Bill P. Godfrey et al


Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Bill by any other name

When I was born, I was given this name...
"William Wellington James John Hamilton Maurice Phillips-Godfrey"

That's five middle names and a double-barrelled surname. Quite the mouthful.

My grandfather was called "William Wellington Godfrey", and I have an uncle called "James". The "Phillips" part of my surname came in through my grandmother re-marrying. I have no idea who John, Hamilton or Maurice are. (Sorry guys.)

Through life, some of these middle names got snipped quite arbitarily. Forms with boxes for "full name" would only be filled as long as there was space, which usually meant only as far as "James".

The reduction of my surname from "Phillips-Godfrey" to just "Godfrey" happened around when I was 10. My parents changed thier surname, and since we were minors, my sister and I acquired new surnames. My elder brothers, who were adults by then, retained thier "Phillips-Godfrey" names and still go by that name today.

The silliness of all these middle names finally became too much at university. Near the end of the course, a university official and I were routinely going over some documents. We had my birth certificate and a copy of my parent's name change declaration. The offical noticed that my university record did not have my full name, due to my leaving some middle names out years earlier. He got rather upset at this. "Your certificate will have the wrong name."

That was it. Sitting in an office in Alma Street, Coventry, I made the next great decision about my name. "I don't have middle names any more. I dropped them a while ago."

"A while" was in fact about three seconds, but no matter. Those middle names have never really done anything for me and have only ever been the target of jokes. In the many years since, I've not regretted it.

Fast forward to the present day, and I have a website with the name "BillPG.me.uk". The P has come back. (And stop giggling at the back.)

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to have a more distinctive name, as there are a lot of Bill Godfreys out there. Restoring my original surname seemed the ideal solution, except I didn't like it very much once I saw it on screen. By then I had already bought this domain.

In the end, the extra P worked out well. Its better than more correct "BillG" which means "Bill Gates" to most people in the technology field.

Alas, the underlying problem remains. Do a Google search for Bill Godfrey and the first result isn't me, but an artist in Pennsylvania. I'm the second link, and they are linking to my old website instead of this one.

There's a lesson for us all. Don't take the P.

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