Hello. I want you to be among the first to know that I’m changing my identity. In future I will be known as… Eddie Mair. I realise this won’t come as a shock to you, but I’d like to explain my thinking.
Initially I toyed with the idea of changing my name to Anastasia Beaverhausen or General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, because they would render my life more colourful. “Good evening, this is PM with Anastasia Beaverhausen.” Or: “Good evening, this is PM with General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett. Sir Anthony is off tonight, I’m Carolyn Quinn.” Endless fun. Lovers of situation comedy will know the names are already associated with other people: Karen Walker from Will & Grace, and the pigeon-loving great survivor from Blackadder Goes Forth; so they’re probably off-limits to me. The same goes for Lulu.
Why am I changing my name? It all started when I switched mobile phone company to a new network that insists on the chattiest of correspondence. All the bills, emails and texts greet me by my first name, like an old pal putting their arm around my shoulder after several pints. I don’t really mind this, except the name they have for me is from the credit card I used to join them: Edward.
This name has been handed down a few generations, but like my uncle and grandfather before me, I’ve never been called that by anyone. It’s been Eddie for as long as I can remember, apart from, I’m told, in my earliest years when I referred to myself as Eggie. Stupid boy.
After the umpteenth friendly text arrived from my chummy mobile network I decided to ask if they wouldn’t mind just abbreviating the Edward to Eddie. The people at the call centre told me that was impossible. I explained I wasn’t trying to change my last name, or change my first name to Anastasia. It was just like Robert becoming Bob or Elizabeth becoming Liz. I think they thought I was a complete Richard.
They explained they could only change the name over the phone if Edward had been a typo. To change the name, I would need to write.
Two months later a letter arrived addressed to Edward, explaining that they would also need some documentation, such as a driving licence or passport. Fair enough: identity theft is serious. But it turns out that to get your driving licence changed they need to see a passport with your new name. Or vice versa. “Baaaah,” I thought. If it’s going to be this hard I might as well go for a name with Hogmanay in it.
After several pints with friends, who had already forgotten my name anyway, I resolved to see this through to the end. The passport people had explained that by legally changing my name by Deed Poll (or wait a minute… why not change it to Deed Poll?), all the paperwork would fall into place.
I called my solicitor, who advised that the whole thing would only cost a few hundred pounds! What a marvellous use of money.
As I write I await the paperwork. It is my fervent hope that before long, you will be able to call me Eddie Mair. Although I’m a bit worried I wrote Eggie on the form. I’ll say it was a typo.
Eddie Mair presents PM, Monday – Friday 5:00pm, and iPM, Sat 5:45am, 5:30pm, both Radio 4