What’s in a name?
Well, for me ‘Paul’, the name I call myself in The Guardian, is a little
special. I remember my late and very dear brother through this name.
Elsewhere, I am Punk in The Independent, Dada in The Daily Telegraph and
Mudd in the Financial Times.
I always use a four-letter word. I guess my efforts are not always
conventional, hence Punk. The Pun k(ing) I am not though. I don’t think my
forte is the play on words, but I prefer to misdirect through using
definitions out of context.
Dada – anti-war, anti-bourgeois and anarchistic. That seems ok, and there’s
a nod to my late and great father too.
Mudd is more complex. In the FT I was once known as Bats, after an ex (on
whom I shall expand no further, save to say I was the leaver rather than the
left). On breaking up, I sought a new name. Perched upon a barstool in a pub
called, I believe, The Elephant on Finchley Road, North London, I got
chatting to a forlorn gentlemen late of marital problems. I forget his tale
of woe, but he did me a rather large chunk of favour by declaring ‘…and
now my name is mud’. I’d found it. Just to add an extra ‘D’ for the four
letters, and I was there.
My colleague Shed I’d always assumed had been banished to the garden shed by
his non-solving wife (I’d imagined). On meeting him I was to unearth the
‘It’s because I look like a shed’. He was not wrong.
Enigmatist tells me he was given that name in the school playground, though
I am somewhat in doubt.
Many years ago, the great Araucaria told me if he’d had his time again he
would have chosen another pseudonym. For some reason, I didn’t ask him what
he would have taken as his alias. Which name might this magisterial
wordsmith have adopted? I had to know. It bothered me.
It bothered me for years, but every time we met I forgot to ask.
‘A few years ago you said you would have taken on something other than
‘Araucaria’ as a pseudonym, given the chance.
‘Yes’, the great man replied.
‘What would it have been?’ I awaited the scoop.
‘Dunno really, just something different.’
Our heroes never fail to disappoint.