John Walsh: The poor guy - he'll have to change his stationery


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Blimey, that was quick. Barely an hour after the announcement, Sir Fred Goodwin's Wikipedia entry was headed "Fred Goodwin". It looked so bare. Without that all-important Sir, Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh were just historical geezers not heroes. The contraction "Fred" in "Sir Fred" sounded cool; Fred Goodwin just sounds like a bloke down the bookie's.

It is possible to feel a twinge of sympathy for a chap who's had his sword metaphorically snapped in half, his buckler tossed away like a redundant frisbee, his visored helmet yanked from his bowed head. The poor guy. Think of all the personalised, headed stationery that will have to be shredded now. One can only surmise what will become of the Goodwin family escutcheon. Will it be called in by the College of Heralds and adjusted to feature a no-longer-rampant lion failing to secure the best table at The Wolseley any more?

A dozen questions rear their heads. Will Lady Goodwin, his now-estranged wife, have to forgo her title by association? It hardly seems fair, since she did nothing wrong.

And what on earth will happen to other knights of the realm if their behaviour provokes criticism? If Sir Bruce Forsyth fails to dance a passable paso doble, if Sir Alex Ferguson makes a balls of the next transfer season, if Sir Tom Stoppard writes a really incomprehensible play, will the members of the Forfeiture Committee send each other a discreet email? And what's the word for having your Sir taken away? Deknighted? Undubbed?