academically. Ask me about Einstein's theory of evolution, Darwin's theory of relativity or the values of rests in musical notation and I'm about as much use as a riot policeman in Tottenham or Croydon a couple of weeks ago.
But, ask me what the registration of my parents' VW Variant in the early, perhaps mid 1970s was, or that of the Audi 100 (a GL model no less) they bought after that, and I sound like a mastermind competitor whose specialist subject is "useless number related things to do with RD's life and people around him".
Yes, the National Insurance, the driving licence and the passport numbers that were needed on that form were nesting firmly in my subconscious waiting to be used. Okay, I hear you say, a passport number is one that many of us have to write down quite often so it's natural. Yes, you have a point, but the registration of my parents' VW in the 1970s? That's different, though it wasn't needed on this particular form. In fact it's only ever been needed in conversations with my family.
It would appear that some numbers, those that I've had to repeat a few times, just sink in and sit there. It's not all of them and I just can't see the logic behind which numbers sit there and which get forgotten. There are phone numbers that are ingrained more firmly than the Sigiriya frescoes in my head. The office phone number of my grandmother who died over twenty years ago takes up valuable mind space even though I have no use for it.
The phone number of that same grandmother for her apartment before her last one, so from when I was about five to ten years old, still comes as easily out of my mouth as the VAT registration number for my company.
Of course the advent of telephone short codes, one touch dialling and memories in mobile phones has changed things dramatically, perhaps not so dramatically though, as I find myself easily recalling which short codes apply to which people on my work phone system. Normal people look at the phone list on their wall. Not me, I'm burdened with knowing that autodial 15 at work is a company that does some collections for us.
Or you could test me on my own car history. Every single registration of every fucking bloody car I've owned or used as a company vehicle sits in my memory banks as vividly as my bank account PIN number. It's actually something not that useless, all petrol heads can do similar.
It's a bit weird though. Can I recall the conversation I had with someone yesterday about something deep and important? Probably not.
Why is this? Do you do this too?
And, by the way, my parents' VW was JLM 929K, the Audi 100 (GL no less) was RKP 362M and my grandmother's office number was 828 2189, just in case you thought I was bluffing.