You may not know this but I have two surnames. Sometimes I think everyone should allow themselves more of a choice. Those of us who alternate between our family name and a pseudonym have an advantage when it comes to privacy.
I never phone for a doctor's appointment as Frank Mitchell. I use my real surname and when I arrive, she just thinks I look a bit like the bloke from the telly. Deep down I know I haven't fooled her but I convince myself I haven't been spotted. As for booking a table at a restaurant that's different. It's Mitchell straight away.
It's amazing how many broadcasters use a false name. There are times I think Johnny Hero is the only one on U105 not doing it. I've been tweaking what's on the birth certificate since I was eleven.
I was christened John Anthony Francis McClorey. I was called John after my uncle, Anthony after the saint and Francis after my father who wasn't even called Francis. He was called Frank. I spent seven years in primary school wanting to be called Frank. There was a girl in my class called Frances and when her name was called out I'd answer and the slagging would start.
On my first day at grammar school I decided I would ditch Francis. The timing was clever. There was only one pupil from my old school in the new class. His name was Mark. He was the only one who knew my first name. The form teacher asked us all to stand up and call out our names and where we were from. I stood up and said "My name is Frank and I'm from Burren" Everyone said, "Hello Frank", everyone except Mark who said, "Francis, What did you call yourself?"
Twenty-nine lads heard Frank and Frank stuck.
I had no issue with my surname until I was 19. By that time I was crossing the border every evening for a late night radio show in Dundalk. At the height of the Troubles I was one of a team of pirates booming music to listeners in North Louth and South Armagh.
The station was in the roof space of the Dundalk Shopping Centre and the boss was always fearful of another raid from An Garda Siochana. On my first night he advised me I would need to go undercover. I laughed at the idea but he began pulling out country and western albums and started shouting suggestions for a broadcasting name. Waving the covers in my face and showing me Dolly, Johnny and Charley he said " How about Frank Parton or Frank Cash or Frank Pride?" Under pressure I glanced at the death column of the newspaper lying on his desk and spotted the name Mitchell. "Frank Mitchell," I shouted and he agreed. There I was starting on the radio as a dead man. I was actually quite lucky as the boss was now holding the latest LP from Hank Wangford.
In an odd way it was easier to go on air as someone else. I often laugh when people jump to conclusions about why I adopted the name. Some on social media believe it was to curry favour with unionist employers. The reality is when I was a teenager in Dundalk, unionist employers were thin on the ground.
A few years ago I interviewed a psychologist about confidence building. She explained that some of the best comedians and performers excel when hiding behind a character they have invented. She also told me that a man who uses two separate surnames should never think of himself as two separate people. We both told her that I had nothing to worry about!
The great Gerry Anderson once drew up a list of everyone he knew with a pseudonym. I was delighted to get a mention. He suggested with a chuckle we did it to make ourselves sound more exciting.
Vintage Gerald Michael Anderson. A name much missed from the airwaves.
Frank presents U105 Phone In Monday-Friday from 9am-noon