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Act your name: What if we did as we were called?

A while ago, we covered people whose surnames have come to be used as verbs. Since then, it’s also occurred to me that a lot of people (men in particular) have a first name that could also be an action. This is yet another example of  the high number of homophones and multiple meanings in English, which can cause confusion even for people who speak the language every day.

This led me to wonder what a world would be like in which you could tell what people were going to do by their name. Here’s what I imagined:

The village of Verbsville had been hit by a spate of burglaries. Led by a local outlaw called Rob, a gang of criminals had set out its targets meticulously.

The first home broken into was that of elderly couple Flo and Eddy, whom they knew to be away on a river cruise. Their neighbour Bob, who was a poor swimmer but had good buoyancy, loved to be around water and had gone with them, blissfully unaware that his absence would lead to his house being burgled.

Their homes were well secured, but Rob had some skilled accomplices. Jack and Jimmy were experts at forcing windows and doors open, while Phil would always be on hand to stuff the stolen goods into a large sack.

Other break-ins were more opportunistic; the thieves spotted Moe in his garden tending to his overgrown grass, so ran through his open back door. Ollie, meanwhile, had forgotten to lock his door after he had gone skateboarding, and the vicar Neil was outside on his prayer mat while his church was targeted.

Residents noticed the unsavoury goings-on and took action. One homeowner, Mark, left wet paint all over his floors so that the burglars would leave footprints on their travels. Other villagers followed these tracks and located the crooks. Once they were in their sight, Lance pinned some of them to the ground with a large spear, while Chuck threw a net over the remainder of them.

Onlookers then started to call the police. The first person to call was Josh, but he wasn’t taken seriously. Several reports were made by Harry, who the police suspected to be a nuisance caller. Frank, meanwhile, didn’t have a phone but informed the police via a letter in a postage paid envelope.

It wasn’t until Bill and Sue demanded that the thieves should pay monetary compensation for their damages that police action was taken. An officer, Nick, arrived at the scene and apprehended the group of vigilantes.

The thieves were given prison sentences, but some of their behind-the-scenes accomplices were dealt with more leniently. One of them, Hope, was optimistic that her plea to carry out community service instead of spend time in jail would be successful. Indeed, the judge, Grant, accepted this, but similar requests from Wayne and Peter are looking less and less likely to be approved.

On the positive side, at least Verbsville residents are now more security conscious. Will is using the power of his mind to keep intruders away, while Buzz has fitted his home with an alarm system.

So, do you have a verb for a name? If so, does it aptly describe your actions?

Steven Morris

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