For a short while I was rather unkindly called Pasty Face which I understand was a reference to being an insipid looking twelve-year-old with a complexion the colour of wallpaper paste, rather than resembling a Cornish meat and potato dish. And Goldilocks seems quite sweet now, but at the time I didn't take it well, maybe it sounded too babyish. Before that, my first name was conveniently tweaked a little to turn it into an unfashionable and slightly comical-sounding boy’s one. I didn’t like it but just learned to take it on the chin. At least it was better than my young German neighbour’s nickname, Spaz, which, for all its un-PC-ness, was simply a contraction of Sebastian.
Fast forward to my mid-teens and down at the local music venue, which became the centre of a thriving punk scene in the late seventies, there were very few people whose real full names I ever got to know, even though I’d see them there at least once a week.
The punk world was perfect for spawning some memorable monickers, especially useful for those who played in a band. So we had Anarchy and Chunky (no relation to Podge) in one, and Stringy, Snout and Bondage in another. Less evocative-sounding and of unknown origin, but still inextricably linked to their owners, were the names Milky, Till and Dim. And for anyone reading this who knows the poetic output of one Attila the Stockbroker I can reliably inform you that back then he was Basil Boghead.
Then again musicians and singers have been using handy epithets for decades. Iggy Pop has so much more of a ring to it than James Osterberg, Twinkle far more exotic than Lynn Ripley.
I didn’t expect to be using anything other than my given name later on in life – it just seemed to be something you grew out of. And then this internet business changed all that. At least we get to choose our own.