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Monday, June 20, 2005

Watch You Don't Fall In

Anyone who ever played fitba' as a kid will instantly recognize the scene below. Some things are timeless, and universal.
Clicky the photie! [HatTip to Norm]

I find myself this Monday morning still unable to walk or stand, but able to sit, or lie, in reasonable comfort. Let us not speak of the weekend past.

While answering comments to the post below I suddenly saw myself turning into a Pub Bore. Is that my fate - or would it be were I to return to the pubs of earlier times? I'd have to wear a button-down sweater - a Cardigan, and I'd have to learn "The Knowledge" - the standard bore repertoire of comparative engine capacities, suspension systems, and tyre pressures - which I could recount with harrumphs and raised eyebrows and occasional standing on tippie-toes, gin and tonic clutched tightly to my chest. And I'd have to be called...


You see, I've always been afraid that was my fate. My given name, my real name, which I shall not utter, is the definitive pub bore name. People in america just do not appreciate this: they'll say it's a lovely name, and exotic name, a charmed name even, and they'll happily give it to their sons. There are two in my youngest daughter's class, alone. But I hate it; I detest it; and I cannot bear to say it even in truncated form. My wife just laughs - she does not understand.

I was required on Friday to put my signature, many times, to some legal documents. And before you ask, it required a special effort to go there, to do that, after which I was allowed to collapse. Anyway: here in the Xenoverse we like to fixate on those tiny cultural variances that are impossible to reconcile. We always mention "dates" as an example - because we cannot adjust ourselves mentally to placing the month before the day: that's just wrong. But I could just as easily have chosen signatures as an example.

Here in america, where the Individual is king, here in america everyone signs their name in the style Fatuous C. Bearded. Which is to say, fornames are always written out, followed by a middle initial, followed by surname.

Boy, do I hate that. You can see all around my own preference: we britons like to keep our fornames to ourselves. We are a united kindgom of GK Chestertons.

A signature is never written, always drawn. It is a stylized character developed and ingrained over many years. They are not, ever, "ordinary" writing and cannot just be changed on a whim. The documents presented to me insisted that my signature match exactly the written name above it: Fatuous C. Bearded

Being left-handed I print when I write - I cannot, do not write cursive. But even here in america, you can't print your signature! It has to be drawn. And I have no idea how to draw "Fatuous" in a manner consistent with "Bearded". I don't know how to sign my name that way. Seven different signatures. At one point I even asked the lady if I could place my true signature here, having earlier explained my difficulties to her, and she said Yes she said Yes Yes you can but when I No did she said No she said Write it again, correctly.

I much prefer the anonymity, the privacy of initials. Nobody needs to know my real name, and I ought not be compelled to spell it out. All I'm saying.

Did you know there's places in Choina where they carve theyah signatures into a toiny piece of ivory, smawlah than a fingahnail, and they stamp it onto pieces of paper? Very very fine paypah made out of roice? Not that you'd foind much ivory around nowadays, not since the blahdy conservationists you wont!
Harrumph! Wotchyoo 'avin there, Arfur?


Blogger DarkoV said...

Let me start playin'a violin tune for you. Look, F.C., picture yourself a young off-the-boat immigrant in a Federal Office signing papers. All of the clerical help you're dealing with is African-American. It's the late 60's and early 70's. These folks had been called "black", "darky", or worse and are not in the mood for color-related humor. In fact, the only mood they're in is the mood to stand up and kick your a**, if you so much as mention color of any sort.
So, there I am about to sign my name to documents.
"Your name?"
"What'd you say?"
"Darko", nervously.
"Don't you get wise with me, you Caucasian M'F***er!?"
(I kid you not. This was an actual conversation and a typical one).
Luckily, I had a birth certificate, in Croatian of course, which had my name somewhere on the paepr, along with unnatrual looking words that had no vowels. I never got an apology or a "sorry". The only thing anyone said to me was,"Better watch it next time with that Darko s**t!" I commiserated with their anger. Seriously. But the thing that struck me was the general inability of these federal workers to comprehend any troubles or understand any differences outside their own country, the US of A. I know things have progressed nowadays, but I still see people do a doubletake, be they white or black or brown, when they see my name or hear me pronounce it. They may glance at my grey temples and think, "Oh, he said Doctor.."

2:05 PM  
Anonymous stephenesque said...

According to Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) writing in The Sackbut, the composer Frederick Delius had always regretted that he could not use his initials for compositions rather than his ponderous christian name. He could not because he would then be forced to sign himself F.A.T Delius.

2:46 PM  
Blogger F.C. Bearded said...

Well, I can imagine someone having a very difficult time at school?

I'm surprised they didn't Ellis Island you, change your name to "Darryl" or somesuch?

2:50 PM  

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