MemoryMay 2nd, 2008 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
The name bounced around inside the brain. Maxine McHugh? Or was it McCue or McKew?
I don’t know any Maxines and the last McHugh I knew was at sixth form college thirty years ago.
Why would a name appear in the consciousness for no apparent reason?
Google understands the vagaries of spelling, particularly the spelling of names that have been anglicized from Gaelic; perhaps it is just has a good understanding of the phonetic possibilities of names.
Googling “Maxine McHugh” brought “Maxine McKew”as the first link. McKew is an Australian Labour MP who gained her seat from John Howard, who had been Prime Minister until the 2007 election. It was a shock result for a Prime Minister to lose his own seat.
Maxine McKew must have been the brain’s response to hearing the news of the British Labour Party’s defeat in their local elections. McKew’s party, led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd enjoyed very different fortunes from its British counterpart, but the name came to mind without any references or footnotes, just two isolated words.
There is a defragment function on most computer drives, a chance for the computer to put all the bits of information back into the right place, to put things that have bounced off to some other corner back with their rightful companions. Should some neurosurgeon invent some drug or procedure that could defragment the human brain, it would have astonishing results.
I once heard a psychologist suggest at a seminar that there is a possibility that everything we have ever heard or read is stored away in the recesses of the brain and the problem is one of retrieval. It would explain why sudden odd things suddenly emerge from nowhere. Anxious for clarification, I pursued his suggestion, “Every Saturday at five o’clock, I listened to Sports Report on the BBC. Do you mean that West Ham’s results for October 1974 are possibly in the depths of my brain?”
“Possibly”, he smiled, tolerantly.
What a thought, that there is an overwhelming mass of material inside the brain, if we could defragment it.
“Where is McKew MP?” I couldn’t remember. Google answers “Bennelong”.
Now the task will be to put the fragments together when “Bennelong” springs from the mind for no apparent reason.