Belfast Telegraph

So, how come I had to end up being robbed of my good name?

By Robert McNeill

Who am I? That's right, I'm asking you. But, really, I should be asking me. Well, let's start with the name. A fine, manly, normal moniker: Robert McNeil. sea-shanty, your honour").

Never going to be a star with a handle like that. Could quite conceivably be a criminal. I've sat in enough courts to hear similar ones go by (" ... and did remove his trousers in a public place while singing a lewd

It's a burden being a Robert. There are so many variations on it, no wonder I've an identity crisis: to various cronies, I'm Robert, Rob, Robbie, Bob, Bertie and, of course, for viewers in Scotia, Rab, a name much demeaned since the arrival of C. Nesbitt of that ilk. My surname marks me out as a Scot, an estate that embarrasses me, with its neds, political cowardice ("please rule over us, London"), and terrible weather.

In sum, I don't want to be a Robert, I don't want to be a Mc-Neil, and I don't want to be Scottish. I want to be someone else entirely. What's wrong with that? Well, plenty apparently. Most people say they would never change a thing that they'd done, and that they've no regrets. I regret everything, more or less. I don't understand people who don't want to disown their lives. I've hated my life hitherto and would like nothing better than to start all over again - beginning with a different name.

The question is: why don't more people change their name? Ed Balls for a start. What's that all about? What if it had been Fred Testicle? Arthur Gonad? Recently, I saw something on a DVD that featured a real person called Harold Nutter. I mean, Harold for God's sake. These people should be down the shop and handing over a tenner for a new moniker right away.

Well, the encouraging news is that more are doing so, at least according to an article in the BBC's excellent online news magazine. It says an estimated 58,000 citizens of the UK (or England and the Other Bits) will have changed their names by the end of 2011 which, according to my watch, is this year.

Think about it. Already, folk are changing their faces and bodies. Millions of books about changing your personality are bought every year. Surely, the name is next. Surely, in future, we'll all choose our own names. Perhaps we should institutionalise it, so we choose our own name when we turn 18, or perhaps 25, once the brain has settled down a bit.

Think some more about it. Why should we be saddled with the name given to us by our dozy parents? Who cares what they think? I'm only Robert because my dad was Robert and his dad before him and his before him, yea, way back unto the first clot in the Stone Age begat a line of unimaginative boobies and berties.

According to the BBC, Tiger isn't the real name of Mr Woods the golfing philanderer. It's Eldrick. Would he have been so successful with his putter as an Eldrick? I think not. Your name is important. It can make or break you. It's crucial to your self-image and confidence. You change your hair, why not your appellation? In the meantime, this is Moonmud O'Blenkinsop wishing you a good day.

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