Being a Bob

Posted on March 25, 2011

I searched my name on Google the other day and it was not until I got to Bob Letha… that my name came up on the predictive search where Google guesses what you are inputting. I came to the conclusion that my millions of readers must already have Blog firmly in place at the top of their “favourites” list saving them time using search engines. Either that or they use Ask Jeeves the once heavily advertised search engine that now attracts up to ten users a week world wide.

The Top Ten Bob’s are as follows:

1. Bob Marley
2. Bob Dylan
3. Bobbi Brown
4. Bob The Builder
5. Bob
6. Bob’s Burgers
7. Bob Geldof
8. Bobby Brown
9. Bob Diamond
10. Bob Bob Ricard (why two Bob’s I don’t know)

So there are two brilliant singer/songwriters in there plus Bob Geldof and Bobby Brown. I presume Bobbi Brown is the same guy as Bobby Brown and it could be argued that Bobbi and Bobby aren’t really Bob’s at all, but they are in the top ten, so you will just have to deal with it the best you can. Bob’s Burger’s is an animated American sit com show that is related to the Simpsons but, apparently, only as a third Cousin removed in terms of humour. If you haven’t heard of Bob the Builder you have no children, you have never visited a shop and you have spent the last fifteen years of your life sat in front of the TV wearing earplugs and a blindfold.

It is only when I got down to Bob (Bob) Ricard and Bob Diamond that I had to have a peek. When I saw the name Bob Diamond, for some reason the words “prick” and “utter” sprang immediately to mind, and sure enough, the first page I clicked on to was a headline in The Independent reading Bob Diamond: No Apologies. No Restraint. No Shame. I won’t go in to it too much, you can read it yourself, but Bob has paid himself an £8.5million bonus just a year after the worst banking crisis since the Wall Street Crash. Subconsciously I knew Bob Diamond was a prick, it is either the name Diamond that has done this, or maybe I have heard about this prick before and stored his name somewhere in the back of my brain called the prick department.

It turns out that Bob Bob Ricard is a restaurant in St James Street, London, and according to the critics, not a bad one at that:
To serve consistently good food from such a hugely eclectic please-all menu until 3am is both generous and hospitable, but also, I suggest, overly ambitious. Bob Bob won’t ever get to the level of its personal idol, The Wolseley, but there is good business to be had by meaning a bit less to more people. I like the energy, ideas, accessibility and most of all, the sense of affordable fun – something we will all need in the years to come.

I became a Bob at a very early age after being named at birth as Robert. Apparently I only narrowly avoided the name Angus after a late intervention from my Father as Scottish names featured prominently in our family, with brothers called Bruce and Graham and sisters Lorna and Sarah. Legend has it that I evolved from Robert to Bob courtesy of a character named “Fat Bob” in the Scottish comic “Oor Wullie”. My siblings must have had an impressive sense of irony a tender age as I was in fact a scrawny little wretch, with little more meat on me than your average hedge sparrow. Still, Bob I became and it hasn’t changed to this day.

I don’t mind being a Bob, but since I arrived in the working environment from eighteen onwards everyone I have ever spoken to on on the phone has assumed that I am an old bloke of 60 odd, as in their mind’s eye they see a Bob as someone in blue overalls with a Tupperware sandwich box and an ability to solve a whole array of practical solutions. Bob is a general handyman’s name really, so it is deliciously ironic that if you were to design a spectrum and place “Handyman” at one end of it, this particular Bob would be hanging on for dear life at the other, one place behind Frank Spencer but marginally in front of my Uncle Ian who would be desperately clinging on to my ankles.

I have often wondered if I would have had more success in life as a much younger and racier sounding Rob, as during my twenties any introduction to a would be employer or, more importantly, the female of the species, would be greeted with “Hello  B-B-Bob.” I can’t remember once laughing at these Blackadder impressions, but I politely let everyone believe that they were the first person to make this joke, even when the series was approaching its 15th anniversary. Blackadder was an excellent series, but I will never forgive Richard Curtis and Ben Elton for the “Bob” character. Don’t even get me started on Bob the fucking Builder. However, Rob is just too flash for me, I know some really decent (albeit quite old Bob’s) whilst Rob’s tend to remind me off naff shades, rolled up suit sleeves, and wanky cars.

So Bob it stays then, and as the years pass I am beginning to look more like the genuine article people have always visualised. However if you expect me to turn up at your house in a van with “Bob a Job” written on it, and an impressive collection of nuts and bolts in an Old Holborn tobacco tin, you are misguided in the extreme as this particular Bob is destined to remain a practical imbicile until the day he meets his maker.

For the record the nearest search engine name to mine is a chap called Bob Letham, there is no other Bob Lethaby on Google. Bob is a Presbytarian Evangilist preacher from some nut house region of the United States.

Thankfully, our names are where our similarities end.

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