When I booked into the hotel on Sunday, the receptionist (attractive, Eastern European, twentyish), looked at the voucher thing lastminute.com give me to print out and hand over, thus avoiding all unnecessary human contact, which is a good thing. Then she looked up at me.
'Mister James... Henry?' she asked.
'Yes,' I said.
'The writer?' she said.
And for one ghastly half-second I gaped at her, about to ask if she was a regular JATBC reader, and if so what CB-radio style 'handle' she went under, and then I realized what she meant.
'Well not that one, obviously, because he's Victorian, and his name is mine backwards (or mine is his backwards, whatever) and he's dead." I said.
'Same name!' she said, smiling.
'Almost, yes,' I said, and then I went up to my room. I passed her later, on my way out, and had half-planned on asking her if she was doing an english lit course or something, when I remembered that I don't actually know anything about Henry James the dead Victorian novelist other than what's in that sentence, apart from a vague rumour that he only had half a penis following an accident with a horse*, but this wouldn't necessarily translate. Also, she might ask, as someone once did, 'which half?' at which point I tend to find myself, aha, stumped. So instead I waved casually, and she waved back, which was nice.
Anyway, I'm going back to that hotel tomorrow night. I shall try to think of a Victorian novelist-related quip. It's a long journey, so I'm bound to think of something.
*I just looked that weird rumour up (thus joining the elite group, the creme de la creme of those who have put both 'half a penis' and 'horse accident' into Google), and it seems more likely that he in fact injured his testicles on a fence as a junior fireman, an assault he referred to in his memoirs as a 'horrid even if obscure hurt', although I suspect that's not what he said at the time.