It’s All In a Name
I went to a comprehensive school which had the full spectrum of society as pupils. One or two later went on to Oxbridge and several went on to ….prison. One of those, let’s call him David Burns, was bigger than the rest of us and, unbeknown to me, a bully. My first encounter with him was at the lunch break of my first day at my new primary school when I was 10. I was fielding at cricket when he hit the ball in my direction, so naturally I caught it. There were some half-hearted cries of “out” but he refused to go. His next shot went in exactly the same place, so I caught it again, with similar results – a tirade of swearing and refusing to budge. I decided to stand somewhere else on the pitch, somewhere completely different where he wouldn’t hit the ball. But he did and for some reason I couldn’t stop myself catching it. He smashed up the stumps with the bat and then came after me.
Laurent Gbagbo, the leader of the Ivory Coast sounds much the same sort of person, refusing to go when he’s obviously lost the election. But every time I hear the news reports I can’t help thinking his name, pronounced with the first G silent, makes him sound like a hobbit. He’s holding on to power and his palace and I can almost hear him hissing “my precious”. Or does Gbagbo sound more like Bagpuss – I can’t decide. It seems such a silly name for a dictator but perhaps that’s what made him what he is – maybe he was teased about it at school.
Come to think of it, that might explain a lot about some other dictators. Who wouldn’t turn into a madman when the other kids call you Gaddafi Duck or Pol Pot Belly? Picture a gang of thugs round poor little Napoleon “we’re going to stick a firework up your bum and then you’ll be Napoleon Blownapart.” And over in Austria a little boy with a moustache being taunted relentlessly with that well known carol “Adolf the red nosed reindeer.”
They called me Lavatory at school. I’m planning to invade the Isle of Wight soon.
Talking of Herr Hitler, a house has become an internet sensation because it looks like the Fuhrer.