Stuart Walton, my name.
I thought again about my name tonight as years ago, an astute and talented colleague of mine, Mark Williams, a History teacher in Stoke on Trent, delighted me one morning when he carried in a book he’d bought for me, with my name on it.
I felt an immediate surge of pride, albeit misplaced, in seeing my name on a book about a subject close to my heart – alcohol.
I didn’t write it of course.
The only thing I wrote back then were lesson plans on “An Inspector Calls” “Of Mice and Men” and notes like “1 extra please” for the milkman.
I felt a kinship though and it’s stuck with me.
This was in 1998, pre-internet days – they may not yet have the web in Stoke on Trent (I only use banter, a criminal act here in East Anglia – but that’s a tale for another time).
Without Google, I’d never heard of Stuart Walton.
To find my nominal doppelgänger, I’d have had to go old skool and visit a bookshop like Borders (Rest in Peace) or WH Smith’s or Waterstones.
Even then I’d have to have found the right section to find Stuart Walton, a fellow writer, albeit on wine, not the property industry – my niche.
It’s ironic therefore, as I sit here tonight, Saturday, having ghostwritten blog posts all day, cycled and shopped, proofread and invoiced my son for checking his Shakespeare homework, that a cheeseboard faces Stuart Walton, me, but without wine, which my titular twin is famed for.
Cheese without wine is like say: Manchester without rain, or France with vegetarians, or a Virgin train with seats. It isn’t right.
But I sipped water whilst thinking of my namesake, the other Stuart Walton.
Never one to hide my bushel under a light (odd expression) I decided, after holidaying in the Vendée this summer, where wine is cheaper than water, to go cold turkey for September and do what is cleverly labelled a Dryathlon.
You don’t run to One Stop before it closes, cycle for cider at 9.55 pm or swim in gin.
You go dry and bore everyone online with your stoic fortitude – well at least I do.
10 days in, I’ve raised a sum of £40 on my Just Giving page, where I’m hoping that people are not coughing up for charity because they’re certain, just like the other Stuart Walton, that I’ll crack and taste wine.
But I won’t.
What is great though is that by sharing a name with Stuart Walton is that my website, my Twitter feed, my G+ page pops up in search results for Stuart Walton.
But who are people searching for?
A wine writer or a greying, balding semi-retired English teacher, turned writer?
The other Stuart Walton is my uneducated guess.
I can see it now.
I can see old sots, the landed gentry, the ruling classes, wringing their hands when they want to read about the best Bordeaux, the vagaries of Riesling but a common or garden, ex teacher, pops up with blog posts about bottled water, property prices and educational leadership.
If I wanted wine knowledge, I think, like them, I’d whine too.
Things could be much worse though, I could share a name with, for example, Peter Sutcliffe or Peter André, serial killer or killer of music.
I could be called William Walton, only for classical musical fans to weep with joy when they see I’m actually alive and well and composing blogs and blogs.
Or Izaak, where we got married in Dovedale in 1999.
Stuart Walton, the wine writer, the font of all things alcohol, is an apt blood brother for me.
It means I get found on Google and maybe, one day, someone will contact me and ask me to write a book about teaching or SEO or alcohol (wishful thinking indeed).
Got to go, my glass needs a top up with a 2016 vintage Highland Spring.