I was browsing my regular haunts yesterday when I came across this post on the blog belonging to Dave Barry, the American wit and all-round sharp needle.
Although I rarely leave comments on his site (rather too many Americans to make me feel at home), I found the contents of the post so utterly irresponsible that I fired off an immediate reply, which I am now following up by extending it to a letter, expressing my disappointment on behalf of all my fellow Dicks.
Dear Dave Barry,
As a proud Dick, I would like to express my disgust and outrage at the cheap joke made at the expense of Mr. Dick Pole, the pitching coach of the Chicago Reds. Although I’m English and don’t understand a thing about ‘pitching’ (it means something else here in North London and I could never see the need to coach teach what comes so naturally to young boys of a certain age), I’m certain that Dick Pole is good at his job and doesn’t deserve such ridicule. I am also sure that his friends and family would stand firmly beside Mr. Pole to show the world a united front against such cheap Dick shots.
How would you feel if we mocked your name? Here in London, it’s the highest insult to call somebody a ‘Dav’, but would I call you ‘Dav Barry’? No, of course I wouldn’t! It would only cause undue hurt to an American. Yet I wish people were equally sensitive to Dicks. People laugh at Dicks all the time and I can cite the example of Mr. Dick Spring, the former Irish politician, who had to suffer years of sniggering at his name. I also fondly remember Dr. Dick Shaft, a director of British Petroleum, and my good friend, Mr. Dick Drop, head of regional programming at BBC Radio Carlisle.
Are we really living in such unenlightened times that men called ‘Richard’ can’t have a familiar abbreviation? All Dicks face an unenviable choice. Do we bear the stigma of the shortened form of our name or do we append an ‘ie’ to become a ‘Dickie’? Though I respect Dickie Davies, Dickie Bird, and Dickie Attenborough, I’ve always believed that ‘Dickie’ is the coward’s way out. It’s fine if you want to be patronised as some doddering national treasure but I want to be taken seriously as a modern vigorous Dick.
So, in speaking out on behalf of all Dicks who have been mocked because of our name, I would ask you to think again should you feel tempted to smirk at the next Dick you spot. To be honest, I didn’t expect it of your normally excellent blog as I would have expected somebody in such a high profile position to stand up against the rampant scoffing of Dicks.
Dick Madeley (Uncle)