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I don't want to be entitled

Image by Maxim Mox from Unsplash
There are many things that are a bit irritating about the internet (though none that outweigh its usefulness). But the one that arguably gets up my nose the most is when you fill in an online form and it insists that you enter your title. I don't want a title. If you are writing to me, address it to Brian Clegg. I'm happy for anyone to call me Brian (or Cleggy if you must). But more to the point, why on earth should I have to provide a title to, say, buy a bunch of flowers?

 One of the reasons I really dislike titles is the way the media, particularly TV for the masses, make obsequious use of some titles. It really puts me in cringe mode when a grown adult refers to someone else as 'Doctor Phil' or 'Doctor Anita'. This reversion to childhood doesn't apply if you have a different title though. It's never 'Mister Brian.' (Of course someone called Ed* may be thankful for this.)

For that matter, I have two Master of Arts degrees, but no one seems to feel the urge to call me Master - though with a Dr Who hat on, I could definitely warm to being the Master.

That's academic titles, of course, and on top of this there is the nightmare creepiness of aristocratic titles (especially when you're a royal and have a string of these as long as your arm). Admittedly, someone I know in the literary world did find these things quite useful. When checking into a hotel in America, he would tell them that he was Sir X Y. (Name omitted to protect the guilty.) And he got extra-special treatment because of it. Which illustrates the absurdity of the whole thing.

I know some people love their titles. They even put them on book covers. And for them, I would be happy to leave the option on internet forms so they can show how entitled they are. But please, for the rest of us, make it optional.

* One for the elderly

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  1. Many years ago I was on assignment to Mexico (by day I work for the Submerged Log Company) and after a very busy fortnight boarded the plane at Mexico City bound for London. I found myself on the very worst seat you could have for an 11-hour flight: in the centre of a bank of 5 seats, directly behind the bulkhead. Limited leg room. Two seats to the left of me, two seats to the right, and here I was stuck in the middle with ... on the left, an anxious young couple with a fractious toddler. This is going to be a long flight, I thought. But oh! It was going to get worse! A stewardess came through the cabin saying 'Doctor Gee? Doctor Gee?' Oh no, I thought, the pilot is having a heart attack unaware that I got my PhD in zoology, specifically palaeontology, in which the prospect of bringing any of my subjects back to life was restricted at best. Of course I nervously raised my hand. 'Ah! Doctor Gee!' She said. 'Would you like to sit over here so this couple can have an extra seat for their child?' She pointed out an empty seat in a bank of two. The seat nearer the window was occupied by a charming, cultured and chatty classical guitarist from Germany, who told me all about her concert tour in Mexico. The time flew past. Perhaps being a 'Doctor' has its advantages.


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