Posts Tagged ‘budgie’

Time for the annual update. Well, beyond time, since I usually update this at the start of December, but the Twelve Days of Fast Fiction kind of took that over. (You’ve downloaded the free ebook, I hope?)

Now about the pics you’re going to see below: I’ve already been about as embarrassed at the shots as I’m ever likely to be, but yes, if you feel the need to go “awwww” at the cute pics of me as a youngster, or mock the pictures of me during the decade(s) that fashion forgot, feel free to do so.

Look, the whole thing started in 2004 when there was a meme going around about putting up photos of yourself when you were younger. I did it… and then continued to update it every year or so for more recent pics…

So, here they are, bringing the photos up to date, as of December 2012.

In rough order of age…

Probably the earliest photo I’ve got of me…

3 years old

Aged 4

I’m five, I think, here.

It was 1972, ok? And I was at my brother’s bar mitzvah. I was eight.

My son takes great delight in this shot – I think I was 10 at the time.

Me at age 11

Just after my 15th birthday

August 1980, I’m 16 – yes, that is a curly perm. Shut up.

November 1982 – Freshers’ Fair at Manchester Poly

1983 – me at the PULP office, 2nd year at Manchester Poly.

Age 21, at a work leaving do, having left Manchester Poly a month or so earlier..

1985, at my brother’s wedding… at which I was best man. Yeah, 21 again.

At my dad’s 60th birthday in 1989, aged 25. Blimey, was that really over twenty years ago?

1994 – Laura’s and my wedding day – aged 30


September 1997, at UKCAC

Me in New York, January 1998, just after we lost Mike

Part of a formal family shot, mid-1999

June 1999 – my spiritual home

August 2000; taken by Phil – he was five years old at the time

October 2001; New York, six weeks after 9/11; visiting Ian

May 2002, Hypotheticals – not a happy Budgie

mid-2002, taken for a WEF World Wide Wednesday

Bristol, 2003. You can see the greying hair now…

July 2004 – working at the office

December 2004 – at my nephew’s bar mitzvah. See? I scrub up nicely occasionally.

August 2005 – at Brighton. First picture for ages that I’m genuinely happy with.

September 2005, last picture of the Nissan before I crashed it…

October 2005. Again, a photo taken by Phil…

April 2006, at the flat.

May 2007, Bristol, Saturday night, at around 2 in the morning.

December 2007 – at the office party, with my ‘secret santa’ gift. No, the book.

May 2008 – Phil and me at Comic Expo

May 2008 – Me interviewing Dave Gibbons at Comic Expo

October 2008 – Me and Phil, studio shot for the bar mitzvah

October 2008 – Me and Ian, at the bar mitzvah

May 2009 – Me and Matt Jones, (pic by Jamais Cascio)

July 2009 – At the BERG 40th Anniversary Apollo 11 drinkup (pic by Matt Jones)

October 2009 – In New York, with my cousin Nikki.

November 2009 – Me and Phil at Ian’s son’s bar mitzvah.

April 2010, in Luton

July 2010, on Mastermind

August 2010, at Laura’s

October 2010, from Phil Tanner’s Photos – Mitch Benn ‘Proud of the BBC’ video shoot) The actual video’s here.

October 2010, again: at MCM

December 2010, after the office party

January 2011, at Tony and Tracy Lee’s wedding.

October 2011.

Yeah, I grew a beard in October, then shaved it off…

Laura took this one in April 2012 – not a bad shot of me, all things considered.

And then I had my hair cut…

No idea why I took this one, but it has me without a beard, anyway… August 2012

Lesson 1 about falling asleep in a friend’s house where children live. Don’t
(November 2012)

Me, at The Leveson Inquiry. The reading of the summary, not giving evidence…

Met up with an old friend, and wandered around Camden with him. A nice afternoon…

Yeah, I broke my foot…

Lost my father late in the year – here’s the progress of the shiva beard before trimming it down

Final shot(s) of the year: December 2012, before and after the hair cut and beard trim

I always forget that there are people on Facebook, Twitter, etc. who don’t know how – or from where – I got the nickname budgie.

I mean to say, I’ve had the nickname for over thirty years now, and far more people know me as ‘budgie’ than know me as “Lee”, “Mr Barnett”, or in one case, “Dad”.

But, every so often, I get a number of messages asking for the derivation of the name. And since, in the words of a friend of mine, it’s a story that “bears retelling”, here it is… with apologies if you’ve read this before.

Now what you first have to remember is that when I signed up online, with CompuServe, back in the mid 1990s, it was for fun. This wasn’t work; this was entertainment, this was escapism, this was – in short – fun.

So, when I visited my first online Forum, the Comics and Animation Forum, and saw people not only using handles, but being positively encouraged to use ’em, I ‘reactivated’ the nickname I’d picked up at college but which I had only used for passwords etc. for a few years.

Of course, naïve fool that I was, it didn’t occur to me that people might be curious about the derivation of the nickname. But they were. They most definitely were.

So, in a fit of madness, I said “ok, if anyone wants to know, ask”. Within a couple of days, I had something like 75 requests.

So, I threw it out as a contest: guess the derivation.

I let it run for a week, and then posted something along the lines of the following:

I’ve had suggestions that it’s due to my looks, my liking for an old British television programme starring Adam Faith, my eating habits, my collections, my possible fan-worship of the Duchess of York, possibly being a window-cleaner, being “Bald and Pudgie”, or that I do lots of budgets, being an accountant. [sigh]

And no-one, but no-one, guessed that I was kidnapped as a baby and brought up in the wild by friendly budgerigars.

OK, here’s the true story:

In 1982, I went up to Manchester (North West England) to go to college at Manchester Polytechnic.

I was doing a BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance, the results of that course I’m sure you’re too polite to ask about.

Anyway, after a couple of months, I was dragged along to a “hypnotists evening” by some friends on my course, who thought it would be a bit of a laugh. And so it proved to be.. (And no, before you ask, I was not hypnotised into thinking I was a budgerigar. It’s more fun than that… for the other people, anyway…)

By the end of the evening, a fun time had been had by all, watching various friends fall asleep, others regress by only a couple of years down to a mental age of three, and generally being sarcastic and silly about the whole thing.

Of course, inevitably, just as I was about to leave, someone suggested that the hypnotist have a crack at “doing Lee”.

As one who was at that time ‘game for a laugh’ – my, how that’s changed – I said OK, and the very next thing I remember was everyone laughing their socks off.


…and here it comes, folks, this is what you’ve been waiting for.

Apparently, I had been hypnotised into believing that I had a small budgie in my pocket. I had taken it out, watched it fly around the room, put it into one pocket and taken it out of another – that sort of thing.

As far as I was concerned, that would have been it. One more evening that you look back at and cringe. Except that when I walked into lectures the following morning, Dave Rothburn (one of the cronies I hung around with) yelled out in front of 120 students (and the lecturer) in his best impersonation of that bloke on Carson’s Show, “He-e-e-e-r-r-r-e’s Budgie!

The name stuck.

Not only did the name stick, but I was, by the end of three years at college, far better known as Budgie than as Lee.

It gets worse. About five years after leaving college, I bumped into someone at a function that I’d been at college with, had been quite good friends with, but hadn’t been in contact with since we both left college. We were, understandably enough, delighted to see each other. She introduced me to her husband with the immortal line :

“John, this is…erm..erm. oh, hell, this is Budgie – I’m ever so sorry, I’ve forgotten…erm, I only ever knew you as Budgie!”

So that’s it – I hope the story was worth it….

Now it’s your turn – nickname and derivation please, the more embarrassing for both, the better.