Miles Kington: The perils of being Clayborn, Percy and Ballack

'We wish you'd make your mind up,' said her bank. 'We've got accounts and credit cards for you in three different names.'
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The Independent Online

Today, two more tales for our times, this time from the female angle.

I. The Name's the Game

Rose Clayborn wanted to get married when she grew up, but only so that she could change her name. She did not like the name Clayborn and only hoped that the man she met and married would not be another Clayborn.

He wasn't. He was a Percy. That wasn't his first name, thank goodness. Rose could never have got into bed with anyone whose first name was Percy. But being his last name, it sounded vaguely grand, like the Percy in Shakespeare - and the Duke of Northumberland, wasn't he a Percy too?

So she became Rose Percy and that was her name at work, when she joined an ad agency, and became quite important, and it remained her name after she had divorced Mr Percy, and got remarried to a man named George Ballack.

"How much difference a vowel makes," she said to George. "If you had o's in your name, I'd be Mrs Bollock. But they are a's and I am Mrs Ballack."

"Ah, but the Ballacks used to be Bollocks," said George. "The family was Bollocks for four hundred years. It was my grandfather who changed the name in the 1920s."

So Rose Ballack, who had clearly had a narrow escape, was Ballack at home and Percy at work, and Clayborn on her birth certificate, which created enormous problems every time the bank inspected all her credit cards and statements. And once, when she was hoping to work with children, she was investigated by the police, who then discovered she had three aliases and nearly put her in prison.

It was about this time that George Ballack perished in a truly spectacular accident on the M5, and in her grief she decided to revert to her maiden name.

"We wish you'd make your mind up," said her bank, the Land Trust Bank of Scotland. "We've got accounts and credit cards for you in three different names. We never know if it's you or not."

"Well, it's just one name from now on," she said. "I am Clayborn again."

"So it's Rose Clayborn, then?"

"No - I've never liked the name Rose. I am going to be Angela."

It was shortly after that that the Land Trust Bank of Scotland and Angela Clayborn got divorced and went their separate ways, after which the Land Trust Bank of Scotland amalgamated with some building society and changed its name as well.

MORAL: Oh, for heaven's sake make your mind up, all of you.

II. Whose Wife is it Anyway?

Tabitha Connell wrote one of those women's columns which deal with daily life in a very witty and world-weary way. She talked a lot about her husband, Clark, and made endless fun of his unpunctuality and his hopelessness with engines and mortgages. She wrote about her ghastly neighbours and her tiresome children and even about her parents, who were rather hard going from the sound of it.

It was very funny and very observant, but after a while the editor of her paper called her in and said: "Tabitha, let's have a change of angle. Domestic vicissitudes have been overdone. I think we need something a bit more hard-edged."

"Well," said Tabitha, "I haven't mentioned it in my column for obvious reasons, but I happen to know that my husband is having a torrid affair with a friend of mine. I could write about that."

"Brilliant!" said the editor.

When Tabitha got home that evening, she told Clark that she was going to ask a special favour of him, and not mind if she wrote about him as a faithless husband, although he was nothing of the kind. She explained why.

"Jehosaphat!" said Clark, which was a very understandable reaction, especially considering that he was in fact, under the strain of being written about every week, having a torrid affair with one of her best friends, which Tabitha had no suspicion of at all.

MORAL: Who cares?

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