I feel honoured. A number of people dropped by from Nicola's Blogoffee morning, including Nicola. I am not sure how she found time to read all she did. Her reading rate must be close on a thousand words a minute. I can read bad fiction at that rate. I prefer to read good fiction a little more slowly. I still cannot read law at a thousand words a minute. It would help if I could.
In the middle of the pats and purrs of words from other people there was a number...and the number turned out to be Emma Darwin. Emma sounds the sort of person I would like to get to know so I will prowl after her for a bit.
But, it was the number that got me thinking. Am I number? I must be! I must be a whole string of numbers on the computer network. That's all right. Unless things go wrong, as they did for Emma, I do not come out as a number. Am I number in other places? I suppose I am. I do not like being a number in other places. I like to be me as me or my alter-ego - the cat. Numbers are not people.
I have numbers on my birth certificate, on my passport, on my social security card, on my ID-proof-of-age card (I need that? My cat hair is already grey!), on my library cards, on my bank debit card, on my bank account, on my university records and on files and forms and fur everywhere. I am multiple numbers. Am I also multiple purrsonalities? No. Numbers are not people or cats.
Parents get naming rights. They are not always kind about this. They do not always think. There is the sad case of Sean I knew - his surname is Lamb. He turned into a John on his 21st birthday. His parents insisted on Sean in the hope of an inheritance for themselves. It did not eventuate. He always said he would rather have been a number at school. Who can blame him? He is happier being John - his Great-Uncle Sean (now 101) approved the name change and called his parents fools. "Better to be a number!" he told me once.
Like Emma I am descended from someone many other people know about. Their notoriety is much more local but I still have people say, "Are you related...?" or "You are ....grandaughter aren't you?" and sometimes, in other places, it is "Are you .....daughter?"
That's all right. I am proud of my paternal-grandfather and my father. They achieved a lot. It was not of Darwinian proportions but it was still a lot - and it was good and useful. The people who ask that are just as likely, "And are you....who writes to the papers?" (Guilty as charged. I like to stir the pot occasionally. I do not do it to offend. I do want people to think.)
Numbers are not names. They are not identity. Numbers are not people.