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Spalding area's John Ward shares the problems a four letter surname can pose




Names are wonderful things all things considered as they separate those who are referred to as ‘Oi, you!’ to being greeted by your own name in a proper, well mannered and civilised way.

I mention this to get the ‘ball rolling’ in a metaphorical way in this week’s intellectual interlude that is this very column.

So take it as a sort of pre-warning as my usual reader might be wondering what is going to unfold below but as I have not written it yet, it could well be an even bigger surprise to me all things considered.

John Ward shares the problems a four letter surname can pose.
John Ward shares the problems a four letter surname can pose.

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This week's theme is names which we all seem to be kitted out with so it’s perhaps safe to assume if you can read this inspiring stuff, then you are fully aware of your own name as it may well consist of assorted letters such as those that form this column.

For those who don’t have a name or are unsure of what it could be, then its best you seek help at this stage, as apart from missing out on the joys of receiving junk mail, being pestered for possibly being mis-sold assorted insurance deals, you have led a charmed life, believe me.

If you have been affected by the elements or issues raised in the opening paragraphs and you may require help, I am sorry to point out we don’t have an action line number so perhaps its just as well you carry on the way you know best.

Back to the plot then.

I am often asked my name (I am beginning to think its some bizarre sort of mental agility thing to find out if I am still coherent) in assorted situations with the usual tag or punch line coming after reassuring folk I am that very person in that ‘Mr Soandso will see you now’ as usually arrives in a medical situation.

I must admit I am what could be considered as ‘low maintenance’ stuff as with a surname such as Ward its merely four letters long and saves on ink if writing, plus also by the same virtue, saves putting a huge strain on our natural ink reserves/resources that may well be in decline as just about everything else is nowadays.

Four letters long is not bad going as I came across somebody a few years back with a name so long I thought it was his first name and surname on his ID badge but no, it was so long it took up two lines but was just his surname.

One would think mine would be quite a simple issue, but no - my ‘bargain basement’ short on letters surname can be fraught as the number of times I make a phone call that involves giving my name and address is, or can be, another ball game altogether.

The following nugget is recent but over the years, it’s now lost the novelty value it once held as nowadays only the person on the other end is the stumbling block.

Typical intro: ‘Could you tell me your surname please?’

I give my surname as normal but how is it that a common enough name can bring - seemingly - mass confusion as it’s a fifty-fifty chance there will be a pause followed by: "How do you spell that please?"

I go through the usual routine such as: W for whiskey, A for Alpha, R for Romeo and D for Delta in true phonetic order as used in assorted situations the world over from military forces to civil aviation or perhaps even ordering a "happy meal"with an extra scoop of batter bits if there any going spare, who knows?.

On one occasion I was asked if I "was I a big drinker?" (?!) but on asking why the question, their reply was I had included "Whiskey" in the line up. But not to be outdone, I pointed out that I had also included Romero but so far the likelihood of looking for a Juliet were minimal plus my days of climbing up balconies were over.

(Copyright: Sir Bill Spokeshave as these two characters were featured in one of his plays like what he wrote called ‘Romero and Juliet’)

It can be playful at times as more than once I have been asked "How long have you had this name?’" and my usual stock replies can vary from: "Since my mum gave me it as she liked sharing things, did my mum" to "The usual length - from W to D, with an A and R in the middle to stretch it out a bit, so about four letters all told."

I could understand it if I was of the female gender as in betwixt being a Miss before being promoted/transferred to being a Mrs but in my case being of the male variety - I have seen my x-rays, so know for sure - I often wonder what diabolical scheme is behind this thinking.

On occasions, where it’s an option, I do include "spinster" in written replies after my name but so far I have never had any comebacks as to how or why but it could be down to general ignorance.

One German chap I used to converse with regularly following an interview for a telly documentary had a knack (also tick the box marked irritation as well) of shouting down the phone with the opening greeting of: "HERR VORD! - are you there in person and able to speak, ya?"

Although, the times I was tempted to reply with: "I am handcuffed in a mail sack, trying to escape as its part of the Escapologist Monthly magazine ongoing course, in 200 issues, with part one for £1.99"but I never did.

The HERR VORD bit, always spoken at high pitch volume, always reminded me of some dubious el cheapo type foreign airline with the motto screaming out in assorted adverts on a commercial radio advert slot thus: "Fly HERR VORD - your one way trip to oblivion and beyond! - book 14 days, enjoy three!”

Since writing this, somebody had just arrived - a courier with a parcel to be precise - but after being asked to ‘sign ‘ere, guv’ he then asked what my name was, bearing in mind I had just signed for said parcel plus it was on the item label ditto his electronic pad, so have my efforts above been in vain?

In the meanwhile, if you get the chance to fly away on you hols via HERR VORD, please do get back to me to let me know how it went, assuming you get back of course.


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