Thursday, 10 June 2010

How I became Michael ( yet still was John)


In 1965 I found employment at the lowest level of the U.K. Civil Service.  I became a “Clerical Assistant” at the Bristol branch office of the Inspectorate of Armaments, (I-ARM) and the Inspectorate of Fighting Vehicles and Mechanical Equipment, (IFVME) (both were part of the Ministry of Defence).

In essence I was a gopher for more senior Civil Servants who provided administrative services for engineers. They in turn made inspections at those local firms which had contracts to manufacture armaments, fighting vehicles, and mechanical equipment.

On my first day of work my new boss gave me a tour of the various offices in order to introduce me to the folks I would encounter day by day. 

My name is John Michael Povey.  Hitherto I had been known to all and sundry as “John”.  This new boss introduced me as “Michael”. 

I am a notorious “people-pleaser” so I did not correct his use of my middle name.

At the end of my first week this boss realized his mistake and told me so.  Since there was already a person named John in my section I told this boss not to “issue a correction” and I assured him that I would respond well as folks called me “Michael”.  (To be truthful, I was intrigued by this use of my middle name!)

A year later I returned to my initial career as a banker, at the Knowle (Bristol) branch of the Westminster Bank.  Since there were already two “John’s” in that office I decided to continue the use of my middle name.

Four years later I decided to become an Anglican. I joined the C of E at Christ Church, Clifton (Bristol), and without much thought I introduced myself as “Michael”.

Thus it is that my dear family members (and some pre-1965 friends) know me as “John”.  It’s a good name, and I like it.

Folks whom I have met since 1965:- at work, in seminary, and in parishes, know me as “Michael”.  It’s a good name and I like it.

I think that it is “cool” to be both “John” and “Michael”.

(My Dad and Mum were not so sure about this.  They expressed some discomfort as I began to use my middle name.  With “lofty arrogance” I reminded them that they had given me two forenames, but that they had never told me that I could not use my middle name.

I was fairly “snotty” with Mum and Dad that day.   Long after my Dad’s death (in 1974) I remembered that he too had used his middle name. Dad was “Henry John Povey”.  But he was forever known as “Jack”.)

I find it easy to be John with some, and Michael with others.

But, do not ever call me “Mike”.  This usage “calls out” some testiness in me.

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