Monday, 26 February 2007

These islands

"... avoiding the politically insensitive,
but geographically correct"

What's in a name? I shared a house with one Alesteir Zenith Sinclair, formerly known as Kenneth Webb, who changed his name by deed poll because of embarrassing confusion with Harry Webb, better known as Cliff Richard. He gave careful consideration to his new persona, selecting to incorporate the mysticism of Alesteir Crowley, with the vision of Clive Sinclair, and the lot read A-Z Sinclair - he was a courier in London.

As we are busy pulling down walls and rewriting history here, it's time we thought about names. Everybody refers to us now as "These Islands", avoiding the politically insensitive, but geographically correct, British Isles. All very well if you're sat in "These Islands" and have a notion of which islands exactly are referred to. But what of yer man in Tokyo, Beirut, Helsinki or Guam - hardly specific if he's loading up the yacht and about to set sail, is it? While many British people have probably never questioned the name, "These Islands" are teeming with people who would rather swim in the Irish Sea than speak of the British Isles.

I understand from A-Z that it is an easy matter to change your name, and there'll be grand work in it for the atlas printers. Firstly we'll have to pick a name from hundreds, possibly thousands of proposals. Run it like the Eurovision Song Contest without the songs - just the cliffhanger votes, oh bliss. Picture the scene as Terry Wogan/Pat Kenny announce 12 votes to the Pudding Islands. We could sell the rights to CNN or Sky or whoever and get a few bob into the kitty for the work of change.

Then there's the naming bash, perhaps the Millennium Party of all parties, a humdinger of an opportunity to display our wares. A fine project for a North/South body to put in place, not forgetting our pals through Strand 3 and the intergovernmental PR connections. The entertainment line-up will be astounding - and think of the drink! We've always known how to party on "These Islands", a common pleasure that has defied all the barriers between us - what better way to celebrate our new horizons?

Published in Essays from Ireland, in In Motion Magazine - April 19, 1998.

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