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Date: 07/06/15

Initial Conditions

In a spirit of what-should-I-do-this-evening, I was listening to the Winamp playlist of my 45 45s last night, when I came to this one.

Out of curiosity, I went to Johnny Cash's Wikipedia page. There, I found that no, he wasn't named for the money needed to buy condoms (*), but that he was baptised simply 'J.R. Cash', where neither the 'J' nor the 'R' actually stood for anything more expansive - like an actual name. This caused problems when he was drafted, when the military regs found themselves unable to handle the situation and insisted that he had to adopt a 'proper' name. And so, J.R. Cash became 'John R. Cash', with the well-known professional variant of 'Johnny Cash'.

Only in America. As was the anecdote I heard many years ago from the broadcaster, author and former doctor Michael O'Donnell.

He had an American friend called R.B. Henley. As with his famous countryman, the 'R' and the 'B' didn't represent anything beyond themselves. This caused a small problem when he got his driver's licence (as they call them there), and the issuing authority had to write his name in the boxes provided as follows:

"R (only) B (only) Henley"

This worked perfectly well for a number of years, until record computerisation came in with its necessity to transfer information by hand from the old paper licences to a database. The inputting clurk who did the job may have been on autopilot at the time, or may simply have been...well...simple. Whichever it was, Dr. O'Donnell's luckless friend was forever thereafter known to the licensing authorities as:

"Ronly Bonly Henley"

* An old British joke, probably now obsolete in its terminology anyway.