“Please, I’m not who you think I am. I’m really not who you think I am.” – Evelyn Salt
Throughout my working life I have been plagued by the same problem constantly. It’s not the fact that I actually have to do work, nor is it being chased down corridors by purple and yellow-spined photocopiers gnashing their teeth hungrily because they were fed paper and now want some flesh as dessert. No, my problem is my name. In over half of the jobs I’ve had, there has been someone else in the company with the same one as me. This has caused huge problems with emails, post and pitiful ITV-level comedic confusion over the phone.
However, I am lucky in the respect that never have I been or have overshadowed any other person with my name either in the workplace or in the wider world; the closest I’ve seen is an American TV evangelist who has accumulated nearly 500 followers on Twitter. Wowee!
I do feel sorry for any everyday William Smiths and Martin Johnsons out there who shall forever be stuck in the shadows of the Fresh Prince and a World Cup winning rugby captain. But what if you were already a semi-famous sort of person who was doing this overshadowing but were instead, much like Edward the Mixed Traffic Engine, usurped by another person with the same name? Should we have sympathy for you then?
This is the case of ex-footballer Danny Wallace. Danny was the Jermaine Defoe of his day; talented and well-known enough but not quite at the top of his game (fortunately for Danny, he never had to play for Tottenham). He had a strong career at Southampton and for a few years at Man Utd, but fell off the radar in the early 90s with no real reason given. The sad fact was that Danny’s career ended before he was 30 when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which, sadly, sort of put a giant steaming turd on his football career. Like many a football player with a semi-successful career blighted by injury will continue to be (only the most rabid Ipswich Town fans will remember Kieron Dyer), he was forgotten.
While this is usually the end, with the player’s name cropping up in various pub quizzes and memories of the day being recalled, this story did not end. What happened was the emergence of a humorist by the name of Danny Wallace. Obviously.
Wallace wrote books, started a cult, starred in almost every single radio and TV show known to man as is the case with television’s minor celebrities and through exposure alone has become the first person people scramble to when trying to think of who in the hell Danny Wallace is, mostly when I explain I’m part of his ‘cult’ thing. Sure, they’re getting the right person but they shouldn’t be!
This isn’t a slight on new Danny; he’s a really nice guy, polite, friendly and all that. He raises money for charities and certainly does his bit. However, old Danny Wallace has also raised money for charity too. Even with MS, he ran and completed the London Marathon in 2006 and has started his own charity to raise awareness of and help sufferers deal with the condition. He’s also a nice guy, polite and friendly. In an ideal world, both should be respected for their work, but until then its my job to sing the song of the unsung. Sorry new Danny.
Bonus extra link! Step forward Vi Hart, the mathemusician whose website is my favourite of the day (especially the maths doodles). Snake snake snake snake…