Archive for April 6th, 2005

Who is Hugh Green? (Part III): A Happy Coincidence

The clincher for me is that the name I was given at birth matches that of a person renowned for his insincerity and superficiality.

The name is the same as that of a well known British television ‘personality’, Hughie Green (brief biography here. Green presented a TV talent show called Opportunity Knocks, and his catchphrase was “…and I mean that most sincerely folks.” (a nicely ironic statement, similar to “I cannot tell a lie”, or “Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley”) It seemed like a good title for a weblog.

In Andrew O’Hagan’s superb 2003 novel Personality (Terry Eagleton review here), inspired by the life of Lena Zavaroni, Hughie Green makes an appearance as narrator and protagonist. As Terry Eagleton points out, allowing Green to narrate ‘is rather like letting Lee Bowyer have a go at playing Othello’, but Green’s almost unbearably showy insincerity helps to unveil the reality of ‘personality’ and ‘celebrity’: the grubbiness and vacuousness.

I find it almost impossible to write sincerely, and am continually suspicious of my own motives for contributing to weblogs. It is triply ironic, then, that I should relish the fact that Hughie Green and I share the same name.

First of all, I don’t know if Hugh Green came to me as a name, or if I went looking for him.

Second, I am delighted that the name has a wider resonance in the showbiz and literary world.

Thirdly, the fact that I should seek to a connection between myself, a talent show host and a great author is a great consolation, as it confirms to me my own trashiness and vanity.

Right, the ouverture has ended. On with the show!

Who Is Hugh Green? (Part II)

Using a pseudonym for internet correspondence inevitably gives rise to comments directed at one’s persona such as this one:

‘At least I have the courage to post under my real name.’

Interesting here is not so much that the poster thinks it morally superior to use his own name, but that using his ‘real name’ lends credibility to what he is saying. In many cases this is undoubtedly true: a pseudonymous comment on the Queen Mother’s oft-suspected kleptomania* would be considerably less credible than one from Barbara Cartland. But only because we know that Barbara Cartland could speak with a degree of authority on this matter, having been a close friend. However, Barbara Cartland’s ideas on, say, cognitive psychology, would not have been any more authoritative because of her friendship with the Queen Mother, or her delightful novels.

* A schoolteacher of mine once told this tale to the entire class. When the Queen Mother went to open supermarkets and shopping centres (!), she had a man walking behind her who would make note of all the items she would swipe into her handbag. As she left the shop, the man would settle the bill with the manager. Such tales aroused no curiosity or mirth among my classmates. This was, after all, Northern Ireland. If the Queen Mother was a kleptomaniac, it was of no surprise or interest to most of us.

I am Hugh Green

As can be guessed the title of my first post, I am not Hugh Green. Or more accurately, ‘Hugh Green’ is my name, but it is not the name by which I am most commonly known. That said, you are very unlikely to know the name by which I am most commonly known.

I also post on some websites under the pseudonym ‘slackjaw’. But don’t let that put you off.

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April 2005