Playing the name game with Alan ...

YOU may remember one of my favourite Monty Python sketches which featured an Englishman newly arrived to take up a job in Australia.

His introduction to his new colleagues went along the lines of “This is Bruce, and this is Bruce, this is Bruce and this is Bruce ...” and so on for a very long time.

The newcomer looked confused especially as he was the only man present not called Bruce.

The solution offered was that he should change his own name to Bruce “to avoid confusion.”

A man in the company at a bit of a do I attended in Sunderland recently must have felt in a similar boat, except the common name this time was Alan, a fine name of course.

There were we three Alans and one outsider, who was also advised on the name change strategy to avoid confusion.

A discussion ensued which agreed that being called Alan meant that you belonged to a generation from times gone by.

In fact, if you look in the births section of your Hartlepool Mail, you will not see the name too often these days.

Like everything else in life, there is a fashion in these things and it may be that it comes back round into fashion.

For the moment, though, the annual Top of the Pops of boys’ names seems to have moved on to Jacks and Williams.

Technically, my real first name is George, second name Alan and it frequently leaves me looking vacant in places like doctors’ surgeries or dentists’ waiting rooms.

The receptionist calls out the name of George Wright and it takes a while for it to click that it’s me they’re after.

As the eldest son of three, I was named George Alan after my Dad – he was always a George so my second name became my first.

My Dad was called George because he was born on April 23rd, St George’s Day.

That gives me a chance to give another airing to his favourite gag – that he was always glad that he wasn’t born on Pancake Tuesday!

There is something in a name, and we can quickly build a picture of someone just by hearing a name before we’ve even met him or her in person.

There was a time when male film stars or pop singers had to have tough, craggy names to appeal to the ladies, perhaps explaining why the young Harry Webb changed his name to Cliff Richard.

We had the Marty Wildes and the Billy Furys but my theory was probably shattered for ever with the emergence of Conway Twitty on to the music scene in my youth.

To end where I started, I had a really funny name co-incidence at a meeting in London the other day – and this time my spare name of George came in handy.

I was meeting with a John and a Paul, I’m really a George, and if only the fourth chap around the boardroom table had been a Ringo then we’d have had a full set of Beatles.