Admit it. Have you never fished a frozen food packet out of the bin because you‘ve forgotten the cooking instructions'.’ Or done a U-turn on a joke because you can‘t remember the punchline?
I‘m guilty of both. That‘s why I was looking forward to meeting Tony Buzan. author of Use Your Memory (BBC,£3.‘)5). His earlier books include Use Your Head and The Brain User‘s Guide. We had arranged to meet at his hotel. When the appointed time came and went I felt disappointed. Surely ‘a leading authority on the brain. memory and learning techniques‘ hadn‘t fogotten our interview? I asked for his room number. 3-15. That‘s a readily memorable number for a writer on a whistle stop publicity tour. No point testing him on it.
Just as I‘d decided this. Tony
Buzan appeared. "I‘oe-knee.
boozing‘ is the aide-memoire he
suggests for his name. I‘m to imagine 7_
him with outsize toes and knees. downing pints ofbeer. Simple when you know how. But you have to be careful. His publicity man stored up an image ofan orange to remind him ofan Arab called ‘MrJaffa‘. When they next met he greeted him with: ‘Hello. Mr Outspan!‘
‘blotchty or wrinkled -
One way to match names to faces is to focus on people‘s facial characteristics. Is skin ‘blotchy. doughy. wrinkled or furrowed"? Don‘t be misled by ‘hirsute phenomena‘ like beards and sideburns. Are ears ‘gnarled. smooth. round. triangular‘ or perhaps ‘hairy‘? This is all rather worrying. The next time anew acquaintance gazes at you in fascination. it may not be proof of your charm. but rather a sign that he or she is applying "I‘he Buzan Social Etiquette Method for Remembering Names and Faces‘.
Mr Buzan helps executives from companies such as IBM to increase their powers of recall. Even at hi-tech dinner parties you can‘t consult a computer between courses forthe namesofyour companions.
So successful was Buzan at training his own memory. that university professors accused him ofcheating. It was unthinkable that someone should know all the answers. When he told them about his special learning methods. they still considered that he had an unfair advantage.
Tony Buzan, author of Use Your Memory, tells Margaret Morrison how to associate his name with his knees and fruit with faces so your mind never goes a blank at an embarrassing moment.
Girlfriends trying to discover his innermost thoughts might feel the same way. As a deliciously eligible
single. living in ‘Bachelors (‘ottage‘.
Buzan has been keeping a secret diary in his head since 1972. The ultimate snooper-proofjournal. He‘s also learning Swedish and French for fun. How could I use his techniques to learn Japanese“? ‘Master the l()()() basic words and practise the rhythm ofthe language. Get into the manner ofbeing Japanese.‘ Immediately he changed body mode from open and friendly mid-Atlantic (he‘s British but studied for twelve years in Canada) to polite and inscrutable Japanese. He even held his teacup differently. Having seen Edward Heath struggling to speak French I saw the sense in this. There‘s no merit in
fighting the ‘feel‘ ofa language. Especially not with your shoulders. Tony Buzan folded over the relevant page corner of‘Use Your Memory". Just in case I forgot it.
And what about Jokes? Turn to page 152 of this book. Jokes should be categorized first. For instance. sexual. animal. toilet or national. Scottish stories would come under ‘national‘. along with Poles and Americans. I wonder if these classifications work post-sixth round at the pub‘.’
Joking apart. is Mr Buzan ever forgetful? ‘Oh yes. I lose things. forget things— just like everyone else. Especially when I‘m tired. drunk or distracted.‘ He was more worried by not being able to blot out some memories. ‘I used to try to
forget emotional nasties. The more I I
tried. the more I remembered. Then I realised that by remembering I would come to terms with my anguish and be able to understand other people‘s problems better.‘ Travelling with Tony Buzan hasn‘t improved the memory of his publicity person. (iareth Davies. ‘lt
‘holes in the sieve”
makes me more ashamed of my own fogetfulness. The other day I backed out of a parking space only to see my briefcase lying next to the meter.‘
Reading Use Your Memory. however. will fill a few holes in the average memory sieve. 'I‘ony Buzan‘s techniques are based on two principles first identified by the Ancient (ireeks: imagination and association. Starting with a simple shopping list. he goes on to explain how you can build ‘gigantic filing systems for the mind‘. In the final chapters there‘s even advice on ‘Remembering What You Have Forgotten‘ and ‘(‘atching Your Dreams‘.
Some of the ideas in the book are new. Some aren‘t. Buzan has pulled them together in a workbook with plenty ofexercises. illustrations and examples. The techniques I tried quickly improved my test scores. There are also some excellent tips on the art of learning— a subject too often ignored by the teaching profession.
‘Use Your Memory" is a worthwhile investment. But don‘t buy it the week before the finals. You won‘t have time to set up the necessary systems in your head.
Once you‘ve mastered mnemonics you can progress to Buzan‘s self-instruction video series: Becoming an Everyday (iem'us. See you at Mensa!
_ BACKLIST BRAIN POWER
You-know-who talks to what’s his name BOOK POWER
What’s new on the
BRITISH POWER ' How long will Hong 3
Kong face Chinese rule?
The List 11— 2-1 July 27