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  • Nick Drew

What’s in a name?

Listening to the radio in the car on the way home the other night, I heard “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby. What a great classic song from the 80’s, with madcap prof Dr Magnus Pyke who repeatedly shouts “Science!” and “Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto! You’re beautiful!”. I wasn’t sure what became of Thomas Dolby, I can’t remember any other hits he had, but I thought what a great stage name Dolby was to record under. I was pretty sure that wasn’t his real name and thought I would google him when I got home. That got me thinking about names and how useful an alias or “nom de plume” was in promoting yourself.


Thomas Morgan Robertson was nicknamed Dolby for always messing around with keyboards and tapes. The name came from the audio noise-reduction process from Dolby Laboratories used in recording and playback. There are many well known stars who have stuck with and had major success with their nickname. Sting - after the black and yellow striped sweater he wore, Pink - did the hair colour come first or after? Ringo - Richard Starkey. And then there are those who have changed them to become a part of their creative scene like Garry Glitter and Alvin Stardust at the height of glam rock and Rat Scabies and Johnny Rotten with punk.

But intentionally or not, the names work for them and suite the professions they are in. Originally, back in the day, names were used to mark a profession, like Butcher, Baker and Thatcher.

My own surname for instance Drew, someone who drew for a living? I read ages ago that it was old English and derived from the name Druid, or druwids meaning “oak-knower” after their supposed practice of performing rituals under oak trees. Or is it dryw from the Welsh meaning “seer” or “wren”, which kind of fits me as one of my nicknames at school was Mystic Nick and the fact that being a bit of a “twitcher”, err, that’s someone who goes out of their way to watch birds (the feathered kind!). I kinda always liked the wren, a tiny little pert bird with a very loud and strong song that when I hear it always makes me stop and register what I am thinking about and doing at that moment!


Other meanings of Drew from around the world are: beloved, dear, ghost, lively, lover, son, strong, to carry, and vigorous. So perhaps Drew doesn’t really mean anything, language is so broad you can find so many options and similarities to a word that you can come up with any meaning if you search hard enough.


How about Nicholas? Leader of the people, St Nicholas, Father Christmas. Apparently I was due to be born at Christmas hence Nicholas, but was born a couple of weeks late! At school some one said “Nicholas girls shouldn’t climb trees” and stood with a broad grin waiting for my response. I agreed that perhaps girls shouldn’t climb trees, though I knew plenty of girls who did, or would like to, but It was years later that I understood the true meaning of that statement!


Names are great. I love them. The more outlandish the better. I went to school with a Justice Twi-Yeboah. And there are some unfortunate names out there: Ben Dover, Bud Light, Moe Lester. In an old encyclopaedia of superstitions printed in 1947 that I have, it states “AGNES, Persons named Agnes always go mad.” And what about the great classics like the Reverand Canaan Banana, the first president of Zimbabwe.


But getting back to your name referring to your profession, I think I am going to change it to Nick Pantone, colourful!!



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