The man with two names

Why do I have two names?

A few people have been confused by my name appearing as either Paul or John, depending on where you see me at the time.  For example; here, here or here.  It sounds terribly mysterious although the explanation is quite simple.

The blog post title ‘the man with two names’ reminds me of a fabulous old Steve Martin movie from 1983, ‘The man with two brains‘.

If you’ve read my post ‘Numcrunophobia; OMG it’s hereditary‘ you will be aware of my affliction with the ‘loser gene’.  I wear the title of ‘loser’ with some pride but let’s talk about ‘The man with two brains’ because this was the losers’ cult movie of the 80’s.

Steve Martin plays a widowed brain surgeon, Dr Hfuhruhurr (it sounds just the way it’s spelt)

There are two excellent scenes from this movie.  One is with the little girl at the beginning of this clip:

How’s that for listening and comprehension Martin?

The other is when Dr Hfuhruhurr brings his ‘nasty’ new wife home from the hospital, and he can only see the goodness in her horrible personality:

Be happy if you don’t find this humour amusing because it means you don’t have the loser gene.

So back to the original question of how this particular loser ended up with two names.

I was the youngest of five children with four sisters born well before me.  My eldest sister is twenty-one years older than me, and the youngest before me is six years older.  I was completely unplanned and regarded as a mistake.  Back in 1965, there were no tests routinely conducted to identify the sex of a child so, as far as my parents were concerned, I was going to be a girl.

My sisters all had the middle name ‘Anne’. Julie Anne, Carole Anne, Virginia Anne and Michelle Anne.  I was to be named ‘Danielle Anne’.

As you can imagine, my parents got a huge fright when I was born.  Instead of another beautiful girl, my mother gave birth to a boy of huge spherical proportions, and this would have been such a dilemma back then.  There was no such thing as eBay or Gumtree to deal with the problem.  As I understand it, the nuns didn’t want me and, after a long committee meeting, the local beach volleyball club decided against using me as a competition ball because my limbs might get caught in the net and delay play.  They did not want to upset the spectators.  My poor mother and father were stuck with me.


The 1965 Citroen DS, a French car, was the ugliest looking round thing of its time.  When my mother saw one one on a car lot just after I was born, it reminded her of me, and she immediately knew I should have a French name in its honour.  That name was to be Jean-Paul (pronounced ‘zhon-paul’).

A few weeks after my fifth birthday I started primary school.  Back then there were no cool guys like Jean-Claude Van Damme rocking the world stage, even though he was born before me.  Jean-Paul was too hard for kids or teachers to pronounce, so it became the ultimate loser name ‘Gene-Paul’.  This had terrible implications for me, so with some encouragement, my teacher began calling me John-Paul so the other kids would stop teasing me.

After a while, John-Paul became John, and it stuck.  Apart from visits to the doctor, dentist, or interactions with new teachers I rarely had to bear the embarrassment of being called Gene-Paul.

Just before my seventeenth birthday, I asked my mother for a copy of my birth certificate so I could apply for a learner driver’s licence.  I guess mum wanted to destroy the evidence of my existence straight after I was born because she said I didn’t have one.  I had to write to birth, deaths and marriages to request a copy.  To my surprise, and that of my mum and dad, it turned out that my name was Paul Jean and not Jean-Paul.  What the hell?

My mother reckoned my father filled the name registration paperwork out incorrectly.  I think he was trying to do me a favour by putting ‘Jean’ as my middle name.

I have always been happy to be John, and I do prefer it to Paul.  My licence, bank accounts, university records, and everything else are in my legal name, Paul.  But to the people who know me and me, I am John.

It was always my plan to change my name officially to John after my mum died.  Waiting was a matter of respect. Mum passed away in 2008 and my father in 2001.  I never did bother to change it, and I don’t think I will now because it would be a huge hassle.

You may call me John, Paul or Loser.  It’s all okay with me!

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