Friday, June 01, 2007

Clame to Fame

Coincidentally, my first piece for Hustler Magazine - a how to desert to Canada guide for GI's is on Larry Flynt's website - as well as the top shelves of your magazine seller where it includes a nonprovocative picture of yours truly!

Clame to fame

My May "Speculator" column in Investor Relations magazine May, 2007

As President Bush may notice, having a ‘W’ in your name is not always an advantage, finds Ian Williams

At school, the surname ‘Williams’ was an advantage because that initial ‘W’ put me right at the back of the class, away from teachers’ prying eyes. But an alphabetically ordered ballot paper puts me right at the bottom, so most voters only come across it when they have exhausted their votes higher up. After the one time I ran for public office – and lost – I swore that for any future attempt I would change my name to Aaron A Aardvark.

In the old days adulterous couples allegedly signed the hotel register as Mr and Mrs John Smith, to the embarrassment of the occasionally real John Smith who booked in on more legitimate business. My name is getting like that: Ian and Williams are two of the most common names in the English-speaking world, and whole new generations of them are entering the electronically tangible workforce every day.

Google’s half a million or so hits on ‘Ian Williams’ include a film director, a blogger, a Florida football player, a champion British sailor, a racehorse trainer, a rock guitarist, a writer for electronics trade magazines, a risqué film director, a detective, a Welsh rugby player, and so on.

I have one namesake who comes from my hometown and is now in Asia working for Nbc, and I get strange looks sometimes when I pop up at venues where people have just heard my namesake live in Tehran on their TV screen.

It does not help that, in my promiscuous productivity, quite a lot of these Ian Williams are actually me in varying byline avatars, from the Baptist Times to Hustler – and IR magazine, of course.

Debt collection agencies keep making threatening phone calls aimed at yet another Ian Williams, who has at some point lived somewhere near me in mid-town Manhattan and who has skipped on several credit cards.

I am still wrestling with the problem of how to preserve whatever professional equity I have in my name. If a well-known cholesterol vendor can trademark the name of a Scottish clan, why can’t I? After all, three out of the top four hits on Google are me. Another Ian Williams journalist broke the strike at the Murdoch presses in London many years ago and people suggested I change my name when the UK journalists’ union fined him £1,000 ($1,973). But I felt that if he had brought our name into disrepute, he should adopt a new one, not me.

As prolific Williams parents all over the world call their sons Ian, the consolation is that I am beginning to feel a quasi-familial relationship with this growing family, united only by having a Scottish first name attached to a surname with a vestigial connection to North Wales. In fact, I propose to call it a ‘clame’, a group united only by having a cloned name.

In an atomized world where blood family relations get more and more stretched, there is a certain comfort in watching the varied progress of members of my clame – none of whom has any claim on me. Except my second son, who we named...Ian. He will have to start with a pen name.

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