The Surname Collector

It was no great surprise to the people of Glasgow that Penelope Smith-Jones-Walker-Parks-Singh-Watts-Atkinson-Day-Fletcher loved surnames. This woman from Birmingham had a fascination with her name and a great desire to make it as long and varied as she could. To do this, she had to marry several times. This was not a difficulty for her, as she was very attractive and had a certain way with men that made them want to wed her post haste. Some of her fellow human beings felt that she was disgracing the sanctity of marriage and becoming a bad role model for younger girls. Others, however, thought she was a marvellous woman and were quite impressed by her life choices. The latter were mainly dress sellers and wedding organisers, but this is by the bye.

Penelope’s maiden name was Ramsbottom. She despised this name and could not wait to be rid of it. Some say this is what sparked her quest for new surnames and encouraged her to marry early. Her first marriage was to a lovely man with a lovely name. His title was Mr Gideon Smith. She was particularly fond of his name, because if she ever forgot it she would simply turn to her bible and find the answer. Sadly the marriage was not to last, as she felt his surname was too common.

After several more attempts at finding a name she liked, she suddenly realised that if she kept all the surnames she had gained over the last few years, she would have the richest surname of them all. Sure it would be hell filling out forms, and she could never play for a professional football team unless they had an XXL size shirt, but when she walked into Boffington Hall for the annual ball, she could proudly announce herself in the confidence that no other woman in the room would share her name. This is the sort of thing that women of her ilk worry about. It’s not just matching clothes, but names and personalities must be utterly unique at all costs.

So, on the 31st June, Penelope Smith-Jones-Walker-Parks-Singh-Watts-Atkinson-Day-Fletcher entered the main hall, man in tow, and was announced to the gathered guests by her full name. Gentlemen gasped. Women wept. Lords and ladies laughed while butlers blushed. It was then that Penelope realised what a big mistake she had made. She understood what she had done wrong and felt deeply troubled by her revelation. It was obvious now. She should have married Mr Watts before Mr Singh! How could she be so foolish? For the rest of the night she felt mildly uncomfortable, but her unbalanced brain soon allowed her to ignore the worry and begin looking for more names to add to her list.

But what of the poor men who loved and lost Penelope? Though many were quick to discover her lack of sanity and were happy to leave her, there were two that sincerely thought that they were the one she had been looking for and they were sad to see her go. Mr Anthony Parks and Mr Herbert Day were happy to give their names to the beautiful woman, but soon after the event at Boffington Hall, they were overcome with a powerful urge to kill her. On the night of the ball they each hid a cannon under their jackets and took aim at their beautiful bride that must die. They shot. They missed.

Penelope was most disturbed by this attempt on her life, and decided that nobody would ever succeed in taking her life if she took it herself. That she did. The lady and her two gentlemen assassins now reside in a river not half a mile from Boffington Hall.

The moral of this story? If you’re going to marry a woman with 9 surnames, wear armbands.

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All content © 2019 Ben Coleman