Back at writing class, the tutor had us introduce ourselves by writing a few lines about our names without giving away our actual name, to see if people could guess what it was from the description. This got me thinking: I’ve got about a million names. How did I collect so many different identities? Your parents give you a name, but your friends do the same and in my case they just never stop. So, as a short list, let’s review the lives and origins of Sven.
My real name is not Sven. In writing, I described my real name thus:
“Four letters. That’s it. A compromise my parents made between Carl and Zachary. Brief, to the point. Never shortened. Lengthened continuously to make up for the dull monosyllable. Seldom used save for family bashes. Timeless. Holy. Dull.”
And that’s the truth of it. My real name is so unutterably dull that they don’t even give it to soap characters unless they are criminals and ultimately doomed. My parents got all imaginative by the time they had my sister – she got a fabulous Russian name – but I got lumbered with my real name, ****. Life can be so cruel.
Sven is an accident. He came into being at university when I created a Bulgarian barman for a comedy sketch at university. Evidently he was quite memorable because before I knew it Liccy was laughing about everyone showing their lift-passes to get into the cinema (the sketch was set in a ski resort) and ever since I have been known as Sven, like Cher or Madonna, to my fantastic drama friends. I like Sven – it certainly shows Kara that I can have a fun name too – because I can make him who I want. Sven is confident and personable and always up for a party – all the things I was or became at university – whereas **** is a quieter, more reflective individual. Sven is me but larger than life: **** is me, but more reserved. Sven is also the online me for a couple of reasons – firstly I don’t want nutters hunting me down (the internet can be a dangerous place), but also because that’s the kind of thing Sven would do – **** would probably not have ever started blogging. Sven is **** but with bigger balls.
This one came about as a joke. Kandise and I worked together when we were both at university, and one particularly boring afternoon we created a couple of characters to entertain ourselves. I was Darren: she Tracey. (I know people with both these names and love you dearly, so take no offence.) Darren drove a souped-up Vauxhall Nova with his name over the driver’s side and Tracey’s on the passenger’s. They were both mockneys. They spent their weekends belting out Trance Nation as they burned it up and down the A36. How Kandise shrugged of the Tracey mantle I will never know, but I “Big D” became a fixture, although the mystery about the provenance of the ‘D’ generally works in my favour…
The final name worthy of a tale. Chad Everett: all-American uber frat-boy. My sister created this chump in response to my increasing vanity and bucket-like smile. He first reared his head after I started using whitening toothpaste and got a scale and polish at the dentist. When we started taking photos at a party the wonders of digital photography enable her to immediately identify and ridicule the wide, white grin and admittedly A&F pose and, before our very eyes, Chad was born. Now it’s a private joke, and I test her photos of myself when I’m not to sure about my outfit. “Too Chad?” I ask giving her the widest shit-eating smile I can muster. “Not at all” she replies, and I’m never sure if she’s joking. Nor do I care.
There are others: Pauline Fowler, Ginger, Barbara Dickson, the list goes on. Now I have a sign name too – it’s the BSL sign for ‘party’ which is rather cool – it seems it’s a list that will only keep growing. Is it just me, or are other people starting to lose track of who they are?