• Philip Bryer

The Game of the Names


A few years ago, I walked into a local pub and was greeted thus by Kirstie, the bartender:

“Hello! Haven’t seen you in ages! How are you getting on, Pete?”

The warmth of the welcome may not have been reflected in the getting of my name right, but I didn’t really mind. Indeed, when someone pointed out that she’d got the moniker all askew, she delighted in calling me ‘Pete’ just for jolly, and I returned the favour by calling her Carol, or some such. It was our ‘thing’.


I was back in the same manor last Friday, but in a different alehouse, when I heard of an engaging twist on the whole first name business. A verbatim transcript would put it over best, I think:

Brian: “I’m not sure about the rest, but I know that ‘your’ Colin is going.”

Martin: “I see.”

Martin spots the need for some exposition and turns to me: “I should explain about ‘my’ Colin.”

Me (thinks): Well, here’s a bombshell.

Martin: “At one time, there were so many Colins who were regulars here that someone came up with a simple system.”

Me: “?”

Martin: “We were all assigned a Colin.”

Brian: “’My’ Colin is the one I’m in the cribbage team with.”

Martin: “And ‘my’ Colin is the one who is always telling me ‘interesting’ facts.”


A pub with upwards of a dozen Colins clearly needs an innovative approach; I was in the presence of genius.


When the time rolled around for the traditional wander back through town, incorporating a quick pitstop before reaching the railway station to await the Bridgwater Flyer, I returned our empty glasses to the bar:

“Thanks, Tom,” I said.

His reply?

“Cheers, Nigel.”




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