Wed | Oct 5, 2022

Gordon Robinson: What's in a name?

Published:Monday | November 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

I'm being pushed out of my chair by the Old Ball and Chain who insists she has something to say. So, before she shoves me down the stairs and breaks my other ankle, here she is:

"What's to be done with Old Gray Balls?

"He doesn't know if he's coming or going. He says he's stopped writing. I say 'Hallelujah, maybe he'll get a REAL job now'. Then without explanation, he starts again. Everywhere I turn, he's under foot. He won't use a cell phone. Why? Because he's an obsolete old curmudgeon who makes Doc Martin seem a creampuff, that's why. But, no matter where I go, he calls me on MY cell wanting to know when I'll be home.

"The straw that broke this camel's back came on Sunday, November 15, when he had my friend, Willie Thwaites, at Pricewaterhouse, when everybody knows Willie was a senior partner at Peat Marwick. Take it from me. folks, Old GB is senile. Unless he's writing about music, his memory is worse than former NBC Anchor Brian Williams'. Even with music, he committed a scorcher recently quoting Desmond Dekker's lyric (from 'Mother Long Tongue') as 'What mek yu can't see and blind (here and there)', when the correct lyric is, 'What mek yu can't see and blind (hear and deaf)'. He can't blame printer's devil. My new nickname for him is Al; Mr Zheimers to you.

"Now imagine he forgets about Willie Thwaites, a man I used to love dearly. He was a wonderful human being, kind and gentle despite a sometimes gruff exterior. Yes, he could be irascible, like Old GB, but, unlike Old GB, it was only when he was defending principle. The worst part of the error is that Willie's office on Duke Street was right next door to Old GB's, who used to be at 4 Duke Street in the exact office now occupied by his former classmate and another of my favourites, Bert Samuels. Bert, however, is still young, fit and handsome, so Old GB better watch what he writes because I have options. If he can't get a simple thing like Willie's firm right, it's time for him to retire for good. AND GET A JOB!"

Jeez. What'd I do? This reminds me of a story told by Haemorrhoid during a domino game. Regular readers remember Haemorrhoid (real name Ernest H. Flower), a lazy articled clerk but world-class raconteur specialising in shaggy dog tales, whose nickname came by combining his middle initial with his perennial complaint about the "piles and piles" of files on his desk.

Dessie had just lost his temper with the Dunce for the umpteenth time and thrown a domino at him (which he expertly ducked) so we were taking a short break for tempers to cool. Haemorrhoid took the opportunity to tell the story of an army private named Montague.

"Montague was fine except his sergeant kept mispronouncing his name to rhyme with The Hague. Sergeants are notoriously loud, so every time he bellowed, 'MON-TAYGE', Montague would flinch.

"One day, he could take it no more. 'Sarge', he complained in front of the unit, 'my name is Montague'. 'Is that so?' replied the Sergeant. 'In that case, Montague, take two weeks fattygue.'"


The moral of the story is English is strange. As Billy Shakespeare might've said, "What's in a name"? Pricewaterhouse/Peat Marwick; potayto/potahto. Mark you, I suppose it depends on others because, for example, if your name is Montague, you might be treated differently from someone named Wint. Again, Billy says it best (from Richard the Third):

"Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this son of York;

And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried."

A word of warning to Old BC, I too have options. Just the other day, I was introduced to a beautiful young lady who said 'I know you well from that handsome photo The Gleaner prints every Sunday." So THERE! Nyaaaaaah!. To think I've complained about the publication of ANY photo ever since this irreverent series began. I once expelled a Gleaner photographer from my home who wanted to take a better photo.

Imagine the throng of groupies I'd have if I'd allowed him!

Be careful or I'll take up with my friend's wife. Her name is She Who Must Be Obeyed. She's married to The Terrible Tout, but I know she likes me off.

Peace and love.

n Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to