N.M.P.L. | AUSTIN
SETS FOR SALE
ABDULLA / ARDATH
LAMBERT & BUTLER
ou have Lucy Cannon to thank for this article. She has just phoned into some rubbish TV program about revision for exams. Don't you just love names, come on Mum and Dad, Lucy Cannon, thanks for the unintentional laugh but this poor girl is going to want to get married sharpish although not to John Furs, who has his own problems obviously.
The program has moved onto body doubles now. They are interviewing a bloke that doubled Billy Connelly's hands. Now I know the world has gone mad and it no longer matters what I do. I might even loosen the knot on my tie a little in a moment.
Why does an elephant have four feet?
Back to the plot, we all know someone that has a name which if thought about for a moment can be unintentionally humorous. It is a real burden for the people who wear these names.
It is a subject I have covered before, Jenny Taylor, Russell Bush et al have all been mentioned but I want to shift the emphasis of this article.
Names are the very essence of a person, mental images can be created by them, we can all close our eyes and think of someone called Trixibell Moonbeams, you can even give her a social standing and create parents for her, in fact a whole life history within moments. You cannot really do this with any other aspect of her life, she has size 4 feet for example. Sorry for the readers other than UK who seem to have even more arcane methods of measuring feet and have no idea how big size four is. Originally I was going to title this article 'Size four feet' but it did not get past the censor. You know the one, the censor that passed the joke printed on a million lollipop sticks: 'Why does an Elephant have four feet?' A lot of lolly licking later revealed the answer to be: 'It would look funny with six inches'. The entire batch of lollies were withdrawn swiftly once enough parents had been asked to explain the joke. I believe it was in the summer of 1976, a drought year and a lot of lolly sales.
Then there are names which are so stained in history it is difficult to see how they will ever escape the past, Adolf for example. Perfectly good name but for the horror of one man still would be.
If you are still not convinced about the matter of names try changing your own name. Initially it seems easy but then you start thinking again. Eventually the task seems almost impossible.
There is also the fashion element of names. Popular television programs have a lot to answer for in this respect. Also major sporting events do as well. Neighbours was a particular inspiration for many names in the late 1980's when it first hit the British television screens. Suddenly the shops of England were filled with mother's shouting at Jason's and Kylie's without number.
Many a good quip has been forced from the vice of fashion and it is true. Jason and Kylie moved onto pastures new but you get too keep your name till your dying day.
Give or take that is. You can change your name by deed poll. Step forward the man that renamed himself Margaret Thatcher (the then Prime Minister) so he could stand against her in the General Election. The court managed to hold up proceedings long enough to ensure he did not get the papers through till after the election. Signs of a sense of humour in the workings of the British Law system.
It is also apparently true that you are at total liberty to pronounce your name anyway you like. For example I might want to be called 'Storme' (see how your mental image of me changes) as long as I continue to spell my name Franklyn all is well.
I suspect it is for the reasons of atmosphere that so many actors change their names before they strut and we fret across the stage.
Card Number six of Gallaher, Portraits of famous stars  48 in set has the star Anne Shirley upon it. She had just played a role in Anne of Green Gables. You know the one with a character called Anne Shirley in it. Her name previous to this incarnation was Dawn O'Day. As the card mentions the fact this youthful woman had been playing roles since she was a baby it seems likely Dawn O'Day wasn't her real name either.
This series is littered with many other examples, lets face it just about every actor gets to change their name. Richard Dix, (Dick Dix if you like, or maybe not) appears on card 12. It seems amazing that lightening could strike twice for this fellow as his real name was Ernest Brimmer.
I could put together a whole list of these and perhaps I will at a later less hectic date but I want to move on.
Writers are another another group that like to hide real names under flags of convenience. In fact it would seem this lot would have invented the whole idea. Words could be considered mightier than the sword but often a quick change of name made sure this was not put to the test.
Wills, Famous British Authors  L40 has examples of authors with new names. Amongst the pantheon are card 31, 'Sapper' an ex-military man (could you have guessed), Lt. Col. Cyril McNeile. Card 13 is Ian Hay (why?) whose real name was Major John Hay Beith.
On the cards are signatures/autographs of the respective authors. I recently bought a large pile of 1930's cinema autographs and it did not really occur to me, these people sign their 'names' as well. It only takes a second to realise this but I have never given it a second's thought before. Just think how many topics you have never given a seconds thought too.
Radio is another area of the 'media' which has people who feel a change of name could be good for the career. Again I turn to Wills and the Radio Celebrities sets they produced. These names are in a slightly different category as they are 'stage' names and not really intended to exist outside the medium. It seems improbable that 'Flotsam and Jetsam' or 'Stainless Stephen' was likely to be called these names by their mates. Let me know if you know different.
In the modern world boxers manage to pick up nicknames. Nigel Benn would not really expect to be called The Dark Destroyer anymore although if I met him I think a simple 'Sir' would probably be the best form of self-defence I know.
That said there are a number of instances of fighters changing their names and there are a number listed in Churchmans, Boxing Personalities Issued in 1938 a series of 50 it has card 28 and the fighter Jock MacAvoy. His real name was Joseph Bamford.
Far be it from me too try an fathom the reasons for changing a name but why pick Jock MacAvoy how does it happen? I mean, Storme Stevens must be more appropriate?
Card 11 gives an example of a name alternation, Al Delaney turns out to have answered to the name of Alexander Borchuk when it came to calling out the school register.
As I mentioned before fighters like to take on names which fit the aggression of the occasion, 'Iron' Mike Tyson, 'TNT' Tubbs you think twice about getting in the ring with these guys (or the same room if you are bright) but card 45 shows a boxer who fought under the name Young Snowball. No surprise to discover the fellow was British. I was ready to do a couple of rounds with this great white hope until I read on a little more and discovered he was a bit 'tasty' perhaps more of a snowcone on second thoughts.