The night drew in and I burrowed ever deeper into my sofa, flicking through the 456 TV channels available to me in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire.
The night drew in and I burrowed ever deeper into my sofa, flicking through the 456 TV channels available to me in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire. There was nothing to watch. I was starting to despair. I remember when Americans used to tease us Brits: "Don't you guys only have, like, three channels or something? Dude, we've got more than that telling us what's on our television."
When this happened, more often than I care to remember, the old red mist would descend. As I'd watch the cocky Yankee pulling himself off the floor and start to look for his teeth I would realise that I was severely jealous. No longer. Now I long for those halcyon days when we only had three channels and something decent to watch on them. I finally alighted on a programme that announced that, if I promised to continue watching, Gazza would tell us what his new, improved, post-therapy name was going to be.
I did stay watching but only because my channel-flicking finger was suffering from repetitive-strain-syndrome. The great moment duly came and Gazza proclaimed to an audience of demented, drunken students that his new name was to be ... (drumroll) ... G8. This was because, and I quote: "It sounds a bit like great." Top telly! As someone who has changed his name a couple of times, I wish him all the best and hope that this new moniker will do him some good. Somehow I doubt it, but who knows?
I'm currently touring the country trying to plug my spoof autobiography to a fan base that instinctively regards books with deep suspicion. One of the chapters deals with an unfortunate episode in my life when I changed my name while the lead singer of my very own Goth band, The Big Black Dead. As you can imagine, we were a cheerful bunch. If I down a couple of Purple Nasties I can still remember
how to play two of my favourite numbers,
"Cold Hard Slab" and "All is Grey".
At the height of our fame (about one column inch) I decided to change my name to Jazz Black for a while because I thought it might give me the hidden depths and solemnity which were sadly lacking from my adventures in Goth. Needless to say, it didn't. Following an unfortunate misunderstanding with an Iraqi barber, I became the world's only ginger Goth for several months and changed my name again to Agent Orange. These were desperate days.
Seven years later, having reverted to my real name and relinquished membership of the Gothic Universe, I did it again. This time I did it by deed poll which made it all a bit more official. Back in 1997, I was the leader of a powerful political fringe party known as The Teddy Bear Alliance. My party espoused such important policies as a single European honey and getting Pooh Bear a knighthood. We decided to stand against Alan Clark in Kensington & Chelsea at the general election. For this purpose I legally changed my name to Edward (Teddy) Bear. I came fifth with a fairly impressive tally of about 900 votes. Unfortunately, power is an elusive mistress and internal squabbles in our party meant that we were never again to be such a potent force. I can't actually remember if I ever bothered to get my name changed back so I have probably legally disinherited my children, but that's the greasy pole for you.
There is an apocryphal story about Kelvin MacKenzie, when he was running Live TV. They had a big costumed rabbit
called News Bunny, who would sit behind
the newsreader on the channel and give a thumbs-up or down to the news stories. The bunny was made to stand for a by-election and the unfortunate researcher who wore the costume had to change his name to said bunny so that this would be the name read out on the telly. However, during the hurly-burly of the campaign, News Bunny was arrested for obstruction and, because of the police case against him, was not allowed to change his name back for quite some time. He was not best pleased.
Everyone assumes that, as I'm a comedian, my surname is some stage name that I came up with. I'd love to think that if I did have to choose one I'd do a little better than that. Unfortunately history tells us otherwise.Reuse content