Nothing compares to you? An Irishwoman’s Diary on namesakes

Donald Trump: an uncharacteristic outburst of humility. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

Donald Trump: an uncharacteristic outburst of humility. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

 

Sharing your name with a famous person presents certain challenges. Just ask any Sinead O’Connor. Imagine endless strangers asking when you stopped shaving your head, or telling you that “nothing compares to you”? And then you have to fake laugh and pretend you’ve never heard this poor attempt at wit before.

Try ordering a pizza delivery when your name is Harry Potter. Most likely you will be asked why your pet owl won’t deliver it before they hang up on you in the belief that you are a prank caller.

Imagine the excitement in a restaurant when a table of six is booked in the name of Colin Farrell. Swiftly followed by the disappointment when the Colin Farrell in question is a 78-year-old priest and not the famous actor the restaurant staff were tremulously expecting. And the party of six is Fr Farrell’s parish council and not a glitzy gathering of Hollywood royalty.

Londoner Kate Middleton can tell many such stories. Her Facebook page was deactivated on the grounds that she was an impersonator after the other Kate got engaged to Prince William. The royal engagement triggered 3,000 friend requests to the Londoner, according to Vice. She received offers to make her wedding dress and cake, as well as a request for a wedding invitation from a supposed “third cousin”.

It must be ego-crushing when people are routinely disappointed to see you. She remembers checking into a hotel in Romania and in large underlined red letters under her booking was “NOT THE PRINCESS”.

And then of course there are the business challenges. Try moving your website to the top of Google searches when you share your name with a celebrity. The male Seattle photographer and woodworker Taylor Swift would probably like to shake off that connection. He was forced to abandon his excellent email address – taylorswift@gmail.com – for work purposes after receiving thousands of overwrought messages from fans of Tay-Tay. The photographer also knows what it’s like to unwittingly let down your audience after hearing a collective sigh of disappointment when he stood on stage to give a TEDx talk.

Yes, having a famous name-twin can place high expectations on you. Manchester office manager Naomi Campbell is 5 feet and 1 inch tall and if she had a pound for every time someone told her she was much shorter than expected, she might be as rich as the statuesque model. However, she has received free entry to nightclubs so there are some perks to having a famous name-twin.

But having a famous name doesn’t always protect you as Ronald MacDonald explains in the documentary called – excuse the asterisks – I Love Your F***ing Name. Young Ronald must have thought he couldn’t fail when he began working in McDonald’s aged 16. But unfortunately, the American teenager suffered the ignominy of being fired. Now middle-aged, he accepts that his eulogy will have some reference to his namesake with the big red shoes. “Just keep it off the headstone,” he pleads.

Software developer Mike Pence has no truck with another Mike Pence who also happens to be the US vice-president. To underline that, his Twitter handle, @mikepence, explains that he is “a nature lover, proud grandpa… Not a Christo-fascist politician”.

But surely we must reserve our greatest sympathy for oncologist Dr Donald Trump. The distinguished medic was interviewed by the Washington Post when the other Trump was running for the US presidency in 2016. The oncologist said he had experienced some “light-hearted ribbing” about his name over the years but the tenor of the remarks changed after his namesake announced his candidacy. People began to be more sympathetic about the coincidence. Well, if they were sympathetic in 2016, he must be deluged with condolence cards by now.

The good doctor may be unique as he appears to be the only person in the world acknowledged by the US president as being more important than him. In a 2010 fundraising drive for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr Trump asked The Donald to shave his head in the “Bald for Bucks” campaign. Needless to say, those golden locks remained untouched by a razor, but the institute did receive a donation from the Trump Foundation, and a video message for the doctor.

In an uncharacteristic outburst of humility, Donald Trump told his namesake: “Believe it or not what you do in life is more important than what I do in life. So, I’d say Donald L Trump, which is you, is probably more important than Donald J Trump, which is me.”

Those words may console the doctor as the US faces into another bruising election campaign. Perhaps he should start a support group with the good Mike Pence, the smaller Naomi Campbell and a long-haired Sinead O’Connor. It could be chaired by Graham Norton – the training supervisor from Essex, obviously – not the other one.

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