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Monday, 26 September 2011
WHAT'S IN A NAME? ARE YOU KIDDING? A LIKELY STORY...
"Why are you called 'Kid'? Is it because you act like one?"
If I had a pound for every time I've been asked that, I'd have - well, I'd have a pound actually, so I don't suppose there's really too much interest in the topic. However, I have to fill this blog with something, so - assuming you'll bear with me in yet another act of shameless self-indulgence - I shall address the issue in the forlorn hope that anybody even remotely cares.
There was a period during my early teenage years when I called everyone "kid". It was short, snappy, and it meant never having to worry about remembering people's names. One day, I ran into a pal of mine in the company of a group of his friends. Anticipating my familiar, well-worn greeting, he thought he'd get in first in a daring act of mockery at my little peccadillo. (Feel free to supply your own amusing rejoinder to that last sentence.) "Hi Kid!", he said with a cheeky grin upon his smug countenance, immensely satisfied with himself for - in his mind - 'beating me to the punch'.
His pals were unaware of his intended 'irony' however, and merely assumed it to be my nickname. But ours is a drama decreed by the fates to be acted out (always loved that line by LARRY LIEBER); I subsequently became friendly with that little group, who - in their innocence - always referred to me by that appellation. And so the name stuck and I've been known as "Kid" - to them and to others - ever since.
But whence came the habit which led to me effectively naming myself? Why didI call people "kid" to begin with? I'm glad I pretended you asked. Back in the early '70s, there was a brilliant comedy show called WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKELY LADS, starring JAMES BOLAM and RODNEY BEWES. In fact, as they had alternating billing from week to week, if you re-read that last sentence, reverse the order of their names so that I don't hear from their agents or solicitors.
Although the programme was a comedy, it also had pathos, poignancy and profundity - otherwise known as the three Ps. During the course of their frequent nostalgia-laden soliloquies, the characters often addressed each other as "kid" or "kidda". In my devotion to the programme and my desire to emulate my heroes, I adopted the practice of referring to everyone I knew (and some I didn't) as "kidda", which resulted in some fairly puzzled looks. That's because the words "kidda" and "kidder" sound pretty similar when pronounced with a lazy Glaswegian accent, and this made folks think I was accusing them of pulling my leg in some way.
"Kidder?" they'd say in a slightly bewildered manner (likewise mispronouncing it as "kidda") - "Kiddin' about what?" Well, it didn't take me too long to realize that adopting the shorter option -"kid" - would avoid any unnecessary confusion amongst my sturdy band of companions and free me from having to endlessly explain myself. It could've been far worse, as I'd once been in the habit of exclaiming "Jings, man!" in response to anything of even a vaguely interesting or surprising nature.
This inevitably led to all my friends and acquaintances calling me "Jings-Man" every time I appeared on the horizon. Fortunately, I soon dropped the use of this 'oath' (doubtless acquired from reading too many BROONS and OOR WULLIE strips in weekly newspaper The SUNDAY POST) and thus escaped any longterm association with the name which could've resulted in lasting damage to my delicate sensibilities. I much prefer being called "Kid" - or "Sir", even. (In fact, now that I come to think about it, "Master" is good as well.)
And there you have it! The hitherto secret origin of how I gained my teenage nickname which has remained with me to this day. And you also have an object lesson in the art of writing something about nothing - but you should only ever do so if your very life depends on it, so I have absolutely no excuse.