Rebecca Tyrrel: 'By 2020, the hope is that Britain will have a politician named Street Downing'


Who knew that there is a member of the US House of Representatives by the name of David Camp who may yet pioneer an exciting variation on the idea of "nominative determinism", or "cognomen syndrome" as Tom Stoppard coined it in his play Jumpers.

This of course is the idea that a person's destiny is shaped by their name. Everyone is aware of the boxer Tyson Fury and the present Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge, while experts in the field also cite David Snowman, the author on the effects of climate change on the polar regions.

This Republican congressman from Michigan, however, is the first recorded guinea pig for the concept of reverse nominative determinism. The crucial question is whether he can become US President, and end up starring in the headline "David Camp flies to Camp David".

The nomen omens are mixed. Mr Camp is the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, a powerful position on Capitol Hill from which three men (James Polk, Millard Philmore, and most recently William McKinley, poor fellow, who was assassinated in 1901) went on to occupy the Oval Office, long before Camp David in the mountains of Maryland became the official presidential retreat in 1942.

On the other hand, Mr Camp is nearly 60, and was treated last year for non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Although he has since announced that the treatment worked and he is free of cancer, John McCain's two episodes of melanoma added to the doubts about the wisdom of electing him.

If Mr Camp does make it to the White House, it will not be for a while since he would probably need to spend some time in the Senate first. The hope is that, by 2020, an as yet unknown British politician by the name of Street Downing will have become prime minister, and will be his official guest at Camp David.

If not, he may still have time for a conventionally nominative determinist career. The congressman, who was educated at Sussex University in the 1970s, and will be familiar with the glory days of Wonderful Radio 1, is better known as Dave Lee Camp. With a name hinting so strongly at a hybrid between DLT and the late Alan "Fluff" Freeman, he could yet become a Harry Enfield character.

Either way, to borrow from both a previous president, Ronald Reagan, and Smashy and Nicey, when it comes to David Camp you ain't seen nothing yet.