Recognition from behind

An increased use of facial recognition is very much a feature of our use of technological gizmos, be it smart-phones or passing through airport passport checks, or being spied on by CCTV cameras. I am not quite sure how the technology would have worked in the case of an incident I experienced some years ago whilst walking along a platform at King’s Cross underground station.

I happened to be on visit to London. As I negotiated the crowds of people at King’s Cross tube station, amidst the oncoming crowd was a tall official looking person wearing a London Underground uniform. As we passed each other I had a feeling that his face was a little familiar, but thought little more of it until a couple of moments later I felt a tap on my shoulder. On turning round I came face to face with this uniformed official thinking, ‘what have I done wrong?’

He said to me, “Don’t I recognise the back of your head?” It then dawned on me why his face was a bit familiar since we realised that we were both at the same college in Durham, College of the Venerable Bede.

He then went on to explain how he mostly came across me whilst attending services in the College Chapel and of course he would be seated in the stalls, whilst I was up in the west end gallery playing the organ; I was the organ scholar at the time. So it would be the back of my head, rather than my face, that was visible to those sitting in the congregation.

We chatted and reminisced about our time in Durham for a couple of minutes and then we both went our separate ways. I always think back about this incident and wondered which is my better known feature, face or back of head?!

Edwin Wilson

April-May 2021