"What's in a name?" wrote Bacon. It was easy enough in those days -- you got called John Wilmot or the Earl of Rochester and nobody was the slightest bit confused. Now, we have to battle the demons of nomenclature at every turn: we have to name ourselves several times a week, and woe betide one careless choice.
Let me, like Rochester, enlarge on my theme. Each new online service we encounter demands a name and password -- in itself a senseless imposition, but never mind that. You might count yourself unfortunate if your real name is Jane Smith: the chances of you being the first such to register is tiny, and so you'll end up with some cybernetic moniker like JayZmi4334. But at least that'll be yours for good, anywhere you go.
Now imagine being called, oh, Rupert Goodwins. The only one on the planet -- there's a Rupert Goodwin in Australia but he's singular -- a fact you'd think I could use that to my advantage. No such luck. When I first started to use online services that allowed names (Prestel and CompuServe were numbers only), I could normally just call myself Rupert. As more and more people got online I had to start using RupertG, occasionally RupertGo. But still, the number of people with whom I could be confused was very small. No problem.
Things happen. In particular, J K Rowling happened. Her crime, her hideous, unforgivable crime wasn't to write Harry Potter, oh no. It was to allow the casting director of the movie franchise to pick for the role of Ron Weasley, Potter's best pal, a previously unknown child actor with the name of Rupert Grint. You see where I'm going with this.
The Net is now full of obsessive fans desperate to find young Rupert. In particular, they seek the Spell of Contact -- his email address. This highly prized item is much discussed in online forums, and by dark forces I but dimly perceive it has become known that Grint hides behind rupertg(AT)gmail.com . As this is my Gmail account, I would beg to differ. In fact, I have differed many times. I have differed to those who write in capital letters. I have differed to those who demand my presence at parties. I have differed to those who are convinced that I alone can save them from nameless horrors. They are all surprisingly difficult to differ with.
So. Dear, dear children. I am not Rupert Grint. I look far more like Rupert Goodwin -- or indeed Uluru, the rock before which he stands -- than the ginger-haired thesp. I do not know Rupert Grint, I can do you no good whatsoever in your quest. Indeed, you stand in risk of receiving a large chunk of the works of Rochester if you continue in your attempts to court my acquaintance.
Could be worse, I guess. It's not as bad as my pal Laurence Grayson, who was named thus by his parents just a couple of years before the