What’s in a (company) name?

Jack and Vera Duckworth

We’ve all read about Iceland going into meltdown, but This news story from last Sunday’s Observer amused me no end.

An Icelandic company called Arev is going down the tubes. Nothing particularly surprising about that during this time of recession, but what’s amusing is that Arev and its sister company Kcaj are named after Coronation Street veterans Jack and Vera (Duckworth).

To make it even more hilarious, a new company that was set up after the buy-out of Aspinal, the leather-goods brand, is called Yerrt – which just happens to be an anagram of Terry, the Duckworth’s wayward son.

Of course, there is a history of people using part of their name or initials to come up with the name of their company.

Famously Alan Sugar named Amstrad after standing Alan Michael Sugar TRADing.

Tesco is named after the two founding partners, TE Stockwell and Jack COhen.

Trebor Mints is, of course, the reversal of the first name of founder Robert Robertson.

However, Arev takes the biscuit. The Icelandics named their company after two people who they liked in a TV series originally shown in another country. A little nutso, dontcha think?

God is my brother

Queen HarrisonAs the Olympics draws to a close, this is possibly my favourite related piece of trivia.

One of the US athletics team, making her debut at the Olympics was a 400m hurdler called Queen Harrison. In fact, her full name is Queen Quedith Earth Harrison.

Now the emergence of off names in America has been catalogued many times before, I have no doubt. But Queen’s family is pretty impressive, even by these standards.

She has 8 direct brothers and sisters and another 14 half-siblings from her dad’s previous relationships. Her brothers and sisters have names such as Victory, Muun, Empress and Kingmaster.

My personal favourite, however, is her brother, whose name is: God Goldin Zig Zag Zig Allah Harrison.

I’m not sure there’s any need to say anything else.

Initial thoughts

Sir Arthur C ClarkeSo Sir Arthur C Clarke, godfather of science fiction and prophet, died this week.

One thing that always struck me was how much more interesting Mr Clarke sounded because his name had that extra ubiquitous middle initial.

Initials are amazing things – they can give boring names an air of mystery and they can depersonalize so that no-one but their friends really know them.

For example, you can understand why restaurant critic AA Gill choose to use his initials, when you discover that his name is Adrian – just doesn’t have quite the same cachet.

JK Rowling famously avoided using Jo, simply because she didn’t think she’d be taken seriously as a woman.

On the other hand, maybe the world would have taken more notice of the American president if he wasn’t known by his middle initial, Dubya. No-one made quite as much fun of his dad, George, did they?

When I first discovered that PG Wodehouse’s names were Pelham Grenville, I always wondered why he didn’t use them. How grand to have such names, but his published name does sound so much better.