Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's in a name?

There’s a bloke who drinks in a bar in Walthamstow called Mike, and to his friends he’s known as Funtime Mike. I think Funtime is a great prefix to be given; it’s the Ronseal of nicknames and tells you right up front exactly what to expect. It says this is a man who is going to be a bit of a laugh, a joker, a wisecracker, a raconteur, a wit and master of the art of barroom banter. He’ll probably know a few magic tricks involving matchsticks and beer mats too. Funtime Mike is going to be a riot, for sure. I have no reason to believe Mike was given his nickname ironically, as other nicknames in the bar are Big Paul, who is big (he’s also known as Roofer Paul, which is what he does), there’s Big Mo and Big Chris, they’re both big as well, there’s Drunk Dave, who is always drunk and there’s a teacher called Stephen that everyone calls Harry, because he wears little round glasses and has a scar on his forehead. Nicknames in The Stow (that’s Walthamstow’s nickname) tend to be quite unimaginative. Even Walthamstow’s most famous sons, East 17, named themselves after the postcode. It’s very much a literal ‘say what you see’ thing. “Paul’s a big lad, I know, let’s call him Big Paul.” So it came as a bit of shock to discover that I was known in the area as The Pervert. This, I learnt, is what the locals began calling me because when I first went in the pubs in Walthamstow I would sit on my own and scribble things in my notepad. And that in their eyes made me The Pervert. Not The Scribbler, The Jotter or even Padman. No, to all and sundry I was The Pervert. Talk about unfair. Mike gets Funtime on account of him being a fun guy and I get The Pervert on account of what, that I occasionally write things down in a pad? You figure it out, because I can’t. Anyway, what has all this got to do with ulcerative colitis? Well, there’s another bloke I know in Walthamstow called Mouse (don’t ask), and he phoned yesterday to tell me he’s just been diagnosed with UC. And aside from the good people that leave comments on my blog from time to time, Mouse is the only living, breathing, real person I actually, actually know with ulcerative colitis. So it now looks like I’ve got a partner. Pervert and Mouse. Got a kind of Batman and Robin ring to it, don’t you think?