What’s in a name? A mediocre one may not take you too far



What’s in a name? It’s a question more and more relevant in today’s world, in which image is everything and the packaging is as important as the product.

When I was a child I used to thrill to the all-action westerns starring Hollywood tough guy John Wayne. But would I have taken him quite so seriously if he’d stuck with his original moniker of Marion Morrison? And what of the incomparable Audrey Hepburn? Might her shimmering elfin beauty have seemed quite so translucent if we’d known we were staring up at Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston?

Even in my own corner of the acting game here in the UK, I’ve often wondered if my career might have been more successful had I struck out more boldly. Michael Simkins? Hardly an appellation likely to set the pulse racing. A work colleague even suggested I change my stage name to Tarquin Blood: but alas, I persevered with my lot, with the result that I invariably get typecast as simpering clerks and ineffectual solicitors (“Take a letter please, Simkins!”)

But it’s not just the acting game that seems preoccupied with image nowadays. Everyone, it seems, is prepared to tinker with their birth certificate if it means getting ahead. Even football clubs.

In case you haven’t heard of the fishing port of Hull, it’s a city in the north-east of England. Bluff and dependable, Hull typifies that region of the country at its most unruffled and undemonstrative. The same may be said for its local football club, Hull City AFC. Founded in 1904, it’s as stolid and unpretentious as the folk it represents.

The trouble is, Hull City AFC has been getting a bit above itself. Where once its weekly opponents were similarly unpretentious towns such as Tranmere and Walsall, it now finds itself competing in the giddy heights of the English Premier League against the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea. And as any movie star will tell you, when you’ve got your name in lights you’d better make sure you get noticed. Stardom doesn’t come cheap.

Which is presumably why the club’s Egyptian-born owner Assem Allam has announced his intention to change the name of the club from Hull City to Hull Tigers. With football teams needing to attract global audiences to maximise revenue stream, the suffix “Tiger” (or so argues Mr Allam) will prove far more attractive and eye-catching to potential audiences in India and the far east than dull old “City”.

In any case, the side has been known colloquially as ‘the Tigers’ for many years, due to its distinctive yellow and black playing strip. What could be less controversial than to synchronise the club’s nickname with its overall marketing strategy?

But in football, traditions are sacrosanct, which is why many loyal fans on the terraces regard Mr Allam’s initiative as betrayal. They’ve spent too many years shivering through bad times and worse to suddenly junk their precious lineage overboard merely on the whim of an entrepreneur. “City till I die” is the chant most loudly sung by the Hull faithful on Saturday afternoons just now, and worryingly for Mr Allam, it’s also the title of the supporters magazine.

So whose view will prevail? “He who pays the piper calls the tune” runs the old saying. Having allegedly invested nearly £70 million (Dh422 million) in the club since taking it over, Mr Allam is no mood to be thwarted. “No one on Earth is allowed to question my business decisions,” he railed recently in an interview with Sky Sports, before adding darkly “but if the community say go away, I promise to go away within 24 hours.” The inference was obvious: in taking his ball and his millions away with him, his departure could well send Hull City spiralling down towards footballing oblivion once more.

But Mr Allam must tread carefully. The revenue generated by loyal supporters coming through the turnstiles each week may only be a fraction of the club’s overall finances, but theirs is the beating heart of any sporting enterprise. If, as threatened, they wreak their revenge by boycotting matches, holding protests and refusing to buy club products, the damage done to the club’s morale could far outweigh any financial benefit accrued by a snazzy new title.

In the meantime, I’m taking the hint and changing my stage name to Tarquin Blood just as soon as I can complete the paperwork. It may not get me any more acting gigs, but at least it’ll ensure my reservation isn’t mislaid when I next book a restaurant table.

Michael Simkins is an actor and writer based in London

Your Guide to the Home
  • Level 1 has a valet service if you choose not to park in the basement level. This level houses all the kitchenware, including covetable brand French Bull, along with a wide array of outdoor furnishings, lamps and lighting solutions, textiles like curtains, towels, cushions and bedding, and plenty of other home accessories.
  • Level 2 features curated inspiration zones and solutions for bedrooms, living rooms and dining spaces. This is also where you’d go to customise your sofas and beds, and pick and choose from more than a dozen mattress options.
  • Level 3 features The Home’s “man cave” set-up and a display of industrial and rustic furnishings. This level also has a mother’s room, a play area for children with staff to watch over the kids, furniture for nurseries and children’s rooms, and the store’s design studio.
     
Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE

Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

Stormy seas

Weather warnings show that Storm Eunice is soon to make landfall. The videographer and I are scrambling to return to the other side of the Channel before it does. As we race to the port of Calais, I see miles of wire fencing topped with barbed wire all around it, a silent ‘Keep Out’ sign for those who, unlike us, aren’t lucky enough to have the right to move freely and safely across borders.

We set sail on a giant ferry whose length dwarfs the dinghies migrants use by nearly a 100 times. Despite the windy rain lashing at the portholes, we arrive safely in Dover; grateful but acutely aware of the miserable conditions the people we’ve left behind are in and of the privilege of choice. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Sustainable Development Goals

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its effects

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

The Bio

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Favourite place to relax in UAE: the desert around Al Mleiha in Sharjah or the eastern mangroves in Abu Dhabi
The one book everyone should read: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It will make your mind fly
Favourite documentary: Chasing Coral by Jeff Orlowski. It's a good reality check about one of the most valued ecosystems for humanity

BACK TO ALEXANDRIA

Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5

Normcore explained

Something of a fashion anomaly, normcore is essentially a celebration of the unremarkable. The term was first popularised by an article in New York magazine in 2014 and has been dubbed “ugly”, “bland’ and "anti-style" by fashion writers. It’s hallmarks are comfort, a lack of pretentiousness and neutrality – it is a trend for those who would rather not stand out from the crowd. For the most part, the style is unisex, favouring loose silhouettes, thrift-shop threads, baseball caps and boyish trainers. It is important to note that normcore is not synonymous with cheapness or low quality; there are high-fashion brands, including Parisian label Vetements, that specialise in this style. Embraced by fashion-forward street-style stars around the globe, it’s uptake in the UAE has been relatively slow.

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Most F1 world titles

7 — Michael Schumacher (1994, ’95, 2000, ’01 ’02, ’03, ’04)

7 — Lewis Hamilton (2008, ’14,’15, ’17, ’18, ’19, ’20)

5 — Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, ’54, ’55, ’56, ’57)

4 — Alain Prost (1985, ’86, ’89, ’93)

4 — Sebastian Vettel (2010, ’11, ’12, ’13)

MATCH INFO

Manchester City 2 (Mahrez 04', Ake 84')

Leicester City 5 (Vardy 37' pen, 54', 58' pen, Maddison 77', Tielemans 88' pen)

Man of the match: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

The studios taking part (so far)
  1. Punch
  2. Vogue Fitness 
  3. Sweat
  4. Bodytree Studio
  5. The Hot House
  6. The Room
  7. Inspire Sports (Ladies Only)
  8. Cryo
Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Tax authority targets shisha levy evasion

The Federal Tax Authority will track shisha imports with electronic markers to protect customers and ensure levies have been paid.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director of the tax authority, on Sunday said the move is to "prevent tax evasion and support the authority’s tax collection efforts".

The scheme’s first phase, which came into effect on 1st January, 2019, covers all types of imported and domestically produced and distributed cigarettes. As of May 1, importing any type of cigarettes without the digital marks will be prohibited.

He said the latest phase will see imported and locally produced shisha tobacco tracked by the final quarter of this year.

"The FTA also maintains ongoing communication with concerned companies, to help them adapt their systems to meet our requirements and coordinate between all parties involved," he said.

As with cigarettes, shisha was hit with a 100 per cent tax in October 2017, though manufacturers and cafes absorbed some of the costs to prevent prices doubling.