When the story of my life is written, not in stone, but perhaps scribbled hastily on the back of a cigarette packet by someone I barely knew, maybe the only one willing to have a stab at my eulogy, I hope they at least get my name right.
For the first 16 years of my life I was an Anthony and whilst there came and went a small selection of alternatives I may have been tempted by, such as Alvin, Elton or Marc – these tended to fade the moment the respective singer’s star fell from the music charts. I had always known about Tony of course. The shortened version, or as my Nana used to say, the lazier version or for people who wanted to sound Italian. She had many more objections but you will just have to wait until I finally release my ‘Bumper Book of Nanarisms’ to discover the others.
Everything changed on my first day at work. At the tea-break, where everyone, including the foundry cat seemed to be smoking, I introduced myself as Anthony.
“OK Tony… that’ll be three teas and five coffees.”
‘It’s Anthony,’ I said, with a smile then underlined it with an emphatic, ‘Anthony Bradley.’
“Whatever you say Tony; we all take two sugars by the way.”
Although Tony got a foothold that year I worked in Porters Engineering, my family and school friends weren’t so easily tempted by its economy of letters or that casually dropped syllable. It wasn’t so much the name that persuaded me to abandon my apprenticeship and move on from those Dantesque casting pits, where my slimness sometimes required me to climb up inside the actual Furnace like some Victorian chimneysweep, it was more the suggestion from my Doctor that my next lung infection could well be my last! So with the country caught in the teeth of a recession, I reluctantly turned to the military for my escape.
Anthony made one gallant last stand during basic training but was so trampled underfoot on that dusty parade ground that I finally accepted Tony through sheer exhaustion. And so it remained for 10 long years; Anthony confined to the exile of my close family and legal documents, while Tony strutted his stuff around the world. My conscious decision to avoid any discussion of my service life beyond the biographical similarities found in the foothills of my new novel Tales of the South Atlantic, the one thing of note I still take pride in from this time concerns another name, my son’s.
The eighties and nineties was a time when the gloves really came off, when it came to naming our kids. How many Pixies, Chinchillas or Darius’ are out there, who are truly 100 percent happy with their name? My son had the appalling bad luck to be born during those few weeks when the name Damian was briefly rehabilitated from the Devil-Child character of the occult screamer The Omen to become an acceptable moniker for a baby boy. Unfortunately his Mother absolutely insisted on it, however, she was in hospital and I was the one going to the Registry office. Besides, his new name still started the same and used half the letters, so in my eyes it was a fair compromise, which finally allowed me to give someone the name of my first musical hero.
How I slipped from that regimented life into the no holds barred world of banking, property and management in London I will never know. Yet I did, somehow, and for all of the glamour and fast pace of my exciting new life at the centre of the universe, I was often too exhausted to enjoy it all. So when I finally realised that it could not go on forever, I began making plans for an escape. My exit strategy sounded crazy to most of my friends, but at the age of 39 I kissed my job, and more importantly the money, goodbye and retired from working for any employer so I could travel the world and concentrate on my writing.
“So… what has this got to do with your stupid name?” I hear you rightly ask. Well, it’s about the writing or rather the name I use on my books.
I decided my future would not just be about living a new life, but living it in another country. Turkey had always been a curiosity for me and I had been there twice before. However, it was something more basic than this that finally persuaded me to move to Istanbul; a love interest who lived there. What little I knew about Turkey was gleaned from the internet and in those days tended to warn people and businesses that it is a bit like the Wild West: there are dangers but there are also opportunities for the brave. With this in mind my partner and I plunged into setting up a business, which would be based on the ideas we put forward in the first of the two lifestyle books we published together. So, despite everyone in Turkey knowing me as Tony, I decided to dust off Anthony and place it on the cover of that book.
The book did very well.
Today, a few years, and relationships, further on, I am ready to launch my first novel in the UK on Kindle. And yet, I discover the debate surrounding my name has again burst into life. Here’s the, not quite verbatim, last conversation I had with my son on this issue:
David: Tony is smaller, it’s snappier; it would allow more space on the cover to be bigger than Anthony.
Me: Tony, Anthony, oh you know who I am!Yes but I am already published and successful as Anthony Bradley.
David: Doesn’t count.
Me: What do you mean doesn’t count? Those books were in the Bestseller Top 20 for 6 months between them and the first book reached Number One Bestseller.
David: Yeah but that was in a different country, a different genre.
Me: But Anthony goes better with Bradley
David: Tony goes just as well
Me: You know I really should have named you Damian when I had that chance
Take care good reader
Regards Anthony… yes!
Although I really don’t mind being called Tony… it’s up to you.