This week, SPUD talks nicknames, battle rap, and sodium bicarbonate solution.
Nicknames. A lot of people have them. You almost certainly know someone who does. Maybe you have one yourself.
I’ve had a nickname for about 18 years now.
Oh yes, although at the top of this page you can read the bizarre (and tautological) title Simon Page by Simon Page, no one really calls me that.
In fact, to virtually everyone except my students and my mother, my name is ‘Spud’. Yes, like a potato. Perhaps obviously, the first thing people ask when I tell them this is: “Where did you get ‘Spud’ from?”
Ah, how I wish I had an hilarious potato-based anecdote for them. (Yes, “an” hilarious. Let’s bring that thing back.) I would love to have something really funny for them. Like: “Once I got into trouble with the police because an Irishman bet me that I couldn’t fit one thousand King Edwards into one of the cars on the London Eye,” or something.
But I don’t.
The actual story is that in Year 2, my mate Blob (who had a very fine nickname himself) invented it, owing to the fact that my initials were (are) SP. I told him that was hardly grounds for a nickname. I said it would never catch on. Clearly, 18 years down the line, Blob is having the last laugh.
The thing about nicknames is that you’re never sure when to turn them on and off. I am eternally unsure as to how to introduce myself: Do I go with the inane “Spud” and abandon all hope of being taken seriously or do I go with the icily formal “Simon” and embarrass them if they then call me that in front of my other friends?
“Spud” has become very deeply rooted. Many of my friends don’t know who “Simon Page” is. My wife hasn’t called me that since she read her vows. In fact, I honestly hardly react to “Simon” at all anymore.
It has got to the stage where I have invented new nicknames on top of this nickname. Online, I have evolved, like a rubbish Pokémon, from “Spud” to “El Spud”, which then became “El Spuddddd”, and then “Spuddddd”, and now I just go by “dddddd”.
Then, earlier this year, I decided to give myself a battle rap nickname: “D Unit” although (obviously) I can’t battle rap. Not even a little bit.
Foolishly, however, I let my 1B demonstrating group know this and for the remainder of the term I was plagued by:
“D Unit, where’s the sodium bicarbonate solution?” (It’s on the left hand side of the bay next to the brine, by the way).
At first I enjoyed the “D Unit” thing. A nickname on top of a nickname: brilliant. I loved how it shared almost no letters with my birth name. But then it became a bit weird, and eventually I longed for the days of “Spud” again, which at least bears a passing resemblance to my actual name and street cred.
I don’t know, maybe I went too far with having a battle rap name. I aimed too high. Where eagles dare. I mean, I never actually battle rap. Or even just regular, peaceable rap. Plus, since I became “D Unit” for a term, I have stopped saying “Hello” and started saying “Safe”, and for someone as un-street and old as I am, that is simply not an acceptable greeting.
So I’ll have to revert back to “Spud” again. I am genuinely a real adult who operates within the real world, and my name is Spud. COOL.