“You’ve got Malcolm X’s shoes!”
– Some crazy, homeless alcoholic when he saw my Vans slip-ons with the print of the moon’s surface on them.
When I was born I was given very common first and middle names, my full name is Timothy Scott Abel, but I was always called Tim for short. I never particularly liked my name when I was younger, because I knew so many other Tims, plus I was given a lot of nicknames; Tall Tim, Tiny Tim, Slim Tim, Tim the Dim Sim, the list was endless. Still, it could have been worse; Because my grandfather’s name was Noel Russell Albury, my parents were considering reversing the letters of the first name and calling me Leon Russell Abel. I got beaten up a lot as a kid, but it would’ve been far worse if I had been called ‘Leon’, so Timothy Scott Abel isn’t that bad in hindsight.
When we travel it is always interesting to see where our names pop up. Here are some that we have encountered:
Tims Around the World
In our three months we spent in Germany earlier this year we saw my name come in a few places, the first of which is that ‘Tim’ is the face of diabetes awareness there. The poster pictured (right) says “A Key for Tim. Mama, what is diabetes?”
The blue booklet is a “Health Passport” for adults, the red one is the same for children.
That wouldn’t be the last time we would encounter a Tim in Germany.
When I was a child I used to love the series of books, The Adventures of Tintin. I even look like Tintin to an extent, albeit a fatter version, hence, perhaps, the diabetes warnings. So who is this Tintin I speak of?
The Adventures of Tintin (French: Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of comic albums created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name Hergé. The series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century. By the time of the centenary of Hergé’s birth in 2007, Tintin had been published in more than 70 languages with sales of more than 200 million copies.
The series is set during a largely realistic 20th century. Its hero is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter and adventurer. He is aided by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou in the original French edition). Later, popular additions to the cast included the brash and cynical Captain Haddock, the highly intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (French: Professeur Tournesol), and other supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson (French: Dupont et Dupond) and the opera diva Bianca Castafiore.
The series has been admired for its clean, expressive drawings in Hergé’s signature ligne claire (“clear line”) style. Its well-researched plots straddle a variety of genres: swashbuckling adventures with elements of fantasy, mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction. The stories feature slapstick humour, offset by dashes of sophisticated satire and political or cultural commentary.
In fact, When we went to Belgium earlier this year I wrote a two-part post called “The Adventures of Timtim” to pay homage to Hergé’s series. What I didn’t realise was this:
Following Hergé’s death, hundreds more unofficial parodies and pastiches of the Adventures of Tintin were produced, covering a wide variety of different genres. Tom McCarthy divided such works into three specific groupings: pornographic, political, and artistic. In a number of cases, the actual name “Tintin” is replaced by something similar, like Nitnit, Timtim, or Quinquin, within these books.
I guess I’m just part of the problem, an overweight Tintin lookalike trying to cash in. But then I saw other translations of Tintin in Europe and some are called ‘Tim’. I realise the image below isn’t in German due to usage of the pronoun “in” rather than “im”, but it was the best example I could find:
I did, however, take this picture in Bonn, Germany:
From what I can gather, Tim Multibank is a Brazilian bank, but we first encountered it when we traveled to Italy and we saw it later throughout Europe. Besides that, they seem like all other banks.
As I have mentioned, before we moved overseas I worked as an English teacher at GEOS Language Centre and will hopefully do so once again when we return. During my five and a half years at GEOS I taught classes for adults, primarily businessmen and housewives from Japan and Korea, but I also had to teach a lot of children’s classes because, for some reason, children seem to like me. I was told they think I’m like Mr. Bean.
During a lot of my adult classes and higher level, private children’s classes my students addressed me by ‘Tim’ and I used the Grammar in Use and Vocabulary in Use series’ of books rather regularly. Well, imagine trying to keep two Japanese boys, an eight-year old and an eleven-year old, focused when this is part of their work for the day:
That’s right, I had to teach adjectives that make the word ‘bad’ stronger. The book gave several options for words including the comparative worse (more bad), the superlative the worst (the most bad) and then three other adjectives in order of strength; awful (++), terrible (+++) and horrible (+++) with the following examples:
- The weather last year was worse than this year
- Tim is a horrible person. Nobody likes him. (used about people)
- I had terrible day at work today. (used about situations)
- The traffic’s terrible at 5 o’clock on Fridays.
Yep, that class was definitely an uphill battle that day.
We’ve encountered a few ‘Tim’ references here, but most are boring except for these two:
The book, above left, was sold at Housing Works, the thrift store where I volunteer. Very few references to ‘Tim’ are particularly flattering.
The sign, above right, was in the window of a kebab van in New York City. It is obviously misspelt, but there are two possibilities for what was intended :
- “Prepare Tim five mints, thanks” (I may have brushed insufficiently that day), or
- “Prepare time five minutes, thanks” (How long it takes to make a kebab)
I think the second option is the most realistic of the two, but when you are batting at 40% with your spelling it could mean pretty much anything!
Quite often we will see different types of buildings with my name on them, I could probably fill a hard drive if I took photos of all of them, but here are a couple:
Abels Around the World
My surname isn’t very common. Even when you spell it out for people they still generally tend to write it down wrongly, unless you say, “As in Cain and Abel.” Still it’s cool when it pops up unexpectedly:
Close, But no Cigar
There have been a few that I’ve stumbled across that have almost been my full name:
- Rapid Assault starring Tim Abell
According to his IMDb page,
An exciting, eclectic actor, Tim Abell is a man of his own making and when that making includes teaching ballroom dancing, horse training, writing, cooking, acting, producing and being a US Army Ranger with the 75th Ranger Regiment, you can see it is a formidable combination.
- Play All Day by Timmy Abell
The website is still in development, so it tells us almost nothing about Timmy Abell. Again, I stumbled upon this while working at Housing Works.
- Robert Barden
Robert Barden is not a household name anywhere in the world, nor is he a namesake of mine, but it is important to add him to this list:
A MAN once scolded by a judge for his “acts of stupidity” after committing driving offences is wanted for questioning by police over a car theft and pursuit.
Victoria Police have released a photo of Robert Barden and appealed to the public to help them locate him as a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Investigators said they would like to interview him in relation to the theft of a car and a pursuit in Terang on June 25.
The latest traffic offences come just two years after he pleaded guilty to unlicensed driving, driving an unregistered car, and fraudulent use of numberplates when facing Warrnambool Magistrates’ Court in 2012.
At the time, Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt warned him: “It’s not rocket science — if you haven’t got a licence you can’t drive a car. As for driving with different licence plates on front and back, you don’t have to be Einstein to work that out.
Mr Barden, 32, resides in Mornington but is known to frequent the Bendigo and Warrnambool areas.
So, why would I add an Australian car thief to this list if our names are completely different? Because, he may not be my namesake, but he is definitely my döppelganger: