Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Unbearable Opaqueness of Stig

A lot of my close friends call me Stig and have done so for many years. I'm frequently asked why this is. Well, here's the not very exciting or interesting skinny ...

When I was at school I was a scruffy bastard and our delightfully acerbic and wholly eccentric geography teacher, Mr Fox, used to call me his little 'Stig of the Dump'. He had a name for most of his pupils. Jon Bates was known as 'Master Bates', a joke we didn't get until we were young teenagers. But when we did we chortled and guffawed until our balls dropped.

To be honest, it wasn't really a nickname. Other than Foxy, no one actually called me Stig. They preferred 'Steve' or 'Stevyn' or 'Colgate' or 'Spastic' or 'You filthy boy'. But I adopted the name anyway as my artistic nom de plume, using it to anonymously claim authorship of my dodgier, more teacher-critical or downright naughty cartoons.

Stig of the Dump circa 1977. A vision in cheap denim.

When I left school the nickname, such as it was, was left behind me in Cornwall. I moved up to London to work and became plain old Steve again. That is, until a curious coincidence occurred ...

Sometime around 1990 - some 13 years after the last person had called me Stig - I was working in Hendon, North London. One memorable morning, two items of post arrived for me both of which had spelled my name wrong. Now, I'm quite used to this. I don't know why the simple six letters C O L G A N cause people problems but I regularly get mail addressed to Mr Colean, Coglan, Clogan, Colgram, Cohen, Coghlan, Colon and other variants. Steve Coogan is a regular one. Oh, for a few mis-directed pay cheques! But on the day in particular, the junk mailer had exceeded his/her/itself. My letter was addressed to Mr Goblin.

The resurrected Stig in 1990. Not quite rid of the New Romantic hairstyle.

Goblin for feck's sake! How can you mistake Colgan for Goblin? But, just in case that hadn't caused hilarity enough in the office, the next letter was addressed to Mr Stig Coonan. Not only a duff and almost racist surname but a duff and altogether silly forename too. One of my friends and colleagues - the redoubtable Mr Christopher Hale - decided that this was the best fun ever and, before you could say 'misnomer' I had become Stig Goblin; every piece of correspondence, every time sheet, even the sign on my desk that proclaimed it my territory, now read Stig Goblin.

So what did I do? I did the same thing as I'd done in the 1970s. I embraced my inner Stig. I claimed him. It was, presumably, my destiny. Or something. Stig Goblin became my monicker whenever there was a caricature to be drawn or acid essay to be written for some scathing newsletter or circular. Stig was back and he was edgy!

So there. A potted history of Stig.
Oh, and, obviously, I am not The Stig from TV's Top Gear. I could never cram this chunky body into that driver's suit.

1 comment:

Me said...

He is not dead - he is just a recluse. To those who have known stig for years - he cant go anywhere.
Fingers crossed on the book front - can't wait to read the exciting news!