Nicknames can be a cruel thing.
I wasn’t wonderfully grateful to Gerry or Sylvia Anderson introducing the British public to Joe 90 the moment I entered my second year at secondary school! If only I’d had his magic glasses – I could have suddenly sworn in Russian to the boys in the playground who likened me to the string puppet!
But it was the school holidays which were the most ignominious.
My mum would insist on dragging me the length and breadth of Balham High Street, introducing me to numerous shopkeepers as her “little Mickey Mouse”. When you’re ten or eleven, and you’re first contemplating asserting your masculinity, you really don’t want your mum referring to you as a cartoon rodent!
As if being mistaken for her younger brother wasn’t embarrassing enough, mum was stunning; she couldn’t add up or spell but had certain assets which were seemingly very attractive to the male shopkeepers of SW12.
We’d visit various butchers, where the staff were excellent examples of the fayre they were selling, as their arms looked like giant hams.
Because we rarely had much money, juggling her housekeeping would involve me adding up various items of meat; this was rewarded with the question: “What shall we have this Sunday, chicken or beef? What do you think, my little Mickey Mouse?” My career as a butcher was instantaneously and metaphorically chopped off in its prime.
What was advertising’s gain was a piece of scrag end’s loss.