This morning, as I sat down at my computer with a mug of coffee and prepared to write my blog, the cat observed that my ingenious system of referring to individuals in my posts by their first initials in order to disguise their true identities was not as ingenious as I thought. It was perfectly obvious, for instance, that ‘R’ was in fact my partner Richard. Similarly, it did not take a German code-breaker to work out that ‘P’, who I seem to have known since my early childhood, is my brother Philip, or that ‘M and D’, whom I share a similarly long history with, are actually my Mum and Dad.
Moreover, she said, it was both aesthetically and semantically jarring to suddenly encounter a capital letter smack-bang in the middle of a long passage of prose: it broke the rhythm of the sentence and disrupted her concentration. It looked both naff and pretentious. And it was just stupid.
She didn’t say any of this verbally, of course, but the point she was making was quite clear.
As much as I hated to admit it, she was right. I had originally balked at using real names because, even though I wasn’t writing anything slanderous or particularly private, it seemed intrusive. But my cunning code was not fooling anyone. ‘Maybe you’re right, Fina,’ I began.
But she hadn’t finished yet. She also objected to being virtually the only person I wrote about (her words, not mine) whose real name was actually cited. And, she pointed out, Seraphina Nightingale was a far more unusual name than say, Tom Brown or Michael Smith, yet I zealously encrypted names such as these, presumably as a gesture of respect for these people’s privacy. Was I not concerned for her privacy, she asked? Was she not entitled to the same degree of anonymity as them?
She had a solution of course: pseudonyms. She was not stupid and realised that no matter what I called her, astute readers would still be able to work out that I was writing about her – who else could be described as ‘purring’ on my lap or rattling about in their litter tray, after all? But there was still something about a pseudonym that rather appealed to her.
She cited a popular column in the Saturday paper where the author, Richard Glover, refers to his partner as ‘Jocasta’, which is not her real name, and nicknames his two sons ‘The Space Cadet’ and ‘Batboy’. He’s not hiding their identity at all, she explained, but instead revealing something intrinsic about his subjects. Thus, she concluded, she would much prefer to be referred to as ‘The Cat of Glory’ – or COG for short. She also said that Cosmo, another cat whose civic rights I had quite flagrantly violated by using his full name in a post, would for reasons of his own henceforth like to be known as ‘ole blue eyes’.
From now on then, I will not be referring to people by initials but by pseudonyms. In an attempt to wrest back some control over this blog, which was originally conceived as a literary site rather than a fan-page for the cat, I’ve decided to use authors’ names: thus, R will henceforth be known as ‘P.G.Wodehouse’, my friend M, as ‘Capote’, and my brother P, as ‘Hemingway.’ I’ll just drop the pretence with M and D and call them Mum and Dad. But Fina will still be Fina. Sorry.