Computers are literal beasts: the lot of people called O’Nion and D’Ath has not been improved by mailmerge filters and that pesky apostrophe. But it takes a special something to make a chap hide in shame and fear.
[fade up ominous music, and engage American “When Good Names Go Bad” accent]
Take Terry D’Arcy, a normal sort of chap engaged in a normal sort of job for a normal sort of company. No doubt he’s had his fair share of being called Trent, but that’s the sort of irksome jollity you can bear with good will. Little did he know, as he filled out his registration form for the Internet World show, that his own personal apostrophe was about to turn into a catastrophe.
Maybe it was a slip of the finger by some anonymous data entry clerk. Maybe it was a rogue program deep in the belly of the computers. Maybe some long-forgotten programmer had a really bad sense of humour. We may never know. But some fateful, malign force took his reasonable, unexceptional name and perverted it -- and him -- beyond recognition. When he got his badge for the show, it proclaimed him to be the proud bearer of the moniker Terry D Acute Arcy;
“What makes it worse”, giggled my informant, “is that he has got a cute arse. He didn’t go to the show. He daren’t. What if everyone got to know about it?”
What indeed. Let us hope -- for the sake of Terry, and the dignity of D’Arcy’s everywhere, that this terrible story is kept secret.