boys’ names

I think mum had a faintly
kinda fetish
‘cos she named her boys with catholic relish
Peter, Michael, Jim?
it’s all a bit old testament & grim
if you ask me
but I was the last
so at least there weren’t any past me
no John or Matthew
no Luke or Patrick
just us three the saintly hat trick

Before I lay me down to sleep, I give my soul to Christ to keep. Four corners to my bed, Three angels there aspread. I don’t know where the fourth one went. Maybe it’s God’s punishment.

so it’s just Jim
that’s it, it’s me, c’est lui, I’m him
or Jimmy
or Jimbo
if you think I’m a clown in a toyshop window
or Jamie
or god help me James
if I work in the city – y’ah? – with portfolios to maintain
or I’m in trouble – again
in which case it’s definitely James
basically Jim in the pub
James in furs and mayoral chains

because it’s strange
how names
can change
a man
I might be good at DIY if I was a Dan
I could probably play the klavier
if I was a Xavier
and if I was a Tom
I’d be into sub dom
and so on

my point is
when our parents anoint us
with a name
our lives are never quite the same
the only way round it
was if they disallowed it
and every baby got a barcode on their shoulder
and named themselves when they got older

because once you’re a Jack
there’s no going back

it’s a problem, this name-thing
every boy’s called the same thing
go to any big gathering
like a gig or a gym
and it’s really quite staggering
how many are called Jim
or Dave. or Richard. or John.
there’s a hard core of twenty – shall I go on?

but anyway – if you forget the name of a boy
do what our mum did and just say ‘Oi’

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