Mr Deeds poll: Max Dickins changes his name
Our resident comedian columnist is fed up of his name
This week I saw this offer come up on Groupon:
The opportunity to legally change my name for just £14! I obviously bought it immediately.
I’m not a twat: I know a bargain when I see one. The offer is from a company called UK Deed Poll, and I was reassured by their website which has a number of testimonials from happy customers.
Including this one:
No wonder he changed his name! Peter Cockburn! It’s 2014! Imagine being called Peter!
My name has always been a problem for me. Everyone seems to struggle with “Max Dickins”; people always spell it Max Dickens, and then ask me whether I’m related to Charles.
I’ve actually stopped correcting people who spell it wrong, I haven’t got the energy. Unless it’s absurdly wrong. British Gas once made out a bill to “Axe Dickend”. Which is less a name, and more an order.
I’ve often thought of changing my name for sheer convenience, but also because “Max Dickins” just isn’t very showbiz. It’s hard to see it up in lights.
Have you seen Great British Bake-Off? The bloke who presents it is called “Paul Hollywood”. That’s his actual name, not his porn star name.
I bet they didn’t even make him audition. He just walked into the casting room, and the producers went “So, what’s your name?” And he would have purred “My name’s Paul Hollywood,” and they would have given him the job on the spot. And then he probably made love to them for hours.
So on Wednesday evening last week, sat on my living room sofa, Groupon voucher in my hand, I decided it was time for a change. So I put out a message on my Twitter:
“I’m changing my name by Deed Poll to whatever your best suggestion is. Go nuts.”
And there were hundreds and hundreds of responses. The first one was:
Ulrich Van Der Hoogstraaten
I loved it! So much of getting a new name was about throwing off my old identity. My Groupon Adventure had changed me. I was living a different life now, full of risk and fun and spontaneity.
Groupon was the tool I had used to create a new me, and I needed a new name to match.
Max Dickins sounds like an accountant in Slough with three kids and a distant wife. Ulrich Van Der Hoogstreaaten sounds like a dildo entrepreneur with a pet cheetah.
More and more suggestions flooded in:
Mr Prick Whimper
The Hotel Brothers
Imagine being called The Woolf! “Do you, Emma Jane Hattersley, take “The Woolf”, to be your lawfully wedded husband?” “I do”.
Some great names there, and weirdly I think I regularly get spam e-mails from a lot of these guys already.
There are some rules when you change your name by Deed Poll. For example, it can’t be offensive, so I ruled these suggestions out:
Peter The Rapist
Captain Cunt Smasher
And the names must be pronounceable, so these were out too:
It also can’t contain numbers, symbols or punctuation marks, so these were gone:
Mine’s The Beef
That’s Not My Hat
There can be no copyright protection of names, meaning all these were fine:
Sir Trevor McDonald
Michael McIntyre (imagine the extra bookings!)
So what did I go for? I was keen on Ulrich Van Der Hoogstraaten, but if I got irritated by people misspelling Dickins, this would be leaping straight from the frying pan into the fire. So it had to be spellable, but I also wanted to keep my first name.
Otherwise the confusion would be terrible. If I changed my name to “The Woolf”, say, then someone trying to get my attention would just end up shouting “The The The The The” repeatedly, and I’d obviously ignore them, assuming they had a stutter.
So it would be Max Something. But what Something? Surely it had to be a nod to my new ideology? A passionate endorsement, a linguistic shrine to Groupon? Surely it had to be:
Yes, last week I became Mr Groupon. Here’s my new passport: