When I was born, almost 60 years ago and my mum and dad named me Michael, nobody, apart from close family, were that concerned. When I started school my name was quite ordinary with my surname somewhere in the first part of the alphabet which meant I didn’t sit at the front of the class nor on the back row. Instead I was nicely camouflaged somewhere in the middle. When I started work as a teacher in the early 1970’s my name still did nothing to get me noticed. I was still plain Michael to my mum, Mick or Mike to my friends and Mr. Jackson to the children I taught.
But by the early 1980’s my name had been hijacked. I was an international phenomenon, or at least my namesake was. The name Michael Jackson now turned heads! This has caused me problems ever since. Whenever I have to give my name, for example, when booking into hotels or in response to that ordinary question, “Can I take your name please sir?” I cringe. I’m often tempted to make one up because I know as soon as I say “Michael Jackson” the comments will come. Often people will say, “I bet people are always asking you to sing, or can you moon walk.” It doesn’t stop them from saying it though!
The worst thing with this name of mine is the disappointment it creates! I was recently sat in the waiting room of the out-patients department at our local hospital, waiting for the inevitable. The waiting room was crowded, the consultants were running late, people had been there for hours, they were bored, nothing was happening. Then suddenly one of the consulting room doors opens a nurse steps out and shouts, “Michael Jackson.” Everybody wakes up – people stop reading magazines, all conversation stops, nurses appear from all over the place. There is an air of excitement, eyes are searching to see where he will appear from and then I stand up and walk towards the nurse and the open door. There is an audible sigh of disappointment. Nurses trudge back to their jobs and the waiting patients back to their boredom. The nurse who shows me into the consultant room smiles and says’ “I bet that happens all the time. Can you do the moon walk.” I smile and apologise for my lack of dancing skills. She smiles back but I can tell that I have yet again disappointed another young woman.
I thought his death might bring an end to my misery, but no, my name still engenders the same comments and people still look around excitedly when it is said out loud. This time even more disappointed when they see me, as they had probably been hoping to witness some sort of miracle. The day after the other Michael Jackson died (I was a Headteacher at the time) one of the mums came to see me to tell me that her young 6 year old daughter had gone home the night before and said, “It’s OK mum, Michael Jackson’s not dead, he did our assembly this morning!”