David Smith – you’re not alone!

I’ve searched my house and there’s definitely only one. I’ve visited every home in my street and not yet found another. My local medical centre has a few. I believe there are three at the University of Sheffield. My paternal grandfather was one, but he shuffled off his coil long before I was born, and resides in Rice Lane Cemetery in Liverpool. Widening the search, The UK has at least 410 whereas The USA has almost 500. I’m referring to individuals with one distinguishing feature – who share the name Philip Green.

“What’s in a name”, asks Juliet. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” It might smell not so sweet if the name you were given at birth is Philip Green, Adolf Hitler, Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump and you’re “out there” on social media.

According to the web there are 410 people with the name Philip Green living in the UK. The UK Electoral Roll online found 70 Birth Records, 312 Marriage Records and 86 Deceased Records. This seems to suggest that 18 of my namesakes came to the UK only to die, and some might have been serial bigamists.

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting those results. I feel much more confident about John Smith. In the United States he shares his name with 47,458 others. Also competing for recognition are 1,032 James Bonds, 109 Harry Potters, 462 George Bushes, and 33 Emily Dickinsons. Beyond the song by Johnny Cash (34 Americans) very few parents have named their son Sue (source). Even so 1% of Americans named Philip seem to be women! The web makes it easy to find the most fascinating global data. For example, David Smith is the most common name in the UK at the moment, hence my mischievous title.

The USA is home to 323,300 people with the first name Philip and more than half a million with the last name Green. Put the two together and there are 496 living, breathing souls in the U.S.A who will turn around and answer when you call the name “Philip Green”.

Now it’s true that I have a shared bank account, 50% ownership of a house, and use of a car that is registered to my wife. But the online world has given me ownership of a few things to which no-one else on earth can lay claim. They include my National Insurance, Passport and NHS numbers, various email addresses and the unique identifiers that are granted me by social media and which are prefixed with a hashtag by Twitter.

Look for me and you will find that I am not any other Philip Green. Don’t confuse me with an Irish sports commentator. He had an “e” on the end of his name whereas I’m as green as the grass. Besides poor Mr Greene met his maker in 2011 at the age of 91.

I am not the composer Philip Green who was born in 1911 and wrote the score for more than 150 movies. I’m not a character from Star Trek either; he was a colonel and had an extra “l” in his first name.

I’m not Philip Palmer Green the celebrated computational biologist, nor am I Philip Green the author and American political satirist. He’s 19 years older than I am, but I got to Twitter first!

I am definitely not Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green. I’m not a twin. I’ve never owned a yacht. I am not privileged to sport an honorific. I’ve never run a retail chain. I didn’t go to school or shul in Surrey. What is more, (just in case HMRC are reading this), I have not forgotten to declare £3.7 billion on my self-assessment and I’m not collecting a fee for this writing. There are other “do-not’s” “did-not’s and have-not’s I could list, but I’d prefer not to risk action for defamation of a knight bachelor. I make no apologies for beating him to the name on Twitter as he’s younger than me by a full 2 years, 3 months and 7 days.

I like my name. Philip is taken from the Greek language and translates into “lover of horses”. I plead innocence on this count. Green is… well green, like the grass and The Danube despite rumours to the contrary.

And so, to finish my sermon, I’d like to offer a word of sympathy and guidance to all you plain ordinary folk out there who labour under such names as Jeremy Corbyn or Teresa May. My advice to you is even if you mean to use the hashtag #jeremycorbenbutnottheleaderofthelabourparty@twitter.com or yesimcalledteresamaybutIvotelabourandicannotdance@facebook.com, then it’s probably prudent to stay away from social media, at least until after the next General Election and Brexit.


Back in the UK there were over 63,000 unique baby names registered in 2017, but there were more than ten times as many births as there were names to fit them. If you are one of those parents who called your boy Oliver, then you’d be well-advised to secure his email address and identities on social media without further delay as he’s competing with 6,258 babies given the same name in that year alone. The stats didn’t show me but I can’t help but wonder at how many also have the surnames Twist, Cromwell or Hardy.

In the same year a happy decline in the popularity of the name Philip has continued. From its zenith in the early 1950s (wonder who inspired that) to its decline in the 1990s, it’s perilously close to being overtaken by Gerald. It’s probably safe to predict that it won’t hit the heights that Harry and Oliver are currently enjoying; not unless Barcelona or Real Madrid sign up a Philip who goes on to win them the European Cup. Nor will it get anywhere near Liam, Noah, Elijah, Logan or Mason which are currently in the ascendant.

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