Rhodri Marsden: The overuse of people's first names is just sinister, Leah

Life on Marsden

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On the morning after her victory in The Apprentice last week, Dr Leah Totton sat on a well-upholstered orange sofa opposite Lorraine Kelly and reminded Lorraine that Lorraine was her first name. "Not at all, Lorraine," she said, as Lorraine sat back and absorbed this information. Leah evidently knew that Lorraine was called Lorraine.

Lorraine definitely knew. The viewing public probably knew that Lorraine was called Lorraine on account of the show being called Lorraine, and the word "Lorraine" appearing at the bottom of the screen just above a pink digital clock. But that didn't deter Leah.

"We need to make sure that it's perfect, Lorraine," she said, of her business plan, unto Lorraine. If the word "Lorraine" is starting to look weird now, I've probably made my point.

This overuse of people's names to their faces is a horrible manifestation of insincere sincerity, and if I were Sir Alan Sugar I'd firstly splurge some money on something extravagant like lawn sprinklers and then advise Leah to cut it out. It's a terrible habit.

The idea of botox being squirted into my face by Leah Totton doesn't bother me at all, but the idea of her saying "Leah's going to squirt botox into your face now, Rhodri" fills me with untold misery. If you're going to attempt to create an atmosphere of bogus intimacy with me, just buy me some chocolates. My first name is merely an administrative necessity to differentiate me from other human beings when preparing seating plans at wedding receptions. I don't need to hear it. You're looking at me, for chrissakes. With a syringe full of botox in your hand. Or whatever.

There are exceptions, of course. Etiquette permits you to use people's names to their faces under the following circumstances: a) if they've fainted and you're trying to rouse them from unconsciousness; b) if you're proposing marriage; c) if you're proposing divorce; d) if you're alerting them to a lump of masonry falling rapidly towards their head; d) if they've just accidentally put their elbow in the trifle and you want to express disappointment at their clumsiness; e) if you can both hear drums in the distance and you turn to the other person and sing "Can you hear the drums, Fernando", but replace the word "Fernando" with their name in order to make a weak musical gag. Anything else, Leah, is just sinister.

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